Just stumbled on this really useful article by a chick named Nu20 Beauty. I’ll be checking the rest of her blog out…
First, what is hair? Hair is protein. More specifically, hair is a couple of layers of intertwined keratin that “grows” from hair follicles. The hair that you see on your scalp, arms, legs etc. are dead cells. Each strand of hair has a lifespan of about 2 years, sometimes longer, then they shed/fall out and are replaced [if you are healthy and didn’t get the short-end of the baldness stick] with new hair. But when it comes to protein, we’re not talking about shedding, shedding, unless it’s in excess is normal
We’re talking about protein and it’s affect on hair breakage.
What is protein? Protein is made up of long chains of amino acids. Your body needs every kind of amino acid to preform normally. The amino acids our body’s cannot produce, we get from food. Protein is required by the body for the growth, maintenance and repair of all cells. If you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet, your hair will be affected. Think about it, if you’ve ever seen pictures or know someone with an eating disorder, anorexia for example, one of the first things to be affected is hair. The hair will fall out more rapidly, become dull and thin. Once the hair is out of the follicle, there’s nothing much you can do about it’s “health”, but there’s lots you can do about making it appear healthy and keeping it on your head as long as possible.
Along with keeping your hair moisturized and eating a good amount of protein, you can also add protein as an external treatment. 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. Hair, with all that we do to it, does the same thing. External protein is the replacement shingles for your old roof.
There are many types of protein sold over the counter for hair repair. They all do the same basic thing, but they are not all the same in strength. Some protein can soften the hair [think Dominican hair products and silk proteins.] Some, vegetable proteins, makes the hair shiny and and healthy looking. While others, like keratin protein help strengthen the hair. Depending on your hair needs, you will know which protein to pick. Read labels!
Believe it or not, you can overdo it with moisturizing your hair, and you can surely overdo it with protein. This is where, getting to know your hair is important, even if your stylist is the only one who touches it.
How to Know if You May Need to Add Protein to your Routine:
Number one sign that you may need protein is if your hair is insistently dry and brittle. (If your hair seems to split and break easily and no longer seems elastic.)
Number two sign that you may need protein is if your hair is very stretchy and gummy from too much moisture.
First, stop using heat for a few weeks. Direct heat from blow dryers and flat iron just exacerbate a dry, brittle hair situation. Play around with styles with more texture for a while. Braid-outs, two-strand twists, rollersets, flexirods, wash and gos.
Then make sure that your non-protein deep conditioner is working for you. After you use a shampoo, it’s best to follow up with a deep conditioner. You can tell a deep conditioner by how long it says to leave it on your hair. If it’s more than 5 minutes, it’s a deep conditioner.
If after a couple of weeks, your hair is still dry and brittle and dull it’s time to try a strengthening protein. I recommend starting with a mild protein versus going straight to the hard stuff. A professional stylist can help you choose the right product for your hair, just make sure that you are open and honest with him or her about your hair health.
I use a light strengthening protein on my hair every other wash. I’ve found that I don’t have to use hard proteins at all. If I color treated or relaxed my hair, I would surely need hard protein at least twice a year because my hair is very fine and fragile. The light proteins that my hair likes are ORS Replenishing Pak, which has hydrolyzed collagen (protein) in it. I want to note that it also has glycerin in it. My hair doesn’t like glycerin, but there must be a certain amount of glycerin my hair can tolerate. I try to use this every other week on dry or freshly shampooed hair.
I also like Motions CPR Protein Reconstructor. I use this when I am out of ORS Replenishing Pak. It contains the same hydrolyzed protein that’s in ORS, but it seems to be a little heavier in the glycerin [even though glycerin is lower on the list than it is in ORS; it’s all about ratios.] I notice that if I use Motions CPR more often, my hair starts to become dry and hard. I never experience that with ORS. For harder proteins there’s Aphogee Two-Step Treatment, Nexxus Keraphix and KeraCare Super Reconstructor to name a few. If I’m not mistaken, these all contain keratin protein.
The key to protein is finding what works for your hair.
Thanks Nu20 Beauty…I think I have a better understanding now.