As we begin to enter the colder months, most people find that their hair, even if it’s 100% healthy, starts to become dry and brittle due to the lack of moisture in the air. This usually manifests itself in the form of crispy ends, hair static, flyways, untamable frizz, and weak strands. You guys already know that my hair had been in rehab (I’m happy to confirm it’s 100% back to it’s silky state now, yay) for quite some time, and that I went on a hair treatment shopping spree. This whole hair disaster took place in the dead of winter, and while deep conditioners were a given for replenishing the moisture that my hair had lost, I still felt that I needed a bit of extra help; help that could not be found in most deep conditioners. I’m talking of course about a weekly protein treatment.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, a protein treatment is meant to restore elasticity, volume, shine, and reduce the shedding of dry, damaged, natural, or color-treated hair. Loss of the protein in hair (also referred to as keratin) is furthered by dye jobs and heat styling, so for those who engage in these activities a protein treatment may be highly beneficial as it is meant to strengthen areas of the hair that are weakened by chemicals. This type of treatment works to build your hair shaft back up from the inside because much of the daily hair care you partake in to create a hairstyle chips away at your hair’s cuticle (also known as the outer layer). Even if you chemically treat your hair and it seems healthy enough, a monthly or bi-monthly treatment will keep it in tip-top shape.
If I haven’t said it before, I have a love affair with pretty much all Redken products, particularly their weekly protein treatment: Extreme Strength Builder Plus. If you’ve seen this little gem at Ulta, you’ve probably also seen its cousin, the Extreme Strength Builder. ESBP comes in a tub, pictured above, and ESB comes in a tube. There is a big difference. The ESBP is far more powerful and is much more potent on highly damaged hair, while the normal version is meant mostly for healthy hair that needs a little pick-me-up. I personally think the ESBP is much, much better for a variety of reasons.
I think it’s important to note that this stuff put my hair miles ahead in the healing department in just one use. Ulta was having a B2G1 Redken sale (they do this at least twice a month) so of course in desperation I bought it alongside the matching spray treatment and leave in. I later went straight home and used the ESBP after shampooing. The shampoo wasn’t even one that clarifies, yet my hair drank this stuff up as if nothing else had been on it for ages. That’s how strong and deeply penetrating it is. For the record, during the period in which my hair was a living nightmare my mother let me know at every turn how unhealthy it looked. For the first time in a while, after using this product ONCE, she told me my hair looks healthy!
By the way, this product is not meant to be washed out immediately; it needs time to work wonders. Personally I’ve found that what works best for me is to clarify beforehand (I use Redken’s Hair Cleansing Cream), then get enough of the ESBP to saturate all of my hair, comb it through, and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing. Then, I follow up with one of my various deep conditioners to restore moisture and create balance, as a protein treatment is meant to strengthen hair rather than soften it.
If I were to give anyone who is hesitant to use a protein treatment a final bit of advice, it would be this: a protein treatment can work wonders on the hair, but should only be used twice weekly at the most. You always, ALWAYS need a deep conditioner afterwards, because again, most protein treatments are meant to make hair stronger not softer. I also recommend using a rather strong shampoo so as to remove build-up and allow the product to sink even further than it would if you were using a standard sulphate/paraben free, non-clarifying shampoo. It will work if you don’t, but the results will definitely be enhanced if you do.
For those of you who need an extra kick in this dry season, a protein treatment (and Redken’s for sure) may just become your new best friend!