Conditioning Your Hair 102: The Moisture-Protein Balance

Conditioning Your Hair 102: The Moisture-Protein Balance

I covered the purpose and types of conditioners in Conditioning Your Hair 101.  A big component of maintaining well moisturized hair is providing your hair with the proper balance of moisture and protein.  This is much more difficult to access then is sometimes presented in most online resources.  The truth is, “we” (hair obsessed bloggers) can attempt to explain how to tell if you need moisture versus protein for hours on end, in post after post, but the bottom line is you have to learn your hair.  Two of the best written articles on this topic are by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy (also author of The Science of Black Hair):
Note that the first article was published in 2007 at the infancy of most Black hair forums, when the term healthy hair journey was relatively new and the products catering to growing Black hair were not as prevalent.  I honestly think this whole online hair community (forums, bloggers, social networks, YouTube) has forced manufacturers to step their game up in meeting our haircare needs.  I point that out because when I first began my journey (2009), everyone was trying to rotate their products to find the perfect moisture-protein balance.  Women were obsessed with ingredient reading and if a product contained any hydrolyzed, amino acid or silk anything they quickly categorized it as a protein product.  The search was constantly on to find products that were “purely moisturizing.”  I cannot tell you how many threads and posts I’ve read inquiring for conditioners that contain absolutely no protein.
Well, I fell into that trap and every wash tried to determine if my hair needed moisture or protein.  How often should I use the ApHogee 2 Minute Reconstructor?  How frequently should I a hard protein treatment like ApHogee 2 Step Protein Treatment?  In between those times, I moisturized like a mad-woman: co-washes, baggying, and using products that contained no protein at all.  Every wash, I’d grab a shed hair and stretch it.  Oh no! Its way too stretchy! I’d frantically grab for my ApHogee products.  Oh no, now it’s snapping too quickly and brittle!  Then I’d follow with a moisturizing conditioner and baggy overnight.  Well, that was exhausting for me!!!  I hated trying to find the proper balance and tracking what products I used and when.  Three years later and now I let the products do the work for me.  My regimen consists of products that contain the right amount of moisture and protein for my hair.  Mostly everything I use contains both:  Kerapro for dry to very dry hair (shampoo, conditioner, and elixir), ApHogee Keratin & Green Tea, and Bee Mine Balanced Cream Moisturizer.  My hair is thriving!!! The only time I use specific moisture or protein products are the washes before and directly following a relaxer (see my regimen).  It has taken the guesswork out of my weekly washes and my hair is thriving.

You really have to pay close attention to figure out what your hair needs, what it likes, and what products work best.  For me personally I wish I had figured out much sooner that you do not have to use different products to find your perfect balance.

If you do by chance end up with protein overload, here is a previously written post I shared:

  • Hi Ebony, you know I stalk you closely! LOL! I loove the pics on the top of the page.. your hair looks incrdedible…. I usually use Kenra moisturizing conditioner and alternate with Kerapro but after one of your previous posts, I decided to use only Kerapro. I’m going to do that the rest of June and see how my hair turns out. I also think I’m going to add this Green Tea Restructurizer. I’ve been resisting the urge but I can’t anymore. At what point do you detangle your hair?

    • LOL! I am the same way with other blogs, I absolutely love your layout girlie! I’ve always been curious about Kenra, never tried any from that line. I finger detangle as I prep to prepoo and then use the 3 comb method after rinsing out my conditioner, esp if rollersetting. If airdrying I normally only need the jumbo rake and styling comb. HTH!

  • Great info! I too used to obsess over the pliability of my hair. I just use both separately each wash. Aphogee 2 minute reconstructor or Joico KPak reconstructor and then Elasta QP DPR-11 conditioner mixed with coconut oil. Works for me though I am still trying to streamline my regimen. I have KeraPro but I’m such a creature of habit! I use it sometimes but now I will cut out the protein conditioner if I do & see how that works. Thanks!

    • Girl I was THE biggest obsesser! lol. Your systems seems to work for you so I wouldn’t change anything, but I do love only having one go-to product!

  • Another great post. I was a person who alternated every other wash, partially the reason for my pj-ism. I then went to moisture only mixed with a little light protein. Now I am light protein which is also moisturizing mixed with honey and my hair seems happy. I am triple-processed so I have to keep my protein in check. I love the way the dc and honey make my hair feel. I am looking to try one more moisturizing light protein and then my dc will be set. Like you the rest of my products are mixed and my hair responds well to them, plus I cowash midweek for extra moisture.

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  • I stopped using protein treatment on my natural hair, and now my hair is doing wonderful. But I do use Aloe Vera juice, which contains lots of amino acids. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

    • I don’t use much protein as a natural either but do occasionally use products with keratin if I use the blow dryer to stretch my hair. I didn’t realize that about aloe vera juice.