It has been a whole week since I have posted on my blog and I did not want anymore time to pass without addressing Moisture-Protein Balance. I have done an entire series on breakage prevention techniques but I didn’t single out moisture-protein balance as a way to prevent breakage because it factors into other areas such as deep conditioning and moisturising.
Our hair is made up of keratin which is a protein. This protein breaks down through natural wear and tear as well as from chemical and physical processes like combing, straightening, dyeing and relaxing. It is therefore important to replace the protein that is being lost through these processes to prevent the hair from becoming weak and eventually break.
However, replenishing protein loss alone does not by itself keep your hair healthy. Even though protein makes your hair stronger, by itself it is useless against preventing breakage and so moisture in the form of water is very important. In order for your hair to be able to withstand manipulation and wear and tear it needs to be elastic. Adding moisture as well as protein makes your hair not only strong from the protein but also flexible. Water adds an elastic quality that allows the hair to be stretched and bent without snapping and breaking. So the two go hand in hand and I had to learn the hard way that you cannot just choose one and wing it.
The Moisture-Protein Balance Test
Okay so you try to incorporate both moisture and protein based products in your regimen but you are not sure if there is a balance between the two. There is a simple test that you can do to find out:
Take a shed strand of your dry hair, hold it with both hands and stretch it gently. There are four thing that can happen:
- It snaps as soon as you stretch it. This means that your hair is lacking both protein and moisture because it is neither strong nor elastic.
- It does not stretch but does not break easily. This usually indicates that your hair has enough protein but not enough moisture.
- It stretches but snaps. This usually means that your hair has enough moisture but not enough protein.
- It stretches and does not snap. Perfect! This is the result you should aim for and usually indicate that your hair has both the correct level of moisture and protein.
If you try this test remember that even a healthy strand of hair is fragile and if too much force is applied it will break. This is not a tug of war so be gentle. Also you might want to try stretching different sections along the hair strand to get a more accurate picture because the area closer to your roots might be giving great results but it can be different toward the ends that are older and more worn.
How do I maintain Moisture-Protein Balance?
If you read My Current Hair Regimen and How I Prep my Hair for A Relaxer:Part 1 you will realize that I incorporate a strong protein treatment into my regimen once a month. I also ALWAYS follow this strong protein with a moisturising treatment to prevent my hair from becoming brittle. Protein can be incorporated in different ways and I use either a protein or moisturising leave-in depending on how my hair is doing.
Let me say that this was one of the most confusing concepts for me to grasp when I started my hair journey and it is through trail and error that I have arrived at a routine that works well for my hair. Also, please remember that each head of hair is different and our protein and moisture needs may differ. A good place to start is a once a month strong protein treatment like I do, then try increasing the frequency and see how your hair reacts. If your hair becomes dry, straw-like and hard then you might have used too much protein. Hopefully it doesn’t cause too much damage if this happens, and that is why it is important to follow-up with a moisturising deep condition. You can also try adding protein in smaller portions through leave-ins, mild protein deep conditioners (like the ORS Replenishing Conditioner) and moisturisers if you feel like you need a protein boost between strong protein treatments. I like the Neutrogena Triple Moisture Silk Touch Leave-in for moisture and the Zimmi Orion Thermal Sheen Booster for a protein Leave-in.
My go to strong protein treatment is the ORS Hair Mayonnaise.
The moisturising deep conditioner I am loving at the moment is the Elasta QP DRP+11 which I recently did a review on.
I hope you find this informative and not too confusing. As always if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below. Until nest time, happy hair journey!