Even with all of the hair commercials and hair products that we are inundated with on a daily basis, if there’s one thing that we’ve got to make sure we have in our hair care arsenal, it’s protein. Why? Because our hair is made up of keratin and, as I’m sure you well know, that is protein. The challenge is trying to come up with ways to get our locs the protein that they need with over or under doing it.

If that’s the hair dilemma that you’ve been personally experiencing, for about as long as you can remember, here are some cool and relatively easy ways to give each strand of your glorious hair the right amount of protein that it both needs and deserves.

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Image Source: @NaturallyCurly of @tropicurlie

1. Eat some meat.

No matter how popular Impossible Whoppers may be right now, there’s no way around the fact that meat is packed with protein. Not only that, but meat is iron-rich, full of zinc and is a great way to build muscle while keeping your bones healthy and strong. The key is to eat meat that is low in fat, to not overdo it when it comes to red meat consumption, and to prepare your meat in a healthy way. Meats that are high in protein include red meat, poultry and seafood. Some non-meat alternatives include eggs and yogurt.

2. Or, eat some plant-based protein.

If you happen to be a vegetarian, vegan or your simply want to monitor your meat intake, another way to get some protein into your system is to eat the kind of protein that is plant-based. And just what would some of those foods be? Some that top the list include nuts, lentils, quinoa, hemp seeds, potatoes, kale, broccoli, green peas, teff and whole grains.

3. DIY a protein treatment.

Since your hair is made up of the protein keratin, of course, it needs protein on the inside and the outside. In fact, a lot of us experience breakage because we’re not intentional about giving our hair a protein treatment no less than every six weeks. There are popular protein treatment brands that you can find at your local beauty supply store. But, I’m also a fan of making some of my own. A really great recipe is to mix the following—an egg, half of an avocado, a tablespoon of Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of honey. Apply it to freshly washed hair, let it sit for 30 minutes and rinse thoroughly. Protein treatments are beneficial because they strengthen your hair strands, add volume and thickness while also making your hair feel soft and manageable too.

4. Give yourself a protein scalp massage.

Something that a lot of us don’t do enough of is give ourselves scalp massages. We need to because, not only are they super-soothing, they are able to bring much-needed nutrients to our scalp by increasing blood circulation to our hair follicles. You can give your follicles a lil’ boost of protein by massaging your scalp with a mixture of sweet almond oil (that’s where the protein comes in) and chamomile essential oil (it adds shine while soothing your scalp). If you warm the oils up a bit before applying, it’s the perfect treatment for your hair before turning in at night.

5. Try an almond milk hair rinse.

Remember how I said that nuts have protein in them? Almonds are no exception. So, a great way to pamper your hair and scalp with a dose of protein while moisturizing it in the process is to rinse your hair with some almond milk every other wash day. The protein in the milk will reduce breakage, the iron will prevent hair loss, the fatty acids will soften your tresses, the potassium and magnesium will strengthen your hair and the Vitamin E will condition it. All you need to do is mix a half-cup of almond milk with two tablespoons of sweet almond oil, a teaspoon of lavender oil and one tablespoon of castor oil. Put everything in a microwaveable bowl, zap it on high for 30 seconds and pour over clean hair. Put on a plastic hair bag, let sit for an hour and then rinse thoroughly with warm and cool water. Your hair will wonder when was the last time that it felt so good.

6. Apply “contaminated” oils.

If you’ve read somewhere that coconut oil is a good source of protein, including when it comes to your hair, there is some truth to that and all essential oils. The key is to use the kind of coconut oil that is contaminated, which is another way of saying the kind of oil that isn’t distilled (purified). If you’d like more of a breakdown of this particular point, we penned an article on it. So, before heading out to get a jar of coconut oil so that your hair can receive an extra boost of protein, check out “The Great Coconut Oil Debate: Does It Have Proteins?” If you do decide to apply it, just remember that a little bit goes a long way—when it comes to coconut oil and protein in general.

Enjoy, and share your tips for getting protein with us in the comments!