I remember back in the early 1980s, mum had a recipe for a protein hair treatment you could make at home. I used to use it quite a bit (when I've had hair - chemo and whatnot), changing the recipe and adding bits and pieces, but it's been years since the last time. A bad bleaching experience recently left me desperately racking my brains for how to save my hair, and I suddenly remembered this DIY protein fix!
My hair is very long and usually in fabulous condition, I look after it like gold since I was bald for so long. However, recently I made the mistake of getting it dip-dyed at the local school of hairdressing, and it was a complete disaster. They left bleach on my hair for over an hour, and my hair was FRIED. To top it off they had two students doing it - one either side. Which meant my hair ended up uneven, so then they had to fix it the next day by dying the rest of my hair black and evening it out - so my poor hair really got over-treated. It was such a circus, luckily I'm pretty patient but this tested me!
No filters: left day 1, right day 2, they let the black wash through the red so it turned out dark purple.
Anyway, colour issues aside, the bleaching really did a number on my hair. I've never had really crispy hair before, and it didn't recover no matter how much I moisturised it. I decided that before cutting it off I'd hit it with everything I could to bring it back to life, and after some reading about bleaching I decided that maybe I needed a protein treatment to reconstruct the hair.
I've never been a fan of putting egg, avocado, yoghurt or mayonnaise in my hair, mainly because it creeps me out and feels unhygienic, but also because these protein types supposedly have limited ability to bond to the hair shaft. The best type of protein to use is hydrolysed protein - and gelatin is a perfect example of this (unfortunately it's not vegan, just FYI). You can buy powdered gelatin in a little tin, or in sachets - don't buy flavoured jelly or you will end up very sticky!
"I don't like jelly. I don't trust the way it moves."
Please note: protein makes your hair STRONGER, not softer. Once you treat your hair it can still feel dry and straw-like, so it's good to follow up with a deep moisturising conditioner or mask. I add a few moisturising ingredients to the protein mix because it makes my hair feel better when I use it. All measurements are approximate, it doesn't have to be exact.
What I use:
Basic microwave recipe:
- 1 rounded teaspoon of gelatin
- 1 tablespoon (20ml) of water (lukewarm)
- 1/4 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice (acid helps the protein bond with the hair)
Stir the gelatin into the water to mix it. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir until the gelatin is dissolved (heat again if necessary). Add the vinegar or lemon juice - I use apple cider vinegar. This mix forms the "protein" part of the treatment, everything else is optional and changeable.
I then add:
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon oil - I use coconut oil and olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of conditioner
Warm it a bit more if necessary. I made this and left it in the fridge overnight ("mummy duties" called and "me time" was cancelled). It sets like jelly but melts just fine in the microwave again, 30 seconds on high is plenty.
The treatment should be applied to clean, towel-dried hair.
I washed my hair first with Paul Mitchell Shampoo 3, a deep cleansing clarifying shampoo, to remove the buildup of silicones from all my moisturising and conditioning.
The ends of my hair are the real problem so I just dunked the ends of my hair into the bowl, then smoosh it through evenly. I apply it in the shower, pop a shower cap on and stand under the hot water on and off for about 5 minutes, then rinse it out.
Heat helps the bonding process along, and you can leave it on for longer if you like - I wouldn't leave it on for more than 15 minutes though.
Apparently you can use a hairdryer to really "set" it into your hair, before rinsing it out, but I'm a bit scared to do that! I'm also pretty time-poor with kids and pets and work to attend to, so I'd rather do it for a short period of time, and do it more often. It's cheap, and it's less of an ordeal to just spend an extra 5 minutes in the shower than it would be to get out, blow dry, then get back in and rinse it out.
I followed up after rinsing with Redken Diamond Oil mask, and also a leave-in conditioner (I use Macadamia Oil leave-in conditioner). My hair feels a lot less "stretchy" now - it was almost like elastic before, and a bit of elasticity is good, but my hair was like chewing gum! Now it feels more normal and looks smoother, it also gets less matted and ratty during the day.
I followed it a couple of days later with henna colour - see my next post on Lush Caca Noir henna!