The Importance of Protein Hair Treatments for Long Hair

Despite what you may think, my hair hasn’t always been as strong and healthy as it appears on Instagram. Protein hair treatments have completely transformed my heat damaged and chemically processed hair since I discovered them a few years ago. It’s still a fairly uncommon hair treatment, despite being an extremely effective part of a hair care routine, especially for those who want to maintain or grow long hair.

The building blocks of hair are bonds of proteins made up of keratin and amino acids. Exposure to unavoidable and damaging elements such as ultra-violet radiation and the wind causes these protein bonds to break down over time. Broken bonds causes hair to be dry and brittle. We can repair this damage by using protein treatments that deposit proteins and amino acids in the gaps between the broken bonds, restoring the structure of your hair shaft. The longer your hair, the more exposure it will have to these elements, so the more important it is to use a protein treatment or hair reconstructor. If you apply chemicals or heat to your hair, then protein hair treatments are absolutely necessary.

How Often Do You Need a Protein Hair Treatment?

The short answer? It varies, it really depends on the current condition of your hair. A rule of thumb is: the more porous your hair, the more frequently you’ll need to treat it for protein loss. Porosity refers to how much moisture your hair can absorb and retain. It’s determined by your genetics, your environment and how well you look after your hair. You can find out your hair’s porosity level very easily. When you find a strand of hair that has fallen out, place it gently in a bowl of water. Observe it for 3 minutes:

If the strand of hair floats completely, you have low porosity – you won’t need regular protein treatments, yay! You should, however, re-test your porosity levels as your hair gets longer. If your strands float but the ends sink a little, I would recommend a gentle homemade DIY mask of 1 egg and 2 Tbs of olive oil. You can apply this to your ends once every two or three months to repair any subtle damage caused by daily wear and tear.

If the strand kind of sinks and kind of floats (even if it only sinks by a millimetre) or sinks very slowly, you have medium porosity – my recommendation is to use a reconstructive shampoo and conditioner or a protein-rich leave-in conditioner that will deposit proteins in your hair as you wash and condition. You would only need to do this once or twice a month to keep your locks strong and healthy.

If the strand sinks completely, you have high porosity and will definitely need regular protein treatments. If you have severely damaged hair, I recommend getting a professional-grade treatment at the salon that can last up to 6 weeks. My favourite is the Olaplex System which especially repairs damage from bleaching. If you prefer an at-home treatment, I can highly recommend ApHogee’s Hair Strengthening Kit which is both inexpensive and effective.

If you would like to go the natural route, you can apply a mixture of eggs, avocado or mayonnaise as a hair mask. This is an affordable and more natural method, however, the proteins will rinse off after one or two washes so you’d have to treat your hair more regularly.

low medium high porosity protein hair treatments

Too Often Is a Bad Thing

When you treat your hair for protein loss, it’s important to routinely test your hair’s porosity level. Each time you do a treatment, the pores in your hair shaft will fill up with protein, decreasing its porosity level, which also decreases how often you need treatments. Protein rinses off eventually so you will need to increase the treatments and then decrease them accordingly. Too much protein in your stands will leave no room for your hair to absorb moisture, resulting in rough and dry hair. In worse cases, it can even lead to breakage… so remember to monitor your porosity level! It’s a tricky balancing act but well worth it for strong and long hair 🙂

I personally have medium-high porosity and do a professional-grade treatment four times a year to maintain my bleached hair. I also use a protein-rich shampoo and leave-in conditioner once a week to improve the general health of my hair in between salon visits.

SHOP MY FAVOURITE PROTEIN HAIR TREATMENTS

Do you currently use a protein treatment for your hair? If so, I would love to know what your favourite method is in the comments!

 

References: Hessefort, Y.Z., Holland, B.T. and Cloud, R.W., 2008. True porosity measurement of hair: a new way to study hair damage mechanisms. Journal of cosmetic science, 59(4), p.303.

Comments

  1. Love this article. I never understood what porosity was until now. I’ll try out these protein masks for my curly hair. Does the egg in the mask make the hair stink? And when I wash it out do I wash it as I always do?

    • So glad you enjoyed the article Saris! You will need to wash the egg mask out with shampoo. It shouldn’t leave a smell that way 🙂

    • You would need to a conditioner that contains hydrolysed proteins that will bond to your hair. My favourite protein rich leave-in conditioner is this one here. The proteins will wash off after 3 or 4 washes so it’s ideal for once weekly use. I hope that helps!

  2. Hi ☺ been using coconut oil, castor oil and olive oil on my long hair for months now since you posted on Instagram, and I love it 💗💗 thank you. Laura xxx

    • Hi Laura! Yay my favourite oils ❤️ I’m glad it’s helped your hair so much! Wishing you a lovely weekend xx

  3. When we apply egg + olive oil mask or even any other hair mask do we need to shampoo after that or just rinse of with plain water?

    • Hi Amisha! Thank you for your question. Homemade hair masks that you apply to dry hair should be washed with shampoo as water wouldn’t be enough to rid of the residue. Hair masks that you apply after shampooing would only need to be rinsed with water. I hope that helps!

      • Hey thanks a lot for the reply.. Ya it helped a lot as I am always confused about it 😅 ..n yaa one more thing since I am from India and here dust, sun and dry wheather effects a lot to my hair and makes them look frizzy and dry …can you you give some tips about how to make them more softer and I luckily have low porosity so please give some tips if you can.. That would help a lot ..thanks and just wanted to tell you are such a pretty soul I Mean it….

  4. Hey Sarah …big fan 😊
    I think it would be wonderful if you could do a blog on different hairstyles for long hair that are feasible and comfortable for different situations…Due to long hair, I usually wear a bun but that gives me a headache these days due to the weight of my hair. Plus, I can’t let them open in this humid weather… please help 🙂

    • Hi Ramyaa! Yes for sure! I think I will do this type of content for Youtube so I can show you how I do the different hairstyles 🙂 Thank you for your suggestions and please feel free to let me know if you would like me to address anything else! Have a wonderful week love <3

  5. Hi Sarah!
    Do you think it is possible to combine protein treatment and oil treatment? Or is it better not to use these products together?

    • Hi Ira! I’ve tried mixing them together before and it worked just fine for me. However, I think it’s more effective to do the protein treatment first and then an oil treatment right after to seal all the protein into the strand. I hope this helps!

  6. My hair is 24+ inches long (a little past my waist). I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my hair feeling dry and crispy quickly. It tangles up ridiculously quickly too. I normally use deep conditioning treatments when I shower. I air dried my hair for months to avoid any heat damage.

    I read your blog and started using the Caviar Repair Protein Cream and blow drying with a round brush. It has made a HUGE difference. My hair feels a million times better. Thank you so much! I can’t wait to read more of your blog posts! 🙂

  7. Hi Sarah!

    Your hair is incredible! How do you curl your hair, and what kind of hair irons/rollers do you use? I have long hair as well, but the length of my usual hair iron is only enough to curl less than a quarter of the length of my hair. 😕

  8. Thank you for this great article!! 🙂 Ohh goodness, my strands do not sink whatsoever, but my scalp feels a bit feels oily while the rest of the hair feels dry 🙁 and I’m having a bit of hairloss. I do not know What to do!

  9. Hola Sarah espero que estes muy bien descubri tu post mediante instagram, me encanta tu hermoso cabello y deseo tenerlo algun dia igual que tu:)
    Tristemente tengo que traducir esto porque no entiendo a la perfeccion el ingles jaja:c soy Latinoamericana y un saludo cordial desde aca, sigue dando tips eres increible,te ganaste una subscriptora mas en tu pagina, kisses!

  10. Really happy I found this, I recently got a pixie cut to start all over as when I previously had it long I had a perm & had dyed it black multiple times. I’m growing it out & eventually getting ombré. Any suggestions to make it stay healthy & possibly grow faster? I have good hair genes but I feel as if I’m lacking somewhere in my routine

  11. My hair are very damaged and dry …curly texture and frizzy too …hair loss is too much suggest me some home masks which help my dry damaged hair

  12. Hi Sarah!

    I want to try the homemade DIY hair mask but I wonder how long should we leave it on our hair? Also, I’m thinking about using coconut oil on my hair so I want to ask that when and how often should I apply to my hair. Besides, can you give me some tips about how to keep hair shiny and grow longer? Thank you so much for reading this comment!

    • Hi Khanh!

      I would recommend leaving the egg white hair mask on for no more than 45 minutes as it will make your hair more brittle if you leave it on longer than that. It just needs a bit of time for the egg white to move into the cracks of your hair and seal them, then you can wash it off 🙂

      The coconut oil mask you can leave on for as long as you like! Sometimes I apply coconut oil at night and wash it off in the morning. Then I have silk smooth hair 😀

      Hope this helps! <3

  13. Porosity test is so well explained. The test is so easy and the methods defined to get the great hair also are simple and very effective. Thank you for sharing the wonderful information.

  14. You’re right about hair becoming used to a wash routine. While there is a time span wherein most scalps will begin to react with negativity, people have found that extending their wash days to a maximum time span can provide healthier strands.

  15. Thanks for this article. I’ll try the porosity test. Coconut oil gives a good shine p the hair, tried it.

  16. Hi, this article really helpful for me. I am confused for choosing the best hair treatment what would be the best for everything. But review this article my confusion is clear, Thanks.

  17. Thanks a lot for sharing such an informative article about hair care and I have pleased to get this blog page. I have read your valuable page and gotten much information. But I have a little question that, How to grow and thicken hair by natural foods? Could you please suggestion me? Then I will be benefited. Anyway, I will save your website and I will share it with my friends. I hope they will be benefited by this article.

  18. WOW! This article really useful for me. I confused for choosing the Hair Treatments for Long Hair information what would be the best for everything. But review this article my confusion has cleared. Thanks a lot for sharing such an informative article about Protein Hair Treatment for Healthy & Strong and I have pleased to get this blog page. I have read your valuable page and gotten much information. Thanks and keep it up…….

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