November 8, 2011

When the Difference is Protein…

A few years ago Fro and I encountered our most distressful moment along the natural hair journey after experiencing a pretty horrific bout with heat damage. I’m talking over 80% of kinks and curl officially obliterated due to negligence and lack of knowledge.


The experience was more than eye-opening, it was a catalyst for me to no longer leave the care of Fro in the hands of another, or rather get to know her needs so that I’m her best line of defense if something does not feel right. At the time it was a no brainer, and the perfect excuse to try out hair treatments that would hopefully restore Fro back to health, and because I’d had a head full of color treated hair it was no surprise at how easily a few dozen test strands reacted once a protein conditioner was applied.

Heat damage is just one indicator that your hair needs more than just repair…it needs a better game plan. Often with natural hair that is heavily manipulated with tools, over washed with harsh surfactants, over moisturized and in this case damaged due to heat…protein can serve as the starting point to the healing process because it helps to fill in those pesky cuticle gaps in the hair.  Now, call it coincidence…but while I retreated into sabbatical land over the past few weeks, seems as if my hair habits did as well. Before I knew it, dryness, an infiltration of knots and constant shedding soon took over.

What you see in this pic is certainly nothing horrible, yet if you’ve come to understand the general health of your hair, the way it reacts when healthy, how it feels to the touch…you’d understand that looks are often very deceiving, lol. Fro was limp, lifeless and refusing to curl even when coaxed. It wasn’t until applying our last protein treatment did we see her return to full potential. Believe me, the difference was almost immediate, and going back to what I’d experienced due to heat damage over two years ago was the knowledge needed to take that first step towards repair.

This was taken on day 4 of a regular wash session and the difference was really in how great the hair felt to the touch…soft, moisturized & most importantly healthy.  The world of proteins can be a bit tricky to navigate if you’re unsure of what your hair innately lacks as far as health. So while a conditioning treatment with silk protein can often soften rough damaged hair, wheat protein can actually help retain moisture and strengthen. Fro and I opted for a Soy (plant) based protein treatment from Giovanni which has moisture retaining properties.

Experimenting is always the name of the game when it comes to figuring out what your natural hair craves, so don’t take risky bets on protein. Start off small with a deep treatment with little protein to see how hair reacts, or simply do a strand test. Curl Junkie’s Beauticurls Strengthening Conditioner carries Keratin to smooth out stubborn tangles and improves manageability and might be a great place to start as compared to a treatment that is heavily rich in rice, oat & keratin proteins like Spiral Solutions Repairing Protein Treatment.

[Alternative] At-Home Super Duper Deep Conditioning Treatment for Damaged Hair:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (room temperature if possible)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 egg yolks

Blend ingredients together until smooth & apply to freshly cleansed hair concentrating on the ends. Leave on for 30 minutes, or 15 minutes under a conditioning cap. Rinse and style as desired.

To read an awesome 2 part post on protein conditioners and their uses, click here for JC’s take over at The Natural Haven. I’ve been saying it for a while, but the natural hair journey really is  just one colossal learning curve with unending dips and turns, so it it’s often best to expect the unexpected but to always pay attention to the needs of your hair by simply observing (not panicking) and take note. With Fall already here & the colder months fast approaching, you can always map out a preeminent game plan to figure out your regimen, anticipate your hair’s needs so that when the time comes and you’re standing in the mirror asking what can You do…the answer won’t be such a stranger.

5 Responses to “When the Difference is Protein…”

  1. Shug

    I’ve been debating on doing a protein treatment, but I’m not really sure if I need one. I deep condition my hair every weekend and twist it afterwards. I wear a satin bonnet to bed everynight and keep my hair moisturized. I haven’t applied heat to my hair since March of this year. I did a big chop in September to get rid of the permanently straightened ends and decided to start over. Does it hurt to try the At-Home Protein Treatment?


    • Chai

      are you talking about the Aphogee treatment? This one’s a heavy duty one, sounds like you have pretty healthy strands though. If you find that your hair thrives off of a weekly deep treatment, consider yourself lucky, lol. Rarely do I need a protein treatment…but if you notice a slight change in how your hair behaves…maybe it’s a bit limp, lacks definition…appears more dry than usual even if you’re moisturizing daily…then I’d consider a tying a conditioner with protein. It’s just nice to have option when you know what’s possibly ‘wrong’ with your hair. Believe me…you’ll notice after the 1st application if your hair favors it or not;)


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