Question: I’ve heard that some protein-based products can actually make your hair brittle. Is this true?
Answer: The short answer is yes, this is true. Breakage is caused by an imbalance in hair’s elasticity. For “normal” elasticity, there must be a balance between protein content and moisture content. Adding too much protein to your regime can, in essence, make your hair too strong and it will become brittle. Conversely, too much moisture creates hair that is too soft. It will stretch and stretch without breaking and will not bounce back to it’s previous shape. Hair with balanced elasticity will stretch up to 50% when wet and return to it’s normal size.
Protein is a wonderful ingredient in products for hair that has been damaged through chemical processing, heat styling, or other abuse. Hair is primarily composed of protein, keratin to be specific, so replacing it can truly help rebuild hair that has been stripped of some of it’s natural strength. However, products containing protein should not be over used and frequency depends on hair’s condition.
If you aren’t sure whether or not your hair has normal elasticity, it’s easy to do a pull test. Try gently stretching a few strands while they are wet. If they stretch and return to their original length, you have good elasticity. If the hair snaps and breaks quickly, your hair has too much protein and you should seek out a moisturizing treatment. If the hair just stretches quite far before breaking and never retains it’s shape, your hair needs protein and you should seek a keratin-based treatment. Your best bet is to always purchase your products at the salon under the guidance of your stylist. We are trained to know which products are appropriate for each hair type and the frequency that they should be used.