We often see different types of protein ingredients like soy protein, silk amino acids, wheat protein and keratin in hair care products. And with good reason since our hair is made up of keratin-a tough, fibrous protein. Protein can help strengthen our strands and make it grow long and healthy. But if you use too much of it, you can end up with the opposite effect: hair that is dry and brittle.
“Protein doesn’t moisturize hair,” says Jose Eber Salon senior stylist Paul Anthony. It strengthens it. Women tend to use it more than they should, which causes their hair to break.” That leads us to the common misconception about protein-oftentimes, we do assume it will hydrate our hair when it’s dried out, but what we should use in that case are products with humectant ingredients like shea butter, vegetable glycerin and jojoba.
There’s an easy way to figure out what your hair does need if it seems lackluster. After you wash your hair (and it’s still wet), grab a strand of it and pull about a one-inch section apart between your fingers. If the hair breaks apart right away, it needs more moisture. If it stretches out far, with or without breaking, then it needs more protein. Hair that has a perfect balance of moisture and protein will stretch just a little and then return to its normal length without breaking.
If you do end up needing more protein, Anthony says to consult with a professional when choosing products because they can recommend what you need and how often to use them. After all, it can vary between once a week up to once every two weeks or once a month, depending how badly damaged your hair is.