Hair styling gelsHair stylings gels are used to keep the hair in place and to provide a film which smoothes out the cuticles, making the hair appear shinier. Hair gels contain a resin called polyvinyl pyrollidone, which is also used in mascara. The main problem is that this chemical attracts water, making it sticky in humid weather. To get around this, a newer chemical, called polyvinyl pyrollidone vinyl acetate (PVPVA), has been incorporated into many gels. The main problem with this is that it builds up on the hair and is often not removed by regular shampooing. If you do use a styling gel, it is important to use a good cleansing shampoo to prevent a build up of flaky gel. Styling gels do not damage the hair, but rather protect it. They are also available as sprays, many of which contain the same glue used in Super Glue, called methyl methacrylate. This is a potent source of allergic reactions.
Hair permsThe desire to have thick, wavy hair has transcended all fashion trends so that hair-perming products remain ever-popular. Most perming solutions are made from a chemical called thioglycollate, which breaks the hair bonds, allowing them to be either curled or straightened. This chemical is also used in hair removal products, and damages the hair shafts.The old-fashioned perms, called alkaline perms, were extremely damaging, but gave a long-lasting, tight curl. More recently, a gentler acid perm has become popular due to its less damaging effects on the hair. However, the curls tend to be looser and do not last as long, and the solution often causes allergic reactions.Home perms, which can be bought from chemists, can be based on either a very weak thioglycollate solution or a sulphite solution. These produce a much weaker curl, but are quite safe for home use. Sulphite perms, however, can cause severe reactions in asthma sufferers.

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