The Benefits Of Adding Protein To Your Relaxed Hair Regimen

Our relaxed hair isn't as strong as we may think or may have even been led to believe. 

Our hair strands are made up mostly of keratin protein and that keratin protein can break down leaving our hair weak and prone to breakage. The breakdown of the protein can happen naturally or because of how we treat our hair. Everything from manipulation, the products we use, environmental stressors (e.g. sun, wind), and our relaxers contribute to the breakdown of the keratin in our hair. 

Don't worry though, there is something that we can do about it. And that something is protein treatments. They help strengthen areas of the hair, smooth the hair cuticle, and build the hair shaft back up.

the aphogee two step protein treatment used for protein
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The signs of a lack of protein

While protein treatments can do great things for your hair, they aren't for everyone and need to be used responsibly. Protein treatments should only be used when needed. Here are some obvious signs that your hair could use some protein:

Your hair has lost elasticity

If your hair has no bounce and is hard to style, it's probably an elasticity problem. Now the thing about elasticity is that it's usually a sign that the protein and moisture balance of your hair is off because lack of moisture can also affect elasticity.  

You can check to see if your hair has lost elasticity by taking a wet strand of hair and stretching it. If the strand keeps stretching so it's all stretched out, limp, and perhaps breaks that's a sign your hair needs protein.

You have high porosity hair

Due to damage to your hair cuticles, high-porosity hair may have some holes or gaps. This can lead to constant frizzy hair and tangles.

You use chemicals on your hair

Even though I have relaxed hair, I can't avoid this one. If you use chemicals on your hair like relaxers and hair color they break down your hair proteins making your hair strands weaker. So it's important that you give your hair back that protein it has lost.

You have consistent breakage and shedding

Now it's natural to have some hair shedding and even sometimes having a little breakage isn't out of the ordinary. But when you see your sink, bathroom, or floor covered in several short hairs, you have a problem. Consistent and excessive hair breakage can be one of two things, a lack of moisture in your hair, or a lack of protein. So you have to pay close attention and perhaps even experiment to determine if a protein treatment is needed. 

Your hair feels limp or gummy

This happens when your hair has too much moisture, sometimes called moisture overload. If your hair feels mushy, way too soft, or limp those are really strong signs that your hair needs some protein to strengthen it.

How to infuse protein into your hair regimen

There are a few different ways you can give your hair protein. You can add it to your relaxed hair regimen with store-bought treatments or DIY treatments. Additionally, what you eat and drink can provide your hair with the protein it needs.

Store-bought protein treatments

When it comes to store-bought protein treatments there are two main different kinds. 

1. Hard protein treatments
These types of protein treatments are meant to be used for severely damaged hair. They are also good for helping to repair severe damage from heat styling or the drying effects of color processing. If they are being used to help repair extensive damage they can be used every week or time the hair is washed.

These types of hair treatments give the hair a lot of protein and it must be balanced out by a good moisturizing deep conditioner.

The more popular option for this type of protein treatment is the Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment. I used this protein treatment for several years every 4 to 6 weeks and it really helped with strengthening my hair.

2. Light protein treatments
These are ideal for slightly damaged hair and regular maintenance. They are sometimes packaged as leave-ins or labeled with phrases like “conditioning mask” or “recovery and repair." It's recommended they are used every wash but should be used less after a while or when the hair starts feeling stiff.

Homemade treatments 

If you're looking to save a little money or want to go a more natural route you can create your own protein treatments using ingredients such as avocado, mayo, yogurt, and coconut oil. I will caution that there are some articles out there saying they don't work as well as store-bought treatments. I personally haven't tried a homemade protein treatment so I can't speak to this and would just say do it at your own discretion.

Products with protein

Below is a list of some medium to hard protein treatments that I have either tried or seen several other bloggers rave about and use as part of their relaxed hair regimen.

You can also get some protein from other hair products you use such as shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizers. To know if you are currently using any products with protein look for these types of ingredients: Hydrolyzed Keratin, Hydrolyzed silk protein, or Hydrolyzed wheat protein.

What to keep in mind

A key thing to remember when using hard protein treatments is to always do a moisturizing deep condition afterward. This helps maintain the protein-moisture balance your hair needs. 

If you have hair that is low porosity and/or is protein sensitive, doing protein treatments or using hair products with protein ingredients can do more harm than good.

Also, do protein treatments in moderation. Even if you have hair that likes protein, overdoing it and having too much protein isn't good for your hair. Too much protein can overload your hair with protein making it feel hard, stiff, and fragile so it breaks.

When all else fails ask your hairstylist if they think you need to use protein on your hair and what they recommend.

Do you use protein in your hair? What protein-based products do you use?