The controversy of whether or not to use a protein rich styler or not is one that can leave you dazed and confused if you are not careful.  Here is a simple way to know if a protein-based styler is right for your hair care regimen.

The Purpose of Protein in a Style

Our hair is comprised of a substance called keratin, which is essentially protein.  According to, a hair dressing resource of the UK, “Live hair cells are generated inside the follicle by the papilla. As the new cells grow, the older cells die and are forced along the follicle towards the scalp. The dead cells are compressed to form a protein called keratin. The hair shaft that we see is the keratin emerging from the scalp. Fingernails are made of keratin, too.  Each hair consists of keratin, small amounts of water and a binding agent, which holds the keratin and water together.“  Hence, product developers in pursuit of strengthening and conditioning the hair have added protein to hair care products including stylers to replenish the keratin.

Remember that there are three layers to the hair strand.  The outer layer is the cuticle, made up on roof like shingles that protect the inner workings of the hair.  The mid section is known ad the cortex the area in which determines hair color and the innermost part of the hair is the Medulla, typically found in thick hair and course hair.  Baby hair or very fine hair can often be found without a medulla.

Let’s focus on the cuticle layer with normal wear and tear of the hair from daily elements of the world like wind, and water, the cuticle layer can chip away, making the hair weak. Add in harsh hair styling using heat or harsh hair practices and chemical services can make your hair even more susceptible to damage.  Therefore hair that is considered weak, damaged, or in need or repair, is perfect for protein rich styling products to REBUILD your hair strand and strengthen the weak areas and cracks along the hair shaft. 

When Protein Stylers are NOT for You

If you find that your hair is strong and shows no signs of weakness then you will not need additional strengthening.  To do so could give you what is known as “Protein Overload.”  This makes your hair “overly strong” and essentially begins to create a rough build up on the hair shaft making it brittle and dry feeling due to an imbalance of the moisture and strength.  Remember that the hair is made up of keratin, water and a binding substance mentioned above?  The presence of those three things creates the ideal, natural balance in the hair.  Therefore adding too much moisture or too much strength will create instability and cause unwanted issues.

Protein overload makes your hair "overly strong" and essentially begins to create a rough build up on the hair shaft making it brittle and dry feeling

How to choose your styler

If your hair is not weak or damaged, or if you are receiving your protein from protein treatments, then you may want to choose a protein-free styler. Give your hair what it needs.  Here is how to determine what your styling product is giving you:

  1. First read the label to gather the purpose of the product.  Clues to protein based products are words like “Repair, Strengthen, Keratin, Kera, Reconstruct”  Any word that sounds like it will essentially build the strand can only do so with protein.
  2. Second, check the back of the bottle and look at its contents, does it contain proteins? Here is a list of terms to search for:
  • Hydrolyzed Keratin
  • Rice Protein
  • Soy Protein
  • Wheat Protein
  • Vegetable Protein
  • Animal protein
  • Casein
  • Amino acids
  • Silk
  • Oat flour
  • Collagen
  • Panthenol

If you prefer to skip the task of deciphering your label altogether, you can opt for a protein-free styler instead. Ampro has a full line of protein-free stylers that will give you the hold and curl definition you need without exposing your hair to alcohol, parabens, proteins, sulfates, or dyes.

Pay close attention to the condition of your hair,  if it feels weak, damaged, or in need or repair, then you may want to consider a protein rich styling product that contains ingredients on the list above. However, if your hair is not displaying signs that it's in need of repair then use protein-free stylers to avoid the dry and brittle feeling of protein overload.

This post is sponsored by Ampro.