A Case for using Reconstructors for Natural, Permed and Chemically Treated Hair: Technically Speaking
What are Reconstructors
Reconstructors are conditioners formulated with a high concentration of protein and are specifically designed to treat acutely damaged hair resulting from natural hair styles and permed and/or chemically treated hair.
What are Proteins?
Basically speaking, proteins are polymers that are composed of individual amino acids that bond together to form large and sometimes complex chains of molecules. The bonds that connect amino acids are called peptide bonds. We need these proteins because they give our hair structure. In fact, healthy hair is composed of approximately 88% keratin protein, 3% lipids (essential fatty acids) and 9% water. Not all proteins are the same size and therefore, they have to be modified so that they can effectively correct damaged hair. They are either to big or too small, which does very little for your hair. Think Golidlocks and the Three Bears-you need a protein that is just the right sized molecule for your hair to maximize results. Okay, perhaps I’m digressing a little, but you see where I am going with this.
The Goldilocks Syndrome- The protein size has to be just right!
A. This one is too big
When proteins are too large to penetrate the hair cuticle, they mostly coat the hair shaft and are washed away when you shampoo. So, if you are using coconut milk or egg yolks in your hair regimen, the results will be marginal at best because of the size of the protein. These natural protein products provide a good source of trace minerals, vitamins and essential fatty acids for the hair. However, the proteins that they contain go largely under used during the application because they are too large to penetrate the hair cuticle.
B. This one is too small
In order to make a protein small enough to penetrate the hair cuticle it must be hydrolized. The process of converting proteins back to the individual amino acids is called hydrolysis. The process involves cleaving (breaking) the peptide bond to form the amino acid and water. The amino acids are very small and easily penetrate and exit the hair cuticle. So the problem with using amino acids to repair hair is that the amino acid has an incredible affinity for water. The amino acid would rather be in water than attached/bonded to the cortex of hair. So like large proteins, amino acids will be washed or shampooed from the hair without any real benefit. The liquid amino acid products on the market currently sold in most health stores only provide marginal performance. In addition, some amino acid products on the market are not amino acids at all- they are protein concentrates. Like regular protein, protein concentrates are too big to penetrate the hair cuticle so your hair does not benefit from their use as I stated above.
C. This one is just right
This is where scientists get really smart about how to better use natural products. Instead of doing a complete hydrolysis of a protein, they do a partial hydrolysis. The result is a mini segment of protein also known as a polypeptide. They typically have molecular weights in the range of 500 – 10,000 Daltons. In contrast, a simple protein can have a molecular weight of 50,000 – 100,000 Daltons. The point I want to make here is that hydrolyzed proteins (polypeptides) are able to penetrate the cuticle and form a temporary bond at the cortex. This is what the repair of hair is all about. Reconstructors, which are made of mostly protein-based ingredients, form a patch to cover the damaged area on the hair shaft to protect the cortex.
To Heat or not to Heat?
Some reconstructors require heat in order to work. What they are really doing is opening the cuticle of a damaged hair in order to allow easier access to the cortex. REALLY? Quite simply put, that’s oxymoronic. If lifting the hair cuticle causes hair damage, then heating the hair to apply a reconstructor would cause even more damage.
Look for a reconstructor that is gentle and does not require heat. The CUSH Hair Repair Damage Control and the CUSH Extreme Protein Reconstructor are very gentle and take advantage of the negative charge of the exposed cortex. Our protein system has a positive charge, which gives it a chemical affinity for the damaged areas of your hair. In other words, it actively seeks the damaged areas of your hair to bond to it without the use of heat. We’ve also specifically formulated the both, CUSH Hair Repair Damage Control and the CUSH Extreme Protein Reconstructor with wheat protein to address mechanical, thermal and chemical stress. Most products on the market currently formulate with keratin protein, which only addresses damaged hair resulting from chemical stress associated with the relaxed hair. Below, you will see my suggested protocol for using a reconstructor.
Protocol for the use of Reconstructors Based on Hair Styling Practices
Relaxed Hair or Color Treated Hair
In the case of color treated hair or relaxed hair, I like to think of this as acute trauma to the hair system. I recommend using a reconstructor just before or directly after the relaxer or color treated process. CUSH Hair Repair Pre-Salon Keratin Treatment is a superb treatment formulated to counteract any damage that chemical applications may cause.
Natural Hair Styling (Braiding, Twisting, Locs)
I like to think of this as gradual and incremental damage to hair system. I recommend using a reconstructor every 6-8 weeks if your hair is healthy for preventative maintenance to ensure your hair stays healthy. And if your hair is damaged, I suggest more frequent use. The CUSH Extreme Protein Reconstructor is great to use when actually doing these types of hairstyles.
Excessive use of heat to style the hair system can very quickly lead to hair breakage. I recommend using a reconstructor twice per month.
Use the minimal heat to achieve the styling effect. Just because the flat irons have a maximum setting, does not mean you have to max out the temperature. Less/Lower heat is better.
Please note that once the hair has been damage the results are permanent. Thus, applying a reconstructor to your hair will only stop the damage and allow the hair to continue growing until a desired length is reached. However, you will have to cut the damaged area to start your journey towards healthy hair. There is no product on the market that will reverse the effects of hair damage. Reconstructors merely make it more difficult for the damage to continue and/or progress to hair breakage.
Tip of the Day: Make sure the repair product label has Hydrolyzed Proteins on it. Some of the common proteins used are Keratin, Wheat, Soy, Silk, Collagen and Milk.