5 Signs Your Natural Hair Needs Protein

Our hair strands are comprised of a protein called keratin. This protein composition is an integral part to the overall health of your hair. In fact, a balance of protein and moisture is needed to help keep your strands growing and strong. Where some of us fall short is knowing whether our hair is in need of protein.

If your hair is lacking in protein, it can begin to show in the appearance and strength of your strands. Protein treatments can help to alleviate the issue by filling in any gaps throughout your hair cuticle. However, protein treatments can only go so far. It is essential that you are first getting enough protein in your diet to nourish your strands with the necessary nutrients they need to thrive. If your hair is not receiving enough protein, there are certain signs that will begin to show.

Here are 5 signs your natural hair needs protein:

signs your natural hair needs protein
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1) Your Hair Has Been Damaged:

If you have used heat tools for a period of time and have noticed a change in your natural curl pattern and it has become “loosened”, this could signal your hair has been damaged. The high temperatures from your flat iron can begin to break down the protein bonds and permanently alter the structure of your hair strands.

Damaged hair will eventually have to be cut off. However, a protein treatment can aid in the process and help to alleviate different problem areas you may have in the meantime. Another tip is to complete a protein treatment before you straighten or blow dry your hair to provide a boost of strength to your strands.

2) You Are Experiencing Excessive Breakage

While shedding hair is normal (we shed anywhere between 50 and 100 strands per day), if you have begun to experience excessive breakage, it can be one of the signs your natural hair needs protein. If your hair is snapping and breaking off, it is often the result of hair strands that have become weakened in structure and cannot withstand daily wear and tear. This can be caused by an inadequate amount of protein in your diet or because you are not completing routine protein treatments.

If afterwards the problem still persists, you may want to get into contact with your health professional to see if there is an underlying medical condition present.

3) Your Hair Has Lost Its Elasticity

The elasticity of your hair is its ability to spring back to its normal length when stretched. To test this, take a strand of your hair from different sections and wet them. Then, begin to stretch the strand out. If it snaps / breaks easily, or does not return to its normal length, then your hair is at a low elasticity and may be in need of some protein to get it to a healthier state.

4) You Have Color-Treated Hair

signs your natural hair needs protein

When you apply hair dye to your hair, the chemicals can cause permanent damage to your hair, altering its normal structure. A common result of color-treating your hair is that is becomes highly porous.

When your hair is highly porous, the hair cuticle typically remains in a lifted / raised state, making it more difficult to retain moisture. To alleviate this issue, a protein treatment can help to fill in these gaps in the hair cuticle and provide some temporary relief.

5) Your Hair Looks and Feels Limp

Another telltale sign your natural hair needs protein is if your natural curl pattern feels limp and just doesn’t look or feel like it usually does. A good protein treatment can help to spring your strands back to life.

Even if your hair is not heat damaged or damaged by some other chemical, prolonged daily wear and tear can begin to weaken the protein bonds in the hair hence why monthly protein treatments are a healthy aim.

What to Know About Protein Treatments:

With the signs your natural hair needs protein in mind, there are a few important things to note about protein treatments. Protein treatments come in different types and are used for varying degrees of damage based on their level of intensity. Using a protein treatment that is too strong for your hair can cause adverse effects, so it is necessary that you thoroughly research your products and know what your hair needs beforehand.

Depending on your hair’s attributes and the intensity of the treatment, completing a protein treatment once a month is a good aim. As mentioned previously, your hair needs a healthy balance of protein and moisture. Too much of one thing can be a bad thing. If you do a protein treatment, follow up with a moisturizing deep conditioner to restore that balance.

signs your natural hair needs protein
Photo Credit: Trongnguyen on Big Stock Photos

Different types of protein treatments:

  • Reconstructors – For severely damaged hair; Ask your hair care specialist to see which one may be right for you and for assistance when applying.
  • Protein packs Good for routine hair care; Some may be intense treatments, others are mild protein treatments.
  • Light protein treatments May come in the form of a hair masque or deep conditioner; Useful for mild hair damage.
  • Medium-intensity protein treatments – Includes deep penetrating conditioners and masques; Used for moderately damaged hair.
  • Homemade protein treatments – Created using food ingredients like eggs or yogurt for example. Carefully research your recipe before trying.

Do you have a favorite protein treatment that works great for your natural hair? Let us know below!


1 “How Much Hair Loss Is Normal: Everyone Sheds”. Healthline, 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/how-much-hair-loss-is-normal. Accessed 3 Jan 2019.

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