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Do protein conditioners make hair break?

Posted Mar 26 2013 2:01am

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The Beauty Cat asks…I’ve been told that protein, when topically applied to hair, can make it break off. A girl I know said that a stylist put a protein-packed deep conditioner on her hair and put her under the dryer and her hair started breaking off (I believe she had been under there for about 30 min which is way too long for the product she was using.) Have you guys heard of this? If so, what exactly is causing this ingredient, in particular, to cause breakage and not something like a silicone to do the same? 

The Beauty Brains respond:
The idea that applying protein to hair could cause it to spontaneously break makes no sense from a scientific perspective, especially not in the manner you described. But what COULD be happening is this:

High protein conditioners are often used on women who relax their hair. That’s because hair that has been relaxed can be extremely damaged and porous and can soak up too much of the quats, fatty alcohols, and silicones from regular conditioners. This over-absorption makes hair feel mushy. So, high protein conditioners were developed which contain LOWER levels of these ingredients. If your friend had one of these products used on her it’s possible that the lower level of conditioning agents (not the higher level of protein) could have contributed to more breakage because the hair wasn’t as lubricated.

Image credit: http://fc09.deviantart.net

Have you ever had hair problems after using a high protein conditioner? Leave a comment and share your experience with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.  

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