One of the biggest mistakes I've made since going natural, was not including enough protein conditioners and treatments in my hair care regimen. I knew building the proper regimen would take a lot of trial and error before I found one that would stick, but I think I bought a little too much into the the the idea that natural hair does not need as much protein as relaxed or processed hair. I did one protein treatment the day I chopped and could probably count on one hand the amount of times I used any kind of core protein product on my hair for the next 6 months. Eventually I started noticing the splits, some at the the end , some mid shaft that looked more shattered than split. At first, I was puzzled, I had been doing all the right things, washing and deep conditioning often, protective styles, avoiding excess heat... so what gave?! Then I remembered how great my hair felt post wash after having been straightened, and the only thing I did different was use a protein dc. I began to wonder why I ever stopped using protein in the first place, I had the products in stock. Needless to say, I've been reincorporating it into my regimen, alternating with protein based deep conditioners and treatments as needed.
Why are protein conditioners and treatments important
Proteins help to fill in the spots on the hair strand that are missing cuticles and that are damaged areas. While they can't permanently repair hair, proteins help strengthen hair and help reduce the damage caused by everyday wear and tear.
Different types of proteins
Protein products are commonly referred to as light, medium or hard, based on the amount of protein they contain. Reconstuctor products are often considered hard proteins as many of them contain mostly protein and require a two step application in which the protein is applied to the hair and allowed to harden and a subsequent moisturizing deep conditioner to replenish the moisture and pliability of the hair. Whether a conditioner is considered light or medium is based on the amount of protein and the type of protein. When looking for protein content in product labels, some key words to look for are silk protein, keratin, soy protein, milk protein, collagen and elastin. There are many more, but the ones mentioned are very common.
Some of my faves:
Aubrey organics GPB, I consider this to be light, and can easily be used weekly. My relaxer hair didn't care for it, but I'm glad I gave it another shot. Leaves my hair super soft and cut down breakage
This is my holy grail, protein reconstructor. Been using it for years and it has never failed me. I consider it to be a medium-hard product. I can leave it on for a few minutes or go under the dryer and allow it to harden for a stronger treatment. I always DC after using this product.
Protein products are an essential part of haircare and should have a place in every hair regimen. The amount and type of protein used is going to vary greatly based on individual hair needs, so be sure to do some research to find out what products best fit your needs.