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Our hair is an extension of our body, and just like the rest of our body our hair needs protein to remain healthy and strong. Think of protein as building blocks used to strengthen and reconstruct the hair. Our hair is largely made up of a protein called Keratin.
Protein helps balance the moisture in your hair keeping it healthy, as curlies we all know the struggle with the fine line of balanced curls. To much protein and not enough moisture means dry, brittle and stiff curls while too much moisture means mushy, limp lifeless curls unable to hold their natural curl pattern. The struggle is real!
How do you know when you hair needs a protein injection?
If you finding after washing and styling your curls that they are struggling to hold there curl and the overall texture is mushy and soft then your in likely need of protein. I know if mine are in need of a hit if after styling with my ‘go to’ styling product it ends up a mass of undefined curls by the next day.
This is what my hair looks like when its needing a shot of protein, you can see the curls are there but they seem limp and unable to hold a full curl. My hair will also feel really soft and wont stay in a pineapple as my hair seems so much thinner, volume will be lacking.
How do you know if your has been overloaded with protein?
I know a few hours later if not instantly if I’ve overloaded my hair with too much protein or the used something with a protein my hair doesn’t like. To me my hair feels ‘wooly’ it’s not a dryness like when your lacking moisture it’s a wirey/straw like texture. I can feel my hair expanding and not in a good way. Protein wants to re build and fill out the hair cuticle so if I use a protein too strong for my coarse hair I literally feel like the curl is trying to escape itself from all the extra protein it doesn’t need. If your also experiencing knotty hair don’t instantly blame the product itself or your heavy hand while applying, check the ingredients, there may be a protein within it that just doesn’t sit well with your curls.
This is what my hair looks like when overloaded with protein, not great right? The only way I can describe it is like this.. have you ever pulled apart/stretched a ball of cotton wool so its still attached but its fraying and breaking away from is nicely formed ball? The middle part is having a freak out not knowing which it wants to go but still hanging on for dear life, well that what i feel like happens to my curls. Its also what my curls actually feel like! You can see from his picture I have zero definition, I have volume if you can call it that, I call it puffy. Its like someones got my hair and pull apart each individual curl creating a wooly mess! My hair is also knotty and can be painful if I get my fingers caught in it.
To treat my curls after a protein freak out, I shampoo (protein free) apply a thick conditioner leave on for around 5 minutes (not a treatment) and style with protein free stylers. My hair doesn’t normally forgive me and get back to normal for at least two washes!
Kinds of protein in hair care:
These are some of the common ones but not all, I want to keep this simple it’s how I’ve learnt and remembered to spot these ingredients, there are much more in depth blogs about ingredients out there if you want to delve into this deeper.
Tip: If you see the word hydrolysed next to a protein ingredient it means the protein in the product has been broken down small enough to attach to or penetrate the hair shaft
Hydrolysed wheat protein – penetrates the cortex and strengthens the hair shaft from within
Hydrolysed keratin. – strongest of all proteins
Hydrolysed silk protein – this strengthens and moisturises the hair leaving it with a silky feel
Hydrolysed collagen helps hair’s ability to be more elastic
Hydrolysed soy protein – strengthens and mends split ends while also smoothing the hair shaft
Rice protein – The amino acids present in rice water, in particular, help in the regeneration of hair and aid faster growth of your hair.
Hydrolysed quinoa – Can improves colour uptake and retention while also providing styling benefits and increasing the shine and healthy appearance of the hair.
Vegetable Protein – absorbs into the hair shaft and works by binding water molecules to the hair fibre, providing deep moisture
Its a game of trial and error when finding out what protein your hair does and doesn’t like and then finding the right balance of how much of these ingredients you apply and when.
I typically stay away from products with wheat, soy and anything with too much keratin in and only use small amount of products with rice, vegetable or quinoa in. I will do a rice water rinse every 4-6 weeks or when I really need it.
This balance can be very frustrating and still happens to even the most experienced curl friend so don’t let this hinder your healthy hair journey, its totally normal!
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