5 weeks post

Hi guys! I hope i didn’t overwhelm you with all the protein posts 😀 One of my reader questions (Hey Karen) sparked an idea and i just ran with it. Anyway, back to my usual hair updates…

Am 5 weeks 4 days post relaxer today!

Last week i took a quick trip down to the coast and the drive back to Nairobi just about sucked the moisture right out of my hair. I should have known that 8 hours on the road, with my hair down (and the car windows rolled down) was going to cost me hair-wise (is that a word?)

En route to Nairobi

En route to Nairobi

That seat belt...not hair friendly

That seat belt…not hair friendly

I was dead beat when i got home so the next morning (Thursday) i cowashed my hair and put it up in a bun. Come Saturday morning, i did a shampoo wash using the oliive oil shampoo with conditioner then followed up with a 2 hour deep conditioning treatment.

With leave-in and coconut oil...after washing

With leave-in and heat protectant…after washing

I Planned to go out later on that day and since my hair wasn’t dry (plus i didn’t want to rock a bun), i just blew it out on high heat then curled my ends. I wore it out.

Saturday hair

Saturday hair

Yesterday afternoon i got bored and cowashed my hair once again then braided it and now my hair is in a braid out. I think i’ll keep it like this for the rest of the week.



Is protein sensitivity a myth?

Some people believe that there is no such thing as protein sensitivity. That when it comes to the manufacture of a hair product, both the ingredient and the recipe matter.

They say that if your hair reacts negatively to a product that contains a particular protein, don’t blame the protein, blame the company’s recipe. Your hair may benefit from a product with a lower amount of a particular protein or alternatively from a product that has a higher amount of that same protein only that its been blended with another ingredient for added softness.

Some products are formulated to stay on your hair for longer.(Remember that there are light, mild and heavy protein products)

What do you think?

Protein types and sizes

There are two types of protein; those derived from animal sources and those from plant sources.

Animal proteins are stronger/more potent than plant proteins. They coat the outer layers of the hair shaft while plant (vegetable) proteins are absorbed into the hair shaft.

Proteins are identified by the terms keratin, collagen, elastin or amino acid and of course the word protein.

Common proteins used in hair products are keratin, placenta, collagen, silk, wheat, corn, soy, oats. Other proteins used in homemade hair masks are; molasses, coconut milk, eggs, and yogurt.

The type and size of protein determine whether or not it can actually be absorbed by the hair.

Hydrolyzed proteins are proteins that have been broken down into amino acids which are said to easily penetrate the layers of the hair shaft. They are said to be the best type to use for strengthening hair.

Proteins like soy, wheat, collagen, keratin are too big to penetrate (they condition the hair).

Whole eggs/egg white/albumin/egg albumin, avocado, bananas and aloe vera are all sources of whole protein. They don’t behave in the same way as hydrolyzed protein, amino acids or peptides.

Some people with protein sensitive hair will find whole proteins to be perfectly fine to use.

Be aware of protein allergies.
Some people are allergic to hydrolyzed proteins in hair products. Application of these type of protein can lead to an itchy skin/rash (contact urticaria). Should a certain product causes your scalp to itch, avoid using it again and if you can, try to figure out which ingredient you are allergic to.

Protein Sensitivity

Protein sensitivity is used to describe hair that overeacts in the presence of protein making it dry and brittle, hence more prone to breakage. However, it is important to note that in the presence of protein, ALL hair does feel dry and brittle. One has to be able to distinguish between the intended effect and actual sensitivity.

People who are protein sensitive, have enough or high levels of protein in their hair, and therefore do not need anymore. Finer hair usually tolerates protein better than coarse hair.

How exactly does protein sensitive hair feel?
Coarse, dry, brittle and tangled like a clump of straw, breaks whenever one uses protein in their hair, fried, hard, rough and scratchy even when wet. Protein sensitive hair has also been said to lose curl definition.

Protein sensitivity is not only caused by products that are rich in proteins, but also by certain oils that contain trace amounts of protein, or products that mimic protein.

If you suspect that your hair is protein sensitive, it is advisable to stay away or at least limit the use of products that contain the following:

1) Amino Acid
2) Corn
3) Collagen
4) Milk (both dairy & alternative)
5) Eggs
6) Keratin
7) Soy (and soy oils)
8) Silk
9) Wheat
10) Yogurt
11) Avocado oil
12) Coconut Oil (traps protein onto the hair, mimics protein)
13) Jojoba Oil (is actually a wax and it contains trace amounts of protein)
14) Aloe Vera – juice and gel (some protein-sensitive people are affected, others aren’t)

This list is in no way exhaustive.

Also stay away from nut oils (almond, peanut, macadamia, hemp). If your hair becomes hard and dry after using such oil, chances are, your hair is protein sensitive.

Henna, clay and mud washes help hair retain protein and as such may produce the same straw-like feel that protein containing products will do. (The tannins in henna bond with protein in the hair and act like a protein treatment)

If you plan to do a beer rinse, just know that beer contains yeast (brewer’s yeast – vegemite, marmite, etc) which is known to contain protein.

Just identify the triggers and avoid them. Focus on keeping your hair moisturized, and keep in mind how your hair feels so as not to over-moisturize it. With time you might notice that you can indeed use some protein. That boils down to its size and how much of it is in a product.

More on Protein size and types in my next post.

Protein & Moisture Balance

There was a time when finding hair on my clothes or floor was no big deal. I thought it was normal to have that much hair come off after combing or detangling. Mind you these were short pieces of hair.

What i didn’t realize was that my hair was severely breaking off! I was not alone in that. Growing up, it was well known that you had to wrap a scarf over your shoulders while combing your hair so that the little pieces of hair that came off (breakage) didn’t land on your outfit (especially if you were all dressed and ready to leave the house). This doesn’t need to happen.

Breakage, to a great extent, occurs when there is an imbalance between the protein and moisture levels in your hair.

Simply put, dry hair breaks. Take for example, a dry leaf thats fallen off a tree. If you place it on your palm and close your hand upon it, it crumbles. If you do the same to a leaf thats fresh off a tree, with the sap still in it, it will not crumble. It will just crinkle and go back to its original form. This is more or less what happens to hair. (I hope the analogy makes sense).

Water makes hair flexible and enables it to stretch and be easily manipulated without breaking, so it is important to keep hair moisturized at all times. It is possible to over-moisturize hair and this is where the protein (strengthening) treatments come in.

Over-moisturized hair feels mushy. It is extra stretchy when wet and looks/feels limp or stringy. It cannot withstand simple combing as it stretches till it breaks, It has no strength. To deal with this, one needs to do a protein (strengthening) treatment. There are different proteins out there. Some are strong and others are mild – more on that in a future post.

When correcting moisture-overload, it is important to note how your hair feels so as not to end up overloading it with protein which is another problem altogether. Its not as difficult as it sounds 😀 Just do moisturizing treatments weekly, if thats how often you wash your hair, then do a protein treatment once a month…or after 2 months depending on how your hair feels.

Hair that has an overload of protein is just plain crunchy and dry. It feels hard and rough even when wet. When i started learning about healthy hair care, i did a couple of things wrong and at one point experienced protein overload which i corrected by changing products and tweaking my regimen.

Moisture and protein work together to produce healthy hair.

Protein and your hair

Hair is primarily made of protein. Keratin, to be more specific. This protein is what gives hair its structure and strength.

The protein in hair is lost through chemical treatments (relaxing and dyeing), heat styling (use of curlers, straighteners and blow dryers/dryers) and everyday styling (combing/brushing).

Loss of protein is therefore inevitable and may result in weak hair that is prone to breakage.

One way to deal with protein loss is to do protein treatments. These bind to the hair cuticles (the outermost layer of the hair shaft) and temporarily rebuild/refill any weakened areas.

Another option would be to do henna treatments which i have written about in previous posts. Henna mimics protein.

Women with chemically treated hair like myself, need more protein than others. Chemical services break down the protein bonds within the hair (thereby weakening it). Most women with natural hair find that they do not need to do protein treatments while others may not have enough protein (due to genetics or low protein intake) and may need to do regular protein treatments.

Remember, protein treatments go hand-in-hand with moisture treatments. You need to maintain a balance between these two. Look out for a post on that.

Questions about my hair


I got these questions from Evalyne over at Scarlet Girl (check out her blog guys). I thought i should answer here in case someone else has the same questions. So, here goes…

How long have you been on a hair journey?
I have been on my hair journey for about 2 years 2 months. Since 1st November 2011.

How long was it when you started?
When i started my hair journey, my hair was at Shoulder length.

Oct 2011: A feww weeks before i started my journey

Oct 2011: A few weeks before i started my journey

2 months into my hair journey. I later got a trim

2 months into my hair journey. I later got a trim

What are the benefits of using Henna on your hair?
I have several posts outlining the benefits of henna, see here, here and here. You can also check out some posts on my first/earlier experiences with henna here.

To answer your question more directly and from my personal experience, henna has helped to really strengthen my hair. I rarely see broken pieces of hair on my clothes, floor or sink! It has thickened my hair, It is a natural shampoo as it gets my hair really clean. I used to forego using sulfate shampoos and opted to henna my hair instead. It has made my hair really shiny. It has naturally coloured my hair (a reddish undertone). Henna is a great scalp treatment as it stops itchiness and reduces shedding (again, personal experience).

Some people prefer using protein treatments to strengthen their hair but for me, henna is the way to go because it offers more than just strong hair.