Last updated on November 11th, 2023 at 11:16 am
In my 15+ years of being in the natural hair community, I’m convinced that people are not as informed about the structure of hair as they are about how to style it. One of the biggest issues that many face is how to use protein in hair; rather, how to use it properly.
Believe it or not, your hair is made up of mostly PROTEIN – anywhere between 65 to about 90%. So, what’s this “protein sensitivity” thing that you keep hearing about?
The term has taken the natural hair community by storm but it’s quite ambiguous. You may believe that protein sensitivity means you just can’t use protein in your hair. That is simply untrue.
Protein Sensitivity or Overload?
The problem is not sensitivity to protein. It’s overload of said protein.
If you use protein when your hair doesn’t need it or if you just use too much of it, then you will get protein overload. It can be likened to taking an antibiotic when you don’t have a need for it. Eventually, you become resistant to it.
For those with fine hair, protein in regular doses is beneficial depending on the type of used and the porosity of the hair. For example, those with low porosity fine hair (like me) can use light proteins regularly.
Without getting very technical, you can read about the structure of hair here. That link will explain all about protein and your hair.
Protein treatments can be beneficial for all hair types and textures but It’s not my goal to convince you of that. Why? Because how much protein YOU can use can be totally too much or too little in comparison to what someone else can use.
There’s many types of protein treatments on the market. Some are indicated for maintaining the health and integrity of hair. Others are meant to put a cease to severe breakage.
It’s your role to figure out which type of protein you need and I have faith in your ability to reach that conclusion.
Here’s an article to help guide you along the way: How to Deal With Protein in Hair Products
What I aim to share here is some ways you can use protein in your regimen even if you think you’re protein sensitive.
How to Use Protein: DIY Treatment
While not many natural proteins are capable of penetrating the hair strand (they typically need to be hydrolyzed), many ladies express that using eggs, avocado and even mayonnaise have helped strengthen their hair. What have you got to lose?
Do Sporadic Light Treatments
Even the strongest head of hair can benefit from a protein treatment from time to time. Using a deep conditioner containing a light protein that is ALSO moisture balanced in your hair will not cause your hair to react negatively. You can use this as a maintenance treatment.
Minimal Protein Use in Stylers
Most people don’t realize it but many hair styling products have some form of protein in them. These are usually light proteins and are far down on the ingredient list, meaning they are not abundant in the product.
Increase Your Dietary Intake
Let’s face it. If you aren’t getting an adequate supply of protein in your diet, your hair will suffer (among other things).
You can use all the topical protein treatments in the world but your body will pull strength from your hair or any other part of your body and distribute it to your most important organs (ex: heart, brain).
It’s recommended to multiple .36 by your weight in pounds to determine the adequate grams of protein to intake daily. You’ll need more if you are looking to gain muscle.
Read more about protein intake in this article from Harvard Medical School
Highlights for How to Use Protein
The term protein sensitivity can be greatly misunderstood. When deciding to use protein in your hair, just keep the following in mind and you won’t have any issues with using it:
- Use protein if your hair is breaking
- Eat a sufficient diet of protein rich foods
- Always balance your protein treatment with moisture. Deep conditioning sans protein to restore balance
- Deep condition with a product containing a light protein that’s also moisture balanced from time to time. A handful of times per year is a good non-rule of thumb
- Use stylers containing very light amounts of protein far down on the ingredient list