Hair Porosity & protein sensetivity

AmiraAmira Member
Hello everyone, 
I hope u would participate in this discussion. 
Hair used to be classified as dry, normal and oily hair. And we formulate accordingly. Plus, cases like split ends, dandruff, bleached hair and straightening treated hair. 
Now there is Porosity (high, low & medium).
Many routines like  curly routines which need products to be sulfate & silicone free. 
The new thing (which i can't get it), hair classified as high protein & low protein and a * protein sensetive hair*
I formulate hair products (shampoo, conditioner& mask) using hydrolyzed wheat protein (i ahve a good feedbck about the products) ... And some people see this & talk about having high protein hair so, it is not suitable for them. 
many informations & misunderstanding people have through blogs and websites is confusing for me. 
So, anyone can explain to me that thing? 
How to get & where the right informations? 
Thanks in advance 


  • What exactly are you seeking to have explained? 
  • letsalcidoletsalcido Member
    edited June 2020
    I’m not an expert by any means. This sounds to me like something not based on science but rather common talk based on anecdotal experience or marketing.

    There’s been plenty of talks here about the use of proteins and amino acids in cosmetics and whether they “work”. Consensus is that they don’t, specially on rinse-off products. They’ll simply wash away (among other reasons). Chances are what people are experiencing is either a shampoo that is too stripping, or one that is leaving too much residue.

    Here’s a decent article I just found you’ll see it’s mostly sebum that makes the hair shine, smooth and more maleable. Lack thereof makes it brittle, etc. Conditioners (the ingredients) mimic the role of sebum. So you can formulate shampoos that are more stripping for people with oily scalps, and less stripping (and with conditioners) for those with dry hair. Add or remove claim ingredients as you see fit for your marketing story.

    I’m not a hair expert, but this is just coming from a someone with a general chemical/life science background, and using critical thinking when reading online. It would be interesting to see what others say.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited June 2020
    As @letsalcido said, these things are not based on science. Cosmetic formulators do not refer to hair porosity (it's hair damage) and hair protein sensitivity is not a thing. Different hair might react differently to hair protein treatments but I've never seen evidence of it.

    It's a bit like studying the stars.  Astronomers and Astrologers both look at the sky and see the same things. But they have vastly different ways of assessing and explaining what they see. One approach is scientific. And one approach is...not.

    If you want to learn what types of beliefs about hair are being propagated and what they mean, a good place to go is There are lots of discussions and consumer questions answered by a range of people with different experience in the subject.

    It's called hair science but that doesn't mean it's based on science. The discussion board has some misinformed stylists and hair "experts" who seem to have learned all they know from salon brand marketing departments and personal experience. So, there is both good and bad advice there. 

    It's not necessarily a good place to get answers about hair treatments and what works, but for a formulator it is a good place to be informed about myths and dubious advice that consumers are being told. 
  • AmiraAmira Member
    @Perry @letsalcido thank you for your responses
    I understand what you said well and i know it isn't scientific. 
    But dealing with people, what i a suposed to do? 
    Do as a chemist and tell people that there is not such a thing like Porosity, high protein & low protein hair and all that not scientific. 
    Or do as a brand owner using that marketing claims as people believe in that so much. 
    Since this cg (curly girl) methods & routines, and all that blogs, many myths and misunderstanding are there. 

  • AmiraAmira Member
    I was asking about the classifications of hair according to Porosity & what called hair with high protein and hair with low protein. Is it Scientific? 
  • @Amira the science behind high protein and low protein hair: peroxides, bleach etc can definitely denature proteins and I would not be surprised if some were actually lost during certain cosmetic procedures causing hair to be more or less porous. That I believe. 

    What I do not believe is that proteins in a shampoo or conditioner is causing adverse effects (or any effect for that matter) on hair. The reason why information is hard to find and is confusing or contradictory even, is probably due to lacking a solid scientific foundation.

    As a hypothetical example: someone that has done market research may notice that people that claim to have “low protein hair” complain from dryness, breakage, and frizz. Knowing this, you formulate products with slightly more conditioning agents (butters, oils, quats, silicone) to mask their issues and add just enough protein to make a marketing claim. But you know what is actually doing the job is not the protein. 

    As a formulator your job is to understand what the real issue is behind what people observe, then find a way to mask it with the right ingredients. Also go with the flow and trends if you really want to sell your product, give the people what they want (add protein, remove protein etc). 
  • AmiraAmira Member
    @letsalcido i really appreciate your talk. Thank you 
    I agree to all the points u explained 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @Amira - I would not tell consumers, or even stylists, that they are wrong. Directly telling someone they are wrong about something is almost never appreciated or effective.  What I would do is to find out what problems people have that they want addressed. Then formulate to fix those problems. If people believe they have protein sensitive hair, then don't add protein. Or for other people who want protein, you can add it. Protein in hair products doesn't actually do much in my experience. But at least a small part of cosmetic formulating is giving people what they want.  (That's why you see panthenol, which does pretty much nothing in my experience, in so many hair care products).
  • AmiraAmira Member
    @Perry i got your point. 
    Thank you so much for always responding my discussions. Realy grateful for learning from you. 
  • Damaged hair cannot be restored in the full meaning of this word. We can only wait till new healthy hair grow and to make the damaged potion look better by applying special treatments. It's a sad truth that my hairstylist Inland Empire Bridal Hair told me when I visited him to get my bridal hair look healthier.

  • @Amira, thank you for bringing up this topic. I first heard all these weird concepts (several months ago) on the haircare science subreddit that Perry mentioned above. Tried to look it up and couldn’t find any reasonable sources mentioning hair porosity. I also always thought there’s damage or no damage but now it’s getting complicated and people get quite religious about their hair.
  • @ngarayeva001 ;
    First, realy sorry for replying so late. I just saw your comment
    It is popular through beauty bloggers and curly social groups and people believe them. 
    I've never convinced about it and like you, i searched alot and nothing by science for those terms. 
    The main problem for me  is that i started my brand with  hair products and people keep asking those questions about do it contains protein cause my hair is protein sensitive 😄 or high protein hair 
    And whatever i explain and say that there is no such thing,  no one believes me. 

    But for the past months, things change a bit  As dermatologists begin to speak about that and explain more to people  about hair. 

  • KboseKbose Member
    Sorry I'm late to the party... 
    I am a hairstylist... and I have never (until now) heard of protein sensitive hair.
    I can't speak for every stylist, just myself. 

    I believe it is my job (and every stylists' job) to really know their brand of hair care.  It is my job to know what is in the bottles that I sell, what it does, & how it can help.  I have found especially for anyone who receives chemical services that you need more than one type of shampoo & conditioner.  The majority of my clients alternate between 2 shampoos & conditioners within the same brand.  For a client who is blonde due to bleaching services I will recommend a shampoo & conditioner containing some protein for damaged hair & a shampoo conditioner that is hydrating.  They will alternate between the 2 sets: 1 day use one set next wash day use the other. Or alternating using the hydrating set 2x before using the protein set. 

    Yes, the majority of hair care brands out there try to brain wash us stylists into thinking whatever they are selling is the best & isn't full of crap.  I think it is awful. 

    Porosity is something I as a stylist (and I'd say most stylists) use to describe hair damage. Porosity affects chemical services & end results of said chemical services.  Trust me, you can completely destroy the cuticle of hair (once that is done there is no treatment to repair.  that has got to grow out.) You can damage the cuticle enough to where it can't hold moisture.  I dont tell clients "You have level 4 grade hair porosity. You need a shampoo that treats level 4." 

    No. I say "Your hair is severely damaged.  If we proceed to do highlights, you will not have hair on your head.  It will break. We need to do some treatments for a few months to even a year before even considering highlights. " 

    You can use too much protein & dry the hair out. The majority of hair care brands do not have enough protein in their products to cause the hair to dry out. As stated before damaged hair will never be recovered to the full term. But you don't describe the hair as protein high hair.  Until I stumbled upon this post I had never even heard of this.  

    Are people describing their hair as high protein? Are they looking for a high protein shampoo?  Are they describing their hair has various grades of porosity?  If so, why?   Are they describing their hair as high protein to avoid buying a protein hair care product?  It sounds like someone out there is using a system we use in the hair world to market their line.  

    I so wish that cosmetic scientists & hair stylists came together more.  I wish the education that came from hair care brands came from the scientists who made it.  So often we are "educated" with a horse & pony show. "It smells great & is good for fine hair!" That's nice. I dont care though. Why is it good for fine hair?  What ingredients make it better for fine hair than another brand's fine hair shampoos?  Also, getting educated by the people who make products will help us behind the chair shut down whatever nonsense is happening on the internet.  Most of the time the reps for brands are 1) not hair stylists & never have been. 2) Represent more than 50 brands.  The educators of the brands are educated by the brands & only know about ingredients what the brands want them to know. 

    If there was a course online that had education for stylists on ingredients in shampoos & why those ingredients are needed & how they are sourced; same for conditioners & masks; the surfactants; pH of shampoos & conditioners; etc would be great! 

    There are a lot of stylists out there that would love to be educated on the chemistry side of things to help us behind the chair & to set our clients on the right track.  

    If you made it to the end of this long comment, thank you.  I hope I made a little sense.  
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