When and How to Use The Right Protein Treatment On Natural Hair

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As with everything, too much of anything is never good for us. Earlier this year, I learned this lesson first hand when I over moisturized my natural hair. This excessive moisturizing of our strands is called hygral fatigue. The solution to this problem is giving your hair a protein treatment ASAP.

What Is Hygral Fatigue?

Hygral fatigue is a result of constant and excessive swelling of the hair cuticle as water is absorbed and the contracting of the hair cuticle as it dries. The hair shaft begins to weaken from this constant friction of the hair cuticle. Just like a plant, the hair shaft is working overtime when too much water penetrates it and then leaves it too quickly. This also causes the hair to stretch beyond normal and eventually lead to breakage. Whether you relax your hair, color your hair or wear it in it’s natural state, knowing when and how to use a protein treatment is key for minimizing breakage and maintaining healthy hair.

How to Tell If Your Hair Needs Protein

Here are the 2 major signs that will tell you if your hair is in need of a protein treatment:

1) Low elasticity: If you try to stretch your hair while wet (or dry) and it doesn’t return to its natural state or curl pattern.

2) Limp, stringy or gummy feeling when hair is wet.

This is when you should turn to protein based treatments to revive your natural hair or relaxed hair back to a healthier state. Protein treatments contain ingredients such as hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed keratin, and hydrolyzed silk protein. These ingredients are key to restoring much needed balance to your hair while increasing the elasticity your hair is lacking. You should notice much softer and bouncy hair after a much needed protein treatment.

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How to Choose the Right Protein Treatment

There are four types of protein conditioner treatments: light protein treatments, protein packs, reconstructors and deep penetrating treatments. Which one should you choose? Your choice of protein treatment depends on the condition of your hair.

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My protein treatment stash.

Below is a breakdown of how to choose the right protein treatment for your hair:

  • Light Protein Treatments – Routine protein treatment/maintenance. Examples: Aubrey Organics GPB,¬†Neutrogena Triple Mositure Deep Recovery Mask.
  • Protein Packs – Lightly damaged hair. Examples: ORS Replenishing Pak, Palmers Coconut Oil Formula Deep Conditioning Protein Pack.
  • Deep Penetrating Treatments – Moderately damaged hair. Examples: Dr. Miracles Deep Conditioner, Jane Carter Nutrient Replenishing Conditioner, Giovanni Deeper Moisture Conditioner, Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayonniase, DevaCurl Heaven in Hair, Aphogee 2 Step Protein Treatment.
  • Reconstructors – Severely damaged hair/chemically treated hair. Examples: Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstrcutor, K-Pak Deep Penetrating Reconstructor, Affirm 5 in 1 Reconstructor, Creme of Nature Conditioning Reconstructor.
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Straight to Curly. I always do a protein treatment before AND after heat styling. This ensures that my hair will return to its natural curl pattern, remain balanced & healthy.

Choosing the right treatment for your hair is very important. For example, if your hair is lightly damaged or your hair is in need of a routine protein treatment, you should not use a reconstructor on your hair as it would be too heavy of a treatment on your strands.

Essentially, you will end up adding too much protein to your hair which will cause your hair to become excessively dry and brittle. Too much protein will also give your hair too much elasticity which will eventually lead to breakage.

When to Use a Protein Treatment

If you have a natural hair & it has little to no damage then you would benefit from a protein treatment once every 1-2 months. This will ensure that your curls, kinks and coils retain it’s¬†natural strength and shine. Lightly damaged hair should be treated once a month. If you have chemically treated hair such as color or a relaxer then you would benefit from using a reconstructor bi-weekly to repair your hair gradually without a protein overload. If you’ve heat styled your natural or relaxed hair you should aim for a reconstructor as well. The hair shaft and cuticle are already in a fragile state. Gradual, bi-weekly protein treatments will repair and restore the hair shaft and cuticle at at a reasonable pace which will prevent further shock and protein overload.

It sounds crazy but our hair does talk to us. We just don’t tend to listen to it. Listen to your hair’s needs because the current condition of your hair will always help you to determine the right treatment for your strands. This will create a healthy and thriving foundation for optimal hair health and growth.

How do you incorporate protein into your healthy hair care regimen? What hair care brands do you prefer to keep your hair’s protein levels in check? Here’s a tutorial on how I restore protein and my natural curl pattern to my hair after heat styling:

Thanks for reading!

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