By Chinwe of Hair and Health
Protein conditioners. Many naturals can do without them but some of us need them. If you are trying to determine where you fall, check out these four common reasons you may consider protein conditioners:
1. Your hair is chemically colored or bleached
Color treatments – particularly permanent ones – lift the scales of the cuticle and interact with the cortex to alter the natural pigment. Bleaches work similarly but tend to be more traumatic on the hair. For some naturals, this process of lifting the cuticle scales may leave the hair weakened and/or prone to dryness. Regular protein treatments can temporarily fill gaps in the cuticle, allowing for strengthened hair that retains more moisture. If your hair is severely damaged, however, it may be best to cut.
2. You use direct heat (especially regularly)
Even with appropriate use of direct heat, the hair may still suffer some damage to the scales of the cuticle. In this case, using a protein conditioner prior to a heat straightening session can help the hair sustain manipulation. (Do not expect a protein conditioner to do much, if anything, for you if you misuse direct heat.) The protein can also temporarily fill gaps in the cuticle.
3. Your hair is more than 2 years old
When the ends of your hair have been with you for two years, it is not uncommon to see ends that are worn down to the last cuticle layer or cortex … or split. (Imagine the amount of wear and tear that has accumulated over that time frame!) In some cases, a trim is all that is needed while in others a trim followed by regular protein conditioning thenceforth may be what is required. The latter case is especially true for many of those who are BSL or beyond that are struggling to grow their hair even longer. Regular use of protein conditioners can help to reduce breakage of the ends – the oldest, most worn segment of your hair.
4. You have fine strands
Now, not every fine-haired natural needs to incorporate protein conditioners, but for some it may be very useful towards reducing breakage during manipulation (e.g., styling, detangling). Why? This is because, in fine strands, both the cuticle and cortex are thinner than in thicker strands. Consequently, fine hair has less natural strength and is more prone to damage.
Ladies, do you use protein conditioners? Share below!