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We’ve all had those days when you wake up and realize that your hair feels like straw. Maybe you’ve recently changed hair colors, or you’ve been flat-ironing your hair a lot. In any case, all of the moisture in the world doesn’t seem to help, and you relinquish yourself to a life of frizzy, broken hair.

If that sounds familiar, I have good news for you: there’s one easy-to-find ingredient that will regenerate your hair strands and bring them back to good health. The secret? Protein. All hair strands are made of protein, but they can be made fragile by any number of common processes, like dying, straightening or over-manipulating. It only makes sense that a boost of extra protein would smooth and strengthen your hair. 

However, not all protein is the same. Use these tips to make the most of this vital ingredient.

Skip kitchen DIY recipes

DIY beauty recipes are, normally, a wonderful go-to for the farm girl on a budget. However, DIY protein masks usually use ingredients like eggs or yogurt. These foods do contain protein, but the protein molecules are far too large to actually penetrate your hair. 

Instead, you want to use hydrolyzed protein, which has been broken into smaller particles that are able to easily penetrate the hair shaft.

Look at the first 5 ingredients

The easiest way to incorporate this ingredient into your routine is to look for it in conditioners, shampoos, masks or styling products. A quick scan of the list of ingredients will tell you whether or not your favorite product has protein in it, but browse carefully — if the protein is toward the bottom of the list, that means that it doesn’t contain enough to have a significant effect on your hair. If you want a real boost, look for products that contain protein within the first five ingredients on the list.

Use with caution

Not all protein treatments have the same amount of protein. Some mask treatments, like Aphogee, provide intense restoration while others have more subtle benefits. While it may be tempting to go for the intense option every time, those products can actually harm your hair if you use them too often. Too much protein is just as harmful as too little!

For best results, a treatment like Aphogee should be used only once every few weeks. In between, you can use more gentle protein treatments until you see your hair returning to shiny, healthy, happy locks.

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