Beware of protein-rich products?

18 Jun

- 2020 -

Beware of protein-rich products?

Regardless of what the front of your product says e.g. ‘Moisture Rich’ ‘Protein Booster’ etc, you won’t know for yourself unless you check out the ingredients list – and more importantly – know what to look out for. It’s very important to have a balance of moisture and protein in your hair regimen or your hair is more likely to break. Too many Naturalistas use the same products day in day out without realising that it may be doing more harm than good over time. Too much protein leaves your hair brittle, whereas too much moisture makes your hair too elastic. Either way, your hair will break.

Your hair products will either fall under two categories:

  • Protein rebuilding
  • Moisture replenishing

Note: The only products that won’t fall in either of these are non-water based products such as oils and serums.

Even though some products list their ingredients alphabetically (sneaky, so I’d steer clear), most are ranked from the highest to the lowest according to the amount that has been put into the formula. For example, if a product lists its’ first ingredient as WATER and the last ingredient as JOJOBA OIL, then know that Water is what makes up the bulk of the product and there are only trace amounts of Jojoba Oil.

Other than oils, pomades and greases, you will most often find Water as the top ingredient. After this, look for the order listing of PROTEINS, HUMECTANTS and EMOILLIENTS. Include surfectants in this search e.g. SLS or ALS if you’re looking at shampoos as well as conditioners. However, what the listing doesn’t tell you is the % of that ingredient in the product. It could be 7% or 70%. We just know there is more or less of that ingredient compared to other ingredients.

Whenever you see the term “Hydrolyzed”, it simply means the protein has been broken down so that it will be able to bind to the hair shaft and penetrate into the hair fibre more easily. As a result, the protein is more concentrated and has longer lasting effects on the hair.

Products that tend to be high in protein are: Volumizing shampoo and conditioners, most leave-in conditioners, Setting Lotions, Gels, Hair Colour Rinses and other products containing these proteins (or hydrolyzed versions)

Note: Different proteins have different uses for the hair. Below, I have listed what they are and their uses:


Amino Acids: Encourages growth of healthy hair.

Animal protein: Strengthens the hair by filling itself in gaps along the hair shaft that has been caused  by chemicals and heat.

Human Hair Keratin: This matches the protein that is missing in the hair. It is the strongest protein.

Collagen: Restores strength to the hair.

Milk Protein: Strengthens hair, helps it grow faster and helps prevent hair loss.

Keratin Protein: Adds structure to the outside layer of the hair (cuticle) and makes it more elastic.

Vegetable Protein: Works similarly to animal protein but is absorbed more easily into the hair shaft.

Cholesterol: Strengthens and adds moisture and manageability.


Collagen Protein: Increases hair’s elasticity.

Silk Protein: Softens the hair to give it that smooth feeling.

Soy Protein: Improves manageability of hair and gives it added body.

Wheat Protein: Increases hair’s ability to receive and retain moisture.

Panthenol: Improves hair elasticity, moisture retention, flexibility and helps thicken hair AND promotes hair growth (also known as Vitamin B5).

Ultimately, the only way you can find out if a product will agree with your hair is if you try the product yourself. The worst that could happen is that you don’t like how it feels and wash it out again.

Lastly, remember to ALWAYS follow up a protein treatment with a moisturising deep conditioner.


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