The one thing that has made the biggest impact on the health of my hair since beginning my healthy hair journey (HHJ) is understanding the ingredients found in my hair products. Prior to my HHJ, I relied mostly on the product description and label so I was constantly – mostly erroneously – guessing at what worked for my hair and why. Once I learned the importance of providing my hair with the proper balance of moisture and protein combined with a basic knowledge of what ingredients are strengthening versus moisturizing – the health of my hair did a total 180. This is something I’ve stressed to readers the entire time I’ve shared my own personal journey: learn the ingredients and pay attention to how your hair responds to them.
For example, my hair LOVES hydrolyzed keratin, which is why this is the major ingredient in many of my staple products. This is the main point of today’s hair tip: how to identify hair protein versus humectant ingredients in your products. Some ingredients are purely protein, some mainly provide moisture and some unique ingredients fall into both categories.
What are hair proteins?
Ingredients that are able to strengthen, prevent and repair damage to the hair shaft. Our hair is primarily comprised of protein (keratin to be exact) so hair protein treatments serve to replenish protein lost from chemical treatments such as relaxers and dyes as well as heat, environmental effects and normal wear and tear.
What does hydrolyzed mean?!
The molecules have been broken down with water (hydro = water, lyse/lysis = break). Therefore hydrolyzed ingredients are small enough to go beyond the cuticle and penetrate the hair shaft and strengthen all 3 layers of the hair.
What are humectants?
Any substance used to reduce the loss of moisture. Moisture is the major thing lacking in black hair and is often the reason many women struggle with retaining length.
This list is not extensive, it merely points out the most popular hair protein and humectant ingredients for easy identification. Take a look at your product stash, do you notice a trend in certain ingredients in your most beloved items? If so, its worth noting! If not, pay closer attention to how your hair responds to specific products and think about why you like them – it can help you progress further and faster on your hair journey.
A few great protein-moisture balanced conditioners I recommend are: