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Protein Vs. Moisture

This article reveals why protein and moisture are so important to achieving healthy hair. And how to conduct a quick and easy test to determine whether your hair needs more protein or moisture.


Around 90% of your hair strands are made up of fibrous proteins, such as keratin. These proteins give your hair its elasticity, strength, shape and wavy structure. Without proteins in your hair, it will likely become weak and lack definition. Simply eating protein rich foods adds protein to your hair; you can also use protein hair treatments to reinforce levels.

It’s also possible though to have too much protein for your hair, and this is known as a protein overload. It usually coincides with too little moisture and can cause your hair to feel stiff, brittle and prone to breakages.

protein test

An optimum protein-moisture balance is the key to incredible hair.

A simple test you can do to determine if your hair needs more moisture or protein is by stretching a strand of wet hair. 

Balanced Hair: If a strand of wet hair stretches slightly and then returns to its original length without breaking, it indicates a good balance of protein and moisture. This is the ideal state, as it suggests your hair is strong and resilient.

Protein Deficient Hair: If the hair strand keeps stretching without breaking, and feels limp, stringy, and not bouncy, it suggests a lack of protein. Protein is crucial for hair strength and structure, so when it's lacking, hair can become overly elastic and weak.

Moisture Deficient Hair: If the strand barely stretches before breaking and feels dry, brittle, and straw-like, this points to a lack of moisture. Moisture is essential for hair elasticity and flexibility, and its absence can make hair rigid and prone to breakage.

You may notice some strands snap immediately and others don't. This is because the top of your hair can get more environmentally damaged than the under layers. 

Scroll to discover what products to use for each scenario...

picture of girls with wavy hair

what products to use if i need protein/moisture

Balanced hair: use entire Merwave range (numbers 1-5)

Protein deficient: use numbers 1-5. Experiment using more Feed Treatment (number 3) for extra protein hit

Moisture deficient: skip number 3 (Feed Treatment). You don't need more protein right now. Use more Repair Conditioner and apply Deep Conditioning Mask once or twice per week to re-hydrate your hair. This doesn't mean you should never use #3, just not right now. 

Worth noting wavy hair is normally moisture deficient. So don't be alarmed if your hair currently feels dry and brittle. 


A good rule to stick by for wavy hair is to make sure your waves get twice as many moisturising products as protein, but this does of course depend on your wave type.

If you think your hair has too much protein, start by using a clarifying treatment. This removes any build up of products from your hair. Like hitting the reset button so you have a fresh canvas to work off. 

If you're following Merwave, you should also remove Step 3 (Feed Treatment) from your routine for a few washes. This product is a protein treatment, something you don't need right now. 

Instead use a deep conditioning treatment, such as a deep conditioning hair mask, which will nourish, hydrate and strengthen your hair.

Finally, let your hair dry naturally or use a microfibre hair wrap to speed up the process. I never recommend using heat styling products as this will draw out that much-needed moisture you have just treated your hair with.


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