Proteins are large molecules consisting of amino acids that keep our bodies functioning properly. They play a pivotal role in virtually every biological process, including our hair. Hair is made up of one extremely strong protein called keratin and while keratin may be strong, manipulation and environmental elements damage it over time. Pollutants, wind, sun, heat styling, permanent hair color, chemical-straightening treatments, and standard maintenance all contribute to the breaking down the keratin in our hair strands. This is where protein treatments come to restore our strands.
All protein treatments are not created equal, as some are potent while others are mild. Oftentimes proteins in treatments and conditioners will include hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed silk protein, hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed milk protein, hydrolyzed keratin protein, and hydrolyzed collagen protein. Stronger protein treatments have higher concentrations of proteins, which when used too often can make your hair dry, brittle, and straw like. These proteins are intended to strengthen the hair’s cuticle layer by filling in chips along the shaft. They are not intended to condition and soften the hair. If you are looking for strictly protein, we’ve got you covered.
Greek yogurt has taken dairy lovers and health enthusiasts by storm. Greek yogurt has double the protein of regular yogurt and people love to eat if for the taste too. While you can find Greek yogurt in tons of hair recipes from masks to conditioners, those recipes are using the goodness of Greek yogurt for the power punch in protein and nutrients and not for conditioning.
Gelatin is a colorless, odorless, translucent, and tasteless water-soluble protein made from collagen. Largely composed of amino acids, glycine and proline, gelatin is an irreversible hydrolyzed form of collagen. It is perfect for adding protein to strengthen your hair and nails, but it has no conditioning qualities. Just like with Greek yogurt, when you see it in conditioners or in DIY hair recipes, it is being used for its protein power only.
This treatment is a popular two-step system formulated with magnesium and modified proteins that fuse into hair with the application of diffused heat. It is highly recommended for those experiencing high levels of breakage. Ingredients include water, hydrolyzed collagen, citric acid, magnesium sulfate, imidazolidinone, and panthenol.
Another growing favorite, this REAL Protein treatment is pure hydrolyzed wheat protein. It is intended to be mixed with a conditioner before applying to color-treated, bleached, relaxed, and medium to high porosity hair. REAL protein treatment will coat, patch, and penetrate your hair’s damaged cuticle layers while strengthening and nourishing from the inside out.
This powerful one-step protein treatment is a concentrated blend of keratin amino acids, botanical oils, and vitamins that work to restore hair’s strength, softness, and resilience. Recommenced for bleached, relaxed or chlorine-damaged hair, this product rebuilds damaged strands. Formulated with water, cetearyl alcohol, polysorbate 60 (emulsifier), behenamidopropylamine behenatem stearolkonium chloride, cetrimonium chloride, and cocodimonium Hydrolyzed Hair Keratin.
Protein treatments are intended to make your hair less porous. Both too much and too little protein cause dryness. Too much protein will not allow moisture to penetrate and too little will make it difficult for your hair to retain moisture. Balance is key. Still confused? Here more about what ingredients to look for, who needs proteins, and top recommendations by our contributing trichologist.
- Does Natural Hair Need Proteins?
- 6 Proteins that Must Be Hydrolyzed…If You Want Them to Work
- The Must-See Guide to the Best Protein Treatment for Your Hair
- Do You Over-Moisturize Your Hair? Understanding Hygral Fatigue