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FEATURES Sep 19 2013 8:27PM
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Keratin Protein: Is It Right For Your Hair?

by Crystal Powell of kinkyhairaffair.com

When I first began my natural hair journey, I really didn’t concentrate on doing many protein treatments on my hair. Why? Well, I am just a self-proclaimed moisturizing nut. In my mind, using products that contain some kind of protein (hydrolyzed protein, silk protein, etc.) is enough to keep my hair strengthened. But is it?

I decided to educate myself on keratin and find out how beneficial it is for natural hair. According to Livestrong.com, keratin is a protein found in hair, nails, skin, and teeth. In hair, keratin comprises of about 95% of the hair follicle and is a source of strength and flexibility. When applied to the hair, keratin's properties are absorbed, thus improving the hair's texture, shine, elasticity, and strength. According to Follica.com, keratin also eliminates frizz, smooths the hair cuticle, and straightens the hair.

Some of the products I use contain hydrolyzed keratin, which are small, broken down segments of keratin protein. Keratin in its hydrolyzed state is more effective for bonding to the hair, especially damaged hair. The hydrolyzed keratin bonds to areas of the hair cuticle where damage has occurred. This bonding helps trap in moisture in the hair strand because the cuticle has been temporarily repaired. As the hair is washed and manipulated over time, the added hydrolyzed keratin will disappear, which is why reapplying products containing this ingredient is important in maintaining your hair's health (blackhairinformation.com).

Things to consider when using products containing keratin:
  • Read the ingredients! If hydrolyzed keratin is listed among the first five ingredients of a product, then that product is heavy in protein. If hydrolyzed keratin is listed between the middle to end of the ingredients list, then some of the keratin will bond to your hair, but that product will most likely best serve as a moisturizer or conditioner.
  • Using too much keratin protein can cause the hair to become dry and brittle. Make sure you are following up protein treatments with a great moisturizing conditioner.
  • Using products containing hydrolyzed keratin are beneficial for naturalistas who apply heat to their hair often, color treat their hair, and comb their hair frequently. Manipulating your hair in these ways can cause damage, and the hydrolyzed keratin will aid in your hair's repair.
  • Consider using products with high amounts of hydrolyzed protein every 6-8 weeks. Remember: Too much protein can damage your hair.
Now that I have learned more about keratin and hydrolyzed keratin, I realized that incorporating an actual protein treatment containing hydrolyzed keratin into my hair regimen every six weeks will definitely help with maintaining shine, elasticity, and strength. This is super important for me because I now have color treated hair, and I’ll probably straighten my hair with heat a couple of times as the weather gets cooler. Since these alterations with my hair can have damaging effects, I don’t want to take any chances of having damaged hair. It’s just not cute.

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