At some point during your curl journey, you’re going to ask yourself this question:

Is something wrong with my hair? - You, me, and every curly person in the world 🌎

If you haven’t asked yourself this at least once since going natural, you’re fortunate and I want to know your secret. If you have asked this question, and have even thought of nagging follow-up questions to it, you’ve probably tried several "curly hair cures" and "curl recipes" and other concoctions to get your hair texture in a healthy state.

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Photo -- Courtney Clayton

What if I told you that something as simple as understanding the difference between hair protein treatments and coconut oil application could make all the difference? Would you believe me? Well, stick with me for a few moments so you can 1) wrap your mind, and curls, around protein treatments 2) understand the power of coconut oil and 3) figure out which of the two are best for your natural hair needs.

With the help of industry insiders like Ashley Rose and Sabrina Perkins, I’ll tell you which products you need to get soft, easy-to-style hair.

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Photo -- Samantha Geja

Does coconut oil have proteins in it?

First and foremost, take note that coconut oil does not contain proteins. While some oils do contain proteins, but those proteins are completely different from the ingredients in protein treatments.

Convoluted, I know. So, let’s get into the science. Take a moment to digest what natural hair expert Sabrina Perkins has to say about this:

“According to scientific consultant Yolanda Anderson, M.Ed., essential oils are created through distillation, which is a purification process that separates substances from one another via condensation or evaporation. Proteins are destroyed as their bonds are broken down during the process of distilling. Beyond distillation, proteins have even bigger issues than just the separating of the substances.”

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Photo -- Ayo Ogunseinde

So what does this mean for those of you who swear that coconut oil leaves your hair strands overwhelmingly dry and brittle?

It means that you may be using products that are formulated with coconut oil that has not been hydrolyzed. When oils are hydrolyzed, it’s a good thing! It means that oils have had the naturally occurring proteins separated from them.

This is especially important to understand for curlies who use co-washes as an alternative to shampoo and conditioner. You’ll want to ensure that you’re using a co-wash, like Coconut Restore Crème Conditioning Cleanser, that contains oils that have been hydrolyzed!

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Photo -- Thought Catalog

Protein Treatment or Coconut Oil for Hair: Which one do I need?

If you’re not sensitive to proteins and are wondering what the big deal is about removing them from oils like coconut or jojoba or from milk, you need to consider that those superfluous proteins simply aren’t doing your natural hair any favors. In fact, they just sit on top of your hair strands for an unnecessary amount of time (think: build up).

“Most proteins are too large to be effective, so hydrolysis is necessary for them to be broken down and absorb to your hair shaft, which is why the popular eggs and mayonnaise DIY protein treatments may not do what you think,” Perkins states, “It sounds complicated but the work is done for you in the lab when added to your hair products. It is a safe practice and widely used and accepted, so when you see it on a label know it is done to help strengthen your hair.”

This is good to know for every curly girl, but most especially if you’re sensitive to proteins (or suspect that you might be).  You’ll want to avoid proteins altogether and look for products that cotain pure essential oils.

Read more: Are you protein sensitive? Find out now! 

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Photo -- Jonas Ducker

Moisture-deficient curls need coconut oil

Intuition usually helps us curlies determine what our hair needs. So what if you’re truly at a loss when it comes to hair breakage and limp, lifeless curls? Well, I’d say that you need to take a quick hair strand test by placing one of your hair strands in a bowl of water, taking it out, stretching it and seeing what happens.

If the hair strand breaks easily when you attempt to stretch it, you definitely need to consider protein treatments to add strength to your stands (keep reading for more information). If the hair strand doesn’t show signs of elasticity or stretch, your hair is most like in need of moisture. To add moisture to your curls, introduce coconut oil-formulated products into your haircare and styling regimens. As we progress in this article, I’ll give you links to fantastic new products you’ll want in your regimen that are all olive and coconut oil-infused.

Even if you don’t have a moisture deficiency, I recommend the addition of coconut oil to everyone’s regimen. My stylist, Valincia Johnson at Hazel Beauty (Austin, TX), agrees and has encouraged me on several occasions to use Coconut Restore Styling & Setting Gelee when I’m not in her chair. 

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Photo -- Gustavo Souza

Brittle, breaking hair strands need protein treatments

Although our hair strands are more than 90 percent protein and amino acids, they can break down over time. Think about it: We regularly expose our curls to environmental damage such as too much sun, humidity, and even arid climates. For the sake of fashion, we color treat and dye our hair, causing the strands to break down and become porous. Some of us wear our protective styles too long.

All of these scenarios point to one thing: The protein that makes up the majority of your hair strand needs to be replenished from time to time.

Although you can probably tell that your hair strands need some kind of protein treatment, it’s best if you visit your stylist for a complete analysis and recommendation. Due to the natural hardening components of these treatments, I highly recommend that you seek a professional’s assistance because you do not want to mistakenly make your hair more brittle. 

Read more: Your Top 3 Protein Treatment Questions, Answered

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Photo -- Miguel Runa

Post-salon visit, you’ll want to maintain the integrity of your hair strands after they’ve been treated with keratin. In between visits, I recommend applying the Coconut Restore Keratin Intensive Repair Masque. This masque is especially beneficial for curlies who have fine-textured, medium-to-high porosity curls. It’s doubly magnificent for color treated hair because dyed curls are remarkably porous. To ensure that it’s reaching the cortex of every hair strand, I like to place a plastic shower cap over my masque-saturated curls for about 15-20 minutes to allow my natural body heat create a steam effect. 

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Photo -- Ian Dooley

Are you still curious about coconut oil-formulated products?

If you’ve had reservations in the past about coconut oil and its ability to make a difference to your natural hair, I understand. However, I’ve used it for years for wash and go's, in between protective styles, and for my general haircare routine. If you’ve seen my curls over the years, you’d know that my hair has been growing rapidly and I can attribute most of this growth to this oil.

I definitely want you to reap the same benefits I have with this new Coconuts ‘n’ Curls Kit filled with Coconut Restore products. It costs $10 and includes a favorite product of both my stylist and me: Triple Butter Moisture Cream. I especially love it because the company is focused on giving all naturalistas the most organic styling experience possible.

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Photo -- Eye for Ebony

Naturally curly means making no chemical alterations to the hair’s natural texture,” Coconut Restore representative Ashley Rose told us when asked about serving our community with the best possible products for curly, textured hair, “We have seen women (and men!) showing more confidence with their natural hair rather than feeling pressured to conform to others’ hair expectations.”

Rose also told us that she is listening to you. Yes, YOU! That’s why their products are so great for all us curlies.

“Our brands have used Naturally Curly as a resource to see what products are being talked about,” she explained, “We’ve also used the information available to help us understand what the consumer is looking for so that we are developing products that will resonate with the next generation of consumers.” 

How perfect is that? You and your curls are getting well-deserved care and attention from one this brand. Do you just love that? I sure do! That’s why I really can’t speak about these new products enough. Here is what comes inside the Coconut Restore Coconut ‘n’ Curls Styling Kit:

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If you'd like to try these new coconut oil-formulated products, hop on over to SHOP NaturallyCurly for the Coconuts ‘n’ Curls Styling Kit today! It's only $10 for 6 brand-new trial-sized products your curls are bound to love.

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Photo -- Thought Catalog

This post is sponsored by Coconut Restore.

If you found this feature helpful, share it with your curl friends! Or if you have questions about protein treatments and coconut oil for natural hair, leave me a message in the comments section. I respond relatively quickly so you won’t be left hanging.

As ever, stay curly!