Happy Friday ladies, Jasmine here! Have you ever experienced Chicago in winter? Let me tell you – that is a unique kind of cold. And when it’s a windy winter day, forget it – it’s a powerfully brutal force that numbs your extremities and chills you to the bone. Aaahh! but as a Chicago native, I (mostly) loved it anyway because it meant spending the holidays with my family sledding, building snowmen, watching movies and having cocoa by the fire.
But rainy winter days were another story. Have you ever seen tree leaves after a winter rain? A layer of ice forms over them and if you try to pick one it snaps off in your hand. This is essentially the science behind protein treatments in beauty products for hair. When used to excess, protein can be the worst thing to happen to ethnic hair, ESPECIALLY processed and/or relaxed hair. However, we do need protein in our hair care regimens and when addressed properly we can avoid the breakage entirely and actually use protein to give our hair exceptional strength, shine, volume and moisture.
Protein in theory is great for our hair. The most important part of maintaining a healthy head of curly / relaxed hair is maintaining the tensile strength. Because of its structure and the varying coarseness of the types, we need lots of moisture to make sure our hair is in peak condition – this means soft defined curls for some or bouncy relaxed hair with a glossy sheen for others. When used correctly, protein coats the hair shaft sealing in moisture and making it stronger and less prone to breakage. However as one gets into the nuances of hair types, the amount of protein used and subsequent required maintenance starts to vary; in some cases protein can actually cause severe breaking and dryness in your hair.
My ethnic haired beauties, listen up! Here?s the lowdown:
Natural Curly / Wavy hair with normal to dry condition – women with this hair type tend to have a pretty healthy head of hair. Breakage may occur but it is minimal compared to your processed compadres. In your case, protein is more friend than foe. Deep conditioners, leave-in treatments, and protein treatments will give your hair strength and sheen. Heavy use in most cases will not have an adverse effect on your hair. In the event that you do experience some slight dryness and breakage, just use a little leave-in moisturizer without protein to counteract it.
Coarse Curly / Hair with dry to extremely dry condition – this hair type tends to be a little more delicate. Women with this type of hair should use protein but not very frequently – say 1-2 times a week at most. Protein treatments and deep conditioners with protein can help maintain a good PH and moisture balance but a leave-in moisturizer without protein needs to be used to avoid making the hair brittle and prone to breakage. If you have used leave-ins in the past that cause the hair to feel brittle and frizzy at the end of the day, this could be your culprit.
Relaxed hair or Colored curly hair with dry to extremely dry condition – I am in this category (mine is relaxed); protein and I have definitely had a love hate relationship over the past few years. Protein in and of itself is drying. Yet, because of the processed condition, this type of hair needs protein; but more importantly MOISTURE is the key to maintaining a healthy head of hair. Our deep conditioners should always have sufficient protein combined with concentrated moisturizers (i.e. oils, natural butters, etc) in it or else we are not getting the maximum benefit from our products. When we experience extreme breakage, protein is the one of the only things I trust will repair it. Keep in mind though that when protein is used, additional moisture needs to be given to the hair or it will become brittle and eventually snap causing broken, uneven lengths around the head. The only way to avoid this is to use leave-in moisturizers without protein once you give yourself a treatment or deep conditioner (under heat/ the dryer is ideal for our hair because it opens up the hair shaft and really allows the product to penetrate.) I repeat – DO NOT use leave-in products with protein. For us, the leave-in step is key to using protein to our advantage – we need products that will counteract the hardening effects of the protein by softening the hair shaft so that we have the optimal tensile strength (minimizes breakage) and correct PH (hair PH should be close to neutral…around a 7).
I have tried many products on the market and have come across a few that work the best for me. I have gone through many stages of damaged hair and breakage throughout my life, but protein treatments have been integral in bringing it back to a state of health time and again. To date, my hair is the longest and healthiest it has ever been and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my invaluable friend. In reality, I think most protein products are fine for us ethnic girls with the right maintenance.
If anyone would like any suggestions about the products I use or advice on how to maintain with protein, reach out in the forum and I will help you as best I can based on my own experiences.
Peace and light to all – have a great weekend!