What is a protein treatment?
Does your hair feel dry and brittle? Are your ends always splitting and are your curls not popping as they should? You could potentially benefit from a protein treatment. Protein treatments for hair (curly, relaxed, or otherwise) consist of adding various products or processes to externally add protein and strength to your strands.
Our hair is subject to elements – whether environmental or natural – that constantly cause damage to our hair. Even basic cleansing and styling adds minor stress to your tresses.
Protein treatments – which can be accomplished either at home using household and store bought products or at the salon penetrate the hair by adding protein to the relatively tiny gaps of the hair follicle. Although our hair follicles are primarily made up of proteins (called keratin), this does not mean that external protein treatment will be an immediate fix for your hair issues.
You are different from everyone around you and, therefore, so are the processes that work best for your hair. You may benefit from an external treatment, or you may find that it doesn’t work for you the way you want it to.
Adding protein to your body using vitamins and protein rich diets could prove to be more beneficial in the long run.
Benefits of a protein treatment for natural hair
The benefits of a protein treatment include:
- Softer hair
- Strengthened strands
- Additional moisture
- Extra body and volume
- Thicker hair
Using the right protein-rich products could make your hair softer, more moisturized, and enhance your curls overall. Protein treatments could also be useful for color-treated and/or damaged hair.
However, long-term and excessive protein treatments or leaving the products in your hair for too long may actually be detrimental and lead to breakage. Only use protein treatments as needed for your hair.
You may read online or see a YouTube video where someone says that they use external protein treatments once a week or every other week. This may be too much for your hair.
You also may not always receive all of these same benefits when doing an external protein treatment on your hair. Like with everything, maintaining curly hair is an ongoing learning process and figuring out what works for your hair is the most important.
How often should you do a protein treatment on natural hair?
As mentioned in the above sections, too many protein treatments could cause hair to stiffen and break off. It is recommended that women and men with curly hair use protein treatments about once or twice a month not over to process the hair.
Too much of anything, even necessary processes like adding protein to the hair, could turn into a problem and could potentially reverse your progress.
Protein treatments at home
Protein treatments can be accomplished at home using store bought treatments or treatments at the salon. But did you know that it’s possible to achieve a protein treatment by mixing up household items that you may have in your kitchen right now?
Mix in any variation of these elements commonly found in your kitchen to create your own protein treatment at home:
Eggs are rich in protein but may need to be added to other products because the protein in eggs may be too large to fit into the tiny gaps in your hair follicles. Make sure to rinse any egg protein treatment with cool water; rinsing with warm to hot water will cause the egg to scramble in your hair.
Trust, this will lead to a HUGE mess and will be tough to get the little egg pieces out of your hair. Protein treatments without egg are possible and will still be effective in your hair.
Avocado is rich in fatty acids and protein treatments with avocado that has been mushed could add moisture to your hair.
Non-fat, plain Greek yogurt strengthens curly strands and adds additional moisture to the hair. It must be a staple product in your protein treatment.
It’s easy to apply, doesn’t require mashing, and the protein should be able to enter the hair follicle easier than most other products. Raw honey, mayonnaise and olive oil would also be great products to use in your homemade protein mixture.
How to make a protein treatment for natural hair
Combine as many products as you want into a small bowl. You do not have to put a lot of products into your mixture; just use whatever you have.
It’s preferred that the mixture is heated either on the stovetop or in the microwave (covered) but you must be careful when warming mixtures with egg to ensure that the egg will not scramble. Dampen your hair and evenly apply the mixture to your hair.
Cover your hair with a plastic cap or plastic shopping bag and let the mixture sit on your hair for 30-45 minutes. Do not let the mixture sit on your hair for too long; this may cause your hair to harden and break off.
Once your time is up, rinse the mixture out of your hair with cool to lukewarm water and shampoo/condition like normal.
Protein treatments at the salon
Keratin treatments, which are chemical treatments added to hair, have become increasingly popular. According to InStyle.com, “Keratin treatments fill in the porosity of your hair, as overly porous hair causes tangles, frizz, and breakage.
Your hair is made up of keratin, so the treatment is putting the protein back into the hair, which is often lost due to age and chemical services.” Ensure that you consult with your stylist to determine the exact formula for your hair.
Keratin treatments are multi-faceted and work well for African American hair as well as other textures of hair.
Protein treatment products
There are a few protein treatments that you can purchase from beauty supply stores and online stores:
These are not the only store bought products on the market. Search on Amazon, Sally Beauty, or any other website or store that sells hair products.
Read the reviews and determine which product may work best for you.
Protein treatment for relaxed hair
Black hair is versatile, and you are allowed to wear your hair in whatever style that you please. All hair faces some sort of damage; so, if you’re relaxed or natural, your hair can be damaged in some way.
Chemical relaxers break hair bonds so that hair can lay straight. Even when professionally applied, stripping the hair leaves it weak and vulnerable to breakage.
Protein treatments could still be beneficial for your hair. Use protein treatments in the same way that the natural hair girls and guys use them.
It is still recommended to only use protein treatments once or twice a month, and you must also be mindful of over-processing your hair.
Do protein treatments work for you?
To summarize: protein treatments could add moisture to your hair, strengthen strands, create body and volume, and could overall be a beneficial tool for natural and relaxed hair. You may use store bought protein treatments, receive a keratin treatment at the salon, and/or create your own protein treatments using household products at home.
Using egg and mayo (and many other products), you could create the simplest (yet most effective) homemade protein treatment; but you must remember to rinse the egg out with cold or lukewarm water as to not scramble the egg in your hair.
Bear in mind that using protein treatments for too long or too often could lead to hardening and breakage of the hair. Only you can determine which products work best for your hair and which processes are better for the overall health of your hair.
While there is a learning curve, protein treatments for natural hair and relaxed hair could improve the overall quality of your strands and give you the strengthened curl that you may be looking for.