Hair protein. I know, it sounds dull. but it will change your relationship with your hair for the better…really!
I was born with perfectly straight hair, unfortunately, when puberty hit, it morphed into an unruly ball of curls which I painstakingly straightened well into my early twenties. During secondary school, GHD’s had not yet been invented, so instead, I used those weird Babyliss hair straighteners that were powered by gas canisters! I hated my curls so much, I don’t think anyone knew I had naturally curly hair. But I eventually realised that there implied more to life than panicking every time there was a whisper of rain and decided to set my curls free. Unfortunately, I chose the worst time to do this, during a holiday with a new boyfriend… it didn’t do much for my curly confidence when he dumped me as soon as we returned, telling me I looked ‘very different’!
So, I retreated back into straightening mode, dabbling every now and again in the curly world and making sure any potential new suitor was aware of my natural hair texture! It wasn’t until my current partner, who told me how much he loved my curls, that I went ‘full on curly’. Point being, I never really understood the natural texture of my hair until I fully embraced it without heated appliances. My hair texture was extremely dry from years of heat damage. I bought every de-frizzing product I could, and looked for words on bottles like ‘reconstructing.’ These products, I have since learnt, mostly have some kind of protein in them (keratin, amino acids, collagen amongst many others). Just google ‘protein in shampoo’ if you’re interested, and you’ll find a comprehensive list! These products, at the time when my hair was damaged, worked wonders, and soon I had much more manageable curls. During my late twenties, I experimented with bleach (eeek!) and again, I needed protein to help my hair recover. But here’s the thing, you can actually have too much protein in your hair and it starts to have a negative effect, especially on healthy hair.
After my son was born, I dealt with hair loss, (a lot of new mums experience this) so I ramped up the protein-rich treatments once more, believing it would magically keep my hair on my head. In fact, I just ended up with incredibly brittle, frizzy hair that made me look like a Brian May tribute act. It was only when I was forced to use a cheap, silicone laden shampoo during a hospital stay, that my hair transformed after just one wash! I didn’t understand it, but after much research, things started to click.
I knew a little about hair porosity but hadn’t heard of the ‘glass test’ until my googling frenzy. You take a dry, clean strand of hair and put into a glass of water. If the hair sinks, your hair is porous (raised cuticles), if your hair floats, it is not porous at all (closed cuticles), if it stays halfway, it is perfectly balanced. Normally, if you have damaged hair, your hair shaft will be rough and therefore porous- I assumed I would fit into this category. But, my hair floated and I realised protein was just compounding my problem, the cuticles were so flat-no moisture was getting in! I ditched the expensive protein rich shampoos and bought cheap protein free ones instead. I can tell you, not only is my hair happier, my purse is too!
So, do the glass test, and to anyone who has floating strands, I would urge you to read the ingredient list on your bottles and ditch the proteins. It’s transformed my hair once more, just like it did when I started using them in the first place. Oh protein, you are a fickle friend!