Protein makes up about 70% of hair. It is what governs the appearance and feel of your hair. Protein can be lost through misuse of heat and chemicals, causing a loss in elasticity and strength. Protein treatments are needed to help maintain the balance of protein and moisture in the hair by filling in the spots where protein is lacking in the strand and smoothing the shaft, thereby reducing frizz and repairing the elasticity of hair. For natural hair, since the hair’s protein isn’t being chemically broken down to straighten it (i.e. relaxers), it doesn’t require protein treatments as often as hair that has been chemically altered (less often if you don’t use heat as excessive heat can also break down protein over time).
While there are a variety of proteins in many hair care products, the best proteins for repairing natural hair are light proteins, such as silk or soy, found in many conditioners. These proteins are safe to use often without damaging the hair. Other protein treatments, usually labeled as reconstructors or keratin treatments, should be used less often, otherwise they can cause a protein overload resulting in dry, brittle, straw-like hair.
It is always important to care for your hair from the inside out. Eating foods rich in protein is just as important as protein treatments. A diet high in vitamin B5, wheat protein, soy, antioxidant vitamins, and milk is best. Milk proteins rebuild the amino acids in the hair and improve its pliability against damage caused by styling, environmental factors, and chemicals. Low fat cheese, fish, eggs, granulated lecithin, cow liver, yogurt, and beans are some other foods with lots of protein. It has been found that brewer’s yeast (yes, beer) can rebuild protein in hair as well. Proteins in the malt and hops found in beer coat, rebuild, and repair damaged hair. On your next wash day, try using a warm, flat beer to rinse your hair after shampooing and be sure to rinse it out with lukewarm water.
So how do I know if I need a protein treatment?
Touch your hair. Does it feel “mushy” or “gummy?” Are your curls limp? Take a single strand of hair and stretch it until it snaps. Did it stretch only a little and snap or did it stretch significantly before snapping? If it stretched a lot, your hair needs protein.
Some products that contain protein are listed below:
Mane N Tail
Shea Moisture Organic Coconut and Hibiscus Curl & Shine
Aubrey Organics GPB
Motions Moisture Silk Protein Conditioner
Shea Moisture Organic Coconut and Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioning Milk
ApHogee Treatment for Damaged Hair
ApHogee Green Tea Reconstructor
Aphogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor
Moisturizers, Leave-ins and Other Products
Shea Moisture Organic Coconut and Hibiscus Hold & Shine Hair Moisture Mist
Shea Moisture Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
Elasta QP Mango Butter Moisturizer
Cantu Shea Butter Break Cure
Make Your Own Protein Treatment!
Common ingredients in homemade protein treatments:
whole egg (you can also use just the whites or yoke, if you like)
Do you utilize protein in your regimen? What has been your experience with it?