If your hair has adequate protein, then adding even more protein will cause it to become "hard, inelastic and rigid". Ultimately, this protein overuse will lead to protein-induced (or moisture deficient) hair breakage.
Why is protein included in many hair products?
The protein structure of relaxed hair is compromised by the relaxing process. Extra protein is need to replace the protein that has been lost. Because many women have relaxed hair many products naturally include lots of protein.
Natural hair on the other hand tends to have adequate protein so protein overuse is a real risk.
Which products contain protein?
Most products contain some protein the difference is simply the concentration of the protein.
What form does the protein take?
Protein-rich deep conditioner usually contain hydrolyzed proteins. Hydrolyzed proteins are proteins that have been broken down to a small size so that they can be taken up more easily into the hair fibre. These smaller proteins bind quickly and aggressively to hair fibres.
What types of products are rich in hydrolyzed protein?
What should you look out for on an ingredients list?
If you have protein sensitivity you will want to avoid products that have one or more of the following listed in the top ingredient. Generally, products list the ingredients used in the highest concentration first so if one these is less than 5th on the list there probably isn't much in there. However,
a) some marketers try to trick people with alphabetical listings! AND
b) you can't tell whether being listed 4th means there is 30% of that ingredient or 3%!
This should help you understand which products have a lot of protein and which products do not. Achieving the right protein/moisture balance will help you retain more length.
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The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy (Unit 2, Chapter 6)
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I was a natural hair blogger and mixtress living between London & Chicago from 2012 to 2017. I always thought I was 4C but some say 4B; images below - you decide! Heather xx