Protein treatments, we’ve all heard about them but what are they actually? Growing up our mothers might have used some at-home remedies to infuse our hair with protein, such as the egg and mayo treatment but, did these treatments really work? Did they have the lasting benefits that were intended for our hair? Let’s investigate what we have already learned about the structure of hair. In the previous blog post, we learned that hair consists of 90% proteins including Keratin and Collagen. Therefore, having the proper protein and moisture balance in our hair is key to having healthy and strong hair. Too much protein and not enough moisture can lead to dry and brittle hair. However, too much moisture (known as hygral fatigue) and not enough protein can lead to hair feeling, mushy, weak, and lifeless. Let’s examine the structure of protein so we can utilize it in our healthy hair routine.
What is Protein?
The US National Library of Medicine defines proteins as large, complex molecules that are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. They are made up of thousands of smaller units called amino acids which are attached to one another in long chains. Only 20 different amino acids are needed to create a protein. Therefore, amino acids are necessary for achieving a healthy body including growing stronger and longer hair. One of the best ways to grow strong hair to is to consume a healthy diet rich in proteins.
What foods are rich in protein?
Typically, when we hear the word protein we automatically think of meat. But we actually need a variety of proteins in order to maximize our results. Proteins can be found in both plants and animals with a recommendation to consume more plant then animal proteins. Here’s a list of some protein-rich foods that can be easily incorporated in your diet.
Plant Based Proteins (Medical News Today 15 Best plant base-proteins)
· Tofu, tempeh and edamame
· Peanuts/Almonds or Almond Milk
· Mycoprotein (fungus-based protein)
· Chia seeds/Hemp Seeds
· Beans with rice
· Dark green, leafy vegetables- Kale, Broccoli, mushrooms
· Ezekiel Break
Meat Based Lean Protein
· Chicken Breast
· Mahi Mahi
· Pork Tenderloin
· 99% Lean Ground Turkey
· Eye of Round Steak
· Turkey Breast
· Tuna Fish
Protein Treatments for hair
While a protein-rich diet is the best way to benefit from protein, topical use of protein treatments can have some benefit as well. However, we just learned that protein molecules are very large and cannot penetrate the hair strand. So even though the egg and mayo treatment might temporarily make your hair feel good, it is not binding to the hair strand. Why? Because the molecules are too large, they cannot penetrate the hair shaft however, they can temporarily coat the strand. So what type of protein treatments work?
Keratin is a fibrous protein bound together by a strong chemical bond known as a disulfide bridge. In order to break these bonds, a process called hydrolysis is required. Hydrolysis is and electro-chemical process that separates the hydrogen and oxygen molecules with electricity. This causes the protein molecules to unchain into smaller amino acids. This process allows the hair to absorb the partially or fully hydrolyzed amino acids. So, in other words, hydrolyzed proteins are the only proteins that can be absorbed in the hair. See below for a list of hydrolyzed proteins.
Hydrolyzed Silk Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
Hydrolyzed Milk Protein
Hydrolyzed Keratin Protein
Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein
List of benefits of each protein can be found in the following link
When and How to Use on Your Hair
If your hair feels weak, dry, or damaged or chemically treated, regular use of hydrolyzed proteins should be part of your regimen. Some find regular protein use either monthly or bi-monthly works best for their hair’s needs. You may choose to use products that contain high amounts of proteins that don’t condition the hair or conditioners that contain protein.
List of protein treatments:
· Aphogee Two-Step Protein treatment
· Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor
· Curly Hair Solutions Pure Silk Protein Deep Moisturizing Treatment
· Curl Junkie Curl Rehab Moisturizing Hair Treatment
· Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils Softening Conditioner
· DevaCurl Intense Moisture Treatment
How have you incorporated protein in your regimen