Hair is composed of proteins made up of long chains of amino acids. As the cells in your hair develop, they fill up with a fibrous protein called keratin. Keratin is an insoluble protein that doesn’t disintegrate in water and is very resilient. Keratin is highly susceptible to damage caused by external factors such as exposure to the sun, pollutants, and chemical treatments.
Your hair needs protein to stay healthy. If your hair feels fragile, it may be an indication that your hair needs a protein treatment. Other than, washing, conditioning, and styling, a protein treatment is a great way to take care of your hair.
In this article we will cover the following:
Benefits of a Protein Treatment in Natural Hair
- Nourishes and softens your hair as it removes dead cells from your scalp and adds protein on the outside. This restores the elasticity of your hair.
- Protein treatments have been known to prevent split ends as they generally strengthen weak and brittle hair.
- Directly infuses hydrolyzed proteins into your hair follicles hardening the cuticles, thus strengthening your strands reducing hair breakage.
- Brightens your hair by maintaining your natural balance of proteins, nutrients and oils. Dry hair always looks dull and not well taken care of.
- Eliminates chemical or mineral elements that have made their way into your hair supporting healthy natural hair roots.
- By removing dead cells on your scalp and injecting proteins, protein treatment moisturizes your hair more effectively.
- Protein treatment helps rebuild your hair structure and thickens it.
Signs your hair lacks Protein
The first step in determining the root cause of any hair problem is taking note of how your hair is behaving. You may want to know when your hair needs a protein treatment and how to detect if your hair lacks protein to take the appropriate measure in your hair care regimen. Below is a list of some of the major signs that show your hair lacks proteins:
- Your hair is very porous – this may be due to damage from bleaching, over-chlorination from the pool, or permanent chemical hair treatments such as relaxing. All of these processes can cause the hair to lose proteins. You can do a strand test to figure out if your hair is porous: wet a strand of hair with water, and then stretch it. If it stretches easily, but then breaks, it is a sign that your hair needs proteins.
- If your hair lacks volume or is not as thick as it ought to be, then it may be an indication that the hair is lacking in proteins.
- If your hair is breaking a lot or constantly shedding, and conditioning treatments aren’t helping, you should give a protein hair treatment a try.
How often should you apply protein treatments?
The condition of your hair will determine the number of protein treatments you need and how often you use it. Once every two to three months is the right place to begin until you know how it affects your hair and what the perfect frequency is for you. Keep in mind that too much protein treatment on natural hair (and particularly 4C hair) will do more harm than good or the opposite of what you need it to do, like make your hair stiffer and break more.
DIY Protein Treatment for Natural Hair
The most common proteins that are in protein hair treatments are keratin, collagen, oat, rice, wheat, and silk. They are usually preceded by the word “hydrolyzed”, meaning that the protein has been broken down into a smaller molecule that can penetrate through the layers of keratin that make up the hair more easily. Words like “amino acid” and “protein” in the ingredients list are also a good sign for a protein hair treatment, as hair proteins can come from numerous natural sources.
Protein treatments are in various products including protein conditioners known to add moisture to hair and strengthen your hair follicle. These conditioners carry out different functions such as repairing damaged hair and preventing future damage. You can also find re-constructors, protein packs, deep penetrating treatments, and light protein treatments. You can get your protein either bought from the store or mixed yourself at home. If you are going to make your own protein treatment, then you need ingredients that are rich in protein.
DIY natural protein treatments are a great way to go particularly when everything is fresh. Commonly used ingredients are eggs, avocado, and yogurt. These are not the only list of possible ingredients to mix for your protein treatment. Feel free to experiment with various ingredients until you find the best combo that works well with your hair.
Preparing a DIY natural hair protein treatment is very simple and straightforward. You may need to try different types of ingredients in different recipes to determine what works best for you.
If you find DIY is too stressful or too much work for you, you can purchase a protein treatment at the store or use other hair products that incorporate protein treatments. You can get your hair protein treated in most salons to give you a professional touch before you get the hang of it. Occasionally even after following your protein treatment with a moisturizing deep conditioner, your hair may not feel as soft as you are used to. This will remedy itself within a few days when your perfect protein and moisture balance is reached. Just remember to moisturize your hair daily.
DIY Protein Hair Treatments Recipes
Below is a list of DIY protein treatments that you may want to try:
Gelatin DIY Protein Hair Mask
Gelatin is a product made from collagen taken from animal body parts. It is one of the best ingredients to include in your homemade protein treatments. A flag for you to note is that plain gelatin is not the nicest smelling thing around. You can use coconut oil in this recipe as an emollient for extra moisturization.
What you need:
- A packet of gelatin depending on the length of your hair.
- ⅓ cup water
- 2-3 drops of vinegar
- A tablespoon coconut oil
Boil the water, and remove it from the heat. Dissolve the gelatin powder in the hot water by pouring it in slowly and stirring continually – this allows the gelatin to dissolve easily without any clumps.
Stir vinegar and coconut oil into the mixture. Wait until the mixture cools down before you use it. Prep your hair by getting it damp but not wet. Apply the gelatin mixture to your hair in sections, making sure to uniformly coat every strand. Allow it to sit in your hair between 30 minutes to one hour the longer it sits in your hair, the messier it gets, you can cover up your hair in a plastic bag to avoid the mess.
Thoroughly wash the mixture out, and then apply a substantial amount of conditioner. Let the conditioner sit in your hair for a few minutes, and then rinse it away as well.
DIY Mayonnaise and Avocado Protein Hair Treatment
Scoop out the avocado into a bowl, preferably a medium size. Use a ripe avocado or retrieve one and give it time to ripen if necessary. Make sure you mash the avocado. Add the mayonnaise and create your treatment. Thereafter, rinse and wash your hair with lukewarm water.
While applying this treatment, make sure you focus only on the dry places of your hair and the ends of the hair.
Protein overload occurs when you add a lot of protein to the hair. Numerous types of proteins make up a hair strand, but the main protein that makes up the hair is keratin. Keratin gives your hair its structure and strength for health. But, it is not the only key ingredient required for hair. Healthy hair also needs water. Moisture and protein must be present in balance for the ideal health of your hair. Too much of either will compromise the health of your hair. I will discuss some of the symptoms of protein overload.
Protein Overload Symptoms
Proteins strengthen the hair but also make the hair less elastic. Hair that contains too much protein tends to snap and break when manipulated because of the loss of elasticity.
Breakage doesn’t necessarily mean that you have protein overload as hair that is dry also breaks. You can know when you have too much protein when your hair is dull or dirty looking and does little or no stretching before breaking. Most times it can be difficult to tell if you have protein overload. This is why knowing the physical characteristics of your hair early is very important. Pay close attention to your hair, so that you can better identify problems that arise.
Some people’s hair is sensitive to protein. Meaning their hair is too sensitive to the strengthening effect of protein. When exposed to protein, their hair becomes stiff and hard. You can do the below test to determine if your hair is protein sensitive:
- Dampen a segment of your hair
- Apply a product or ingredient that contains protein to that section of your hair.
- Compare that section of the hair to the rest of your hair once it’s dry. You will realize the section will be harder than the rest of your hair, but if it is exceedingly stiff or starts breaking, you have protein sensitive hair.
Protein overload might be mistaken for protein sensitivity. The difference is, while anyone can overload their hair with protein, only some people have protein sensitive hair that reacts badly to any amount of protein. But the outcome of either one is the same- stiff, hard, brittle hair. If you have protein sensitive hair you do not necessarily have to do away with protein completely because your hair still needs protein to maintain strength. Make sure the products you utilize on a daily or weekly basis are protein-free, and you can do a light protein treatment once every month. If the treatment makes your hair stiff or brittle, make sure you follow it up with a moisturizing treatment.
Treating protein sensitive hair
If you use some types of protein treatments, you follow the instructions to permit the product to dry under a hairdryer, most hair will feel somewhat straw-like immediately after rinsing. Use a moisturizing conditioner to help hair go back to its normal feel.
If your hair is protein sensitive, moisturizing products with even small amounts of protein cause hair to feel brittle. You can use products such as coconut oil and henna which will protect hair from losing protein when washed. Sometimes, protein sensitive hair can also be sensitive to natural oils and butter as quite a number of these are thought to be able to penetrate the hair.
Some people are allergic to hydrolyzed proteins in hair products. Applying a product containing a protein can lead to irritated skin (also known as contact urticaria). If a certain product causes your scalp to itch, avoid using it again and try to determine which ingredient you are allergic to.
That is all on protein treatments, I hope you found the information in this post useful.