Your hair is actually made up of protein—about 95% of it, in fact, comprises the protein keratin. “We can’t recreate the exact protein that is in our hair [with topicals], but synthetic and naturally sourced proteins can repair and stand in place like a Band-Aid,” explains NYC-based hairstylist Matt Newman.
Look for buzzwords like keratin, biotin, hydrolyzed quinoa, amino acids, bond-building, or silk protein on your hair masks if you’re interested in rebuilding those broken hair bonds. After all, “A good protein treatment can aid in the repair of severely damaged hair, hair growth, and the penetration and healing of a dry, flaky scalp,” says celebrity hairstylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor.
However, you can overdo it on protein treatments, which makes your hair look dry and brittle (it’s a delicate dance). Here’s how to tell if your hair actually needs protein and how to spot protein overload.