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Henna vs Protein Treatments: Which is Better for Strengthening?

• Oct 18, 2011

Janelle (not pictured) says;

Thanks to the information on your site, I’m realizing that I need to do some kind of strengthening treatment on my fine strands. I know that protein treatments work by depositing protein on the cuticle, while henna works by binding to the cuticle and thus strengthening it. My question is, which is better for strengthening? I can’t decide which to choose. I’d love to hear your readers thoughts and experiences.

Great question Janelle! Ladies, which do you like better as a strengthening treatment: henna or protein? Share your tips, photos and advice below!

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70 Comments on "Henna vs Protein Treatments: Which is Better for Strengthening?"

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Amayou
Guest

Good question, I’d like to know the same thing? Please provide links, responders (if you have them).

E
Guest

I’m not a fan of either. Protein treatments tend to make my hair very hard, and the henna loosens the curl pattern too much. It makes me look like I have poodle hair. I’d rather consume my protein to strengthen my hair.

Keisha
Guest
I’ve used Aphogee and my hair felt like straw when I was done. I thought I had done something wrong until I read the packaging again and did a bit more research. I had to condition pretty heavily afterward to get my hair to feel like normal again. I’ve also tried henna. It was a cheap henna (I had twigs in my hair afterward that I had to rinse out). My hair was not hard after I was done it actually felt well conditioned. I didn’t experience any loosening of my curl pattern but I must say I have very… Read more »
Le Le
Guest

I don’t know. I have never done a henna treatment. I just haven’t felt like it. Henna looks so messy. I want to try it one day, but for now, it’ll just be a question in my mind.

Elaine D.
Guest

Protein makes me really nervous. I was a protein junkie before and my hair was really hard. I ingest most of my protein and I make my own protein treatment using Eggs, Aloe Vera, honey and olive oil. It makes my hair smile. I add other things to it if people really want to know but those are my main ingredients.

Tonna
Guest

Do you have like a set recipe for your protein treatment? You said that you use eggs, aloe vera, honey and olive oil…how much of each do you use? Thanks. 🙂

Elaine D.
Guest

I meant commercial protein makes me nervous. Making my own treatments is what I do 🙂

mrscoutrmmm
Guest
I hate using Protein on my hair. It always comes out feeling like straw, but I have read (on curlynikki) that some people are protein sensitive so it may not be an option for a hair treatment, unless you want your end result to be like straw (for those who are protein sensitive). Henna works better for me. I get strong, healthy hair with great color (and it covers up grays really well) 🙂 That’s just me though. You might want to do more research into what your hair reacts to and make the choice for yourself. Some cheap options… Read more »
Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty
Guest

I think that henna is good for strengthening hair as a preventative measure as well as thickening. Protein should be applied to the hair when it’s in a weakened state or breaking. Heavy protein treatments are not required after every washing.

Protein seems to be very misunderstood and I find that many do not how to properly use protein leading to what people this is “protein sensitivity.” I’m about to publish a blog post on it in a few hours. I just need to update and proofread.

mrscoutrmmm
Guest

Ive tried diff forms of protein treatments and I dont think its a misunderstanding to protein sensitivity, my hair just really doesnt like it. At the end of the day its just about doing your research and knowing whats good for your individual hair. 🙂

Alexia
Guest

I just read your blog post, and thank you for that! It really makes sense. Also, thanks for the recommendations: I posted downthread about how I’ve heard of only a few treatments available. I’m leaning toward the Curl Junky, but it’s friggin’ $30.

June
Guest

Great post!

Likewaterforchocolat
Guest

Thank you so much. I don’t think that a lot of people realize that heavy protein treatment usually require a good moisturizing condish afterwards. I had the same experiences when I initially began protein treatments, but I made that small adjustment to the regimen and have had not problems since.

Shahidah
Guest

I prefer henna. I’ve been using it for well over six months now and have not noticed any loosening in curl pattern, I actually feel like my curls are more defined and springy after a treatment. I think I acutally like henna more because its an all day process and it allows me to really take a day and relax. I usually do an indigo treatment as well (to get my hair as black as possible without having to use OTC hair dyes.
I’ve used Aphogee treatment as well and liked it as well

Michi
Guest

I prefer Henna too. I haven’t gotten any loosening of my curls though. I was using it at first to color my hair, but quickly realized that it wasn’t going to happen with my dark brown hair (although I did get highlights). After I take out my braids, I am looking forward to doing a henna treatment with indigo to condition and color my hair.

I have used Aphogee 2-minute reconstruction. Didn’t notice any difference in my hair but I did also deep condition immediately after rinsing.

Vicki
Guest

Well I’m trying the henna treatment today — mixed it up last night kept it at room temp over night diluted with lemon juice / water — so currently I am in my two hour holding period with a plastic wrap — I have wore wigs and had relaxers off and on at 54 I am trying to do something natural — most of the ladies on this are young. So maybe they can teach this old lady something LOL

Mary
Guest

I love using henna as well. It covers gray nicely and I like the brunt reddish hightlights. I apply once a month and have found that I do need to do a moisturizing condition wash afterward. I use henna that is only intended for bodyart. It is a better quality and never any twigs.

AJ
Guest

Hard to say…my hair responds to both REALLY well. I think I may have gotten the *best* results from henna, though. I can do a henna gloss weekly and have little to no shedding or breakage.

Zyaran
Guest

Have you tried the Henna packages they sell at the BSS stores? I think it’s called Henna placenta or something, because I brought one but have yet to try it out yet.

Carla
Guest

That’s not real henna. Its basically some sort of treatment with a few drops of actual henna in it. Waste of money.

Ethel
Guest

I have not tried Henna either. I have alwasy used Aphogee and made my hair look and feel awesome! So obviously its different strokes for different folks. But I look forward to trying Henna (maybe before my next sew-in) and I hope I have positive results because I’d rather stick with natural products.

sheryl
Guest

Henna just looks so messy. I use products with some protein in it to keep balance, and usually don’t ever need heavy protein treatments.

I tried changing my regimen recently and my hair is mushy/stretchy. In this case, I’d do a protein treatment.

I can’t say protein is better than henna though because I’ve never used it. If protein does make your hair feel like straw, neutrogena triple moisture works well, though not an all natural product.

Danyel
Guest
It really depends on the porosity of your hair and your strand type: i.e. whether it is fine, medium or coarse. Coarse and medium hair tend to need less protein while fine hair may enjoy a protein boost. This, however is not a hard and fast rule as many curlies with coarse or medium hair love it and fine hair ladies sometimes avoid it like the plague. I have had natural hair my entire life but I was a serious heat abuser until 2 years ago, so the oldest part of my hair (the ends) are still carrying around some… Read more »
Amanda
Guest
There is NO SUCH THING as protein sensitivity!!! Protein makes the hair hard. That’s just what protein does. I assure you, no one is sensitive to it. Protein sensitivity is just a silly name assigned to the condition that happens when not enough moisturizing conditioner is applied after a protein treatment. Bottom line: if your hair is hard, it’s because you aren’t moisturizing enough. How can hair possibly be sensitive to protein when hair IS protein? Sorry for the rant! To answer the question, Henna and Protein treatments are two completely different things. Henna contains ZERO protein. If you want… Read more »
bush
Guest

no-one said they were the same thing.…

jade mayo
Guest

Thanks!!!!! You answered the question, i was looking for, and that“s is Henna a protein! It was getting confusing, you explained everything in a nutshell!?

LotusFlower
Guest

Thank you, this answered my question. Is henna a protein treatment. I like both for all the reasons listed. But henna do not give me the growth spurt that the protein treatments give me (aphogee protein treatment). But henna color my gray strands well.

Thank You

Alexia
Guest

Does anyone have any product recommendations? I’ve heard good things about Curl Junky’s “Repair Me” a certain Nexxus product, can’t remember what it’s called. I’m going through some serious breakage right now and I’m vegetarian, plus my hair is super porous and super kinky. Help?

DawnieMich
Guest

The Nexxus product I believe you’re referring to is called Emergencee. It’s pricey but well worth the investment. I just purchased some Aphogee protein treatment (FARRR cheaper) and will be definitely be comparing the two.

Asea
Guest
I do both — but I very much prefer hydrolized protein and silk protein — I notice immediate results. My super fine coils have always loved protein. Henna is so messy and I don’t really like the color it casts on my hair. I tried henna and for a few months it was great. But it started to really dry my hair out after a while and caused breakage! Now I do a strong protein treatment (Nexxus) bi-weeekly and a henna gloss deep treatment maybe once a month. I mix henna (I dont let it sit for hours) with lots… Read more »
At_Ease
Guest

+1 on hydrolyzed protein. The protein in eggs is too large and amino acids are too small. I learned it from this blog post on Natural Haven:
http://thenaturalhaven.blogspot.com/2009/06/size-matters-protein-conditioning-part.html

mangomadness
Guest

I use henna. I like it for the strengthening and coloring properties. My strands feel thicker/stronger after henna’ing and my hair gets a nice brownish burgundy tint. I don’t mind the process–when I’m in the mood and have the time. I have henna’ed thrice in the past and would like to do another soon.

I’ve never tried a commercial protein treatment. I think it’d be ‘doing to much’ when it come to my hair. With that said, I’d use them if my hair was “damaged”–chemically relaxed/‘texlaxed’/texturized, chemically dyed or heat straightened on a regular basis.

Tina
Guest

ladies is there a place (lab) where you can send a sample of your hair for a breakdown of what kinds of products would work good/bad for your hair?

anastasia
Guest

Great question =) I’m not sure, but check out JC (The Natural Haven) she may know. Good Luck =D

Jc
Guest

Hi anastasia — Thanks for the mention. Today, I have a day off hoping that my very first lab spec microscope will be delivered. I am hoping it will be good to look at hair in high detail.

Tina — I do not know a scientific lab that does that but there are hairstylists who offer that service. Most scientists are usually contacted by trichologist not for product recommendations but rather an analysis on the level of damage to your hair.

Vida
Guest

This is a site which offers hair analysis. Hope this helps.

http://www.livecurlylivefree.com/hair%20analysis.htm

Carla
Guest

I do both. I prefer henna, but when my time is short, protein treatments are second best for me. I usually don’t do protein more than once every 3–4 weeks and its usually in the form of a reconstructing conditioner, yogurt, or coconut milk. When my hair REALLY needs it, I use Aphrogee and do a deep conditioning treatment after.

My hair is porous with medium strands so it can really use it as long as I keep the moisture/protein balance in my hair.

Aamenah
Guest

I Henna 2x a mo and have been doing so for the past year.It has done wonders for my hair…Its nothing that I go outta way to do its just part of my life:)

anastasia
Guest
Great topic=) My crown is home to a bunch of fine densely packed 4c-z strands that would break at the slightest touch (lil hairs shaped like c’s in my sink and on my hands in such)even when being handled like a neonate with water, oil, or a great conditioner. So, I decided to henna gloss (love it!) some months back and have found that it leaves the bulk of my hair (4a/b) very soft, shiny, and it does appear fuller and is easier to manage (no change in texture- except for the few type 3 strands I have- just seems… Read more »
SuperCurlyGurl
Guest

To be honest I never used commercial protein products but I have used Henna and I absolutely LOVE IT! I got the results that I needed with Henna; stronger hair, color, less shedding. I highly recommend it

sheilagm
Guest

I use henna neutral before and had good results. My hair is bad. I just went natural. And its not working. I started from scratch and everything was going OK,with the hair cut and all. I was pressing it, and that got be to much. Because the hair grew and its too long and I’m getting a different effect. Texture has changed,hair is thinner,wont hold a curl,no luster or shine. I remembered I use to use henna and looking for battalion products is how. I got here. Thanks for the help.…..SDGM

Shelli
Guest
Great post. I have avoided protein deep conditioners in the past and relied on henna for the last year or so. But, I recently decided to experiment with protein DCs after a reading some good posts about it and recommendations from friends (like Michelle @ Radiant Brown Beauty above). I’ve been having a little more breakage than that which I am comfortable and only use a henna gloss on my length once a month because full strength henna has loosened my curls (I have fine hair). So, I picked up some ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor and ORS Olive Oil… Read more »
honeybrown1976
Guest

I’ve done light protein treatments and henna. I prefer henna.

Amayou
Guest

Are ther any stores you reccomend for henna? I would really like to try Henna (moreso for dying purposes).

Amber
Guest

I get my henna from one of the local Indian grocery stores. If you don’t have any local Indian stores, you can order henna online. I know many folks order theirs from mehandi.com or hennaforhair.com. I’d look into a local Indian store first, as it is much cheaper.

sissimpson
Guest

Amazon.com is where I buy Napur henna for less than $4.00 per pack. Napur has a combination of 8 other Ayurvedic herbs along with henna.

NancyM
Guest

Protein treatments leave my hair very brittle and breakable. I prefer henna. My tip is to do a “henna gloss” instead of just a straight henna treatment. Henna gloss consists of adding a conditioner (whatever is your favorite) to your henna mixture. Also, be sure to deep condition your hair once you’ve rinsed out all of the henna. By adding conditioner to the henna and then deep conditioning after the henna, your hair will come out super soft.

I have not experienced any curl loosening with henna, plus I love the red highlights and coverage my my gray hairs.

Nickie
Guest

Ditto on the gray coverage! I will try taht henna gloss this month

Somer
Guest

I have never used henna. But my hair loves protein. Some peoples hair does not respond well to direct protein from what I have heard. I do not like Aphogee protein treatment too messy and time consuming for me. But I love Sally’s Ions protein treatment and Keratin reconstructor and plain cheap cholesterol. I co wash alot with moisturizing conditioners so my hair handles the protein well.

H
Guest

I actually use Cassia with protein (eggs/yogurt) added in as a deep conditioner and protein treatment. So I get the conditioning benefits of henna (without the color stain) and also the benefits of protein in one shot.

Also, isn’t it typical that after a protein treatment your hair will feel hard bc you need to condition? Is the hardness after a PT the result of “protein sensitivity” or is it just the way everyone’s hair responds to protein.

Help from the resident natural scientists would be much appreciated!

~H

Maha
Guest

I really like the protein treatment from hydrathermal naturals… don’t use much else as far as protein… yogurt is cool. I like henna too…

Zyaran
Guest

Has anyone done an avocado hask mask treatment on their hair, I guess that would be considered an protein treatment. I saw “Naturalcurlz86” and she did a mixture of this with 2 ripe avocadoes, 2tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons honey. I will definitely have to try this on my hair, but I’m looking at doing some mini twists within the next 2 wks and leaving them in for about a month.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcKmuN7VYL0

Beth
Guest
I am SO torn on hennaing my hair. I have hennaed my hair a total of 5 times, and it’s been about 6 months since my last henna. I stopped because of the color deposit (yeah, it only shows in the sun, but I’m still not a fan); because I was afraid that over time, my hair would become like concrete and not respond to any products; and because of time. I have tried indigo but the whole process is just too time-consuming and irritating to me. HOWEVER, when I was hennaing, the thickness, shine, and strength my hair exhibited… Read more »
brunettefury
Guest

None of these work for my hair, which also seems to really hate conditioner. I don’t know if anyone else has this problem. Protein treatments make my hair feel dry and Henna makes my hair dry and tangled. It has maybe worked well once for me and only because I did a Rhassoul clay treatment afterwards. The last time that I did a Henna treatment, it took hours to detangle and I had so much shed hair. I was so frustrated I almost cried lol.

Josie Lynn
Guest

I would think a Henna treatment might work better for people who are protein sensitive, and I also think that after a protein treatment, to help with that “hard, brittle” feel a good deep conditioner would be good, when I do my henna treatments, I like to do a good deep conditioner and make sure to keep rinsing for a few days because it helps with that “hard” feeling. Now my hair feels nice and soft, I think I might do another henna treatment soon

HBP
Guest
I tried both protein treatments (eggs, oils, aloe vera) and henna. For both of them, I think it is a question of balancing the protein and the moisture. of course, if you do a protein treatment without enough oil or aloe vera your hair will feel dry and crispy. That is why it is recommended to do a deep conditioning afterwards. I combined both because I did not want to spend a lot of time in the shower. Now,I henna my hair. I only use Henna from Beauty and Art Quality Henna because it is not mixed with harsh chemicals… Read more »
Penelope
Guest
I agree with a lot of you ladies on the henna. I use bodyart quality henna. I use it because it is a pure form of henna not mixed with any chemicals and pure sifted. Henna does not change natural hair color. But if your hair is gray it will take on a red or auburn color. For those who have dark hair like me you will see nice deep red highlights when the lights, or being outside or sunshine is reflected on your hair. Since I have discovered the use of henna for my hair over a year ago… Read more »
Tizzy
Guest

It may actually do your hair good to do both. I love the way my hair feels after a henna treatment, but I don’t do it too often because it could change the color of my hair. Which I love. So I do protein treatments once every 6–8 weeks and henna once every 3 months. Since I’ve been consistant about this routine I’ve seen my hair flourish. Love em both… who says we have to choose.

LatteSpeaks
Guest

I use my own form of a protein treatment since I recently suffered from damaged from a hair dye. I mix eggs with honey (no specific amount) and coat my hair in it. After about 15 minutes in a shower cap, I rinse the mixture out and shampoo and deep condition my hair as normal.

Aurelio Beckert
Guest

Obama needs all these illegals votes to win reelection.

Marrissa Waard
Guest

the the actual hell does this have to do with hair?

loice A
Guest

henna works best for my hair. I used it once and i could feel how strong my hair was.

Jackie Thompson
Guest

I’ve been using henna for almost a year and I love it! It does make my hair stronger and I haven’t experienced a loosening of curl pattern. As far as protein, I only use Aphogee 2 minute because the two-step it too hard on my hair; but with both, I definitely make it a point to deep condition afterwards-my hair is loving the treatment 🙂

Jodi
Guest
I say experiment around with protein conditioners first before you start using henna on a regular basis. If your hair thrives off of protein conditioners like Apphogee, then listen to what your hair needs and wants. And give it what it needs. However, if your hair is protein sensitive and does not care for much protein AT ALL, THEN USE PURE BODY ART QUALITY ON YOUR HAIR, IN PLACE OF PROTEIN CONDITIONERS, AND THE HENNA WILL WORK IN PLACE OF A PROTEIN CONDITIONER, STRENGTHENING YOUR HAIR, KEEPING IT HEALTHY AND STRONG, BUT STILL LETTING MOISTURE INTO YOUR INDIVIDUAL STRANDS. EVERYBODY’S… Read more »
Anony
Guest

Uhhh.… why suddenly go into all CAPS after three sentences

Darknlovely
Guest

My hair is very protein sensitive and feels like straw when I use it. I just applied my first henna treatment2 days ago and I LOVE it! My hair feels softer and it seems to have loosened my curl pattern a little. The loosened pattern is fine with me because the back of my hair always had looser curls than the front. Now the front and the back are look closer in texture.

Lika564
Guest
I realize you posted this 3 years ago but I wanted to tell you what I have learned through trial and error. Your hair is not likely protein-sensitive so much as moisture deficient. You HAVE TO apply a balancing moisturizer like Aphogee’s Balancing Moisturizer after an intense protein treatment like Aphogee’s Two-Step Protein Treatment. Your hair is made of keratin protein and I can’t imagine it being allergic to itself. It’s also difficult to find a conditioner or moisturizer on the market that has little or no protein in it. If your hair is fine after using those, it is… Read more »
FIFI
Guest
Respectfully,I disagree with your assessment Lika564.One cannot and should not make blanket statements regarding someone else’s hair.I have fine 4C hair which happens to despise the use of keratin/protein treatments of any kind.How do I know? Over the course of being natural for 6 years,i have used MULTIPLE products to condition and strengthen my hair. Alot of those products overtime had protein in it or I tried a protein treatment, and my hair reacted the same each and every time I use any type of protein. It made absolutely no difference that I tried to deep condition after the fact… Read more »
ailyah
Guest

Henna made my 3b/3c curls extremely dry. I mixed it with coconut oil and water. I’m not too sure why this is so, I have another packet of 100g henna and I will mix it with coconut milk and conditioner next time and hope for better results.

NaturalEsq
Guest

Henna and coconut cream are amazing. I follow the recipe from Minimalist Beauty, but use coconut cream (instead of milk) and use more coconut cream that prescribed in the recipe. My protein sensitive hair LOVES it!

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