By Chin­we of Hair and Health

Pro­tein con­di­tion­ers.  Many nat­u­rals can do with­out them but some of us need them. If you are try­ing to deter­mine where you fall, check out the­se four com­mon rea­sons you may con­sid­er pro­tein con­di­tion­ers:

1. Your hair is chem­i­cal­ly col­ored or bleached

Col­or treat­ments – par­tic­u­lar­ly per­ma­nent ones – lift the scales of the cuti­cle and inter­act with the cor­tex to alter the nat­u­ral pig­ment. Bleach­es work sim­i­lar­ly but tend to be more trau­mat­ic on the hair.  For some nat­u­rals, this process of lift­ing the cuti­cle scales may leave the hair weak­ened and/or prone to dry­ness.  Reg­u­lar pro­tein treat­ments can tem­porar­i­ly fill gaps in the cuti­cle, allow­ing for strength­ened hair that retains more mois­ture.  If your hair is severe­ly dam­aged, how­ev­er, it may be best to cut.

2. You use direct heat (espe­cial­ly reg­u­lar­ly)

Even with appro­pri­ate use of direct heat, the hair may still suf­fer some dam­age to the scales of the cuti­cle.  In this case, using a pro­tein con­di­tion­er pri­or to a heat straight­en­ing ses­sion can help the hair sus­tain manip­u­la­tion.  (Do not expect a pro­tein con­di­tion­er to do much, if any­thing, for you if you mis­use direct heat.)  The pro­tein can also tem­porar­i­ly fill gaps in the cuti­cle.

3. Your hair is more than 2 years old 

When the ends of your hair have been with you for two years, it is not uncom­mon to see ends that are worn down to the last cuti­cle lay­er or cor­tex … or split.  (Imag­ine the amount of wear and tear that has accu­mu­lat­ed over that time frame!)  In some cas­es, a trim is all that is need­ed while in oth­ers a trim fol­lowed by reg­u­lar pro­tein con­di­tion­ing thence­forth may be what is required.  The lat­ter case is espe­cial­ly true for many of those who are BSL or beyond that are strug­gling to grow their hair even longer.  Reg­u­lar use of pro­tein con­di­tion­ers can help to reduce break­age of the ends – the old­est, most worn seg­ment of your hair.

4. You have fine strands

Now, not every fine-haired nat­u­ral needs to incor­po­rate pro­tein con­di­tion­ers, but for some it may be very use­ful towards reduc­ing break­age dur­ing manip­u­la­tion (e.g., styling, detan­gling).  Why?  This is because, in fine strands, both the cuti­cle and cor­tex are thin­ner than in thick­er strands.  Con­se­quent­ly, fine hair has less nat­u­ral strength and is more prone to dam­age.

Ladies, do you use pro­tein con­di­tion­ers?  Share below!


Empow­er­ing wom­en of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.

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35 Comments on "4 Signs You Need a Protein Conditioner"

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I love Mic­Mas Remix deep con­di­tion­er as a pro­tein treat­ment for my hair. It has given my hair life again by help­ing to make it health­ier. Plus, it’s grow­ing much bet­ter also.


An Amino Acid treat­ment is anoth­er real­ly good option. My hair loves it!


Please help!! I’m an ital­ian mum and my hus­band is caribbean, so my kids are mixed and I have no idea how to treat my daughter’s hair!! I looove her hair but for my hus­band are not well cured. The thing is that I don’t real­ly like to put on the hair, oils and oth­er stuff, because they become dirty straight away, and is not easy to wash it. So What I usu­al­ly do, is wash them normally,then I make them straight and do some hair­style with braids. What do you girls advice me?


I know it is said a lot that heat dam­aged hair will not revert, but actu­al­ly I had an instance of heat dam­age and my strands slow­ly revert­ed upon using Chi Ker­at­in Mist on my dai­ly wash and go! I think it now comes in a sil­ver bot­tle with red noz­zle but there is also one in an orange bot­tle that works won­ders as well!
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My hair loves pro­tein how­ev­er i need mois­ture to go with it and i can’t stand doing extra steps on wash day so what i do is this absolute­ly AMAZING yet sim­ple deep con­di­tion con­coc­tion: half an avo­cado, 3–4 spoons of Greek yogurt, Red Palm oil (very impor­tant), olive oil, coconut oil and hon­ey!!! i then blend that in a proces­sor and put it on my slight­ly damp hair, leave that in for a few hours (heat cap atleast 30 min), cow­ash it out and my hair is soooooo freak­in but­tery soft yet strong i love it. :-) :-)


Im still stuck in a rut. I dont know if I need a pro­tein treat­ment or may­be I’m using to much.I have fine hair as well. I use mois­tur­iz­ing prod­ucts when wash­ing (i don’t wash often) and both my leave ins (John Frieda & Can­tu) are pro­tein based and my styling pro­duct is a cre­me gel(smooth n hold pud­ding). I recent­ly trimmed my ends but I do see break­age. Ive doing braid outs for the past mon­th or so. Every­day. I think it’s more to be done then a pro­tein dc. Help.


It’s not Rus­sia, at least judg­ing from the style of cot­snruc­tion. More like spain or lat­in amer­i­ca. Nev­er­the­less it’s fun­ny, and I’ve seen it done in real life. And you do need AC in some parts of Rus­sia. Espe­cial­ly in the cen­ter of the con­ti­nent. There are parts of Siberia for exam­ple where you might have tem­per­a­tures of -40C in the win­ter and +40C in the sum­mer. What inter­ests me as a con­struc­tor though is how do they get the air in in this instal­la­tion? There are no pipes run­ning in, and there’s no hole in the wall behind.


Hey ladies=)

4abc sis­ta here with fine strands who feels and sees results using ben­tonite clay mixed with full fat yogurt (0% fat works too) as a pro­tein treat­ment.

Ben­tonite pow­der (brand used: Aztec secret) mixed with acv (per instructions/quantity need­ed depends on hair length) watch it bub­ble for kicks and grins and add as much yogurt as need­ed to pro­duce a creamy con­sis­ten­cy. Add oils too if you’d like =) Works won­ders; give it a try as it may work for you. 

Hap­py 2014 sis­tas!


I’m in need of a pro­tein con­di­tion­er that is veg­an and/or not test­ed on ani­mals. Any ideas (or ideas on how to make my own)?

Are straight strands a sign of lack of pro­tein I have noticed that some of my strands are straight no kink what­so­ev­er. I am not sure what to do about them, have done hot oil treat­ment this week and DC last week my hair is low den­si­ty 4c. I’m not sure if they are dam­aged strands from break­age, or just nat­u­ral hair — the only rea­son I think its not my nat­u­ral pat­tern of some strands is that I have no long straight strands they are all short­er than kinky strands. I’ve not had a chem­i­cal in my hair for… Read more »

You may just have dif­fer­ent tex­tures. I have a range from 4a to 4c, then I have a sec­tions behind my ears that go from bone straight to wavy, to curly. When I first big chopped, I kept cut­ting because I though is was still relaxed but it turned out to be the way it grows.


Have you applied heat to hair (i.e. flat iron/ blow dry­ing) because is sounds like you may have heat dam­age. In my expe­ri­ence the best rem­e­dy for that would be to grow out the dam­age or cut them because they will not revert.


3 1/2 years nat­u­ral final­ly able to tell the dif­fer­ence when my hair needs a deep con­di­tion­er (mois­ture) & a pro­tein con­di­tion­er. I expe­ri­enced mois­ture over load, my hair was wayyy too soft, almost smushy, & wasn’t able to hold a curl. I deep con­di­tion with Aubrey Organ­ics GPB on dry hair fol­lowed by Ter­ressen­tials Organ­ics.


Aphogee’s Two Step Pro­tein Treat­ment has saved my life! Because I have fine strands, I use it once every 6–8 weeks and I have def­i­nite­ly noticed a dif­fer­ence in my hair. HG pro­duct for sure. And then bi-week­ly, I’ll do a light pro­tein treat­ment with egg and mayo or I’ll use the deep con­di­tion­er from Shea Moisture’s Yuc­ca and Baob­ab line.


Most­ly fine strands here.…I noticed that my length reten­tion dra­mat­i­cal­ly improved once I added a week­ly pro­tein deep con­di­tion. My favorite is Shea Mois­ture Yuc­ca and Baob­ab Anti-Break­age Mask. Aubrey Organ­ics GPB is okay, but I like to reserve it for when my strands real­ly need it, like after tak­ing down a long-term pro­tec­tive style. Oth­er­wise, it’s a bit strong for my picky, frag­ile strands.


I like Aubrey Organ­ics GPB con­di­tion­er for a week­ly pro­tein treat­ment. It’s very light pro­tein, so I don’t wor­ry about it being too much pro­tein on my fine strands. I got the idea from Curly Nikki.


I have fine strands and try to hen­na once a mon­th. Does hen­na count as a pro­tein treat­ment?

Ugonna Wosu

Hi, Hen­na doesn’t replace a pro­tein. They both strength­en the hair, but pro­tein binds and strength­ens with­in the shaft, where­as Hen­na does it out­side the shaft. You still need pro­tein, but Hen­na makes you need pro­tein less often.


I’ve read that because it mim­ics a pro­tein treat­ment, a lot of peo­ple use it as a sub­sti­tute for pro­tein :)


heat and col­or baby! i’ll keep the pro­tein thing in mind at the next torch­ing ses­sion.


I use a light pro­tein shampoo/conditioner every time I take down my braids or twists. I feel my hair always needs a good pro­tein fix then.

Nappy4C Rocks

I have fine strands and color(2yrs) I use ORS Mayo…um don’t care for it. I do not like COCONUT, this oil does noth­ing for my hair. Any sug­ges­tions for a good pro­tein treat­ment? don’t like Aphogee either…thanks


Some peo­ple swear by Aubrey Organ­ics GPB as a reg­u­lar light-med pro­tein treat­ment. I used it but didn’t notice any dif­fer­ence in my hair. It may have made it stronger but I couldn’t tell as I was look­ing for stronger and soft­er. I’m 4C too and mois­ture is my no.1 bat­tle and search.


I have just big chop after 9 mon­th tran­si­tion­ing. My hair is dry and is it to much to prot­in treat your hair 1 time a week?
Great­ful for help :) /enjoy11 at insta­gram


YES, way to much this is my first year too. Please read this it’s help­ful.


I mix Infu­sium 23 pro­tein leave in with the water I spray on my hair. It’s just enough pro­tein that I don’t have to do a pro­tein treat­ment. I also use the Shea Mois­ture sham­poo for fine strands that is for­ti­fied with extra pro­tein.


yes 1x a week is too much for a real treat­ment. u can use a light pro­tein con­di­tion­er. but, I think pro­tein treat­ment make your hair dri­er. may­be u need a good mois­tur­iz­ing reg­i­men.

Ugonna Wosu

do a good pro­tein treat­ment, before the mois­tur­iz­ing one. Pro­tein can act like a humec­tant, and help your hair absorb the mois­ture from your mois­tur­iz­ing treat­ment. Do both. Occa­sion­al­ly clar­i­fy­ing your hair will help as well. Check if you have hard water, and get a fil­ter if you need one. Also, reg­u­lar cow­ash­es are known to help with new­ly nat­u­ral hair dry­ness. Good luck!


From Audrey Siva­sothy author of Sci­ence of Black Hair Care on protein/moisture bal­ance:

Read the sec­tion on pro­tein and how to assess what your hair needs. 

It’s hard to find a true mois­ture only con­di­tion­er. Most nat­u­ral ones con­tain pro­teins in the list of ingre­di­ents. Hap­py read­ing, hope you solve your issue.


Thank you so much!!


I just bought aphogee 2 min and philip K elas­ti­ciz­er to try out on my fine 4c hair. I have a hard time with pro­tein but it is main­ly because I have a hard time find­ing a tru­ly mois­tur­is­ing DC. I’ve tried plen­ty and notice a lot of nat­u­ral ones con­tain too much glyc­er­ine, too much aloe or proteins/ingredients that behave like pro­tein on my hair I.e wheat germ, argan, coconut oil. My hair is very finicky.


I have the same prob­lem but late­ly I either use Aussie 3 Min­ute Mir­a­cle and add olive oil and glyc­er­ine or one of the Shea Mois­ture deep treat­ments and coat my hair with it then add a mix­ture of hon­ey and olive oil. Both work real­ly real­ly well. I leave them on, put on a plas­tic bag, wrap a hot moist tow­el around that and sit under the dry­er for 30 min­utes and my hair is soft and stays soft for days.


That Aussie 3 Min Mir­a­cle is the truth!!!


Yep…I start­ed going back to pro­tein DCs for my fine strands at around the two-year mark. If I take a shed strand and don’t hear an audi­ble snap­ping sound when I break it, I know it’s time for a pro­tein DC. I was using Sally’s ver­sion of Joico K-Pak once a mon­th but I’m con­sid­er­ing using a less-strong pro­tein con­di­tion­er more fre­quent­ly.