Cystine Loss In Relaxed Hair – A Look At The Science

CystineI don’t often like to write sciency posts but when looking at relaxers and the damage they can cause it’s important to understand it on a cellular level so that we can mitigate some of the damage.

Cystine is an amino acid derived from protein and researchers have found through amino acid analysis of hair after it has been relaxed that there were reductions in three amino acids specifically cystine, citrulline, and arginine. Cystine specifically is responsible for hair’s strength and is often found in low levels in people who suffer from hair loss.

Cystine levels go down with each subsequent relaxer application (for those think it’s a good idea to reapply relaxer to previously treated hair) which leads to brittle hair that breaks easily, no surprise there then. This should drive home the importance of using barrier creams or petroleum jelly to prevent accidentally re-processing your hair.

It’s also worth pointing out that with the reduced amino acids in your relaxed hair, tensile strength is greatly reduced as well so keep styles that involve pulling your hair like braids, cornrows etc down to a minimum. I hear some relaxed ladies find that wearing a weave does not give them very good length retention, at best it’s a wash with the added growth cancelled out by the increased breakage during braiding. At the very least, if you enjoy weaves, use a stylist that you trust not to braid too tight!

Now, we know that cystine is reduced after your relaxer but how do you increase it’s levels? Supplemental cystine and has been shown in studies to increase the diametre of hair shafts in particular cases of hair loss. However this only applies if you have poor hair growth but does nothing for hair that has already been relaxed so the answer has to lie is topical application of some sort.


Originally posted 2012-04-30 19:00:23.

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About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

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Flora Kossonou

c’est quoi ça

Florence Mgbenwa

BHI happy day.Am using this weavon glossifier on my natural hair.I hope it be good to my hair.The ingredients are: De-ionized water,Propylene Glycol,Glycerine, Quatemium-22, Disodium EDTA,PAC-R, PVP/DA,Methyl Paraben,Propyl Paraben, Aloe Vera,Colourant,Frangrance. What do you fink??

Safari Muganda

we love olso the scienbe good

Safari Muganda

we love olso the scienbe good,in wich case of desease shall we find this

Rose Dixon

I what up with you noq

Anna Hagins

im looking for something to make hair shine have used gloss this au natural crème glaze every oil moisturizer hair dull dull

Anna Hagins

coconut oil but my scalp itches like crazy with oil