protein for fine natural hair
Growth & Retention

Why Fine Hair Needs Protein & How to Strengthen It

protein for fine natural hair

You may like wearing weaves as a protective style from time to time but wouldn’t it be nice to get your hair to a point where a weave is optional and not just a means to sport long hair?

Let’s face it. Having fine natural hair can make you feel like there’s no hope for growing your own long hair. Hogwash.

Fine natural hair is indeed naturally vulnerable but using protein in your hair regimen can do wonders. As a matter of fact, the use protein for longer, stronger strands is a requirement. Now, before you either go out and start buying all the protein products you can find or you say something like, “I can’t use protein in my hair because it makes it hard,” let me shed a little light on the subject.

Protein is often misunderstood. Many people think they are “protein sensitive.” I’ve seen people buy it hook, line and sinker – without bothering to do a thorough research on what protein actually is, how to use it, and why your hair needs it.

Why Use Protein?

Every head of hair has different requirements but for those of us with fine natural hair, protein treatments are necessary to protect the integrity of the hair strand. Protein strengths fine strands, helps to temporarily repair damage and puts an end to breaking hair. The end result is length retention.

For one to say that they are protein sensitive is like saying they are allergic to blood or oxygen – each of which makes up a large part of the human anatomy. Hair is approximately  90% protein. So, it stands to reason that the only substance that can bond to the hair is something of the same…protein.

OK. Enough about why you need protein and how protein sensitivity is a total myth. Let’s take a look at the types of protein that can be used to strengthen fine hair.

Types of Protein

Some protein can cause the hair to feel dry and brittle. That’s why it’s important to know what type of protein to use in your hair. Using the right type of protein for your hair’s needs in addition to balancing out any protein treatments with deep conditioning (moisturizing sans protein) treatments, will ensure your hair is strengthened and pliable.

  • Keratin – hair is predominantly made up of this substance and is the strongest of all proteins
  • Collagen – also a natural part of hair, this type of protein helps to improve your hair’s ability to be more elastic
  • Wheat Protein – penetrates the cortex and strengthens the hair shaft from within
  • Silk Protein – derived from silk worms, this serves to strengthen and moisturize the hair leaving it with a silky feel
  • Vegetable Protein – absorbs into the hair shaft and works by binding water molecules to the hair fiber, providing deep moisture
  • Milk Protein – high in amino acids, strengthens and improves the condition of dry hair
  • Soy Protein – strengthens and mends split ends while also smoothing the hair shaft

If you purchase products containing protein, look for the word “hydrolyzed” on the ingredient label. This means that the type of protein in the product has been broken down to be small enough to attach to or penetrate the hair shaft.

Commercial Protein Products:

I don’t branch out and use many products. That’s because when I find what works, I don’t see a need to change it. Here are four protein treatments (varying types and strengths) that I’ve used successfully multiple times:

DIY Protein Treatments

There are a lot of great protein treatments on the market but what I’m currently using to strengthen my fine natural hair works best for maintenance:

– Henna Tea Spray (every 3 days)
– Full Strength Henna (quarterly)
– Goat’s Milk & Honey Treatment (every other week)

Now, the henna isn’t actually a protein treatment but it does strengthen hair with repeated use.

If you don’t currently use protein in your hair regimen and find that your hair is breaking or isn’t gaining in length, consider adding protein treatments to it. My fine natural hair is regularly fortified with protein and strengthening treatments. It’s made all the difference in the strength of my hair which ultimately aids in length retention.

fine natural hair

This post is a part of the series, “Sorting out a Fine Haired Natural’s Wash Day Step by Step.” Here are previous posts:

Why & How to Pre-Poo Fine Natural Hair

Cleansing Fine Natural Hair for Length Retention

Deep Conditioning Fine Natural Hair

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Michelle Smith
Michelle is a Christian special needs mom residing in the NYC area who shares useful tips to grow and maintain fine natural hair. She's a published author and Creator of Fine Natural Hair and Faith, inspiring others with faith for living along side knowledge on how to care for their "crown."

8 Comment

  1. Thank you, Michelle! I have super fine, straight (Caucasian) hair that’s been having a breakage problem for a few years. The ends of my hair are often dry and splitting, no matter what I do. I want to try a natural shampoo & conditioner with protien, but I was worried my hair might turn out to be “protien sensitive” as I haven’t really tried protien in it before. Now I know protien should be good for my fine hair. 🙂

    1. hi Courtney-

      Yes protein is good for your hair. You just need to balance out the protein with deep conditioning so your hair is left pliable. A great way to get the strength and moisture you need is with herbs like amla and henna. You can do a pre-poo with an Amla mask and follow up with a henna gloss. I’ll be sharing more about that soon.

  2. Thank God I found you today, I was loosing all hope and didnt know why my hair has been limp and very brittel for the past month, even a trimm didnt stop the breakage. Am living in Germany for the past 23 years (45 now) and went into town to look for product, but discovered that they dont really do protein. In the biggest “Wallmart, they only had one “starch mask”, with hardly any protein. I was wondering, seeing that most of them have fine hair, why dont their hair suffer like mine did and I have only been natural for 8 months.. For some reason I thought most curly girls are protein sensitive, cause a lot of hair gurus seem to be promoting that. Am so glad I finally understand this whole thing and actually ordered Aphogee 2 step via Amozon. Once again thank you so much for saving my hair journey.
    Much Love and God Bless

    1. Hi Anthea-

      That’s very interesting that protein isn’t something readily available in Germany for hair care. Don’t overuse the Aphogee. You still have to balance with plenty of moisture. One treatment that’s exceptionally good for maintaining protein and moisture balance levels is a DIY goat’s milk treatment I use. You can use it every 2 weeks. It works wonderfully. Plus saves you money because it’s a DIY. Here’s a link:

  3. How often should we use protein on fine hair. You say once a month but than say people with fine hair should use it on a regular basis. What is that basis please?

    1. Hi Brittnie, Once a month is a guideline for minimal protein treating. It depends on your hair’s needs. For those with fine hair, light protein treatments or other fortifying treatments like henna and cassia can be used more often. For example, A henna gloss is a light strengthening treatment that performs much like protein treatments. In the case of the henna gloss, it can be used weekly.
      I also use a DIY goat’s milk conditioner which is protein/moisture balanced:

      I’ve used that recipe weekly

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