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Perming lotion product knowledge


The active ingredient in perming lotion, whether for curling or straightening hair, is a chemical called ammonium thioglycolate. Ammonium thioglycolate is an ammonia salt of mercaptoacetic acid. Boxes of perm solution also list the ingredient as ammonium thyioglycolic acid.


1.    What is the Active Ingredient in Perming Lotion? Ammonium thioglycolate is a colourless, clear liquid with a strong ammonia odour. Depending on the other ingredients in the perming lotion, the solution may not appear clear.


2.    Perming Lotions Use Active Ingredient Thioglycolate to Break Disulfide Bonds.  Ammonium thioglycolate permanently changes the structure of hair. Treated hair remains either curly or straight, depending on application technique, until new hair growth requires an additional perm or straightening service.

Hair primarily consists of a protein called keratin. Keratin contains a large proportion of the amino acid cysteine. Hair gets its shape from disulfide bonding between protein chains. These disulfide bonds form between atoms of sulfur found in the cysteine molecules.

Perming lotions containing thioglycolate break the disulfide bonds of hair proteins. Stylists shape hair with curlers or straighten using ceramic irons.
Perm neutralizers containing hydrogen peroxide form new disulfide bonds, making hair either permanently curly or straight, depending on the application technique.



The active ingredient in perming lotion, ammonium thioglycolate, is not biodegradable and harms water life. The perming lotion bottle should be completely empty before putting it in the trash. Avoid rinsing from hair in a way that contaminates surface water or soil.



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