Protein makes perfect

With lifestyles changing and hair colouring being more popular than ever before, your hair could benefit from adding a regular salon protein treatment to your hair care routine.

"It depends on what you expect from a treatment," says stylist Schai from Schai Coiffeur. "Nowadays nearly everyone has a colour, perm or some kind of chemical treatment. Plus there’s pollution, and even if you go swimming, your hair’s natural condition changes."

Panipa Pavanarit, president of the Hairdressers’ Club of Thailand and manager of Panipa Hair and Beauty, explains that a protein treatment will bring the hair back to its natural condition. "The difference between a normal conditioner and a treatment is that the conditioner stays on the outer layer of the hair, making it shiny, soft and easy to comb. Protein, on the other hand, actually penetrates right into the hair shaft."

The protein gets right into your hair

Each strand of human hair features seven to twelve layers of cuticle scales, which protect the inner structure of the hair. In healthy hair, these scales stay flat and give the hair its sheen. However, if you have your hair chemically treated, swim in chlorine or salt water, expose your hair to the sun, or use heating products, the hair will be damaged and the scales will break or fan out. This results in weak, dry hair that loses its lustre.

Hair is basically protein. When proteins such as collagen, keratin or silk are "hydrolysed" or chemically broken down, they can be applied to the hair and will actually fill in the gaps in the scales.

"There are so many good treatments around," says Panipa. "Each brand develops its own combination of ingredients or proteins. Speak to your stylist – we work with the products all day long, year by year, so we know which brands are effective on different types of hair."

But not everyone will benefit to the same degree by using a treatment. "If you have ‘virgin’ hair, and you use a good shampoo and conditioner, you might not need a treatment. But they have to be good!" warns Schai.

"The effect is not the same if you apply it to hair that doesn’t need it," agrees Salon de Bangkok’s branch manager Aek Vibulsiriwongse. "It is also possible to apply treatments too frequently."

So how often is appropriate?

Most stylists agree that the average person, whose hair is simply stressed from Bangkok’s humidity, pollution and the sun, can benefit from treatments at least once or twice a month. But if your hair is severely damaged, once a week can be optimal. "After a month of weekly treatments, the condition of your hair should be better, so you could then drop back to once every two weeks, and once it’s back to normal condition, once a month," says Schai.

In the salon, the treatment will be applied to your hair before it’s trimmed. After a shampoo featuring a head massage to help stimulate the hair follicles, the head will be wrapped in a special plastic and then placed under a steamer for around ten to fifteen minutes to help the protein penetrate into the hair shaft.

If you can’t make it to a salon, there are still take home treatments, but they’re not as concentrated as those used in salons. "Apply the protein to towel-dried hair, leaving it on for up to twenty minutes underneath a shower cap," suggests Panipa.

But there’s no point getting a treatment if you’re not going to back it up the rest of the time. "Use a good shampoo and conditioner from a salon," says Schai. "It won’t wash away the nutrition the treatment gives. And choose from the same brand – the ingredients will support each other."