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FEATURES Sep 5 2012 2:52PM

Is Your Hair Pro-Protein?

by Cassidy Blackwell, Natural Selection Blog

To protein or not to protein, that is the frequent question amongst many newbie and veteran naturals alike.  While protein can be found in many different hair products from conditioners to shampoos to styling creams, the fact is that some hair loves protein and can gobble it up like a Thanksgiving dinner while other hair has trouble digesting it, even in small doses.  Whether or not protein will work for your hair depends on its texture (if it’s fine, medium or coarse) and its porosity (low, medium or high).

Ok, ok, ok, don’t run away just because I said the P-Word!  Porosity can be very simple to understand, stick with me for a second while I explain: think of a window with shutters. When the shutters are open, you can receive more sunlight through the window, when the shutters are closed, sunlight can’t get through.  The cuticle of the hair is like a shutter.  When one has porous hair (or high porosity), they have an open shutter, when they have low porosity, they have a closed shutter.  For an easy test to figure out your porosity, check out this article (link: http://www.transitioningmovement.com/Default.aspx?CN=4692C3EAC4E4)

Porosity matters when it comes to figuring out if your hair likes or dislikes protein because protein will work to fill in the space left open by the cuticle (aka the shutters) of your hair.  Porous hair can benefit from proteins, which can help rebuild and fortify the strand of hair.  However, overly porous hair, such as hair that has been color treated, chemically processed or damaged, may absorb too much protein and can result on dry, straw-like strands. 

The other factor to consider is whether or not you have fine, medium or coarse strands of hair.  If you’re like me, you might think that just because you’ve got natural hair or black hair that you’ve got coarse hair only to discover that your strands are actually super-fine. The best way to figure out if you’ve got fine or coarse hair is slightly NSFW, so hang with me and give this a whirl when you’re at home.  The hair that grows beneath the belt and in our armpits is coarse hair. Pluck one of these and compare it to a hair on your head. If it’s the same, then you’ve got coarse hair, if the hair on your head is more fine than that, then your hair is on the finer end of the spectrum.

Protein is great for fine hair because it helps to strengthen the already delicate strands. I find that protein deep conditioners help to clump my coils together and make them more defined.

Because protein is a building block of all hair, it is generally a good thing for all hair types, but for some, there is definitely truth that there being too much of a good thing.  The key is to figure your hair’s unique properties so that you can learn to maximize protein’s benefit for your hair.


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