What’s all the fuss about protein and moisture balance? you ask. As I mentioned in a previous post, our hair is mainly made up of protein. The slightest change in the hair’s protein structure and components can greatly alter the hair’s properties.
Our hair exhibits great resilience and durability in its natural state because no significant change in its structure has occurred unlike relaxed hair which has undergone a chemical change. The disulfide bonds are broken during a chemical treatment; this change is irreversible. Once these bonds are broken, they cannot be formed again. The downside of this process is that it makes hair dryer and less resilient, that is why chemically treated hair is more prone to breakage as opposed to natural hair.
The two main reasons why hair breaks are moisture deficiency and protein deficiency. When there is an imbalance in these two components, hair breakage occurs.
How moisture deficiency occurs
Excessive sun exposure, use of harsh shampoos containing sulphates,use of heavy oil containing petrolatum (mostly hair oils that come in a jar and look like vaseline) and the overuse of heat styling methods such as blow-drying and flat ironing can all bring about moisture deficiency in the hair. Precious moisture is evaporated from the hair shaft or when the heavy oils are applied, they tend to seal the shaft preventing any moisture from penetrating the shaft. I cannot stress enough, OIL IS NOT A MOISTURIZER! The overuse of products rich in protein such as conditioners , reconstructors and gels can also trigger moisture deficiency in the hair thus brittle hair, moderation is key.
How protein deficiency occurs
Excessive sun exposure and the overuse of styling techniques such as hair colouring chemical relaxing are the main causes of protein deficiency in hair. These processes destroy the hair’s natural protein structure. Over-conditioning hair that is not sufficiently balanced with protein-rebuilding products can also throw the protein/moisture balance off.
So how do you tell if your hair is either protein or moisture deficient? Hair that is lacking in protein (too much moisture) will be super elastic,too soft and gummy and stretchy when wet. It lacks structure and does not hold curls well. Think of protein as a skeleton that gives your hair shape and structure, without it it will just plop and lay there like a wet sock.
Hair that is moisture deficient (too much protein) on the other hand is hard, inelastic and brittle even when wet. It breaks off and snaps easily. Think of a dried up sponge, it is brittle and breaks off easily, but as soon as it has moisture in it, it becomes strong and doesn’t snap unless you use force to tear it.
Well balanced hair is very strong. The hair feels great, moves well and has a nice sheen to it. The hair feels soft and supple, yet strong whether wet or dry.
A good hair care regimen should include a moisturizing conditioner and a protein conditioner, and for relaxed and damaged hair a protein reconstructor is recommended. I like to use a leave-in conditioner every morning on my hair while it is still damp, then seal in the moisture using oils such as olive oil and coconut oil. Since my hair is at its healthiest, I only use a protein conditioner once a month. This helps to maintain a good balance in my hair.
How do you tackle your hair issues?
- Moisture or Protein – What Does Your Dry Hair Need? (bellasugar.com)
- Leave-In Conditioners For Your Luxe Locks, Part I (fabsugar.com)
- Definition: Keratin (bellasugar.com)
- What Makes Curly Hair Curly and Straight Hair Straight? (bellasugar.com)
- Treat your stressed strands to a Hair Masque! (epochsalonstudios.com)
- More Hair-ducation!!! (24sevencurls.wordpress.com)
- Beginner Wednesday – Choosing a deep conditioner (africanhairblog.com)
- The basics of building a healthy hair regimen (naturallychique.wordpress.com)
- Beginner Wednesday – Lets talk about sealing (africanhairblog.com)
- The Secret of Beautiful Hair (loveinsydney.wordpress.com)
- No Daily Moisturizer?? Penetrating Oils?? Say it ain’t so! (blackhairchronicles.blogspot.com)
Reference: The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy