By Hadassah Agbaps - December 26, 2012

Is your hair brittle, dry, breaking like no man's business, mushy when wet and thin? Are your coils no longer coily and loosening up? Then, you may be in need of a protein treatment!

Before I talk about protein treatments, let's have a little chat about the hair structure to understand better the reasons for protein treatments and how they work.

" Hair is made up of protein called keratin. It has three layers-the medulla, cortex, and cuticle.
The innermost region, the medulla, is not always present and is an open, unstructured region.
The highly structural and organized cortex, or middle layer of the hair, is the primary source of mechanical strength and water uptake. It also contains melanin, which colors the fiber.

Hair growth begins inside the hair follicle. The shape of the follicle determines the shape of the fiber is which determines how straight or curly the hair is. Asian hair typically has a round fiber and is quite straight. Oval and irregularly shaped fibers are generally more wavy, curly or coily.

 The cuticle is the outer covering. Its complex structure slides as the hair swells and is covered with a single molecular layer of lipid called sebum that makes the hair repel water.

Now, constant combing, styling, heat treatments such as flat ironing/ blow-drying and chemical treatments such as hair dyes, relaxers, conditioners and shampoos can gradually wear away the layers of the hair strand leading to thinning, splitting and breakage.
Since hair is made up of protein, the hair strands can be temporarily repaired by application of protein which binds to the protein of the hair and thus strengthen it.

There are several protein treatments available. They could be commercially purchased or made at home using natural protein sources found in the kitchen.

Experts recommend the use of hydrolysed protein for better results as these proteins have been broken down into molecular sizes small enough to actually penetrate the hair strands and bind to it.

Most commercially available protein treatment packs contain hydrolysed proteins. Others have proteins in form of amino acids (e.g. silk amino acids) which are the molecular building blocks of proteins. Examples of hydrolysed proteins available in commercial protein treatments include:

Hydrolyzed Soy Protein – Increases the hair’s ability to retain essential moisture, which protects it from damage. Hydrolyzed Soy protein works in the cuticle layer of the hair to improve the tensile strength of the hair. 

Collagen Protein--known for increasing elasticity in the hair 

Silk Protein--known for softening the hair 

Wheat Protein--a moisturizing and strengthening protein.It is known for increasing the hair's ability to maintain and receive moisture also. A solution of wheat amino acids, also has the right molecular weight of approximately 150-2000nm. With this molecular weight, it can penetrate all the layers of the hair shaft, and condition from the inside out. We use this protein because it has an enhanced powerful moisturising ability. This increased moisture retention makes hair healthier inside and shinier outside. It improves hair’s gloss and make the hair shaft soft and supple, adding to its healthy shiny appearance. 

Keratin Protein--responsible for keeping the hair strong and pliable. This is the strongest of the (hair product) proteins and is actually the one that hair is made from. This one re-structures hair that has been damaged or broken down by chemicals. It helps to replace the amino acid cysteine which is the main one lost during chemical processing. This is the heavy duty protein.

Vegetable protein -- Vegetable protein absorbs more easily into the hair shaft [than animal protein] and does not create build-up, leaves the hair very shiny, radiant, luxuriant, and healthy.

Animal protein -- Animal protein breaks down into fatty acids, which coat the hair and create residual build-up.

Silk amino Acids/Protein--Natural silk is the strongest, natural fiber known to mankind. Discovered in Japan and has been used for centuries in all kinds of products that require durability. Silk has a tiny molecular size that can penetrate the entire hair shaft deeper than all other proteins without adding any weight, leaving the hair feeling clean and non-greasy.

Examples of commercially available protein treatments include:

- Aphoghee 2 minute Protein reconstructors

- Organics Hair Mayonnaise

- Giovanni Nutrafix Reconstructor

- Aubrey Organics GPB

- Elasta QP Anti breakage serum

- Biosilk serum

Here is a YouTube Video of the proper application of commercial protein treatment, in this case being Aphoghee 2 minute reconstructor.
You can also use her method of application for DIY protein treatments.
For other commercial treatments please follow the directions provided.

Inspite of most commercially available protein treatments containing smaller sized hydrolysed proteins, we cannot say that protein sources used at home are ineffective.
Although the molecular sizes are not as small, acids like lemon juice can cause hydrolysis of the protein molecules. Also proteolytic enzymes secreted by microbes in yoghurt for example, hydrolyses milk protein.

Some DIY Protein Treatments include:

1 packet unflavoured gelatin (about 10g)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup mayonnaise or conditioner

I can hear you say Gelatin????
 According to Wikipedia, Gelatin (or gelatine) is a translucent, colorless, brittle (when dry), tasteless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals’ skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar way are called gelatinous. Gelatin is an irreversibly hydrolysed form of collagen, and is classified as a foodstuff, with E number E441 so it's safe to use on your hair.


3tbs plain yoghurt
1 tbs coconut oil
Coat hair with yoghurt mix, cover with shower cap for 30mins then rinse with cold water. Simple!

Coat hair with mayonnaise, cover with shower cap for 30mins then rinse with cold water.

4. HENNA (not really a protein but binds really well to keratin strenghtening hair from inside out).
-500 g Good quality henna powder or as much as you think you'll need for your length and thickness of hair 

- Lemon/lime juice

Mix henna powder and lemon/lime juice in a bowl.
Use enough liquid to make a smooth, slightly thick paste (about toothpaste consistency).
Cover the bowl and let this stand until you see dye release (this can take up to 24 hours). 
On most henna powders you'll see the color turn from greenish to brownish as the dye releases. 
Add some more liquid - either more lemon/lime or water- to create a consistency like whipped cream.
 Apply to either dry or damp hair - if you apply it to damp hair you may want to have a slightly firmer consistency to avoid dripping. (culled from


This is a local butter made by Fulani women in Northern Nigeria from the milk of their cows.
 It is really good for the hair and more moisturising than strengthening.
Depending on how fresh your manshanu is, you have to wash off with a shampoo/conditioner with a nice! 
The result though awesome!

Do not over do protein treatments as it can over strengthen your hair leaving it hard and strawlike. Once a month is generally enough.

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  1. Hi,
    Where can I get the shanu butter?
    Am lopo coarse hair with 4a hair type.

  2. You can get it at your local grocery store. It's sold as ghee but watch out for the type you get yourself, you want organic ghee dats the best!!!

  3. Is it rite to use honey wid olive oil as I’ve heard dat if u use honey den ur hairs will become white. i really loved the remedies for increasing hair volume they really work,,,,,Gd tips and easily available....I didn't try this as I am using Hibiscus pack...Nice Review :)Easy Hair Care

  4. That Fulani treatment looks interesting ;-) Now if they can just use something good and natural for the scent.

  5. it was very helpful thanks alot....


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