Protein –namely whether or not we should add it to our hair — is a hot topic among naturals. Jc of the Natural Haven is here to guide us through this topic.

By Jc of The Natural Haven

There is a lot of buzzing about protein treatments and what they can do for hair. To summarise it, protein treatments are known to temporarily repair and strengthen hair. They do this by filling up gaps in the cuticle and if of a sufficiently small size can also penetrate to the cortex.(Journal of Cosmetic Science, pg69-87, 1993).

For natural hair damage tends to come from normal weathering – washing, drying, combing, heat use etc.  Color treated natural hair and relaxed hair can suffer from more cuticle damage.



1. Does coconut oil contain protein

No it does not.  I repeat, no coconut oil does not contain protein. Oils are pressed out of seeds, in the case of coconut oil, heating up the flesh and straining it out. The oil is very easily separated from the flesh once heated using a sieve.

The straw like feel some people find with coconut oil is usually related to using too much product because coconut oil is not as viscous as other oils . Hardening of the hair is related usually to temperature because coconut oil solidifies at a fairly low temperature so a cold winter breeze can stiffen hair very fast.

Some people (like me) love coconut oil, other people just do not. It is a bit like marmite, if you find that even using less does not help ( see the fingertip tip ), just leave it!

2. Does coconut milk contain protein?

Yes coconut milk does contain protein. Coconut milk is made from suspending the flesh in water and may contain bits of the flesh. However this protein is usually not hydrolysed (yep hydrolysed again). Pretty much like eggs, it is unlikely to be as effective as a hydrolysed protein.

It is the marmite story for coconut milk – if you like its effect use it, if you don’t just leave it!

3. Do protein treatments stop hair shedding?

No, there is a difference between hair shedding (i.e hair with a bulb coming out of the follicle) and breakage (i.e hair breaking off  due to handling). At times you can confuse the two but looking for a bulb is always the way to tell the difference. Hair shedding is a programmed event it is not changed by protein treatments. Breakage on the other hand can be stopped temporarily.

4. Does natural hair require protein treatment?

There is no harm in trying it out if you want to. The worst thing that can happen is that you hate it and have to wash your hair all over again.

If you use heat frequently, regularly wear your hair in styles that require combing or colour treat your hair, a protein treatment may be quite useful.

5. Is a plant based protein source lighter than an animal based source?

No. It is more important to assess how the conditioner makes your hair feel. Many bloggers, vloggers etc warn people on how to spot protein but forget to mention that you should really look for where it is on the list. If if is after the first five ingredients there is probably not much in the bottle.

Additionally there are no products that tell you how hydrolysed the protein is (read this post to find out why protein has to be broken up – or hydrolysed to be useful). In short , pun intended, if the protein is not of the right small size (and it does vary according to protein) it may not give your hair the desired effect.

Therefore, comparing Aphogee with its keratin protein in the first 5 ingredients to Giovanni with its soy protein listed as the 17th ingredient is just unrealistic. Use the product and if you don’t like it either on its own or in combination (For example a follow up conditioner or leave in or oil) then just try something else.

Ladies, do you use protein treatments? What’s your protein treatment regimen, and how does it benefit your hair?
For more hair science check out The Natural Haven.

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56 Comments on "All About Protein Treatments for Natural Hair"

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It works wonders for my hair. I bleached my hair and also did a bleach bath from dark brown into a dark blonde color and I have no breakage.
I’m glad I found this. It is great for my hair makes my hair very strong.


[…] Literally use your fingers to stretch some of your strands to evaluate your elasticity. You can learn more about protein and coily hair here. […]


[…] amino acids which attract more moisture into the dry damaged hair; our hair is made of keratin and temporarily replacing these proteins can leave hair smoother and shinier. This theory is the basis of many of […]

Do not listen to this article if you want your hair. There is protein in nearly every black hair care product which eventually causes the hair to break. Do your homework, White hair care products for the most part do not contain protein unless some sort of damage has occurred or they want volume, etc.: otherwise it is not present in their regular shampoos and conditioners. The hair care industry is well aware that too much protein on any type of hair will lead to breakage whether it’s subtle breakage or major. And it does not matter whether it’s the… Read more »
Shellie, I agree with you so much. I’ve been natural for 3 years and have been doing my homework on hair care products. Protein is in just about every conditioner and styling product on the market. I often hear women say they are protein sensitive. First question I ask them is what products they are using and if protein is in the products. They have no idea if protein is in the conditioners or styling products. They are probably not protein sensitive; maybe their hair is suffering from protein overload. This is why I read the ingredients very carefully. I… Read more »

Great Article! I would like to suggest Nutress Hair Protein Pack Conditioner. It works really great on my hair and its not too harsh. I use this once every two weeks to keep my hair strong. I love it 🙂


Protein Treatments really make a BIG difference in your hair!! I can definitely speak from experience. Nutress Hair Protein Pack treatment has made my hair much stronger and I started noticing less breakage immediately. I love this stuff:)


You mentioned shedding (hair coming out with the bulb at the end)–what can be used to stop that? I want to check my iron levels because I’m anemic and believe that may have something to do with it but I’ve just started using the Palmer’s Protein pack, hoping that it would help but you stated that protein is not related to shedding.

Informative article I use protein feed shampoo and conditioner( blue bottle), it works wonders but just like any other protein product it can cause breakage. I used to use it on every wash but noticed breakage then I started using it once a month then now I rarely use it. I eat more of protein these days so I don’t really see the need of using protein treatments at a specific time. Can you replace the protein treatment with a rich protein diet? This is what I did and my hair is fine but I would just like to here… Read more »
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lifting is the funnest activity ive ever done in my life. i used to be podgy and disliked my life, but for the second time ever all is great because i work out all the time anyday im stressed because of it. and i do have crappy anxiety days where that happens.

read my journey to getting less fat:

Aiding people who have problems with Sleep Apnea

P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!|


I have a question whats the difference between a light protein treatment and a deep protein treatment?


Yes, I want to know! Someone please answer or refer us to a link! Thank you!!


I saw a Youtube video that explained this topic in detail. It helped me. The link is:

Ken Nooe

Soy protein refers to the protein that is found in soybeans that is often used to replace animal proteins in an individual’s diet. The soybean is a legume that contains no cholesterol and is low in saturated fat.^^;*

See all of the most up-to-date post at our personal web portal <

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I love, love, love the ApHogee Protein Treatment and I have been using it since I was a little girl. It stinks but it is amazing!


I use the Megatek Rebuilder. Expensive but so worth it!


i have a short natural hair i don t kwon wether i have to wash it eveyday or not i need help?


what can I do so that the egg portion of my at-home treatment doesnt run down my neck, etc? It’s the results but hate the runny egg!


talisa – try making your treatment thicker (sounds obvious!) by changing the amounts of the different products you use. You could also wrap your hair in film/saran wrap while it’s working – that’ll stop the drippies and the extra heat will make the treatment work more efficiently.


I did a protein treatment the first week after I big chopped…did not notice a difference. I used the aphogee treatment.

Ladies be very wary of trying home made protein treatments containing eggs if you’ve not used it before. I just prepared a home made protein conditioner with eggs(including the egg white) and store bought conditioner. The results were a disaster!!!! The egg congealed and formed little lumps in my afro! I spent 4 hours(yep 4!) trying to use clarifying apple vinegar and cold water to rinse the bits out of my hair and when that failed I resorted to a comb which caused quite a bit of breakage. Its good to experiment as a new natural but be careful of… Read more »

I’ve used eggs in my hair since I was a teenager. It’s a wonderful protein. I mix mine with mayo and olive oil and just let it sit. If you apply any heat to it IT WILL COOK THE EGG.

Ugonna Wosu

did you rinse with warm water? Don’t do that, it cooks the eggs.

Trader Joes Nourish Spa Condtioner is all the protein my hair needs. And I’m sorry to say that I believe that you’re wrong about the coconut oil. I did the finger tip test for taking out braids. By the end of the day my hair was dry and crispy. I used products that normally make my hair soft. Yet once I used a lot of heat on my hair for a blow out, and at the end of the day I sprayed my hair down with purified water and then saturated my hair with about a half dollar sized about… Read more »
Yukie B

I’ve used a protein treatment on my processed and natural hair. My treatment is homemade I use egg yolks and EVOO. Mix it together and apply to wet hair and blow dry, rinse and deep condition hair after its a must. It leaves my hair soft and spongy.


I use Jherri Redding for my protein treatment twice a months and i has done wonders for my fine medium hair.


[…] reviews indicating that it was. So, when I got home, I did some research and found this recent post on about protein treatments that indicates one should look for […]


I just started using aphogee 2 minute reconstructor once a week. I think I may also start doing henna treatments once a month to see how that works out.


What about edible Whey Protein? Has that been hydrolysed for possible use on hair?

My hair has been experiencing a lot of breakage and it is very brittle. I’ve been trying to be more creative with my styles so all the manipulation has resulted in more breakage. So I started using Le Kair’s cholesterol treatment for about 20 minutes each week with a shower cap. Do you think it’s any good? They have Keratin listed in its ingredients so I hope it’s good. What do you think Natural Haven?


Great read and extremely informative.

Being a vegetarian, I find myself more intereted in information on protein treatments than anyother treatments.

Questions: Do vegetarian naturals benefit from more regular scheduled protein treatments than meat-eating naturals?


I understand this to be the case. But you shouldn’t give up on ingesting protein. There are many ways to get a protein fix that is vegetarian-friendly. Tofu and hemp protein (which is vegan) shakes are effective. I also use my hemp protein powder on my hair for protein treatments.


um…broccoli and several vegetables have protein content and bean/legumes…all real vegetarians know that..or should

Stephanie Thornton
Its not enough protein in vegetable’s beans or legumes. You have to be careful when you subtract a food group because you loose alot of nutrients if your not educated on the vitamins and minerals females need. I’m pescatarian I eat fish which gives me protein and omega 3’s. VEgan vegetarian is healthy, when done the right way educate yourselves ladies. Vegetable’s are the best way too go 100% but eat alot of them everyday,which allot of people even vegans and vegetarian’s don’t. Tofu is not the answer. Its made from soy which is the number 1 genetically modified food… Read more »
Actually, Americans get TOO much protein in their diets, recommended intake of meat or protein should be no more than one meal twice a week and Americans, consume meat usually for breakfast, lunch, dinner, everyday and even snacks in between. There is enough protein in vegetables, beans and grains. There are plenty of sources to get the daily recommended allowance of protein, that are not animal based. I am vegetarian transitioning to strict veggie diet, prior to my transition, I got more than enough protein in my diet and have for 6 years now. However, as you said before, a… Read more »
I don’t even know where to begin with all the incorrect information and extreme ignorance with this comment and commenter. First, I’m going to start with the catastrophic use of proper English. It’s not ‘Its not enough protein in vegetable’s beans or legumes,’ the correct phrasing would be ‘There’s not enough protein in vegetables, beans, and legumes.’ The fact that you can’t spell discredits this statement. This is not true at all. Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, and vegetables give humans enough protein to survive. Plant based protein is best because it’s usually lower in fat, calories, and has zero… Read more »

Oops! It’s ‘qualified’ in my last comment. I was typing too fast.


I thought there would be more info, kinda dissapointed with the lack thereof.

Black Girl With Long Hair


This is just part 1 of a 3-part series. We will be providing a lot more information in the coming days.



OH and my air also dried up and started breaking after monthly henna treatments.


I wonder if you were putting henna on your whole head over and over again, rather than the just the new growth. Perhaps, that is why your hair started to break. Once you receive the desired color, you are only supposed to touch up your roots when they grow.

Im a henna user and the colour oxidises ie gets darker with time. So if you want to keep the colour you should apply to the whole head everytime. Although long lasting, the strengthening effects of henna are not permanent therefore for this reason you should apply it to the whole head ensuring that you moisturise very strongly afterwards as it can be very drying. I find it that hennaing twice every three months means i hardly have to touch up on protein at all, simply keeping up moisture treatments. Every hair type is different so see what works for… Read more »
Great article! My super fine, medium desnity 4-ish coils LOVE regular protein in all forms! I lost quite a bit of length 🙁 over the last year due to too much blowdrying (twice a month), pulling/stress/tension, combing/detangling and not moisturizing sufficiently. The damage slowly began to appear at a time when I thought my hair was really thriving. I am so mad at myself but this natural journey is a process, and nonetheless I would never go back! Anywho, I used to be a fan of Aphoghee when I was permed. I used it for a while during my natural… Read more »

My hair started breaking after I did henna. I am going in for a trim (or cut if need be) tomorrow. I have pretty coarse strands so not sure what that means.


Henna tends to have the same affect as a protein treatment, so it is important to follow up with a moisturizing condtion to find the right balance of protein & moisture.




I have mixed a kind of protein treatment together a few times be for i colored my hair. I used egg, mayo, olive oil, and honey it actually worked really well for me but i only did it every couple months. Really felt an improvement in my hair aside from the smell. lol


You have more advantage of protien if you eat it, then when you used it for external purposes. Because the hair grows from your scalp, and there it is created with keratin, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals etc. Treatment on your hair is actually an extra care.


I agree 100%. A good diet is the most important beauty treatment! The old saying “You are what you eat” is true.


Not too sure about that


This is interesting. Can protein vitamins help?


Very interesting, thanks!


I always thought I was protein sensitive so I don’t use any proteins. But reading this I wonder if I just tried the wrong ones.

Also, I have very strong and long nails naturally. Is that any indication on how much protein you should use?