After the post on the Best Protein-Free Shampoos for Low Porosity Hair, I received more questions about protein treatment for natural hair.
I decided to compile those and previous questions about protein treatments into one huge post.
Hopefully, all the questions you’ve ever had about protein treatments for natural hair are answered in this comprehensive post.
Protein is one of the most important elements of curly hair care but it’s one of the things a lot of curlistas get wrong.
It’s usually due to misinformation about what protein does and why it should be included in your hair care regimen.
Some people are also so afraid of protein damage that they avoid protein altogether. Wrong move.
Protein Treatment on Natural Hair
1. What is Protein Treatment for Hair?
A protein treatment is a product designed to reduce hair breakage and strengthen weak hair.
In some cases, protein treatments can also reverse the damage caused by some heat or chemical processes.
Protein treatments reconstruct the hair bonds and reinforce the strands.
2. How Do You Know You Need a Protein Treatment?
The most common signs it’s time to add a little more protein in your regimen or go for a serious protein treatment includes:
- Dull and limp hair that doesn’t have any elasticity. When you stretch healthy balanced hair when it’s wet and then let go, it should spring back. If the stretched section doesn’t bounce back then you need a protein treatment.
- High porosity hair is damaged hair that has a hard time keeping moisture in because the hair cuticles are raised from damage. High porosity hair will benefit from a protein treatment but the process needs to be completed with a deep conditioning session. You can test for hair porosity HERE.
- Excessive breakage and hair shedding is also a sign you might need to get more protein into your hair but before you do a serious protein treatment, try a mild protein treatment first.
- Chemically processed hair needs serious protein treatments because the chemical processes break down the protein in hair to work. They must be restored with protein treatments.
3. How Long Do You Leave a Protein Treatment in Your Hair?
This depends on the type of protein treatment you’re using. Some protein treatments are formulated to be left on the hair for a few minutes.
Some are formulated to leave on hair much longer. Protein treatments like this include Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment.
4. How Often Can You Do a Protein Treatment on Your Hair?
For mild proteins like Aphogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor, you can use it every week during your usual regimen session.
For more serious protein treatments like Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment, only every 8 – 10 weeks.
If you use a serious protein treatment more than the instructions on the bottle indicate, it can lead to very serious damage.
Using it more often than directed will not make it work any faster.
5. Is Too Much Protein Bad For Your Hair?
Yes, too much protein is bad for the hair just as too much moisture is bad for the hair.
A balance between protein and moisture is required for optimal hair health.
6. Is Protein Treatment Good For Your Hair?
A protein treatment is very good for hair especially if you’re suffering hair damage.
If there’s no damage, a protein treatment 1 – 2 times a year is still beneficial for hair.
For natural hair, you don’t need protein treatments as often.
For relaxed or chemically treated hair, you definitely need protein treatments every few months.
7. Is Protein Treatment Same As a Deep Conditioning Treatment?
A protein treatment is different from a deep conditioning treatment although the process is similar.
A protein treatment is for strengthening hair strands and recovering from hair breakage.
A deep conditioning treatment is for increasing moisture retention qualities in hair and improving elasticity.
Both treatments require some form of heat for better efficacy.
A protein treatment is 100% protein while a deep conditioning treatment is mostly moisturizing ingredients.
A deep conditioner can also have a mixture of moisturizing and strengthening (protein) ingredients.
You also need to follow up on a protein treatment with a deep conditioning treatment to restore a healthy balance to the hair.
8. Which Protein is Good For Hair Growth?
The purpose of protein is not for hair growth. The main purpose of protein is to strengthen weak hair strands and eliminate hair breakage.
Of course, when these two objectives are achieved, then your hair will stop breaking off and there will be better length retention.
9. Can Protein Lead To Hair Loss?
Excessive protein can lead to very dry hair followed by hair breakage.
You must always pay attention to your hair to ensure you maintain a proper protein/moisture balance.
10. What is Protein Overload?
Protein overload is when you have used protein too much and your hair starts drying out.
But don’t panic. You can reset by deep conditioning your hair and staying away from protein until the balance is restored.
If your hair doesn’t care for strong proteins, there are milder forms of protein you can try.
For more on this read, When To Use Protein Deep Conditioners on Natural Hair.
11. What To Do After A Protein Treatment?
After a protein treatment, you must always follow up with a deep conditioning session.
This deep conditioning should be carried out under a hair steamer and with a deep conditioner that doesn’t have any protein.
This is very important as this session will restore a healthy balance to your hair.
If you don’t follow up on a protein treatment with deep conditioning sessions, your hair will become extremely dry within a few days.
12. What is the Best Protein Treatment for Hair?
Some very good mild to moderate protein treatments for natural – severely damaged hair include:-
Some good stronger protein treatments for damaged hair include:-
13. Weekly Protein Treatment on Natural Hair
Weekly protein treatment is fine as long as it’s a mild protein treatment like the ones recommended HERE.
Serious protein treatments should only be done every 8 – 12 weeks or as directed by the manufacturer.
14. Does Coconut Oil Have Protein for Hair?
Coconut oil does not contain protein per se. However, it contains properties that help prevent protein loss from hair.
For more on this, read Coconut Oil for Hair Growth.
15. Do Protein Treatments Stop Hair Breakage?
The primary purpose of protein treatments is to strengthen hair and eliminate breakage so yes, they do stop hair breakage.
Of course, you should also eliminate whatever harmful hair care practices are causing hair breakage in the first place.
16. Does Egg Protein Penetrate Hair?
Protein needs to be hydrolyzed i.e. broken down properly so it can penetrate the hair shaft and get the job done.
The protein structure in eggs is too large to penetrate the hair shaft.
An egg treatment will achieve softness and improve manageability but that’s about it.
An egg treatment is not a proper protein treatment for damaged hair.
16. Does Mayonnaise Penetrate Hair?
The same issue regarding eggs. Mayonnaise is made of eggs mostly and the protein is too large to penetrate the hair shaft.
The only positive effects of a mayonnaise treatment are smoother and shinier hair.
For more on this, read Mayonnaise for Natural Hair: Does It Really Work?
17. Do You Shampoo After a Protein Treatment?
Nope. You shampoo before a protein treatment. This is because protein treatments work better on clean hair without any products.
After a protein treatment, you always deep condition to restore moisture and a healthy pH balance to your hair.
18. Do You Apply Protein Treatment to Dry or Wet Hair?
This depends on the instructions of the specific protein treatment you purchased.
However, most protein treatments I’ve used are applied on damp hair since you cleanse your hair before application.
19. Is Rice Water a Protein Treatment?
Rice water contains inositol, a substance that helps repair and strengthen damaged hair and boost hair’s elasticity.
While not exactly a protein treatment, it does the same job and can be included in your regimen slowly.
For more on this, read Rice Water for Hair Growth.
20. How Can I Increase Protein in My Hair?
If you don’t have damage and you’re just looking for a simple protein inclusion then a protein rinse-out conditioner every week will suffice.
You can also use deep conditioners with mild proteins included such as:-
- Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask
- Creme of Nature Argan Oil Intensive Conditioning Treatment
- Giovanni Smooth As Silk Deeper Moisture Conditioner
21. Do Protein Treatments Straighten Hair?
It’s not possible for a protein treatment to straighten hair unless the hair was already straight, to begin with.
A good protein treatment restores the body and bounce to natural curls.
The only protein process that straightens hair is keratin treatments, which aren’t really good for hair.
I hope I’ve been able to answer all your questions about protein treatments on natural hair.
If you have any more questions, drop them in the comments section and I’ll update the list.
Abi is a curly hair expert, researcher, product tester, and author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the founder of Ade Ori Hair Care, Healthy Natural Hair Products, and Natural Oils for Hair & Beauty. HNHP has strict editorial standards and ensures all the information on Healthy Natural Hair Products is the best for natural hair care. Learn more about our Editorial Policies
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