The Shocking Truth About Protein Use on Your Hair

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My Relaxed Color Treated Hair

There’s great debate scurrying around the hair community about the use of protein on the hair. Naturals who have difficulty with hair breakage or brittle hair will often blame it on the use of protein in hair products.  It’s been termed protein sensitivity.  I don’t usually write exhaustively long posts but protein has received a bad rap and it’s time to clear it up.

Overview of The Basic Structure of Hair

Hair is composed of approximately 91% protein made up of long chains of amino acids. As the cells in your hair mature, they fill up with a fibrous protein called keratin. Keratin that is found in hair is an insoluble protein called “hard” keratin because it doesn’t dissolve in water and is very resilient.

Since your hair is predominantly structured of protein, it makes sense that if your hair became protein deficient at any point in time, only a protein treatment could help remedy the problem – if even temporarily.

 The Role of Protein

Protein conditioners have one job and one job only – To Strengthen Your Hair through temporary reconstruction.  When used properly, the protein molecules in a deep conditioner will bond to the hair and strengthen it.  Will it feel hard? Yes.  Is it supposed to? Yes.  How you treat your hair after a protein treatment is just as important, if not more as how you apply it.

How to Properly Protein Treat Your Hair

Protein should ONLY be part of a deep conditioning treatment that you use to strengthen your hair.  Leave In Conditioners, Serums, Curl Enhancers etc, should NOT contain protein. Why? Because protein should only be used with heat as part of a treatment to strengthen the hair.

When you deep condition your hair after washing it, heat is used to swell the hair follicles open, at which time the protein molecules can bond within the hair shaft.  Hair product manufacturers have added protein to any and every product to convince you that the product will help you grow your hair (because after all, it contains super protein)

If you apply a leave in or other “surface” treating product with protein in it, your hair is prone to feeling hard and brittle.  The brittle, hard hair is then susceptible to additional hair breakage – defeating the purpose of using protein in the first place.

And…wait for it…It-Will-Stay-That-Way causing you to have what you think is “protein sensitivity” until you wash and use a moisturizing conditioner to resoften it. That’s because the application of the products containing protein (other than a deep conditioner)  sits right on top of your hair shaft. Any protein treatment MUST be followed up with a moisturizing treatment to balance out the protein.  It’s what’s known as moisture/protein balance.

Now, that you clearly understand the role of protein, here are some tips to make sure you apply a protein conditioner properly:

  • After washing, detangling , towel (or t-shirt, paper towel etc) drying and sectioning your hair, apply a protein based conditioner.
  • Be careful not to over manipulate the hair. Do not comb or brush the conditioner into your hair. Only use your hands – carefully.
  • Cover hair with a plastic cap (unless the instructions state otherwise.  Ex: Aphogee) and sit under a dryer for 30 minutes minimum
  • Rinse hair thoroughly with warm water, allowing the shower head to do  most of the work.
  • Next and Most Important: Apply a moisturizing softening conditioner that’s protein free to your hair and allow it to sit on the hair for 15 minutes (You can finish your shower ritual during this time). This will balance your hair’s protein with moisture. It needs both.
  • Rinse hair with cool water.
  • Apply a protein-free leave in conditioner that will pH balnce your hair followed by any styling cream as final steps

After applying a moisturizing conditioner that softens, you’ll find that previously strawlike hair is now softened, more pliable and ready for styling. Only after applying the moisturizing conditioner should you begin to manipulate your hair.

It’s also not necessary to do a protein conditioning treatment every time you wash your hair UNLESS you are constantly redamaging it with the use of chemicals, brushes or heat stylers.  Otherwise, once a month at minimum is sufficient for maintenance.

What Products Should You Use?

protein conditioner

At the risk of being repetitive but necessarily so, protein based conditioners should only be used as part of a deep treatment process requiring the use of heat. The only way to know for sure that you are not using other products containing protein is to read the ingredient labels.

DO NOT blindly trust what the manufacturer says about their products. Product claims can run from over-exaggerant to downright outlandish. The ingredient label is what you need to give your full attention to.

By law, the manufacturer must disclose what formulates their products.  However, the law does not address the fast and footloose way manufacturers dance within the shades of grey when “marketing” their products.

The two products that I’ve found to be very effective at strengthening the hair and putting an end to breakage are Aphogee and Jamaican Black Castor Oil Protein Conditioner. Aphogee should be used as more of an emergency product when breakage has gotten out of control.  JBCO Protein conditioner is a great maintenance product.

So, do I believe in protein sensitivity?  That’s a negative.  I believe that women needed to justify the hard and brittle condition they found their hair in after improperly using protein or using it too often.

Educating yourself about the products you are using is a very important step if your goal is to grow and maintain a healthy head of hair.

*sources (in addition to my own research, trials and errors):

Ultra Black Hair Growth II book by Cathy Howse – http://ultrablackhair.com

Texas Collaboraative for Teaching Excellence – http://www.texascollaborative.org

 

UPDATE: When I first wrote this article, I did so with the goal of exposing protein sensitivity as a myth. I did however neglect a few key points that I should have included:

  • The higher the protein ingredient (hydrolyzed or otherwise) is on the list, the stronger the treatment will be.
  • After a protein treatment, even though you’ve followed with a moisturizing deep conditioning, your hair may or may not feel as soft as you are used to.  However, that will remedy itself in a few days once your ideal protein/moisture balance is achieved. Just continue to moisturize your hair daily. Also, note that not all protein is created equal (ie silk, wheat, collagen). some protein treatments are harsher than others. Do your research.

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77 Comments

  1. Allison

    So if my hair product has formation unit of protein (silk amino acid) which is a water soluble acid will it make my hair hard as well?

  2. Great article, and I am going to put this information to work. It gave me a clearer understanding about protein and how to make it work for my hair. thanks

    • You’re welcome Thanks for reading :)

  3. Linda

    Hello mitchelle, thanks a lot for this article. It is truly informative. I used the mizani thermal smooth shampoo and conditioner. Are there other mizani products that you can suggest that I can add to my hair regimen. I plan on starting my hair journey ASAP. In what category will you place mizani products??

    • Hi Linda.

      You’re welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Honestly, I can not recommend anything Mizani. It’s not a natural product line. I no longer use products that aren’t all natural.

  4. Alayna Simpson

    Hi, So my hair started feeling dry and frizzy out of nowhere and I couldn’t figure out what was the culprit. I am sure I have porous hair (it likes protein treatments) and I think I have hard water (just started doing a final rinse with bottled water).

    However I am pretty sure I have been ODIng on Aloe Vera.
    I was pre pooing with coconut oil (mimics protein), co washing with Tresemme naturals (has aloe) or suave coconut, my deep conditioners had aloe vera at the top of the ingredient list, some of my leave ins have aloe, I was sealing with aloe vera juice and also most of my stylers have aloe in it! I never knew that aloe mimics a protein lol nor did I even notice it was in basically all of my products.
    So now I am looking for deep conditioners that don’t have aloe bc I am not sure if my hair doesn’t like it or if I just over did it bc it acts as a protein. I also am afraid to use a protein treatment. Should I only deep condition with moisture for a few weeks and then maybe use a protein treatment. Just trying to figure out how to recover form this. Thanks so much!!

    • Hi Alayna-

      You are doing the mostest lol. OK so I really don’t think the aloe vera is your biggest culprit. The aloe vera juice will moisturize your hair but not seal it. I use aloe vera gel on my hair and it practically dissipates. Coconut oil on the other hand can definitely cause the crunch, especially if the temps start dropping.
      As for the deep conditioner for moisturizing, I don’t use one anymore LOL. I use either Shikai Every Day Naturals conditioner or Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner after my protein treatments to restore moisture. I highly recommend the Shikai. It’s all natural and transforms dry hair on contact. I get it from Whole foods but I think you can get it elsewhere.

      Hope this helps.

  5. D

    Hey I have chemically straightened dry and damaged hair. I’m going to buy redken extreme strength builder as I’ve heard rave reviews. Do you have any experience with this product?

    Also, do you have any suggestions for a post-protein treatment conditioner? I cant decide what would pair well with one. I have medium-thick, dry, straight, dark brown hair. It has suffered a lot of heat damage as well.

    • Hi I’ve not used the Redken line in years. I believe I used 1 product way back, was not impressed so never revisited.

      After a protein treatment or henna treatment I love to use Matrix Biolage Conditioner. I use the generic brand but it works the same. Then I rinse with Pantene Daily Moisture Renewal conditioner. That conditioner is everything! Lots of slip and restores the moisture balance.

  6. Sophie

    Hi Michelle, really informative post!
    I’m having real trouble getting the right products to treat what
    thought was ‘protein overload’…. if you are able to suggest anything that would be amazing!!
    My hair seems to have stopped responding to moisturising treatments and has recently become brittle/frizzy/dry (im asian but have naturally very thick/curly/frizzy hair).
    Previously I was using Bryl Cream as a leave in after every wash (which worked well up until recently)
    I use Jason Aloe Shampoo and Conditioner…(which also have protein)
    I have tried Joico Revitaluxe … but again that didn’t help.
    Even though I think I might have overloaded my hair with protein containing products, do you think its a good idea to I keep using them? Maybe use the Joico in the way you have outlined above with heat?
    Either way I have bought KKNT and will def be trying to make that kimmaytube recipe!
    Any suggestions on a routine would be really appreciated… as you can see .. Im Confused!!!

    • Hi Sophie- You may want to start by clarifying your hair to remove product residue. A solution of apple cider vinegar/water will do the trick. You basically add about 1/3 an amount of apple cider vinegar to 2/3 water. Make it a final rinse after your wash.
      If your hair isn’t breaking you don’t need daily or even weekly protein treatments. Monthly is sufficient for maintenance. Also, it sounds like you may not need heavy duty protein. Aphogee 2 step reconstructor doesn’t leave the hair hard but again you shouldn’t need to use it regularly if your hair isn’t breaking.
      I really like Pantene’s Moisture Rich conditioner (no protein). Maybe you can apply a conditioner like it to your hair and allow it to sit under a plastic cap for a few hours before rinsing. It can help restore some of the pliability to the hair.
      Hope this helps

      • Sophie

        thankyou so much! appreciate the advice :)

  7. Maggie

    hello michelle,
    if you have time I would reaaally appreciate your input on this situation. ok so im going to get my hair bleached at the salon. ive read that putting coconut oil in your hair an hour prior to bleaching will minimize the damage to the hair. so I tried coconut oil in my hair and yes it did the whole hard strawlike thing, I deep conditioned and it went back to normal.. but here is my question. since it makes my hair all straw like is it a bad idea to put it in my hair prior to bleaching?

    thank you, if none of that made sense, im sorry.

    • whew girl i don’t know. I for one would not recommend bleaching the hair. It’s just to harsh for the hair especially if you have fine hair. i bleached some years ago and no matter how much conditioning i did i incurred a the lot of breakage

      coconut oil helps protect the moisture levels & protein integrity of the hair when used as a pre-poo but that is not a guarantee for chemical processing. it’s a gamble i wouldn’t take with my hair.

  8. fran

    I’m planning to do an avocado mask with olive and coconut oil weekly.should i do a protein treatment like the aphogee 2 minute once a month too.avocado has very little protein.if i do it every week won’t it be enough to add protein in my regimen?

    • Hi Fran, the Aphogee two strep treatment is a great protein treatment for once a month. I don’t think you need more often than that

  9. Brandy

    I wish I would have found this thread prior to trying coconut oil on my scalp to treat dryness. My hair is waist length, naturally curly and healthy but my scalp was always dry after surfing. So I tried coconut oil and it did wonders with my scalp but dried my hair out majorly and has resulted in serious breakage. I’ve since tried a morrocain oil conditioning treatment but the hair is so broken from crown to tips that my hair won’t curl – it just frizzes. Any recommendations on what I should do? I’m trying to avoid my straightening iron to prevent breakage but my hair dries so unruly I don’t want to leave the house. Is there anything that will make the broken strands less noticeable and grow faster? If it were just the ends I would cut it, but not willing to shave my head or go short. Thanks.

    • Hi Brandy-

      If I were in your condition I would focus on doing moisturizing deep treatments regularly….weekly (protein free). My curl pattern has already been loose too so when I started using Aubrey Organics products I was thrilled with how my hair began to curl over time.

      You may still need to get your hair trimmed though. It’s best to start with a clean slate. You don’t have to cut it all off just trims here and there. Do you seal your hair? I seal with either Jojoba Oil or Grapeseed oil and I seal the ends with Jamaican Black Castor Oil. These oils make a world of difference with sealing in the moisture.

      Have you tried Shea Moisture’s Purification Mask? It does wonders for itchy scalp. I love it

  10. paula

    Great post! Can you just clarify a few points: what main ingredients should we seek in a protein conditioner and in a moisturising conditioner. This will determine that I am not using the same ‘proteins’ ingredients when I give myself both conditioning treatments at the same time.

    • Hi Paula-

      There are many types of protein and some are stronger treatments than other. Types of protein you may see on an ingredients label are: keratin, hydrolyzed protein, silk amino acids, casein, blue green algae, quinoa seed extract.

      there’s so many types of proteins but if you ever see the words “Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed ” it’s probably associated with protein.

      A good moisturizing deep conditioner containing no protein is Generic Matrix Biolage Conditioner. I use that one after a henna. Otherwise, I do protein treatments weekly to every two weeks.

      Hope this helps

  11. Militza

    I know your thoughts on eggs (lol!) but, I wonder what you think about an egg, coconut oil and honey treatment. I feel like my hair might need the protein, but it is breaking and perhaps needs the moisture too. You said to do moisturising treatments, after the protein treatments – what do you think about a home DIY recipe that combines them both? Thanks!!

    • Hey Miliza-

      You could try and see :-) Worst case scenario is you don’t get the results you are looking for in which case you will have to return to doing a two step.

      However, if your hair is breaking significantly, I’d do a heavy duty protein treatment like Aphogee (do not manipulate the hair after applying and certainly don’t come it in regardless to what the instructions say. Just work the protein straight through) because while it’s great to use nature’s ingredients somethings you need something stronger if you are experienciing significant breakage. Just don’t forget to follow up with a nice long moisturizing conditioniong treatment directly after.

      While I certainly understand trying to save time, you really only need to do a heavy duty protein treatment once a month (even less if your hair is in good condition). The extra time it takes to do it is worth it in my opionion.

  12. Alicia

    Sounds good, what are your thoughts on scab hair? I’m going through one of those weird phases with my own hair, I was natural for 16 years then relaxed for just over one year and I’ve been natural for two years. The hair on my head now is a looser texture than I remember my natural hair being and it does appear that the new hair growing out now is completely different to the “scab hair” I thought was my natural texture. This hair is easier to moisturise and closer to what I remember my hair being like.

    • From what I understand that wiry, dry hair happens to those who have relaxed for years. Could be that your hair just needs time to “remember” the curl if that makes sense. My curl pattern loosed after just one straightening with the blow dryer. It was weird. I talk about it in this post: http://radiant-brown-beauty.com/natural-hair-texture-change/

      Using Aubrey Organics Glycogen Protein Balancing Conditioner as a pre-poo helped restore my curls. I also use the Honey Suckle Rose Conditioner as a leave in. I alternate that with Salerm 21 LIC

  13. Alicia

    I’m soo happy I found this article, I don’t use protein products anyway but I tried blowdrying my Aubrey Organics GPB conditioner into my hair then following it up with the Honeysuckle Rose by Aubrey Organics and it worked like an absolute dream. I’ve used the GPB before but with heat it seems to work so much better and instantly,thank you! :)

    • Hey Alicia, thanks for commenting :-) Glad you found it useful. I’m actually about to post an article about AO GPB shortly. I LOVE the stuff.

  14. Ayanna

    Hi. I am loc’d but my hair is not in good shape due to stress, overtwisting, a plethora of things. It’s also full of build up. I actually use the Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor, I’ve never used the actual protein treatment. My question is this: can I use the Aphogee or any other protein treatment after doing a backing soda/acv rinse? I’ve only done the rinse once before, but it got my hair very clean so I plan to do it again on Saturday. After I do the rinse, I wash with a sulfate free shampoo, then I deep condition. Do you think I’ll have an issue if I use the Aphogee following the baking soda/acv rinse?

    • Hi Ayanna- If anything you’d do the rinse AFTER the 2 Minute Reconstructor. Oh and, that IS a protein treatment :-) It’s just milder.
      While it shouldn’t make your hair hard, I would apply the reconstructor followed by a deep conditioning moisture treatment. The ACV rinse is really used to remove build up and close the cuticles on the hair. If you don’t have lots of build up, I wouldn’t use it just to be using it. Also, I wouldn’t use an ACV rinse more than once a month. That’s just my opinion.

  15. Franie

    thank you so much , i was reluctant to do the treatment by fear of protein overload.But, does it really matter what type of protein you use? Can using a wrong type of protein on your hair cause breakage ?!

  16. franie

    hi, i am relaxed and my hair is healthy, i don’t do protein treatment but my diet is full of protein. I heard that hair need a protein treatment monthly so i was wondering, is a protein treatment necessary on a healthy hair? i want my hair to be stronger so i was thinking of using aphogee once a month but i am afraid, can it cause a protein overload?? or is it also a myth just like protein sensitivity?

    • Hi Franie- Hair is made of protein so I don’t believe people are sensitive to it.

      The important thing is to choose the right type of protein for your hair and then balance it with a moisturizing treatment.

      If you do the Aphogee 2 step once per month, that will not cause overload.

  17. Vickie

    Also, I am not natural, but can I use these same products that you mention throughout the website on my relaxed hair?

    • Absolutely. Naturals tend to look for gentle products that don’t contain certain ingredients. If your hair is relaxed, you could certainly benefit from using gentle products. Now, not all natural use all natural products. In my own hair regimen, my products are about 95% natural from my shampoo to my stylers. The most important thing is to find the products that work for YOUR hair.

  18. Vickie

    Michelle, you gave a plethora of great information about deep conditioning, but what type or brand of shampoo do you recommend?

    • Hi Vickie- I use Shea Moisture’s Coconut and Hibiscus shampoo. I like it because it provides a suds without the sulfates

  19. Hmmm, Jamaican Black Custer Oil. I should remember this and tell the others to try this product.

    Umm, it’s out of topic but I think your Facebook is not available here http://www.facebook.com/Blended.Naturals, is there something wrong Michelle?

  20. Jasmin

    I Michelle, I’ve been natural for almost two years but am still leaning how to handle my hair. Can you please tell me the proteins I should avoid unless I do protein/deep treatment. Thanks a lot.

    • Hey Jasmin. Well, everyone’s hair is different. Women with low porous hair tend to require less protein treatments.

      In order to make it simple, you could try Aphogee 2 Step Protein Treatment. You would use the protein on your hair, then follow with the moisture balancing treatment. This should be done no more than once a month.

      I also use a conditioning hair mask made with silk protein that works beautifully at strengthening the hair. It’s a mud mask and imparts moisture and protein, leaving the hair soft, shiny and strong. I get it from Butters ‘n Bars.

      Check out my video review of it here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87c2mhKQ1RM&feature=share&list=UUsjLr1L5zECwmN3tg3CQ9Vw

  21. Kym

    I love this info- thank you!
    I’m a bleach blonde, with stressed out hair. I read somewhere on the net that using gelatin which is hydrolyzed protein can be used as an alternate to ApHogee. Do you have an opinion on this? I gave it a go- it did harden and make my hair feel ‘crunchy’ but after following up with a moisturizing treatment to which I added coconut oil it came out soft again.
    Any comments from the ladies??
    I love this sciencey geeky hair talk!!

    • LOL@geeky hair talk.

      I don’t know a lot about gelatin other than its source is usually from the pig which I try not to put anywhere near my body lol.

      However, there are a number of ways to get protein to your hair. I like Aphogee a lot but there are milder treatments and also natural like mayonnaise.

      Here’s another really good blog on hair and science too: http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com

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  24. deb

    “Protein should ONLY be part of a deep conditioning treatment that you use to strengthen your hair. Leave In Conditioners, Serums, Curl Enhancers etc, should NOT contain protein. Why? Because protein should only be used with heat as part of a treatment to strengthen the hair.”

    this makes a lot of sense. I’ve had to really search and be vigilant to buy non dc products that do not have protein in them (including coconut oil which makes my hair hard). It’s not easy at all! I wish hair care companies knew what you stated here!!!

    I have avoided using a protein DC for almost 6 months now because of my experience but will follow your very, very informative tips by using a light protein deep conditioner. I actually used to always follow a protein DC with a moisturizing DC when I was relaxed, I completely forgot about it after I became natural! I guess I thought I could relax since I used light protein treatments as opposed to aphogee two step.

    I was wondering if you have to sit under a dryer for 30 minutes with the protein DC, can I also leave my cap on for a couple of hours and use body heat?

    Anyway, God bless you!

    • Hey Deb- There’s much debate about the application of protein to the hair. Some say you need heat. Others say you don’t. I can’t worry about the debate but I can tell you what works for me. I’ve found that using the heat helps the hair shaft swell open, allowing the protein to bond to the hair, thereby strengthening it. I always use heat with a protein treatment. Now, with a regular deep conditioning, non-protein treatment or a moisturizing treatment, I sometimes use heat but I find it as effective when I’m running around in the house cleaning up etc. to put on my thermal plastic type cap and let body heat take over.

      When I used to be relaxed I used to get protein treatments followed by moisturizing treatments and forgot that when I first became natural too! If anything, I think that if we put so much effort into keeping our hair strengthened and moisturized when it was relaxed, we should put that much effort into our natural hair.

      Thanks for commenting and God bless you too! We all have different hair needs but one thing remains the same. Our hair is made up of mostly protein and it makes sense that protein strengthens protein right? OK take care…I could write a book lol

  25. This was very helpful! Thanks!

    • You’re welcome :-) i thought you might find it of interest

  26. katerina

    Forgot to metion Shelli, that the one of the worst shampoos that I used and did a very bad job to my hair was Paul Mitchell tea trea shampoo. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate are the second and third ingredients!!!

    • Michelle

      that shampoo is meant for white people with straight hair. they can deal with sulfates. we can’t. I used to wash with shampoos that contained sulfates ages ago when I didn’t know any better. Now I can tell the difference.

  27. katerina

    Thanks Shelli,
    will have that in mind when looking for hair products. I am actually reading the labels now!! I am in a hunt for a leave in and it is difficult to find something that doesn’t contain protein. They will have amino acids (building blocks of protein), ingredients that have the word “hydrolyzed” before them. Even plants contain protein and so do their extracts but this category it is said that is not as commonly problematic as hydrolyzed grains. Plant oils , when properly processes, should be protein free. However for the coconut oil although it does not contain protein, it has been shown to reduce protein loss in hair and for some this acts just like having protein buldup on hair. Coconut milk contains actual protein.

    • Michelle

      Katerina, you may be overthinking it. Not all protein is strong that it will leave your hair hard. There are many leave in condishes on the market that work well or make your own. The kimmaytube recipe is wonderful for hair.

  28. katerina

    Hello Michelle,
    thank you for replying to me. I came across your article by accident and I found the info in it amazing. I am not african american. I am caucasian. The swimming pool water and some products did a lot of damage to my hair and through internet I am trying to find solutions. If I can… otherwise I have to cut my hair like Michelle Williams( she looks great but i look bad with sort hair!!). I had no idea about the difference between protein vs moisture treatments. If you are interested I found another good article about this http://blackhairscience.com/hair_breakage.html
    After reading your article I understand now why when I latetly use my leave in treatment my hair became harder.It contains wheat protein. I can’t tolerate the product anymore and I am rinsing it out. My hair after shampooing is very bad , birds nest hair , and although I know that the only solution might be to cut them off(shoulder length right now) I have a small hope that if I start to put intense hydration on them, then they might improve.
    I will try the mask you said and the herbal essence hello hydration product but I don’t know if I will be doing the leave in treatment recipe .
    Would you recoment a hot oil treaments in a salon? It is been more than three decates since I used my grandmother’s advice to use olive oil to my hair but I will start!!
    Thanks again for the great article

    • Katerina,

      I’m sure Michelle would say the same, but one thing you may want to try if you aren’t already is using a sulfate free shampoo. Shampoos with sulfates (SLS, SLES) will do a job on hair by drying it excessively. Starting with a less harsh shampoo may be step one in rehabilitating your hair.

      Shelli

      • Michelle

        amen to that. I concur :-)

    • Michelle

      hey Katerina-

      I don’t know how I missed this post of yours. Anyway, I don’t really recommend hot oil treatments. Not for all hair types. You mentioned you are not African American. We tend to have very dry hair and that’s why we use hot oil treatments.

      If you typically have oily hair, I wouldn’t do a hot oil treatment. It may be hard to determine if your hair is oily or dry if it’s being dried out by products that contain sulfates or other ingredients. If I were you I’d first put all the products down that you’ve been using, grab a journal and start taking note of what works and doesn’t work for your hair.

      As mentioned before, products without harsh ingredients like sulfates are best. There’s a conditioner that I absolutely love that I found at Whole Foods. It’s called Shikai Every Day Naturals conditioner. You can actually leave it in your hair if you like and it will protect your hair from environmental stressors. It’s all natural so that’s a bonus.

      As for the leave in, it’s your choice, but you may notice that you will benefit from using one – especially if you have curly hair.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to ask whatever you need and I will help if I can. If I don’t know, I’ll find out. Cheers and Happy Friday!

  29. katerina

    Hello,
    Can you tell me that leave-in treatment product to use? Protein free.

    • Michelle

      Hi Katerina-
      A leave in or a deep conditioner without protein?

      I use the kimmaytube recipe as a leave in. You can find it on YouTube or do a search online. For a deep conditioner without protein I use one of the following:

      Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Hair Mask (with added honey)
      As I Am Naturally Hydration Elation

  30. Christina

    In my opinion “protein sensitivity” is the same as an unbalanced Ph level in your hair, this happens when your hair has too much protein which is currently happening to me. Protein in hair does not just come from products it also comes from your diet, in my situation I started taking the supplement spiritulina which is high in complete proteins, that along with the use of coconut oil and a protein treatment that “broke the camels back” left me with a dredlocked matted mess of a nest for hair…NO JOKE! You are correct in saying that this is a treatable condition which requires clarifying and moisture, but beware I am on day 7 of my moisture rehab & the tips of my hair are still locked so I can affirm that “protein sensitivity/overload” is real indeed, but totally correctable.

    • Michelle

      I get what you’re saying. I just disagree on it being a sensitivity because like you said, it’s something that’s out of balance. Many naturals that “think” they have a protein sensitivity avoid protein all together which is not good in the long run because your hair IS largely composed of protein. It’s just important to have that delicate balance of moisture and protein. Anybody can achieve that if they know how.

  31. Mary

    There are hidden truths behind every stories, basically there’s nothing to worry about if the things which you knew about it can help you on your treatment. Protein had been long known that helps in giving the body nourishment and even to with some illness. It even plays a major rule on our health and now with our hair. It really takes to read to get an update and you can also learn from it.

    • Michelle

      Thanks for your comment. There is plenty to worry about if a person is not educated in caring for themselves. Protein is often misunderstood by so many people. And in the case of this article, hair is the subject not the body in general.

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  34. ambrosia

    What do you use in place of a shower cap with the Aphogee treatment?

    • Michelle

      When you use the Aphogee you don’t put anything on the hair. It has to dry hard. You sit under a dryer and let it dry hard so the protein can bond to the hair. While it’s drying, don’t manipulate. Just let it dry hard and then rinse it completely clear following with a moisturizing conditioner that’s protein-free.

  35. Very detailed article, I had no idea you had to condition you hair after a protein treatment, does this include egg/avacado/banana treatments as well or just store bought products?

    • Michelle

      You wouldn’t want to use egg which is another protein. You want to use a moisturizing conditioner that has no protein in it. The protein hardens the hair in the process of strengthening it so you need something to soften it back up. I use one of the Herbal Essences conditioner after a protein treatment like Hello Hydration or Totally Twisted. You don’t have to sit under heat again. Just let the moisturizing conditioner sit in your hair for at least 15 minutes. You can even put on a plastic cap and walk around to let the moisture soak in

      • Michelle, I think Coco and Cream meant do you need a moisturizing conditioner after a protein DC made with egg/avocado/banana. She didn’t mean to use that after a protein DC. But your answer still answers hers as it is yes, use a moisturizing conditioner after an egg protein treatment. Now, to me, the real question here is, if you say that protein conditioners must be used with heat, but people say not to use heat with egg treatments because they will cook in your hair, is egg a highly effective protein treatment? Based upon a recent article on bglhonline, I suspect no as the writer indicated that hydrolized protein is the best. However, that being said, I’ve seen a lot of people praise egg based DCs. I’ve never been a fan though.

        • Michelle

          I’m not a fan of the egg thing either. First off it’s food lol so God didn’t necessarily create it to be put in our hair. Many naturals take the whole natural thing rather far in my opinion. I’m not opposed to using food on the hair. It’s just not every food rather protein or not is necessarily a good choice for a treatment. Mayonnaise might be better since it already has a smooth consistency.

          When I was in H.S. I used the eggs and found it made my hair soft but didn’t stop breakage. That’s another thing. I think some ladies thing if the hair is soft it’s conditioned.

  36. Interesting … very interesting. I’m not sold on all styling products with protein will make hair hard because I do use some that seem to work fine and don’t cause brittle hair. I suspect that may have something to do with where the protein falls on the ingredient list (i.e. mid-low). Most stylers that I see with protein don’t tout themselves as “strengthening” treatments but I would definitely agree that using something with protein high on the list without a moisturizer to restore balance could definitely have more of us diagnosing ourselves as protein sensitive than needs be. But, again, I think using a protein conditioner on undamaged hair or hair with sufficient protein and low porosity is unnecessary and another situation dubbed as protein sensitivity as it overloads the hair.

    But, great information!! Protein and moisture balance is something I’m definitely interested in learning more about and you provided some valuable insights. Thanks!

    (Btw, what you do mean you gave me an award? I saw that yesterday, but have no idea where I’m supposed to be looking!! LOL!!)

    • Michelle

      First off all Shelli you are soooo late LOL I gave that award days ago. You’ll find it here: http://radiant-brown-beauty.com/blogs-fire/

      Now about the location of protein on the ingredient list, I agree. If it’s lower down on the list it probably won’t be an issue with hardening hair. However, look at some of those bottles where it’s high on the ingredient list (not a deep conditioner or protein treatment – a styling cream etc). Notice how on the packaging they usually say something like, “Strengthens hair, increases flexibility etc.” They won’t call themselves treatments per say.

      I believe they are making false claims because protein applications are not effective without heat.

      Also, I agree that undamaged hair doesn’t require heavy doses of protein. Light protein treatments however CAN be used to maintain hair strength. As I mentioned in the post, it’s not required to treat the hair with protein all of the time if he hair is not constantly being damaged.

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