The 4-1-1 On Protein and Natural Hair
Many people, especially as they become older, want thick and healthy hair. Hair grows at a rate of 0.5 inches (1.25 cm) each month and 6 inches (15 cm) per year. Age, health, genetics, and food all influence how quickly it grows. Although you can't change things like your age or DNA, you can control your nutrition. In reality, hair loss can be caused by a diet lacking in critical nutrients.
Eating a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet, on the other hand, can help promote hair growth, especially if you're getting hair loss as a result of inadequate nutrition.
To grow, your hair requires nourishment and vitamins. If you want healthy hair, you must maintain your hair and scalp clean. To avoid breakage and hair loss, you must combat knots, and your hair, of course, requires moisture to look and feel healthy. To prevent your hair from drying, you should seal moisture into it. However, this isn't a foolproof method for achieving healthy hair. One crucial component is missing: protein.
You may be aware that protein is required for hair growth; you may even include protein in your diet or regularly apply protein treatments to your hair. But, what exactly does protein do for your hair? What happens if you don't have enough protein in your hair? How does protein interact with moisture in hair? Keep reading for the answers to these questions and more!
So, What Are Proteins?
When we talk about proteins, most people think of them as macronutrients found in meals alongside carbohydrates and fat. However, proteins make up a significant portion of our bodies, about 20% to be exact. Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles, cartilage, skin, nails, and hair, to name a few.
Proteins are required in our diet to keep our bodies functioning properly. When we talk about hair and proteins, it's crucial to remember that proteins are the most crucial component of hair, accounting for roughly 91 percent of the total, along with water, lipids, traces of minerals, and other substances.
Keratin is a protein that makes up 88-90 percent of every single strand of hair on your head. You might be shocked to learn that protein accounts for 20% of your body weight. As a result, you must consume a sufficient amount of protein in your daily diet to ensure that hair development and all of your other bodily functions are adequately maintained.
Naturals who experience hair breakage or brittleness following a protein treatment generally attribute it to the usage of protein in hair products.
As a result, products containing protein tend to have a negative reputation. It's past time to clean the air.
As we now know, protein makes up the majority of your hair's structure. As a result, it stands to reason that if your hair became protein deficient at any point, only a protein treatment would be able to help - even if only briefly. Hair product manufacturers have added protein to almost every product to persuade you that the product you're buying will help you grow your hair (since it contains "super protein" after all).
The issue is that protein in hair products serves a single objective - to strengthen your hair through temporary rebuilding. Protein molecules in a treatment will attach to your hair shaft and strengthen it if utilized correctly. Will it be difficult? Yes. Is that what it's intended to be? Yes.
You'll need to utilize heat to expand the hair follicles open after washing your hair and applying a protein treatment. Protein molecules can then bind with the hair shaft, strengthening it.
If you use a protein-based leave-in conditioner or other "surface" treatment, your hair will become hard and brittle. Additional hair breaking occurs due to this brittle, stiff hair, undermining the aim of employing protein in the first place.
It will stay that way, giving you what you think is "protein sensitivity," unless you use a deep moisturizing conditioner to re-soften your hair after the protein treatment. Moisture/protein balance is what it's called.
Beyond, how you treat your hair after a protein treatment is just as, if not more, crucial than how you apply it. Proteins aren't all created equal (ex: silk, wheat, and collagen). Some proteins are subjected to more abrasive treatments than others.
Importance of Protein to Hair
Our hair can only be partially repaired by protein when damaged by normal weathering, chemical treatments, sun exposure, pollution, washing, drying, combing, and styling heat use. A protein treatment fills in gaps in your hair strands and forms a temporary link. To be successful, a protein treatment must be comprised of hydrolyzed proteins, which means that the protein's size must be tiny enough to connect to the hair shaft. You can't do just one protein treatment a year because the repairing of your hair is very temporary. If you include protein treatments in your hair routine regularly, your hair will flourish. Some important things to note is that:
- Protein lowers the porosity of your hair. Porous hair is non-uniform and has gaps, making it vulnerable to injury. This is due to the ease with which different components such as colors, pollutants, and other substances can be absorbed into the gaps.
- Hair with adequate protein levels is protected from the different adverse effects of chemicals found in hair colors.
- Protein is the building block of our hair and is crucial in mending damaged hair tissues, ensuring durability and fullness.
- With adequate protein levels in your hair, you can get thick, glossy, and bouncy hair.
Which Proteins to Use
Proteins can be found in various foods, and you've indeed plastered your hair with homemade treatments, including protein-rich items like eggs, coconut milk, avocado, or mayonnaise. And these are fine to use if your hair isn't severely damaged and you're using them as a preventative measure or because you think it makes your hair feel better. There's no harm in trying. D.I.Y. combinations. However, they are insufficient if you bleach, color, apply regular heat, and have badly damaged hair.
Because proteins from eggs and other similar components are too large to penetrate the hair shaft and aid in repairing protein links in the cortex, this is the case. These large protein molecules will, at best, only heal damage at the cuticle level, and they may be washed out once the hair is rinsed. However, if you think it's good for your hair, keep doing it.
Proteins must be broken down into tiny pieces to reach the cortex, as the amino acids that make them up might contain hundreds to thousands of links. Hydrolyzed proteins can cling to proteins in the cortex, create temporary connections with them, and lie on the hair shaft to repair holes, chips, and splits. They can be regarded as conditioning agents because they make our hair feel softer due to this. They're also hydrating because the amino acids in them attract and hold water.
According to research, hair treated with hydrolyzed proteins can maintain moisture for long periods. What is the significance of this? It's crucial since badly damaged hair is more porous, brittle, dull, stiff, and susceptible to breakage. Hydrolyzed protein-treated hair is "mended" and retains water, and hydrated hair is more flexible, has more luster, and better definition.
Recommended Products with Protein
This blend of Shea Butter, Rice Bran Oil, Baobab Oil, Bamboo Extract, Slippery Elm Bark, Marshmallow Root, Nettle Leaf, Papaya Leaf and Hydrolyzed Quinoa Protein was formulated specifically to soften and condition hair that feels extra dry and brittle.
Nutrient-rich Sea Kelp and ultra-moisturizing Avocado are blended with Honey and Aloe alongside Hydrolyzed Silk Protein to turn your scalp into a breeding ground for long, healthy tresses.
A specially formulated blend of Keratin, Hydrolyzed Silk Protein and Argan Oil, help to seal the hair’s cuticle for added shine and durability for healthy looking hair.
With all these products in place, you will be giving your natural hair its best growth, enhancing its protein level, and the beauty it deserves.