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How to Keep Your Hair Healthy?

Has your hair been acting strange? Stubborn ... a little off? Your hair could be out-of-whack because it is out-of-balance. For your hair to truly thrive, there must be a sufficient amount of water and protein applied to it consistently.

Do you know what your hair feels like when it is within a moisture/protein balanced state?

The most common sign of unhealthy hair is dryness. My hair becomes difficult to handle when it is not moisturized frequently enough. For example, my hair mats and tangles more easily when it is dry and off-balance.

When I say off-balance, I am referring to the water contents (hydrogen bonds) within the hair creating flexibility within your hair's protein structure (sulfur bonds).

How to get protein and moisture balanced hair:

Protein and water are the building blocks of hair. Your hair should be strong and bouncy all at once--all of the time. This is called flexibility. If your curls are bouncing and jumping with ease; then your hair is within it's happy place.

Protein can give your hair strength by creating a shield against damaging environmental forces. But using too much protein can make your hair feel too hard and stubborn; similar to the texture of your fingernails.

Water helps your hair move and bounce without much tension and breakage. The water bonds within your hair help the protein bonds reform and move easily.

Put simply, protein is the ingredient that makes your hair hard and strong. Water is the ingredient that makes your hair soft and pliable. Your hair is strongest when it is flexible. For your hair to be flexible, it must have sufficient protein and water.



If your hair is breaking; then it is deficient in either protein, moisture, or both.

If your roots are dry and your ends look brittle; then you have hair that is lacking water or overloaded with protein. Don't worry, there are several easy ways to figure out whether your hair need more or less of either protein or water.



Why hair needs moisture?

Water is moisture. Moisture creates flexibility. When your hair is flexible, it has resistance. When your hair has flexibility it can easily bounce, jump and resist environmental forces such as harsh wind, random snags, obnoxious rubbing, obsessive touching and etcetera.

 

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Lack of moisture is usually the culprit for unhealthy black hair.

It seems most black hair problems tend to arise from lack of moisture more so than lack of protein. I am sure that almost every hair stylist you have encountered has preached the benefits of deep conditioning and applying protein regularly.

There is a general misconception among black people that water is drying and damaging to the hair. So, it's safe to say that the average black woman with damaged, dry--breaking hair is suffering from inadequate hair moisturization.

The need for protein is often a side-effect to lack of moisture. For example, split-ends, chronic breakage...they all start with dry, moisture-starved hair.

Symptoms of lack of moisture:

  • excessive breakage
  • mushy and lifeless
  • looks fragile and weak
  • drys very quickly (porous)
  • stretches and stretches before breaking
  • feels weak and gummy
  • limp

 

 


Why hair needs protein?

Protein is primarily important to the protective layer of the hair. The protective layer of the hair is called the cuticle. The cuticle resembles shingles on a roof. The cuticle has several overlapping layers. These layers overlap to create a barrier to protect the cortex which is considered the brain of the hair.

The cortex gives the hair color, density and its curly shape.

The scales of the cuticle rise to receive moisture and close to seal it into the hair strand. So, water has to move through the outside protein layer to get to the cortex. The cortex is where all the magic happens. The magic is in the making of the hair.

 

The scientific name for a damaged cuticle is porous hair.

Hair tends to need protein when the cuticle layer has become worn and depleted. A porous hair strand has holes and chips along it's cuticle. So, the protein ingredient attaches to the open areas of the cuticle.

It functions similar to how caulk coating smoothes over a hole on a wall. The protein deposits temporarily fill the holes within the cuticle layer of your hair. This creates a smooth surface that can hold water better and leaves the hair flexible and strong. As the protein coats the cuticle layer, it helps keep the hair strand intact.

Symptoms of lack of protein:

  • excessive breakage
  • feels mushy
  • looks fragile and weak
  • drys very quickly (porous)
  • stretches and stretches before breaking
  • feels weak and gummy
  • limp, lifeless

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moisture and protein work together to reinforce the structure of the hair strand.

The perfect hair strand has a strong protein structure and sufficient water contents to survive the environment. Problems arise when the hair strand is either too hard and stiff or too soft and stretchy. Remember, stretchy hair is not flexible. It does not bounce back. It is soft, but it barely moves.

We need protein to protect the hair's protective layer from weathering prematurely. The more aggressive you are while handling your hair, the more you will speed up the weathering process. As a result, you are likely to need more protein.

The protein will mask the damage and prolong the life and length of the hair strand. A good protein additive will protect the hair. protein cannot repair the hair.

Now, the benefit of water is different mainly because it doesn't matter what condition your hair is in-it will continuously need water replenishments. As quick as you add water to your hair--it will start evaporating into the air.

Water is always on the move. You have to anticipate this and react promptly. Some people spritz water on their hair at least once a day to compensate for any loss.

How to keep your hair moisture/protein balanced?

You should never have hair that is hard from too much protein nor stretchy from over-conditioning or over-moisturizing. Yes. Too much water is bad for your hair!

The protein bonds within the hair strand are surrounded by hydrogen bonds that create movement. Once wet, a hair strand can stretch up to 25% of its actual length before breaking.

Once the protein bonds become flexible, the curl pattern of your hair may appear looser and longer.

Too much of a good thing can be bad.

Keeping your hair balanced could mean having a system that regulates the amount of protein and moisture you use. For instance, you could create a schedule where you rotate hair products with specific ingredients based on when you anticipate you'll need more protein and/or more moisture.

Are your daily hair products causing your hair to go bad?

The ingredients list of most hair products that are found at local beauty supply stores typically include protein. However, there tends to be an unbalanced amount of oils and/or petroleum used in the place of water.

Protein and water play a huge role within the health of your hair. Lucky for you, most hair products are formulated with at least one of these two essential ingredients; often times, with both.

proteins on ingredient list_moisture protein balance

 

We tend to stick to the same hair products. If, overtime, the condition of your hair worsens; then reconsider your daily hair product choices.

For instance, If you decide to use hair products that are heavy in protein to add strength and reduce breakage; then at some point (once your hair is no longer breaking), you should take a break from such high protein-based hair products and focus more on deep conditioning.

You can use alot of protein if your hair benefits from it, but don't forget that high amounts of protein can increase dryness to your hair causing it to need more moisture.

Could your grooming habits be the cause for your moisture/protein deficiency?

Your daily grooming techniques could be creating a protein/moisture shortage. If you place alot of tension on your hair; then you may need more protein.

If you place alot of heat on your hair; then you may need more moisture. If you have a simple routine with little manipulation; then you might need to use more protective styling.

 

There is a hair product misconception.

Protein and water are key ingredients to healthy hair. Most ingredients that you find within hair products are generally unimportant to the health and longevity of the hair strand.

That’s right I said it! Research shows that hair product ingredients such as vitamins, flower extracts, silicones and even oils have very little effect on repairing the condition of your hair. At best, they can help to make the hair more soft and manageable. But do not confuse such ingredients as effective remedies for damaged hair.

Most natural hair ingredients although they can smooth your hair's texture--prove to be frivolous in regards to reforming or improving the hair’s protein structure and/or replenishing the water contents of your hair.

Hair product ingredients list don't lie.

The typical hair product seems to be either protein-focused or moisture-focused. When you look at an ingredients list can you identify the protein and/or moisture contents. Do you know which is which?

When you purchase hair products are you buying them based on the needs of your hair or the hype on the label? Or worse, are you buying hair products based on a false hope that they will make your hair grow longer faster?

Shop for hair products with an agenda.

Creating the correct moisture and protein balance within your hair will be an ongoing process. If you find yourself over-compensating with either water or protein be sure to eventually recreate balance and add more of the other especially if you are using heavy amounts of protein.

Ideally, you should be using equal amounts of both protein and moisture. But the circumstances surrounding your hair care methods could be leading you to need one ingredient more so than the other at a particular period of time.

Make sure you know how to select the right hair products based on the needs of your hair. Does your hair tend to need protein or moisture?

When you are out shopping, select hair products that are going to help you achieve balanced, healthy hair. Don't just shop for the next popular hair product. Be deliberate in your hair product selections. Learn your hair. Know what it needs to stay balanced.

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