Protein And Moisturizing Conditioners 101

An important component to achieving healthy hair whether it's relaxed or natural is a good protein-moisture balance. Having that balance is important because having too much of one or too little of the other can lead to hair breakage.

One way to get the desired protein-moisture balance from using protein and moisturizing conditioners. Check out the info below to see what makes a conditioner protein or moisture-based, the benefits of each and how to determine which one you should use on your chemically-treated or natural hair.

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What these conditioners are and what they do

Protein conditioners come as reconstructors, protein paks, and light treatments. The proteins in the conditioners attach to weak areas of the hair strand to help strengthen it. Additionally, they harden the cuticle layer and creates a protective barrier around the hair strand.

Moisturizing conditioners come as deep conditioners or masques and rinse out conditioners. They help to keep friction, tangles, and breakage away.

The benefits of these conditioners

Protein conditioners
  • Strengthen dry and brittle hair
  • Treat damage from heat styling
  • Temporarily mend split ends

On the other hand moisturizing conditioners
  • Help to keep hair soft and manageable
  • Eliminate frizz and dryness in the hair
  • Can bring back elasticity and shine

Protein Conditioners versus Moisturizing Conditioners | A Relaxed Gal

When you should use a moisturizing or protein conditioner

The key sign for when a protein conditioner is needed your hair stretches more than it normally does and then breaks without returning no matter whether it is dry or wet 

Use a moisturizing conditioner when your hair feels brittle and/or hard. Another sign a moisturizing conditioner is needed is when your hair strands don't have any stretch or elasticity and snap easily.

How to tell which is which

It can be hard to tell when a conditioner falls into the protein or moisturizing camp. The two best indicators are what the conditioner says it does and the ingredients. Protein conditioners typically talk about stopping breakage and strengthening the hair. Additionally, they have ingredients like Keratin, Amino acids, Yogurt, Biotin, Hydrolyzed wheat protein, Hydrolyzed rice protein, Silk protein, and Soy protein just to name a few.

Now the confusing part is sometimes a moisturizing conditioner may have a protein in the ingredient list. Personally, I consider a conditioner a moisturizing one if it has one or fewer protein ingredients. And if it does have a protein ingredient it's really low down on the list.

The difference between protein and moisturizing conditioners |


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