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Moisture or Protein — What Does Your Dry Hair Need?

During a salon visit in my old stomping grounds of Chicago, I asked my former hairdresser to recommend a weekly conditioner — one that would restore, revitalize, and deep-condition my dry "winter hair" all at once. "Great," she said. "Let's give your hair an elasticity test to see if you need more moisture or protein." I was game, but what did it all mean?

To determine what your hair is lacking, gently pull out a few pieces of wet hair from various parts of your head. Holding each hair separately between both thumbs, lightly pull. How does your hair react? Is it gummy, does it snap or appear brittle, or does it return back to its original state?

  • If it's gummy: Repair damage with protein-based conditioner. Try Frédéric Fekkai Protein Rx Reparative Conditioner ($23 to $38), which helps to mend hair, all while adding hydration.
  • If it snaps or appears brittle: Put moisture back in with a deep conditioning treatment. Try Jonathan Hydrating Mask ($26).
  • If it returns back to its original state: Congratulations. You've got some healthy hair on that noggin. Use shampoos and conditioners for your hair type (curly, limp, colored, etc.) to maintain.


Join The Conversation
OldSchooler OldSchooler 8 years
My hair doesn't seem to return to its original shape after a few tugs :(. I was using Kpak reconstructor by Joico, which claims to redeposit protein back into the hair, but haven't in.. oops.. probably a few months because I'm busy, lazy, and read that too much protein will dry out your hair. I think I should start using it again, followed by a deep conditioner since Winter is upon us Canadians. Thanks for the tip!
swati05 swati05 8 years
good tip
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that i need more protein in my hair, but that's something that i could have figured out on my own since i don't seem to get enough protein in my diet being a vegetarian.
Ladytron7000 Ladytron7000 8 years
Wow, what a great topic. I have actually been wondering which kind of conditioning treatment would be better. I stripped the color from my hair,which left it gummy (it stretches and doesn't bounce back) so I've been using a keratin shampoo conditioner combo from my local natural-leaning drug store, and my hairstylist gave me a Paul Mitchell repair treatment. I think I'm going to strip one more time soon because it's still kind of red. Clairol one-n-only stripper or whatever is a miracle.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
My hair is so dry, curly, and fine and on top of that I perm it. Thanks Bella, I can use all the moisturizer help I can get. I'm just so happy that with this new perm I use Dr. Miracle that I don't have to straighten it. I can save my hair the heat damage.
pharm_chick pharm_chick 8 years
*when my hair.. sorry typo
pharm_chick pharm_chick 8 years
this might sound weird but its worked for me better than any shampoo.. whn my sair feels really dry ill put 2 egg whites with some lemon juice (to get rid of the smell and add some light highlights) one week and the next week ill wash my hair and while its wet ill put a little bit of olive oil at the roots. olive oil doesnt really smell, and its hardly noticable after your hair ries but its soo comforting to my scalp and really moisturizes well
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 8 years
I know all about this b/c i'm a member of Long Hair Care Forum which is a black hair care site.... LHCF has a million of resources discussing this.
nancita nancita 8 years
Fun tip! I can't wait to try it.
dtho dtho 8 years
My hair is so dry right now with the winter weather! I need some help...
4blankwalls 4blankwalls 8 years
I have absolutely no idea what "gummy" feels like. I just dab a little bit of my regular conditioner on my hands and smooth it through my hair. It's a life saver during winter.
fleurdelispink fleurdelispink 8 years
Yeah, the ends can be dry sometimes, too.
emalove emalove 8 years
My hair is only dry at the ends, so I use a little Herbal Essences Long-term Relationship leave-in conditioner to protect and nourish them.
bacon1 bacon1 8 years
Good to know. Will definitely try the next time I shower.
OHmeetsBK OHmeetsBK 8 years
Thank you, Bella!
Beauty Beauty 8 years
Exactly — you'll know it if you see/feel it! Plus, if your hair does this, it is probably very over processed.
OHmeetsBK OHmeetsBK 8 years
What do you mean by 'gummy'? Is this just something I'll know if I feel it?
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