The ‘Curl Whisperer’ is back after a summer hiatus to get some business in order. I missed you, ladies!

Continuing our discussion on product ingredients: this week’s article will be on protein and its importance in curly hair care. This information becomes critical when it comes to understanding how to choose products best suited for your particular hair type.

Hair itself is actually a nonliving fiber made from a protein called keratin. Keratin, in turn, is made up of long chains of amino acids created from what are known as the COHNS elements: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur. These chains are what form the structure of the hair strand and contribute to its overall strength.

Hair with a fine texture, therefore, does not have the same protein support and structure as does hair with a more substantial texture. Because fine hair is so fragile, it needs the additional support and reinforced structure provided by protein-based products.

Coarse hair, on the other hand, naturally manufactures an overabundance of protein within itself. Since coarse hair carries an excessive protein structure, putting protein-based products on hair that is already protein-heavy will increase the hair structure to the point the hair strand will become just like a broom straw: hard, difficult if not impossible to bend, and very dry. Products that are protein-based should be avoided by those with coarse hair.

Medium-textured hair is somewhere in the middle and is what we consider “normal” hair, meaning it has a mid-range protein content and can generally support products with a wide range of ingredients, as long as care is taken to keep a good balance.

Protein also plays in important role in helping to repair/reconstruct the hair shaft after a chemical service such as lightening, or can assist in strengthening hair that has been over-processed.

As with any product ingredient, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, however! If you are a frequent protein user and your hair starts to feel dry or brittle, you may be suffering from possible protein overload. Switching to a more emollient-based conditioner for a while may be just what you need to get your hair back into balance.

Next week: Surfactants

Other articles on Protein:
Protein Sensitivity Revisited
Hair Tip of the Day

For more of Tiffany the ‘Curl Whisperer’ click HERE.