If your natural hair is showing signs of damage, you might be wondering whether you should do a protein treatment. Even if your hair isn’t showing major signs of damage, you still may consider using protein to make your mane healthier.
Deciding whether to do a protein treatment can be confusing because there are several to choose from. You might also be concerned about breakage and being overly sensitive to protein.
In this post, you’ll get a comprehensive overlook of protein treatments, so you can choose whether you want to add them to your natural hair regimen.
What is a Protein Treatment for Natural Hair?
When your hair is damaged, the integrity of the shaft weakens, and your hair will appear dull and unhealthy. If the cortex has been broken down with rough handling and chemical treatments, then it can easily develop split ends and break. Plus, damaged hair looks less shiny because there are so many holes in the strand.
Protein treatments help to fill in the gaps on porous hair. They do not permanently repair the hair shaft, but they do aid in patching up the holes.
Who is Most Likely to Need a Protein Treatment?
If your hair is showing signs of damage, you might benefit from a protein treatment. Consider doing a home protein treatment if you have one of the following types of hair:
Frizzy Strands. If your hair is frizzy, then it is dry and probably damaged. Adding protein treatments to your regimen will help to define your curls better and will help to fight frizz.
Color-Treated Hair. Hair dyes can strip the shaft of its integrity when you use them to lighten your mane. Lifting the color means that chemicals need to destroy your natural color before adding the new dye. This breakdown of pigment results in highly porous hair. You can temporarily patch hair color damage by using protein treatments before and after you dye your natural hair.
Transitioning Hair. If you’re transitioning from relaxed hair into natural curls, you’ll find that your hair is weaker at the line of demarcation. The line of demarcation refers to where old hair meets new. Your hair is susceptible to breakage at this point. You can strengthen the area by applying protein to the line more than you’d apply it to the rest of your locks.
Split Ends. Frayed and tapered ends is an indication that the hair is damaged. You may be able to temporarily fix split ends by applying protein onto them. Split ends can also occur in the middle of the strand if you’ve tied your hair with rough and tight ponytail holders. Always use soft nylon-based hair ties that don’t contain an elastic band. Snappee’s entire accessory line is made for preventing this type of damage.
Heat Tools. Doing occasional straightening with blow dryers or flat irons can lead to damage if the cortex overheats. Protein can help to temporarily patch the damage so that your hair looks and feels healthier. Most of all, it can prevent breakage. Schedule protein treatments into your routine before and after you heat-straighten your mane.
What Type of Protein Should You Use for Natural Hair?
There are several types of protein on the market and choosing one can get overwhelming. Above all else, make sure the product you choose is hydrolyzed or quaternized.
Hydrolyzation and quarternization are scientific ways to break down the protein so that you can infuse the molecules into the hair shaft. Here are some of the major types of protein for natural hair:
Sea Kelp. Seaweed is one of the newest hair proteins to hit the market. It is effective for patching holes and enriching the hair. Sea kelp contains several vitamins and minerals, so your hair will get protein and nutrition.
Soy Protein. Soy protein is plant-based and effective for strengthening damaged hair and increasing the elasticity. However, you’ll want to avoid it if you are allergic to soy.
Silk Protein. This natural protein is effective for creating soft and silky strands. Silk protein is harvested from silk worms, so this protein could be an issue for anyone who wants to avoid using animal products.
Wheat Protein. This plant-based protein is very common, and it is effective. However, you’ll want to avoid it if there’s a possibility that the wheat will make your scalp itch. Definitely steer clear of hydrolyzed wheat protein if you are sensitive to gluten.
Rice Protein. Hydrolyzed rice protein is a great plant-based option for anyone that needs an effective protein treatment without fear of triggering allergies or scalp-itching. Plus, it’s vegan.
Keratin. This type of protein is taken from hooves, horns, and feathers of animals, so you’ll want to avoid keratin if you’re looking for a cruelty-free product. Also, be sure to read labels carefully before buying keratin products. Some keratin treatments contain highly toxic formaldehyde and formaldehyde-derivatives.
How to Balance Protein with Moisture for Less Breakage
Are you protein-sensitive? Low porosity types tend to have trouble using protein and it can even cause too much brittleness for high porosity types too.
If your hair tends to break when you use protein products, you may want to try balancing them with moisture before you banish protein altogether.
Protein and moisture go together, and they work synergistically to create healthy strands. You should always do a deep conditioning treatment after doing a protein treatment.
If you’re still showing signs of protein overload and breakage after moisturizing, you may want to limit protein usage. However, you don’t want to completely throw them out because protein is healthy for your hair.
Instead, identify which of your products contain any of the above-listed proteins, and push the items to the back of your cabinet for 2-3 months while you focus on moisture. When your hair contains plenty moisture, you may be able to go back to using your protein products for strengthening your strands.
Using a protein treatment 1-2 times per month might be exactly what you need for stronger hair. Hair shine will increase as the holes in the hair shaft become fuller and your strands can reflect light better. Plus, you’ll enjoy the look and feel of having healthier hair that isn’t prone to breakage.
Have you tried protein treatments for your natural hair, and if so, were they effective at controlling breakage?