Because of the dry brittle nature of black hair, many women will rightly conclude that moisture is the most important factor to include in their hair regimens. While this is mostly true, the approach that you employ to gain this extra moisture could ultimately determine how long your hair eventually gets.
I never fail at ever turn to stress the importance of protein in your hair regimen and barring any protein sensitivity issues, most of us should be supplementing our hair’s protein levels at least once a week by way of a protein deep treatment, a light protein conditioner or a leave in. Protein was quite instrumental to my success at growing my hair to waist length and as such when I would urge those of you with fine strands to seriously consider adding it to your regimens if you aren’t already.
With pictures being worth a thousand words, here is a set of graphics to help you visually see the difference between hair that has been treated with protein and hair that has not. They are overly simplistic of course but hopefully they will get the point across as to what is happening in your hair as you go about your weekly washes.
Imagine for instance that you have a strand of hair that has a fissure, crack or gap in it, a very common occurrence in black hair whether relaxed or natural. These cracks come about for various reasons the largest of which is manipulation usually during styling. Whenever you wash, style, comb, brush, use heat or otherwise mess with your hair, you are losing protein from the stands.
These micro particles of protein being lost eventually add up creating an area of weakness in your strand and this strand would be the perfect candidate to break when you next manipulate your hair.
When you wash and/or moisturize you hair, you will of course get plenty of water in your strands which increases your hair’s elasticity preventing immediate breakage. But the surface moisture evaporates very quickly leaving your hair as dry and brittle as before and again the hair will be teetering on the edge of breakage.
Adding oil to ‘seal’ in the moisture will help with reducing evaporation and hence improve elasticity but it does little to strengthen the weakened strand so breakage is still a very likely danger.
Hair is made up of a protein called Keratin and when you use products with hydrolyzed keratin or other protein, they patch up areas of weakness within the hair strand making it less likely to break. The added benefit is that protein increases the amount of moisture that the strand can actually hold by trapping water molecules hence keeping your hair moisturized for longer.
In essence, protein improves the structure of the damaged strand and as such your hair is able to hold on to more moisture hence softening your hair considerably.
While most protein is beneficial, products that contain hydrolyzed keratin have an even higher affinity to the keratin in our hair and will strengthen and moisturize it better than other protein varieties. Still different protein varieties serve different purposes in our conditioners so any protein whether wheat protein, silk protein, soy protein or even collagen are great too.
Bear in mind that this added protein will eventually wear away depending on how often you wash or manipulate your hair. For that reason you need to replenish your stocks every 6-8 weeks with a hard protein treatment and twice a month or so with light protein conditioners or you can keep to a regimen of regular doses of light protein to keep your hair in tip top condition.
Happy hair growing!