Demystifying protein-based/strengthening hair products can be tough some times because hair product labels can be confusing. Even the list of ingredients can be misleading because protein ingredients will be list on intensive protein treatments, mild reconstructors, deep conditioners AND moisturizing conditioners. If you use heat on your hair and/or perform chemical services (i.e. color, relax, etc). You should consider incorporating some form of protein-based hair product(s) into your hair regimen because these processes will inevitability result in the loss of the moisture and protein naturally occurring in your hair. Proteins are essential in maintaining your hair’s protein/moisture balance. They restructure the hair shaft to add strength, structure and/or elasticity to the hair. However, certain proteins are most often used for their ability to increase the hair’s absorption of moisture. Below is a list of the different types of proteins you will likely encounter on the ingredients list of your hair products.
Animal Protein — strengthens the hair shaft by depositing itself in the gaps on the hair shaft caused by heat styling and chemical services. Very close to the hair’s chemical structure and therefore it’s long lasting.
Human Hair Keratin — this protein exactly matches the missing protein in your hair. It is the most potent protein and of a very high quality. The best match to the hair’s chemical structure and therefore it’s long lasting.
Keratin Protein — adds structure to the outermost layer of hair to strengthen the hair and make it more pliable. Very close to the hair’s chemical structure and therefore it’s long lasting.
Vegetable Protein — works the same way as the animal protein, but is absorbed more easily by the hair shaft. Close to the hair’s chemical structure and therefore it’s long lasting.
Gentler/Moisture Boosting Proteins*:
Collagen Protein — increases the hair’s elasticity.
Silk Protein — softens the hair for smooth results.
Soy Protein — improves the texture of hair, increasing its manageability and body.
Wheat Protein — moisturizing and strengthening protein that is most often used to increase the hair’s ability to receive/retain moisture.
*Some times you will see that the word “Hydrolyzed” will come before some of these proteins and/or “amino acids” in the place of the word protein. It means that the protein has been broken down into its component parts for more effective/easier penetration into the all 3 layers of the hair shaft (i.e DEEP conditioning).
Shopping Tip: The higher the protein is listed on the ingredients list, the more of it there is in the product compared the ingredients that are listed after it. Below are some products and their protein ingredient(s).
Strong Protein Treatments for Extremely Damaged Hair:
(Used Sparingly and should be followed with a moisturizing deep conditioner)
Aphogee Treatment for Damaged Hair – Step 2 (Hydrolyzed Animal Protein)
Dudley’s DRC 28 (proteins and amino acids)
Joico K-Pak Deep Penetrating Reconstructor (Hydrolyzed Human Hair Keratin)
Kenra Platinum Shea Butter Reconstructor (Hydrolyzed Human Hair Keratin)
Nexxus Emergencee (Collagen Amino Acids)
Moderate to Mild Protein Reconstructors:
(Can be used more regularly – monthly/bi-weekly)
Affirm 5 in 1 Reconstructor (Hydrolyzed Collagen)
Aphogee 2-minute Reconstructor (Hydrolyzed Keratin, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Collagen Amino Acids)
Elasta QP Intense Fortifying Conditioner (Hydrolyzed Silk Protein)
Elucence Extended Moisture Repair Treatment (Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Silk)
Ion Effective Care Treatment (Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein)
Ion Reconstructor (Hydrolyzed Keratin)
Jason Natural Lavender Strengthening Conditioner (Soybean Protein)
Motions Marula Natural Therapy Strengthening Conditioner/Balm (Hydrolyzed Collagen)
Nature’s Gate Biotin Strengthening Conditioner (Wheat Amino Acids and Soy Amino Acids)
Nexxus Keraphix Restorative Strengthening Conditioner (Collagen and Keratin Amino Acids)
Nioxin Intensive Therapy Weightless Reconstructive Masque (Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Wheat Amino Acids)
Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayonnaise (Hydrolyzed Collagen)
Silk Elements MegaSilk Intense Conditioning Mayonnaise (Hydrolyzed Keratin, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Silk Amino Acids)
Deep Conditioners with Gentle/Moisture Boosting Proteins:
Aphogee Balancing Moisturizer (Silk Amino Acids, Collagen Amino Acids)
Ion Moisturizing Treatment (Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein)
LeKair Cholesterol (Collagen Protein)
Motions Deep Penetrating Treatment (Hydrolyzed Collagen)
Motions Naturally You Deep Conditioning Masque (Silk Amino Acids)
Nexxus Humectress Moisturizing Conditioner (Hydrolyzed Keratin)
Organic Root Stimulator Replenishing Pack (Hydrolyzed Collagen, Amino Silk Acids)
Silk Elements MegaSilk Moisturizing Treatment (Hydrolyzed Silk)