I love me my protein conditioners and most of the conditioners in my stash are protein-rich. I love them because they help my fine hair strands look thicker and feel stronger. They also help to reduce my hair porosity. Some examples of proteins you will find in protein conditioners are keratin, collagen, egg protein, soy protein, vegetable protein, etc. I especially look out for keratin because relaxers tend to damage keratin during the relaxer process.
Before I started my hair journey, I didn’t know there was a difference between moisturising and protein conditioners. However, when I started studying hair breakage seriously, I realised that there was an important distinction.
The simple difference is this: protein conditioners contain protein while purely moisturising one do NOT. While both types of conditioners will moisturise your hair, protein conditioners have an additional function of strengthening the hair. However, there are different strengths of protein conditioners: light, moderate and heavy.
Protein conditioners add strength to the hair but can also make it too strong or brittle. What this means is this: if you use a heavy protein, it is so essential to follow up with a conditioner that is purely moisturising. One classic example of a heavy protein conditioner is Aphogee 2-step protein treatment.
Use of protein conditioners
– Use heavy proteins every 6-8 weeks. Do not use more frequently than this or your hair will be too brittle. I only use heavy proteins the week after I relax my hair and only if I feel my hair was over processed. Some people however use them a week prior to relaxing their hair to prevent damage. I don’t do this because I stretch at least 12 weeks. By this time, I’m already dealing with issues from my new growth. The additional heavy protein compounds my issues and leaves my hair feeling to hard and difficult to manage.
– In my opinion, you can:
1. Use light or moderate protein conditioners weekly, depending on your hair type. If your hair doesn’t favour this, you can use them once every two weeks OR once a month. The week you are not using it, you can use a purely moisturising conditioner.
2. Follow up light and moderate protein conditioners with a purely moisturising conditioner, depending on how your hair reacts to them. If your hair is hard or breaks easily, you should deep condition with a moisturising conditioner after using a protein conditioner. If your hair feels good and doesn’t break, then I don’t think it’s so necessary especially if you don’t have the time. Another option is to mix your protein conditioner with your moisturising conditioner.
Learning what your hair likes takes practice and careful observation to the way it reacts to products used. It has taken me a long time to finally be happy with my protein-moisturising conditioner balance. Always take note whether your hair breaks more or less when you use conditioners containing protein.
To read more about the protein and moisturising conditioners, please read: Difference between protein and moisturising conditioners
At the moment, my favourite protein conditioners are
- Mill Creeks henna conditioner
- Mill Creeks keratin conditioner
- Mill Creeks biotin conditioner
- Joico moisture recovery conditioner for dry hair
- Joico Colour endure sulfate-free conditioner
- Nexxus Humectress Ultimate moisture Deep Conditioning treatment.
(My product choices are always subject to change if I find something better!)
For more examples of protein conditioners, please click HERE.