Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lets Talk Protein

Lets Talk Protein 
By  MissT of  KARIFBeauty
Like most aspects of being natural, protein is a tricky business. Some people are very sensitive to products containing protein, while for others, and I include myself in this category, it sometimes seems like you can’t get enough…at least if you’re doing it right. So that’s what I’m here to talk about: doing protein the right way. If you’re not sure what category you fall into, check out this chart.
For starters, your hair is made up primarily of protein, which is why its addition to your hair care routine, whether by ingesting it regularly or by adding a protein-containing product topically to your hair, is necessary for optimal hair health. Most naturals with thicker, coarser strands may not require protein products, unless the strands are very damaged. For those of us with finer strands, it’s a whole other story.
Our hair likes it…a lot. That’s because fine strands are more prone to damage because they naturally have less protein, which protects the strands. So adding a little extra helps build stronger strands and fills in any gaps in the cuticle caused by damage. In general, protein can be used for all hair types, particularly if your styling techniques are bit aggressive (lots of manipulation) or include heat styling.

Most protein treatments are pretty easy to come by: most big-box retailers (Target and Walmart) as well as beauty supply stores sell one-use protein packs for a couple of bucks. Your local beauty supply should also sell more intense protein treatments meant for severely damaged hair. Although I have used these products with great results, I prefer to take preventive measures to reduce the frequency with which I need to use intense treatments.
I’ve been natural for over five years, and I went most of that time without adding protein to my regimen, to the detriment of my hair’s health. This was before I understood what having fine hair meant, and what was required of me to care for it. So, in the spirit of damage prevention, here’s my recommendation: If you’re not super sensitive to protein, small doses more often will go a long way to maintaining your hair’s health. A lot of resources I’ve seen say that folks with fine hair should do intense protein treatments regularly/periodically. 
I add protein with every wash session. However these aren’t intense protein treatments. When I look for a conditioner, I make sure that hydrolyzed protein is listed somewhere on the label. These products are usually meant as balancing conditioners, so they add both moisture and protein to your hair. Killing two birds with one stone, right? Well, so far, my experience has been that these conditioners are pretty hard to come by, at least at Target or Walmart. I’m pretty heavy-handed with my conditioner, so I need something effective but also inexpensive. Out of the slew of products in the hair care aisle, I’ve come across one conditioner by Suave (Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion. It’s all right, but not the bees knees), two by Tresemme (Keratin Smooth and Split Remedy), and one by Finesse (the Self-Adjusting line of products) containing some form of hydrolyzed protein. All of these are in the ballpark of $5 for around 20 ounces of conditioner.
There are more expensive versions out there. The U R Curly line includes their Quinoa Conditioner and Soya Shampoo, both of which contain hydrolyzed proteins, and run about $8.99 for a 10-ounce container. Elucence has their Extended Moisture Repair Treatment ($16 for 16 ounces), Moisture Benefits Shampoo ($6 for 10 ounces), and the Silk Hydrating Elixir ($18 for 6 ounces). I was gifted the Elucence shampoo, and it is my go-to. I absolutely love it, and it’s very gentle. It is the least expensive in the line, and my shampoo lasts forever, so I’ll probably purchase it in the future. Lastly, there’s ApHogee, which makes several protein products, including their Curlific line (about $9 for 8 ounces) as well as intense protein treatments. I haven’t tried the Curlific line, but I used the Two-Step Treatment about a month ago with amazing results.

If you’re having a hard time finding a light protein conditioner that works for you, you can also try some of the DIY tricks of the trade, such as mayonnaise, egg, or Greek yogurt treatments. A lot of naturals swear by them. I sometimes mix Greek yogurt with olive oil and honey to create a deep moisturizing treatment. Over-the-counter conditioners are made with hydrolyzed protein, this means the proteins are small enough to enter the strands and help build stronger hair. 

KARIF is a beauty discovery service created especially for the modern-day woman of color. Each month subscribers will unveil a new set of beauty products. More from MissT, and more on KARIFBeauty subscription service, & to sign up for their inaugural beauty box coming out this May, go to  KARIFBeauty