Friday, 3 October 2014

Deep Conditioning 101: Maintaining your Moisture - Protein Balance (With a great analogy)

Hey Doves!

Been a minute, and we can just pick up where we left off. Cool?

So I straightened my hair and washed it. I then kept my hair in mini twists for two weeks. I'll post that update later. Also it's been forever since I did a wash day post. I'll do that asap. And..oh yes a hair feature..time to get someone up to show their glam and lush hair. Ok so now that we have our scheduled updates out of the way, it's time to continue on the deep conditioning post I did last time. If you are new, kindly click on the link to read all about it, then head back here. It will make more sense.

So when we left off I explained what deep conditioning is, why we should do it, the types of deep conditioners you should use and how often. I also explained that you can have a balanced deep conditioner, a protein one or a moisturising one.

It is important to alternate the types of deep conditioners you use in order to keep your hair balanced. Protein strengthens and rebuilds your hair whilst moisture provides elasticity, moisture and bounce. So the reason you alternate is to keep a good amount of strength in your hair whilst maintaining the hair's elasticity and moisture levels. This balance creates strong, healthy and less breakage prone hair.

Think of it this way, most people from african countries are familiar with the staple dish of mealie meal porridge. In my language we call it nsima, people also just say nshima. In other countries it is known as sadza, pap, ugali, garri. Now when preparing it you mix the mealie meal with water, then allow it to come to the boil as a thick porridge. Then when the porridge has simmered a bit you start adding the mealie meal to thicken it so that when served, the lumps can easily be manipulated and used to scoop up your relish (beans, meat, veggies, fish or stew). 
Nsima with rape and kapenta (tiny little fish). A  Zambian staple

The key to nsima with a good consistency is to ensure that you do not add too much mealie meal, or too little. Too much mealie meal will make it hard and stiff and you can't even manipulate it ( all beginner cooks make this mistake by adding too much). Too little leaves it too soft and still porridgy ( is that a word?). Think of protein as the mealie meal and moisture as the water. If you have too much water (moisture) your nsima (hair) will remain soft. If you have too much protein (mealie meal) your nsima (hair) will be too hard. So balance is the key.

How do I know when to use a moisturising deep conditioner?

When your hair shows the following symptoms, it's time to whip out the hydrators:
  1. Your hair is dry and crunchy
  2. When you pull a strand of hair, it snaps instantly without having to use much force
  3. There is not much movement or flexibility
  4. Your strands break whenever you comb them
  5. Your hair is hard
How do I know when to use a protein deep conditioner?

You'll know you need to step up the strengthening treatments when:
  1. Your hair is too soft, yet has no strength
  2. When you pull a strand, it stretches and stretches before finally snapping
  3. Breakage whenever you comb it
  4. Your tresses have a "mushy feeling" 
As you can see, breakage is a common symptom for both protein and moisture deprived strands. So you need to assess the breakage together with the other symptoms to judge whether or not you will need protein or moisture.

You may alternate your treatments on a set schedule, however it is best decide on the type of treatment you are going to use based on how your hair feels each week, and the treatment you used during your last wash.

Be wary of protein treatments in that there are 'levels' of protein. These are mild, medium and hard/strong.

Mild protein treatments usually have one or two proteins which offer just enough strength and can be used weekly. A mild protein treatment is usually a balanced deep conditioner. for instance: ORS Replenishing  Conditioner, ORS Nourishing Conditioner, Lustrasilk Cholesterol, Protectiv Mega Growth Deep Strengthening Conditioner ,Creme Of Nature Conditioning Reconstructor, 

Medium protein treatments offer more strengthening  properties and can be  used once every three weeks or so. They may have to be followed up with a moisturising deep conditioning session: ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor, Motions CPR, ORS Hair Mayonnaise ( also hard protein), ORS Deep Treatment Masque, Organics Olive Oil Deep Conditioner, Vitale Hair Mayonnaise,Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Deep Conditioning Protein Pack (also hard protein)

Hard/strong/heavy protein treatments reconstruct and rebuild the hair. They have a lot of protein ingredients thus they always have to be followed up with a moisturising deep conditioning session. They should be used once a month, or once every 4 to 6 weeks: ORS Hair Mayonnaise, Organics Hair Mayonnaise, ApHogee 2 Step Protein Treatment, DIY eggs + olive oil + mayonnaise treatment, Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Deep Conditioning Protein Pack.
*The products I have listed are not extensive, so feel free to try out others and suggest some to me that I may have left out.

*Sometimes I add a tablespoon or so of hair mayonnaise to a strictly moisturising treatment to give me a dose of light protein when I need it.

Remember, everything in moderation. So listen to your hair and use the treatments as your hair feels. Too much protein will leave your hair hard and very prone to breakage, whilst too much moisture will leave it too soft and equally prone to breakage.

How do you maintain your protein and moisture balance?


  1. Nice post and great analogy.

    I try to maintain a balance by using a protein treatment once a month and focusing on moisture the other 3 weeks. I use products that have some protein in it and I also "listen" to my hair. If it feels to soft or too dry, I try to correct it with protein or moisture.

    1. Thanks Uzoma, Looks like you have your balance down to a science!

  2. I'm such a foodie, I got fixated on the picture and on the analogy- in Nigeria we have eba (garri), amala, tuwo etc.
    That really looks good. Would love to try it if I ever visit Zambia.
    Right, the hair part! Great post. I do the egg treatment as dictated by my hair.

    1. Hehehe you should try it. I always see lovey Naija food on these blogs, Im just waiting for the day I can taste and enjoy. Esp the pounded yam.

      Eggs are great!

  3. such a great post, but could u also provide a list of strictly moisturizing conditioners?


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