Specialist "protein" hair treatments?


Love the podcast!

I know you guys have stated that there isn't really any evidence that "protein" conditioners or adding protein to hair really does anything (except for coconut oil, I think).

I've been using two protein products which do seem to make each strand of hair immediately feel stronger (way more than just a conditioner) and and was wondering: is there some special ingredient in the products that could do that? 

Here are the two products and ingredients:

Aphogree 2 Minute Reconstructor Ingredients
Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Behenamidopropylamine Behenatem Stearolkonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Cocodimonium Hydrolyzed Hair Keratin, Hydrolzed Mucopolysac Charides, Sodium Coco Collagen Amino Acids, Wheat Germ Fatty Acids, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Arachidonic Acid, Squalane, Avocado Oil, Acetimide MEA, Panthenol, Wheat Germ Oil, Jojoba Oil, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sulfur, Amodimethicone, Polyquaternium 10, Linoleamidopropyl PG Dimonium, Chloride Phosphate, Tallowtrimonium Chloride, Nonoxynol 10, Cocoyl Sarcosine, Sorbitol, Fragrance, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

Aphogee 2 Step Protein Treatment Ingredients (this is a salon only product that has to be "set" under a hair dryer)
Hydrolyzed Collagen, Water (Aqua, Eau), Citric Acid, Dimethylol Urea, Magnesium Sulfate, Ethylene Urea, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Trimethylsiloxyamodimethicone, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Panthenol, Phytantriol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Fragrance (Parfum), Magnesium Carbonate, Diethylene Glycol, Trideceth-12, C11-15 Pareth-7, C12-16 Pareth-9, DMDM Hydantoin, Linalool



  • Yep, there is something special about this combo. 

    The first product is a fairly standard conditioner. The second contains Dimethylol Urea, a formaldehyde-releasing agent. Formaldehyde can cross link the bonds in hair and providing a strengthening effect. It's not typically used much any more because over-exposure to formaldehyde gas has been linked to cancer. 
  • Wow, thanks for answering. Not interested in cancer so definitely not going to use the second one anymore! Thanks!
  • RandyS, when you say the dimethylol urea releases formaldehyde, which cross-links bonds and provides strengthening effect, do you consider that to provide only a temporarily strengthening effect and to be ultimately damaging to hair? 
    Also, is there no added "strengthening" benefit to hydrolyzed collagen being the #1 ingredient on that list?
    Thank you!
  • That effect can be permanent - or at least long lasting. Collagen does nothing for hair 
  • Isn't there a bit of research on hydrolyzed proteins (incl. collagen) in haircare, at least on their substantivity, adsorption on cuticle level? Substantivity could be useful for damaged, porous hair to temporarily fill in gaps, cracks in the cuticle?

    For example, is something wrong with this overview of studies on this subject: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23160190_Role_of_protein_in_cosmetics (Protein-hair interactions - pp. 50 - 63, pp. 71 - 72)? There are some references to improved combability, tensile strength, etc there, but I can't access some of those sources.
  • You're right: If the proteins are chemically modified to stick to hair they can provide some protective effect. We never bothered using them much in our research because the effect isn't that powerful. There are other ways to improve comb ability, tensile strength, etc that work much better. 
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