When it comes to moisture vs. protein balance for relaxed hair, many people are confused about which one is more important. Some people believe that moisture is the key to keeping your hair healthy and strong, while others believe that protein is the most crucial factor. So, what’s the truth? This blog post will discuss the importance of both moisture and protein to relaxed hair and help you figure out which one is more important for you!
Moisture vs. Protein: What is the Difference?
It’s essential to understand the difference before we get into the debate of moisture vs. protein.
Moisture is “the small amount of water present in something.” On the other hand, protein is “any of a large group of complex organic compounds essential for all living cells’ structure and function.”
In other words, moisture keeps your hair hydrated, while protein helps rebuild and strengthen your strands.
Moisture vs. Protein: Which one is more important?
The truth is that both moisture and protein are essential for relaxed hair.
Type 4c hair is inherently dry due to its coil-like structure that prevents natural scalp oils from evenly distributing down the hair shaft. As such, moisture is crucial in keeping it healthy and hydrated. Without moisture, your hair will become brittle, damaged, and susceptible to breakage.
Protein is also vital for relaxed hair, as it helps repair and strengthens the strands. This quality is paramount if your hair experiences damage by heat or chemicals.
Moisture vs. Protein: Which One Should You Focus on?
The best course of action is to focus on both when it comes to moisture vs. protein balance for relaxed hair.
Include moisture-rich products in your hair care routine, such as deep conditioners and leave-in conditioners. These will help to keep your hair hydrated and prevent damage.
In addition, focus on protein-rich products, such as protein treatments and reconstructors. These products will help repair and strengthen your strands and prevent further damage in the future.
By focusing on both moisture and protein, you can help to keep your relaxed hair healthy, strong, and moisture-rich!
Why Does Relaxed Hair Need Moisture?
Relaxed hair tends to be drier than other hair types because chemicals in the relaxer break down the moisture barrier. This compromised moisture barrier makes it more difficult for your hair to retain moisture.
As such, moisture is crucial in keeping relaxed hair hydrated and healthy.
Moisture helps keep your hair strands lubricated, preventing them from becoming brittle and breaking. It also helps control frizz and keeps your scalp healthy by preventing dryness and itchiness.
Other benefits of moisture for relaxed hair include:
- softer and shinier hair
- less frizz and flyaways
- better hair elasticity
- improved moisture retention
- makes detangling easier
How to tell if your hair needs moisture?
If your hair is dry, brittle, or breaks easily, it probably needs more moisture. Hair that is moisture-deficient will also feel rough to the touch and tangle easily.
Another way to tell if your hair needs moisture is to do a moisture test.
Take a small section of clean, dry hair and stretch it out to do a moisture test.
If the hair stretches out and:
- snaps back into place easily, then it has enough moisture
- breaks, then it needs more moisture
How to tell if your hair has moisture overload?
Hygral fatigue is a condition caused by moisture overload. It occurs when the hair absorbs too much moisture, causing the strands to swell and repeatedly shrink.
Moisture overload is common in highly porous hair as it has widely-spaced gaps on the cuticle layer and can easily absorb moisture from the environment. Relaxed hair tends to be highly porous since chemicals in the relaxer lift the cuticle layers.
Over time, hygral fatigue can cause the hair to become weak, brittle, and susceptible to breakage.
If you suspect that your hair has moisture overload, then you should:
- reduce the amount of moisture-rich products you use
- focus on sealing in moisture properly with oils and butters
- reduce your shampooing frequency to avoid over-stripping of natural oils
- avoid other causes of hair damage such as heat and colour treatments
- focus on protein-rich products to repair and strengthen the strands
Moisturizing Ingredients to look out for in your product selection:
- Water: should be first on the ingredient list as it is the ultimate moisture
- Glycerin: a moisture-attracting humectant
- Aloe vera: soothes the scalp and adds moisture to the hair shaft
- Oils: lock in moisture and prevent water loss. Popular oils include coconut, avocado, castor, and jojoba
- Butters: seal in moisture and may include ingredients such as shea or cocoa butters
- Fatty alcohols: help moisture penetrate the hair shaft and add slip for detangling. Common fatty alcohols include cetyl, cetearyl, and stearyl
- Honey: a natural humectant that attracts moisture to the hair
Moisturizing Deep Conditioners
Some of our favourite moisturizing deep conditioners for relaxed hair include:
- Shea Moisture Manuka Honey + Mafura Oil Hydration Hair Mask
- Aussie 3 Minute Miracle
- Keracare Humecto Crème Conditioner
- TGIN Honey Miracle Mask
- As I Am Hydration Elation
Moisturizing Leave-in Conditioners
Some of our favourite moisturizing leave-in conditioners for relaxed hair include:
- SheaMoisture Sugarcane Extract & Meadowfoam Seed Silicone-Free Miracle Styler Leave-In Treatment
- As I Am Classic Leave-in Conditioner
- Crème of Nature Moisture Recovery Leave-in Curl Milk
- TGIN Green Tea Super Moist Leave-in Conditioner
- Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier Leave-in Conditioner
Why Does Relaxed Hair Need Protein?
The relaxer process causes the hair cuticles to lift, leading to highly porous hair. High porosity hair is more susceptible to damage and breakage because gaps in its cuticle allow moisture and oil to escape.
Protein treatments help to fill in these gaps and make the hair cuticles lie flat again. Filling in the gaps, in turn, makes the hair shaft stronger and less likely to break.
Protein treatments can also help to:
- improve moisture retention
- repair damage caused by heat, chemicals, and environmental factors
- repair cuticle layer and strengthen hair strands
- reduce breakage and prevent future damage
- make the hair look and feel thicker
How to tell if your hair needs protein?
One way to tell if your hair needs protein is to do a porosity test. To do a porosity test, take a small section of clean, dry hair and drop it in a cup of water.
If the hair:
- sinks and lies flat at the bottom, then it has low porosity (and doesn’t need protein)
- floats and stands up at the top, then it has high porosity (and needs protein)
Other signs that indicate that you need protein may include hair that:
- feels limp or mushy
- has breakage & excessive shedding
- does not hold its curls or shape
How to tell if your hair has protein overload?
Protein overload is when the hair has too much protein and little moisture. This protein overload can make the hair feel stiff, dry, and straw-like.
You may have protein overload if your hair is:
- difficult to stretch out
- brittle and breaks easily
- feels hard or rough
- looks dull and lifeless
To fix protein overload, you will need to remove the excessive protein by using a clarifying shampoo. Further, you will need to focus on protein-free moisture treatments and products to help moisture penetrate the hair shaft.
Remove protein treatments from your regimen as long as necessary until you restore your moisture vs. protein balance. Check all the product labels to ensure they do not contain any protein ingredients.
Protein Ingredients to look for in your product selection:
- hydrolyzed protein: penetrates the hair shaft to help repair damage
- keratin protein
- wheat protein
- soy protein
- amino acids
- silk protein
Protein Treatments and Deep Conditioners
Some of our favourite protein treatments for relaxed hair include:
- Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor
- Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment
- Shea Moisture JBCO Strengthen Grow & Restore Masque
- ORS Replenishing Conditioner
- Mielle Organics Babassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner
How to Achieve the Perfect Moisture vs. Protein Balance for Relaxed Hair
The key to achieving the perfect moisture vs. protein balance for relaxed hair is all about trial and error. Start by using moisture-rich products, and add in protein treatments as needed.
Pay attention to how your hair looks and feels, and make adjustments to your regimen as necessary. Be patient, and eventually, you will find the perfect moisture vs. protein balance for your relaxed hair!