Does low porosity hair like protein? It's a question that leaves many naturals in a tizzy, especially when you know your hair is breaking - but think you might be protein sensitive too.
If you're wondering what your options are, this article covers everything from whether it's safe to use protein on low porosity hair, to what kinds of proteins are available, and what to do if you have protein sensitive hair.
Is low porosity hair protein sensitive?
Nobody's hair is inherently protein sensitive. After all, hair itself is made mostly of protein. The most common reason for protein sensitivity isn't porosity: it's overuse of protein conditioners, which creates an excess of protein on the hair's surface.
This is usually easy to fix: just clarify with a deep-cleansing shampoo use atrActiva Anti-Stress, and follow it up with a strong moisturising conditioner to restore some flexibility to your strands.
Having a surface that rejects most products makes low porosity hair prone to buildup. It's a problem with protein conditioners in particular, which need to bind to the hair's surface to actually work. If not, they just become debris on the cuticle surface - debris that makes your hair brittle and dry, the hallmarks of protein sensitivity.
And remember: proteins typically add strength by making your hair stiffer. Low porosity hair's cuticle structure tends to make it stiffer by nature, which can make the stiffening effect that many protein conditioners have more dramatic. The brittleness this causes is technically a sign of protein sensitivity, but it doesn't mean you must rule out proteins entirely.
What if after protein my low porosity hair feels like straw?
The formulation of your protein conditioner or treatment matters, too. If the three reasons above don't apply to you, and you still notice a strawlike feeling right after using a certain protein conditioner, sometimes it might not be due to the protein in there per se, but the overall formula.
Protein isn't the only thing that can make your hair feel brittle; several other ingredients or combinations of ingredients can, too. That's why choosing your treatment carefully, to ensure it's compatible with your low porosity hair is so important.
And there's another reason your hair can feel rough after protein: your texture. If you have large, coarse strands, then they can feel extremely stiff after protein because the treatments just add to your hair's natural stiffness. This doesn't mean you're protein sensitive, but it does mean you need to re-think the way you use proteins on your hair.
There are three main ways to deal if your hair feels like straw after protein.
For all three, you should steer clear of protein for a few washes. The next time you shampoo, use a deep cleansing shampoo and follow up with a hydrating treatment. Then, when you return to protein, try one of the following methods to avoid the straw-like effect:
Option 1: Follow your protein treatment up immediately with a strong moisture-only atrActiva Multivitamin treatment to shift the protein-moisture balance towards the moisture side.
Option 2: Blend your protein treatment and moisturizing treatment in your hands before applying them to your hair. Experiment with different protein-to-moisture ratios till you find what works best for you.
Option 3: Use a moderate instead of a high protein treatment. Halka Baba de Caracol Treatment is a good example of this. Layered over its matching conditioner, it's so softening and silkening it feels more like a pure moisturizing treatment than a protein treatment.
What type of protein treatment should I use on low porosity hair?
If you have super low porosity hair, then DIY protein treatments like eggs or mayonnaise, which contain the whole protein and work by creating a thick seal over your hair's surface (rather than binding to the cuticle) are more likely to harm than help.
As these proteins haven't been hydrolysed, they're too large to really get to work on the specific areas of your strand that need them most, and their coating effect is too much like buildup for really low porosity hair. The extra stiffness from using them can actually make your hair more prone to breakage, even though other porosity types swear by them.
When it comes to the hydrolysed proteins, many people have favourites: some prefer keratins, others like wheat protein, and still others swear by silk protein or even its amino acids.
But the most important factor isn't the protein source; it's the overall formulation.
On low porosity hair, you need a formula that uses its protein content to strengthen your hair, without blocking the entry of moisture - whether that moisture is in the conditioner itself, in other products you use afterwards, or the water you use to rinse out your hair. While protein has a huge role in maintaining your hair's strength, moisture's role is even bigger.
That need for moisture rules out overly dense, coating treatments that are too full of fillers which have no affinity to your hair, even if they do contain the right, hydrolysed proteins. Instead go for rich, creamy, water-based, non-oily treatments that deliver high levels of hydration alongside protein power.
Here are a few protein treatments based on different protein sources that also deliver moisture your hair needs:
La Aplanadora Treatment
You can use La Aplanadora Treatment as an all-in-one protein and moisture treatment to maintain your protein-moisture balance on most textures. If your hair is prone to stiffness, then either mix it or follow it up with a pure moisture treatment.
BPT Wheat Germ Treatment
Halka Baba de Caracol Treatment
All of these protein treatments work on low porosity hair, including the super low porosity hair that dominates the 4c category.
What can I use instead of a protein treatment if my hair is protein sensitive?
The strengthening boost is not as dramatic as you'd get from La Aplanadora or BPT Wheat Germ Treatment. Instead, over time, it builds flexibility into your hair, slowly making it stronger and stronger, without the stiffness protein treatments can bring.
atrActiva Keratin Rich is based on strengthening ceramides - you can find out about them and other non-protein ingredients that also strengthen your hair here.
DHA Hair Care Experts
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