If your hair is damaged and your hair care routine doesn’t include protein, you’ll never get your strands back in shape. Protein is the predominant structure of hair. So once it becomes protein deficient, (AKA damaged) protein is the only thing that can repair it. A protein hair treatment, also known as a keratin treatment, is a game-changer in the fight against split-ends and breakage. Protein reinforces your hair strands making them shiny and strong. If you’ve got damage, or you’re just wondering how to strengthen your hair, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about keratin protein hair treatments.
In order to understand how protein treatments work, you first need to understand a little about the structure of your hair. Hair is 95% protein, specifically keratin. Keratin is made up of a chain of 18 different amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Keratin protein is what keeps your hair strands structured and strong, encouraging hair growth and maintaining its health and elasticity. But exposure to harsh chemicals, hot tools, pollution, and even everyday styling can weaken these chains of keratin protein, leading to damage in the form of dry hair, frizz, split ends, breakage, even hair loss. This is where protein treatments come in.
A protein hair treatment works to repair damaged strands by reinforcing them with more protein. This type of treatment uses wheat proteins that have gone through hydrolysis. This means that they are broken down into particles that have a low molecular weight and are small enough to pass through the cuticle and bind with hair keratin.It also fills in any protein gaps and forms a barrier around the hair shaft, protecting the hair cuticle from future damage.
Besides repairing your severely damaged strands, a keratin protein treatment has several other benefits, no matter what your hair type. They include the following
Here are 5 signs that your hair needs a protein intervention, immediately!
These are the most common types of protein treatments for hair:
Also referred to as a "Brazilian blowout" or a smoothing treatment, a professional keratin treatment is an in-salon chemical process that reforms the keratin bond inside your hair fibre to keep it closed for a smooth texture. Professional keratin treatments use heat straightening to resurface the protein bonds in your hair and strengthening them from within. The result is straighter, smoother, easier-to-manage hair that lasts around three months.
A protein hair mask can produce similar results to a professional keratin treatment. But unlike their in-salon counterparts, hair masks work in minutes with less intense and shorter-lasting results. Use a protein hair mask once a week as the middle step between shampooing and conditioning. If your roots get oily, apply the mask from your hair’s mid shaft down to the ends. But if the hair closest to your scalp is dry, damaged, or has broken off, apply the mask to your roots as well. Be sure to follow the hair mask leave-in time instructions on the label. You don’t want to leave protein in your hair longer than what’s recommended, otherwise you run the risk of over-proteinized hair, which makes it more prone to breakage or worse- falling out. Rinse the protein hair mask hair out thoroughly with warm water, and finish with a protein-free conditioner to seal in hydration.
This type of protein hair treatment infuses hair strands with amino acids, the building blocks of protein. These work to strengthen the keratin bonds within the hair with each use. Amino acids add body, softness and shine to the hair and are ideal to use as a heat protectant before using hot tools. Apply an amino acid hair treatmentto your damp hair from base to ends, then comb it through. Use it after scalp serums and before other hair treatments or styling products.
Egg, yogurt, mayonnaise, avocado, and coconut milk are rich sources of proteins. Here’s how you can use them to create these DIY protein hair masks. Rotate these deep conditioning treatments weekly, or choose a favorite!
Egg-yogurt mask: Eggs are power-packed with proteins and collagen, making your hair feel smooth and shiny. They also help promote hair growth. Yogurt is rich in probiotics that can enhance hair health.
Avocado-coconut milk hair mask: Coconut milk is a rich source of protein, while avocados contain vitamins A, B, and E, all of which are vital for hair health. This mask also hydrates and boosts the production of collagen, which promotes hair growth.
Banana-avocado hair mask: Bananas contain potassium, natural oils, vitamins, and carbohydrates that nourish and soften your hair and strengthen it. Avocados are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and essential amino acids.
Mayonnaise-egg hair mask: Both mayonnaise and egg are rich in protein. This is the perfect DIY hair mask for taming frizz.
Yogurt-cream-egg hair mask: Any hair mask that contains yogurt is excellent for cleaning your scalp and hair shafts. Yogurt removes build-up while moisturizing and nourishing your strands.
Your hair needs protein, especially damaged hair care routine doesn’t include protein treatments, it’s time to step up your game. Hair is almost entirely composed of protein, and once it’s compromised, the only way to repair it is with more protein. Adding a protein hair treatment into your regular rotation is essential for hair growth and your best defense against split-ends and breakage from everyday styling and wear-and-tear; especially if you have chemically treated hair. If you’re wondering how to repair damaged hair a protein treatment reinforces your hair strands, giving you healthy hair that’s shiny and strong.
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor
Photos by @goldandglowco