You asked

02/03/2012 at 22:28

So, my question is how do you know if your doesn’t like protein, my hair feels a bit fragile and I’m thinking it needs moisture and protein but I’m not sure if my hair actually likes protein.


Kinky replied:

If after using protein, your hair becomes drier, feels straw like, breaks easily, mats and tangles, then I think its safe to say that your hair doesn’t like protein. At least not that ‘type’ of protein. But isn’t all proteins the same you may ask? and why do we need protein? Well lets look at the different types of proteins and what they do.

So why do we need protein? Well, hair is protein, a couple of layers of intertwined keratin that “grows” from hair follicles.

Externally, protein helps coat the hair, filling in your hair shaft, adding strength to your tresses. Think of your hair like shingles on a roof. After years of heavy rain, snow, damaging sunlight, those shingles become brittle, they break, they lift and they tear. As a result, maintenance and upkeep is required. Likewise hair, with all that we do to it (blow drying, hot plates, relaxers, washing) does the same thing. Think of it as external protein being the replacement shingles for your old roof.

Lets look at some of the more popular proteins:

Hydrolyzed proteins are humectants, emollients, and film formers. (Hydrolyzation means they will be water soluble).

Oat protein tends to be a higher molecular weight, meaning it is better for film forming and conditioning. Being higher molecular means it’s not going to be as penetrative as something like silk, which is a lower molecular weight.

The molecular weight is important because the lower the molecular weight, the more likely the protein will actually penetrate the hair and act as a humectant in the stratum corneum or cortex.

Silk Protein as we’ve just previously mentioned tends to be low molecular.This means it is good for drawing water internally for dry hair.

Wheat Protein  is also low molecular weight so it easily penetrates the hair shaft, thereby increasing the hair’s ability to retain moisture and impart shine and gloss to damaged and dull hair. Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein builds body, reduces porosity, improves hair manageability, improves luster and smoothness.

So you need to look at what your hair likes, high molecular or low molecular?, penetrative or film forming?. Bear in mind that lower molecular penetrates and draws water internally so this may not be ideal for your hair if you already have frizzy hair, for obvious reasons. You may require something that coats rather than penetrates, like Oat protein.

The good thing is, so called  ‘protein damage’ isnt really damage, it’s just a symptom of protein overload or sensitivity. Initially you may want to return to a non protein regime, just adding in more moisture until your hairs back to its soft self. This most likely won’t be immediate but rather may take a few washes to correct the problem. Start with a  clarifying wash to help rid the hair of any excess product buildup. Deep condition for 30-45 minutes with heat once or twice a week with a thick, creamy moisturizing deep conditioner. But remember the unique relationship that exists between the protein and moisture balance within the hair strand and that neither can work well without the other. Keeping the hair balanced between these two is very important to the overall health of your hair.

I suggest you try two separate products which contain two different types of protein and see how your hair responds to the product. I also think it’s a good idea to use a light protein followed by a deep conditioner every time you wash your hair. You can try adding coconut milk in your conditioner or mayonaise for a dose of light protein. If your hair requires something a bit more hard core, then maybe try a heavy duty treatment like the ApHogee 2-Step which is recommended for severe breakage. I find that using henna monthly, ensures that I don’t require hard core protein treatments. Although henna isn’t a protein, I personally feel its acts like a protein in the strength it affords my strands so this might be something you may want to try.

I hope this helps.



6 responses to “Q&A

  1. Good tips! I think I get a good amount of protein from my diet (I can’t miss a deep conditioning without matting & tangles) but my hair absolutely loves silk protein.

  2. I’m glad you found it helpful, thanks for commenting. I’m not sure whether mine prefers silk or sea silk protein (derived from plants).

    Do you specifically buy products containing silk protein or do you buy it and add it to your products?

    • Silk Elements used to make this great hair masque with silk protein and pearl powder that I loved. I think they discontinued it because I haven’t seen it in about 3 years. Believe you me, I’ve been looking. When I say it made my hair feel like silk, I mean it made my hair feel like silk. It came in a little packet for like $1-1.50. If I ever find anymore of it, I’m buying every last packet. It was awesome. I thought about trying Biosilk but, it looks like a gloss and I don’t really care for those. I never thought about adding silk protein to my products but my brain just did a happy dance thinking about what’ll happen if I add it to my deep conditioner. Sea silk protein, huh? I’ll have to check that out.

  3. Sea silk is in liquid form so its easy to add to spritz etc. Hydrolysed silk powder is water soluble too so you could use it in the same way. I think the liquid would be better in your conditioner as you don’t need to add it to water first as you would with the powder. Your lucky, the States have much more suppliers that sell additives/extracts etc….. and you also have a vast number of natural hair products that we don’t get in the UK.

    • The irony is that I’ve been getting more and more of my products from overseas ie. Denman brushes, Vatika Oil. I’ve also been dying to try Camellia Oil from Japan and Australian Emu Oil. I’ll be looking for those silk proteins. I think I’ll try both and have a little fun with my skincare recipes, too. Thanks for the details.

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