Does my hair need protein?
Question: How do you know if your hair needs protein or not?
Well, this is somewhat of a Subjective topic in that there is not really an Objective Truth for EVERYONE needing protein.
As a curly hair specialist working with hair since 1986 I was working for years without any issues with my clients struggling with their hair. it was only as the internet became more available and online forums & groups of curly hair people starting sharing their experience that created some confusion on the topic - and like reading WebMed - some of my clients experienced 'symptoms' just from reading the overwhelming amount of information that all of a sudden became available.
I mention this so we can determine that protein is a subjective matter more so than an objective truth.
For years one manufacture I know said that you do NOT need protein in the products as protein can only come into the hair mainly from your diet. I believe that to be true as well as STILL needing protein support AS NEEDED FROM A PRODUCT is valid to me.
In cosmetology school I worked with ingredients and a hair microscope that would show what could happen to a strand of hair - as we used ingredients on the strand of hair that gave us a visual result. A one time application is one thing - what happens over time is another topic.
We used to use a protein repair treatment that was a liquid form that could be added to other ingredients creating a custom formula for each person....and that was important, as each person reading this may need a subjective formulation vs an over the counter general treatment (of which there is an overwhelming amount of confusing options) - IF you even need a protein treatment.
I will not be recommending products in the article - as others do this and its overwhelming and confusing - my goal is for you to learn if you even need it, then how to use it with method and techniques.
Question: What is it that is confusing most people about protein?
Those with wavy & curly hair (I am using those terms to cover most people with any form of bumpy wave to tight curls) have a cuticle layer that is more raised up than straight hair.
This raised cuticle makes are hair more vulnerable than those with a closed cuticle (usually associated with straight hair). If you brush hair with a raised cuticle, sleep on cotton pillow cases, use a towel to briskly rub the hair dry, etc you will - with repetition - cause stress lines on the hair and this will create breakage over time. The breakage creates & contributes to thinness at the ends for less density hair and what we call 'halo' of which are shorter strands of hair that are floating around your head of hair that will not lay down on all types of hair.
With our raised cuticle - our hair is in most cases dryer than other hair types - which looks frizzy and feels drier or the last couple of inches are 'straw-like' by touch. I say that as those are the descriptive words my clients use.
This makes many think, "My hair is damaged" - why? because most manufactures AND marketing create this image in your brain that there is something wrong with your hair - to create a desire in you - that by reading their product description - will make you spend your money on their product AND the same thing happens with brand ambassadors on Instagram and Youtube that are not hairstylists.
This is why I focus on method & technique more so than brands in my teachings. I am a non-brand based educator (rare in our industry and most likely why you will not find me on their web pages or industry magazines as I do not take their financial support to be told what to do or say).
People with 'dry' and 'damaged' hair purchase and use protein treatments and end up - in most cases - not all - but most - HATING the results - as dry hair does not need protein it needs HYDRATION in most cases. Protein makes your hair feel MORE 'straw-like'. It feels like as if you need to apply a boat load of conditioner on it to get your fingers through it as it can bunch all up in a tangle weed mess.
Stylists using products with silicone based ingredients can 'trick' you with products to buy in the salon as the silicone (and a few other trick-you ingredients) can make the hair feel slick and tangle free....but over time those 'trick-you' ingredients build up on the hair strand and prevent anything good to go onto or into the hair and your hair will dry out underneath the coating and start breaking off causing your ends to look thin and create more 'halo'.
With this going on in most peoples hair there was and STILL is this 'underground movement' of people saying, "I am protein sensitive" of which SOME people are....but in many cases I have seen people REVISIT protein later on as their hair gets healthier - as needed - and it helps them with having some structure to their hair.
Protein provides 'structure' to your hair IF YOU NEED IT.
Many with strong waves or curl formations do not need protein often - only occasionally AS NEEDED. So, how can you tell if you need it?
Say you have wavy hair and your hair is nice, strong and have great formations and over time your formations become ELONGATED. This is a sign you are loosing structure to your hair - this is a time for you to try a protein treatment (I would purchase the smallest tube as many only need it every 3 months or so), as the treatment can bring a bounce to your hair that it did not have before the treatment.
BUT - I recommend doing a DETOX first to remove anything that may inhibit your formations from fully expressing their glory - as you do a detox first and then hydrate to see if that will spring up the hair.
Also, people in dryer environments do not care as much for protein as their hair will elongate and loosen up BUT be healthy (not needing protein) or it is dry and needs hydration - and when they move to a more humid environment their hair springs up and then they still need hydration and more hold (a Sealer in The MAP Method & Cultivate Your Curls).
This brings up how protein can give the hair structure when used as a treatment that deposits the protein molecule onto or into the hair - treatments can go INTO the hair and other molecules can go ONTO the hair.
The MAP Method prefers to hydrate the hair first and to then use SOME stylers (a Filler and Sealer) with one having protein in the Sealer option that will provide structure in the form of hold on your formations. Hydration first the hold second.
Some observations I have learned that are not true for everyone - again, this is a subjective experience with general observations:
- Highlighted and dry looking/feeling hair needs more hydration initially and then over time see if you need some protein. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: I have many clients that NEVER use protein treatments and have beautiful hair.
- Finer hair can take protein more so than thicker strands of hair - again finer hair usually has a cuticle that is more closed down and can loose structure to their hair needing a boost - thicker hair can have a more open cuticle and not care for how protein will respond to it.
- Color treated hair needs more hydration than protein. I have seen hair look lighter and be more brittle with too much protein, whereas I have experienced hair to look richer and feel soft with proper hydration and not need protein at all.
- If your hair feels 'wonky' (a client term) - it more likely will need more hydration. Hair that feels NOT wonky is usually hydrated, softer and just feels right to you.
- When you stretch your hair and it breaks it needs hydration - if it springs back it is fine - if it does nothing on a stretch you MAY need some protein.
AGAIN - these are just observations based on over 30 years of experience and it truly is unique to each individual that sits in my chair.
There are NO RULES for this topic as each of you have a unique structure to your hair, you color and or have highlights, strand elasticity, raised or lower cuticle, use a variety of different products, have hard/soft water at home or from traveling, oil glands from the scalp, and your over all diet that can be taken into consideration that all affect what your hair will do and how it will respond to what you use and do on it.
This is why I tell all of those that get Cultivate Your Curls to take a break from all of the online pollution and to give The MAP Method 30 days to work and then you can bring in what you used to do back in the day or to no longer do what you used to do - also, save your good products as you can always revisit them when your hair becomes more healthy over the 30 day trial period of finding out what your hair can become.
Finally - I always recommend doing a detox first as taught to you in Cultivate Your Curls online course - then hydrate. If that works then great.
If not, then purchase a small tube of protein treatment to try that option and see how your hair responds. Remember - more is not better as you listen to your Inner Curl Mentor and see, feel and hear how your hair does over time to know what to do (as taught in the course).
AND - do not over protein your hair with all protein products - most people just need protein in the Sealer Phase (Gel) for more hold and 'structure' to their hair.
There is something called "Product/Protein Flashing/Freezing" where you apply a protein treatment and your hair feels great and has 'slip' and when you apply a protein styler on next it 'freezes' up and feels wonky as if you lost all slip and makes you panic! Don't worry - we have found that you can still style your hair but it will feel less than desirable and somewhat 'dry' feeling but still look nice - you do not have to start all over in most cases. Just do not do that in your next start of your Day One styling process.
Whew, I could go on and on - it really is an exhaustive topic that is really only touched on as it truly is unique for each of you reading this = so that makes it a touchy topic for many reading this with judging this a relevant or even true - in most cases it is, but is not in others - and I REALIZE THIS - as it is Subjective.
This blog topic is for your general information and consideration.
Have a blessed day,
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