Throughout the natural hair community, protein has everyone divided. Some naturals rave about protein, while others shy away from it to the point that they never apply treatments. Low porosity hair is considered "protein sensitive" while high porosity hair is more receptive, due to the hair's nature of expelling protein from the cuticle. Adding protein to low porosity hair can cause the hair to become more dry and brittle, resulting in excessive breakage. However, it will eventually need to be reconstructed for various reasons that will be mentioned later. Highly porous hair expels too much moisture and protein resulting in dry and brittle hair. Personally, I prefer to stay away from commercial brands because some of the ingredients are too strong for my strands and can cause more harm than good. If you lean more towards making your own products, this article should give you an idea of what to put down on your "to-do" list.
What is Protein?
Protein is a re-constructor which is meant to harden the cuticle, and forms a protective barrier around the cuticle. If you love to heat style or color your hair, protein is a must have. Protein is the first substance to be broken down when applying heat to your hair so it is best to apply a treatment a week before styling. If coloring your hair, a protein application is recommended 1-2 weeks after coloring, to ensure the color takes well to the hair.
It is not uncommon to be unaware of when the hair is in need of protein. Sometimes the signs of protein loss or deficiency is obvious, other times not so often. Eventually, low porosity hair will need protein, so do not expect to go through your hair journey without ever needing it. So how do you know when your hair needs protein? Some signs or reasons are:
- Weak and brittle hair
- Excessive breakage
- Heat styling
- Chemical treatments such as coloring
Before making your own concoction, it is best to know what ingredients you want to use. When choosing ingredients, think about what ingredients are great strengtheners. Here are some great strengthening ingredients to add to your D.I.Y protein treatment.
Best known for preserving or retaining moisture in the hair, honey is an excellent strengthener that can be added to protein treatments. If you love being outdoors and spending time in the sun, honey prevents damage caused by free radicals. If you are experiencing hair fall (hair falling from the root), you may also want to give honey a try due to its ability to strengthen the hair follicles. Honey can be quite sticky and messy during application, but the results of moisturized and shiny hair is worth it.
When the hair has gone through excessive manipulation, dryness, and environmental damage, avocado is a game changer. For type 4 hair, avocado is a staple ingredient, especially during the winter months. If you do not like mashing up avocados, the oil is effective as well. Avocado oil is one of the few oils that actually penetrates the hair shaft and moisturizes the hair. In fact, one of my favorite oils is avocado oil because of how shiny and soft it makes my hair, but those are not the only qualities that this fruit is best for. Avocado also:
- Helps retain moisture
- Deeply nourishes hair and scalp
- Reduces free radicals
- Helps repair damage
- Aids in growth
- Reduces dryness and splitting
If you are planning on adding blended avocado to your protein treatment, it is highly recommended that you strain the mixture before applying it. If not, you will have tiny pieces of avocado stuck in your hair, but no worries rinsing with your favorite conditioner should remove the leftovers.
Often times, the longer hair gets, the less manageable it becomes. Detangling can take hours and washing may take an entire day. Bananas are life savers because they increase manageability while also strengthening the hair. Like avocados, bananas need to be strained to catch the tiny pieces that can get trapped in the hair. In a protein treatment, bananas are an essential ingredient because of its many abilities, such as:
- Promoting shine
- Repairing dry hair
- Decreasing hair fall
- Softening hair
- Restoring natural elasticity
- Preventing split ends and breakage
- Nourishing dull damaged hair
When you think of D.I.Y protein treatments, eggs are typically the first ingredient that comes to mind. Eggs have vitamin A and E, and if you do not know both aid in:
- Hair regeneration
- Reducing thin hair
- Nourishing hair
Eggs can be very messy when applying it to your hair, it is slippery, and gets EVERYWHERE. My best recommendation when using eggs is to mix it very well to where there are no lumps, then transfer the mixture to a color applicator bottle so that you have more control over the mixture. Eggs are probably undefeated when it comes to being the best ingredient for protein treatments. It is the most natural protein for damaged hair.
One cup of plain low-fat yogurt is filled with about 8.5 grams of protein, which is amazing for your hair. Not only is yogurt great for protein, but it is also great for deep conditioning too. Yogurt is rich in vitamin D, which is linked to creating new follicles. It is also rich in vitamin B, which is responsible for creating red blood cells that carries oxygen to the hair and scalp. If you have itchy scalp, yogurt has lactic acid which is great for cleansing and ridding the scalp of dead skin cells. If you want to create a thicker treatment, I suggest using Greek yogurt, it is more concentrated than regular yogurt and therefore has more protein. Depending on your hair's needs, yogurt will be a perfect match. Other amazing yogurt properties are:
- Smoothing the hair
- Rejuvenating dry and dull hair
Strengthening ingredients are the core of protein treatments, but the supporting ingredients are just as important. If you have low porosity hair, you may want to add ingredients that moisturize and soften. If you need extra help concocting your own D.I.Y treatment, here are a few treatments based on different hair needs. I will leave the measurements up to you and based on how much you believe your hair will need; however, the treatments listed are formulated to target commons type 4 hair concerns.
FOR DULL & DRY HAIR
-Red Palm Oil
-Liquid Amino Acids
FOR DAMAGED HAIR
FOR SHINY & SOFTER HAIR
-Sweet Almond Oil
-Carrot Seed Oil