If you are as into haircare as us, you know there has been lots of talk about protein circulating the internet. In this blog, we will be diving deep into all things protein and hair. We will cover the basics including the pros and cons of protein, as well as the controversial topic of ‘protein overload‘. We’ll also be sharing tips to determine if your hair needs protein, as well as some product recommendations. Rest assured, there is nothing to be afraid of!
Pros of Protein
All hair needs protein to remain strong and resilient. Protein creates strength and structure to the hair strands which leads to healthier hair. Hair that is lacking protein is limp and weak, resulting in weighed down hair with little volume. Protein fills in the gaps of the hair cuticle that has been damaged from heat tools and hair dyes. Protein creates a bind to the hair cuticle which allows your hair to hold onto moisture for longer periods of time. However, just like everything else, with too much use there will of course be some downfalls.
Cons of Protein
Protein has its cons only when it’s applied to the hair when it doesn’t need it. If your hair is already stiff and brittle, you don’t want to be adding in protein as this will enhance the stiffness even more. Protein can stay in the hair for a long time especially if you didn’t need it in the first place. Unfortunately, protein doesn’t care what type of porosity your hair is, it deeply penetrates all hair types and stays there. This is another con of protein as many people aren’t aware of this and will continue to use protein-based haircare products. However, protein can be washed out of the hair with a clarifying shampoo.
Do you need protein?
There is a fine line between finding the perfect balance of protein in your hair. How to tell if your hair needs protein is to take a look at your hair’s elasticity and texture. For instance, your hair can either have too much elasticity (overly soft) or too little (stiff and brittle). You never want to be on either end of these spectrums. If your hair is limp, overly soft and stretchy when you pull on your hair strands, this is where protein would be very beneficial.
A hair product with protein (intense treatment or not) will help your hair gain structure. You will begin to see your hair become less limp and not as soft (in a good way). If you have curly hair, this is where you will see more definition and volume. If you determine your hair needs protein, we recommend using a little bit at a time. Meaning, don’t jump into an intensive protein-based treatment right away. Build your way up in order to ensure your hair is responding well to it. If you find your hair is stiff or hard to the touch (staw-like), this is when you want to avoid protein and opt for moisturizing products instead. This will help balance out your hair and get it more on the ‘softer’ side. We will discuss more of this further in ‘Protein Overload’ below.
What is Protein Overload?
Before jumping into protein overload, firstly take a look at the ingredient list in your hair products that you use on a regular basis. If you’re experiencing stiff, brittle and hard to the touch (straw-like) hair even though your hair isn’t too damaged, this is a key indicator that your hair has protein overload. To put the rumours to rest, NO you will not have to cut off all your hair due to protein overload. Protein overload is most definitely something you can overcome with the help of clarifying and moisturizing products.
In this case, omit all of the products with protein until you have reduced the stiffness in your hair. As mentioned earlier, opt for a clarifying shampoo until your hair becomes softer and more manageable. You’ll also want o be switching your protein products for moisturizing products that do not contain protein. Oils are a safe place to start, especially Jojoba Oil, Pumpkin Oil or Argan Oil.
TIP: Avoid Coconut Oil when working to reduce your protein overload/buildup. Coconut oil prevents protein loss and will make it harder for the protein to leave the hair cuticle.
Avoid products with these words on the packaging as they will typically contain protein:
Product Recommendations For More Protein
Neroli Hair Primer
The Neroli Hair Primer is a great option if you are looking to slowly implement protein into your haircare routine. This product is a light-weight water-based product. It has a fine mist that is to be sprayed all over wet/damp hair through the roots and lengths of the hair. It also contains hydrating and moisturizing ingredients such as Honey that will help prevent your hair from going into protein overload. It’s the perfect product to maintain that healthy balance of elasticity in your hair.
The Leave-In Conditioner is another great option to add protein to your haircare routine. Similar to the Neroli Hair Primer, it also contains Plant Keratin and Rice and Oat Protein. However, this product is slightly heavier as it contains more of a milky and thicker consistency than the water-based Neroli Hair Primer. However, with this product, you can ensure you will not experience protein overload as it contains Slippery Elm Bark and Marshmallow Root. These ingredients contain high levels of mucilage, which works to revive dry hair and keep it moisturized at the same time. We recommend applying this product to the middle and ends of your hair post-shower. Leave this product on and continue with your regular hair routine.
Product Recommendations for Protein Overload
Rose Hair Elixir
As mentioned above, oils are a fairly safe product to use on your hair when you’re experiencing protein overload. The Rose Hair Elixir contains over 15 organic oils that are highly hydrating and moisturizing. This product is highly concentrated, meaning you only need 1-2 drops to start seeing the oil penetrate into the hair. You will quickly begin to see your hair come back to life with softness and shine! Use the Rose Hair Elixir daily or as a leave-in pre-wash treatment.