There are so many ingredients in our food, body, and hair products that we cannot readily comprehend or even pronounce. They sound complicated and seem scientific for day-to-day usage, and some women have chosen to avoid these long scientific words entirely by sticking to natural products and ingredients. That is certainly a viable route, but it is important to be knowledgeable about even these natural ingredients so that you can make informed decisions about what you're placing on your hair and body.

Take for example, the popular eggs and mayonnaise treatments you have probably heard of, maybe even tried.

The protein in eggs are too large to fit into the hair shaft

According to chemist JC from The Natural Haven, the protein in eggs has amino acids that are too large to fit into the hair shaft and bond properly. Mayonnaise possesses a lot of lubricating oils so if you've tried this treatment you've probably experienced softer hair, but the benefits of the eggs in mayonnaise are lost on your hair as they too have not been hydrolized. Proteins must by hydrolyzed or broken down so that the amino acids will be small enough to fit and bond to the hair shaft in order to provide the hair with strength as a temporary repair.

Although the word "hydrolysis" may sound complex and unnatural, it is a process that can help prolong the health of your ends and overall health of your hair.

What is Hydrolysis?

Hydrolysis is the decomposition that changes a compound into other smaller compounds by taking up the elements of water. In other words, the compound has undergone a chemical breakdown due to a reaction with water, which is conducted by cosmetic chemist in a lab. By hydrolyzing the protein it becomes small enough to fill into the cracks of your hair’s shaft.

The benefits of hydrolized keratin protein

90% of your hair is keratin protein. The protein we consume aids in creating keratin protein for your skin and hair, and once the hair emerges from its follicle what you consume no longer affects its appearance. Here’s where we see the damage as a result of our manipulation from styling, maintenance, heat usage, sun exposure, weather elements, and dyes. We can temporarily replace that chipped away keratin using hair products containing the smaller, hydrolyzed proteins that absorb into the hair’s cortex and fills in those chipped spaces.

Keratin is the strongest protein found in hair products and it will strengthen all layers of the hair in the cuticle, cortex, and medulla. Hydrolyzed protein is important because it penetrates the hair shaft and reduces the breakage. Due to the moisture binding capabilities of hydrolyzed keratin protein, your hair's moisture content increases and restores your hair’s body, luster, and manageability.

Common hydrolyzed proteins:

  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein (most popular in hair products)
  • Hydrolyzed oat protein
  • Hydrolyzed silk protein
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Hydrolyzed quinoa
  • Hydrolyzed collagen
A lot of these hydrolyzed proteins are found in protein treatments and deep conditioners. Although they are great for your hair, you don’t want to use them too often as too much protein can make your hair brittle and break. Products with hydrolyzed protein can be incorporated into your regimen about once a month (or less if you don’t do a lot of damage to your tresses).
What hydrolyzed protein will not do

This isn’t the magic ingredient that will eliminate the need for trims. Also, hydrolyzed keratin protein is not a permanent fix for damaged hair or split ends. The protein is merely temporarily attached to the hair, and will eventually rinse away. These products will only decrease the frequency at which you may need a trim, given the damage does not compromise it’s effectiveness.

Do you use protein treatment? Which ones and how often do you use them?