"The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?"

- Psalms 27 : 1

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Breakage 101 series #3 : Protein/Moisture Balance 1

Hello ladies, today, I bring to the table a subject that concerns every single natural queen that wishes to keep breakage at bay.

What is protein/moisture?

Protein is what the hair is made out of. Their are different types of protein but the hair is made of a particular type of protein called keratin. This keratin is made up of long chains (polymers) of amino acids. Each and every one of our bodies produce these amino acids and in the case where they can't we get them from the food we eat.

Moisture is imperative for dry, coarse hair. Because we have cuticles that never lay flat (cuticles are the outer layer of the hair) it is easy to loose gained moisture (and hard to actually trap it inside the hair strand). The best moisturizer known is water.

Does my hair need protein/moisture?


While some people are very sensitive to protein (their body produces enough protein) and can barely use products that contain protein, others need to have protein treatments every once in while. Protein is the key to strong, resistant hair.

Natural hair (and even permed hair) cannot do without moisture. Our hair is not referred to as "thirsty roots" for nothing.

What happens if my hair lack protein or moisture?


I learnt this from a first hand experience. About two or three months ago, my hair was breaking so much, and if you've been reading long enough you'll know it was a real problem but it was only until recently that I realized it was because I was really protein-deficient and partially moisture-deficient too.
Immediately I did a protein treatment, my hair felt so much more stronger!
Protein/moisture deficiency is one of the biggest reasons why many natural divas (even permed sisters) are experiencing breakage. It's like this, imagine a person goes a whole week with only a bottle of water and without protein. By the end of the week, the person will be in really bad shape, or even maybe in hospital. I am not saying out hair should be compared to our bodies, for one, hair is dead and our bodies are much more complex but it's more or less the same principle. Our hair is made of protein and could lack it so it's our job to give it that protein, whether through an external treatment or through our food (this method only applies to hair that is yet to grow out of your scalp, not the one that has already grown out of it). The same goes for moisture: drink lots of water and use moisturizing products to keep your hair at it's best.

How do I know if my hair is protein or moisture deficient?

There is a simple test I have read about many times on the web.

To know if your hair is lacking protein: when wet, gently pull on a strand. If it stretches too much before breaking, or just stretches and does not snap back to it's original shape, then you are protein deficient.
When I did this test: my hair stretched a bit like a strand of rubber before breaking and when it didn't break, it didn't snap back, rather, it slowly regained it's shape.
Microscopically speaking: the hair is made up of polymers of amino acids, now if there are not enough polymers (chains) the links between the polymers could easily break not enough to make a strong enough strand of hair.

To know if your hair is lacking moisture: when wet, gently pull on a strand. If it does not stretch at all, then breaks then you are moisture deficient.
Another way to find out is just by looking at your hair: if your hair is dry, brittle and rough, this is a sure sign you are lacking moisture.
When I did this test: My hair did stretch a bit, then broke off.

If you are lacking both protein and moisture, then your hair will most likely not stretch too much before breaking off (this is a bit like my case) or you'd have a lot of strands that were moisture deficient and some that were protein deficient.

How do I work with both?

You have to balance them out. That should be one (if not the main goal) of your hair regimen. Once you've taken some time to see how protein deficient your hair can get and how much moisture it needs, it is up to you to give it what it needs. You have to listen to your hair. There is no other way. Some times your hair will need more protein and sometimes you'll have to stop using products with protein. Whatever the case, just keep that protein/moisture balance.

How do I know if my hair is healthy?

Do the test: When your hair is wet, gently pull on a strand. If it stretched a bit then snaps back to it's original state after letting go, then you're good. Do the test on multiple strands just to be sure.

How do I balance the protein and moisture in my hair?

Again, it's all about listening to your hair. At the beginning of my natural hair journey, I was not protein deficient, but all of a sudden, a few months ago I found out I was. Some divas moisturize and do protein treatments according to a plan they drew out themselves while some only do it when they see they have the need. Whatever you do, let it be to achieve that balance!

Have you had any issues with protein/moisture balance? If so, please share!

Stay tuned!


  1. Thanks for this post! This is something Im struggling with with my hair right now. I believe Im protein senstive and made a post about it on my blog: http://nativecurlzgirl77@blogspot.com
    I will appreciate any additional input you may have.

  2. Hi! Thank you so much for passing by! I will check out your post right away!

  3. While I find this post helpful it doesn't really answer my issue. I have been trying to find the perfect balance for months and I still can't seem to find a routine that works. I've done the test, and even when I do what is recommended it's as if my hair isn't responding. I remember last summer when I just drank tons of water and took vitamins my hair seemed to be growing wonderfully even though there was damage. Now I am trying to find the balance and my hair is at a stand point.

    1. Hi Anon.
      I can really relate. I'd advice you to just leave your hair alone for now only if you are experience serious breakage due to the protein/moisture balance. Focus on giving your hair all the good things it needs through some tlc and what you eat. Give your hair some time to also adjust and only make one small change at a time.

      Hope that helps :)
      Don't hesitate to ask anymore questions you may have.


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