Curly Hair: Balancing Moisture & Protein 101

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. 

You might be wondering: does my curly hair need moisture or protein? How do I know if my moisture and protein are balanced for my curly hair? In this blog, I’ll go over why a balance of protein and moisture is important for the overall health of your curly and natural hair, how to tell if you have protein overload or too much moisture in your hair, and how to get protein and moisture just right for your hair! The results are beautiful, bouncy curls!

Moisture Protein Balance for Curly Hair

Curly hair tends to be dry because of the way the hair strands grow out of our heads. The strands curl and bends, rather than falling straight. This makes it more difficult for the natural oils on our scalp to make it all the way down the length of our hair. Keeping our curly hair moisturized is difficult on its own. Because moisture is so important for strong, and healthy curly hair, it’s key to beautiful and bouncy curls. That’s why so many curlies, rightfully so, focus on moisturizing curly hair products!

However, we cannot ignore protein in our hair! 91% of our hair contains protein. It is what gives our hair its structure and strength. Daily stressors like detangling, styling, and environmental stressors can make your hair lose protein, and we make up for that by using the curly hair products that restore that protein loss. Making sure that you include hair products with protein is like giving your hair vitamins to keep it strong and healthy! Otherwise, it may lead to weaker hair and more split ends.

See my favorite moisturizing and strength building curly hair products!

Source: curlsmith.com

Does My Curly Hair Need Moisture or Protein?

Maintaining a balanced protein-moisture routine is essential for keeping curls strong and healthy. Similar to a healthy diet, our curly hair requires some protein and moisture to thrive! Though each person’s hair is unique, bear in mind that striking the right balance depends on factors including hair porosity, your current lifestyle, and current hair care routine. Hair that has higher porosity or is damaged will need more protein-rich hair products. 

Is My Current Routine Balanced?

There is a simple test to help you figure out your curl’s elasticity. It can help you determine if you have protein or moisture overload or just the right balance. Take a strand of dry hair and gently tug to stretch it out:

  • If your hair strand stretches slightly before returning to its normal length without breaking–congrats! Your hair is well balanced.
  • If your hair strand breaks after stretching more than usual and feels dry, stiff, and brittle then you may be experiencing an excess of protein and a lack of moisture.
  • If your hair strand feels weak, limp, and your curl eventually falls apart as it’s bouncing back without breaking then you may be experiencing an excess of moisture and a lack of protein.
moisture protein balance curly hair

How to Restore Protein Moisture Balance

If you’re experiencing protein overload or moisture overload, you should modify your hair care routine. The first step is to reset your curly hair and scalp by removing buildup with a clarifying shampoo. Use a scalp massager to really sud up your scalp and give it some needed TLC! If you have color treated hair, make sure to use a color-safe clarifying shampoo like Olaplex No. 4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo. If you want to go the extra mile, you can incorporate a scalp scrub in your hair routine. Scalp scrubs help remove dead skin, product buildup and excess oil from your scalp and hair. Personally, I like Rizos Curls Detox Scalp Scrub.

To address protein overload, focus on hair products that restore your hair’s moisture. Add more moisturizing products and don’t forget to deep condition regularly to provide more moisture. In addition to restoring luster, moisture also makes hair more elastic and visibly healthy. Remember that your hair still needs protein to keep it strong, but you just need to tone it down a notch. If your hair feels softer and appears healthier after a few weeks, you likely recovered from a protein overload

If you’re dealing with moisture overload, it’s time to incorporate protein-rich products to strengthen your curls. Consider adding more products with protein to your regular routine. Look for products that use “repairing,” “restoring,” “strengthening,” or “rebuilding” in their descriptions. You can also incorporate protein masks or treatments to help you achieve more protein in your hair. 

Here are some additional tips to help you achieve the moisture and protein balance:

  • Switch off weekly deep conditioning treatments: one week a moisturizing deep conditioner and one week a protein-rich deep conditioner. 
  • Or stick to just one deep conditioner that has both strengthening and moisturizing ingredients, like Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask. However, they are usually in less concentrated doses, and you might have to incorporate styling products with protein. 
  • Keep your moisturizing deep conditioner and add a protein pre-poo protein treatment to your routine. Make sure to follow the instructions on how often to use the pre-poo protein treatment. I like using Curlsmith Bond Curl Rehab Salve because it has both bond building technology and proteins to strengthen and help repair my hair. 

Achieving and Maintaining Protein Moisture Harmony

That’s it for now! We’ve discussed the basics of protein moisture balance and why it’s essential for maintaining healthy, vibrant curls. Keep in mind that finding the right balance is crucial to enhancing the beauty of our magnificent curls.

By being aware of your hair’s specific needs, doing the hair elasticity test, and making informed decisions about your hair care routine, you can restore and maintain the ideal protein moisture balance in your hair. Whether you need to boost your protein intake to strengthen your curls or focus on hydrating and moisturizing your strands, finding that balance can help your curls thrive!


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