Monday, April 28, 2014

Gelatin Protein Treatment Recipe Update

I created my gelatin protein treatment recipe in the summer of 2010 and I've been using it ever since to reduce the frizz in my wavy hair, pull the curls together, add shine and reduce breakage.

But every good recipe can stand some improving. The problem with the old recipe is distribution. It's runny. It can drip or end up all in one place.

When I was writing my posts on deep conditioning, I emphasized the importance of distributing deep conditioners including protein treatments by applying the product to hair in sections and smoothing the treatment over the section, saturating and encasing the hair in the treatment as though you are making paper maché. But I couldn't do that with the gelatin treatment being as liquid as it is.

People who leave the gelatin protein treatment on their hair for a long time face problems with drips.

So here we have it: 
New, Improved, the Thick Gelatin Protein Treatment

Same formula, but you need to make ahead and allow it to cool, so you might as well make extra and freeze it for your next 2 or 3 protein treatments.

  • Unflavored gelatin(e)
  • Water - distilled is ideal
  • Optional: citric acid, ascorbic acid or vinegar to adjust pH
  • Xanthan gum (if you hate xanthan gum, use guar gum but I think xanthan gum gives a better texture and smells less offensive)

This makes about 1 treatment.
-1/4 to 1/2 cup water (60-120 ml)
-1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin powder (0.25 oz, 7.2 grams, 2 1/2 teaspoons) or crumbled gelatine flakes or sheets 
--->Use half the gelatin for a milder treatment
-1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (1/4 tsp with 1/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp. with 1/2 cup water)
-5 drops vinegar (1/16th teaspoon) or a tiny pinch of citric acid or ascorbic acid (enough to fill this typed letter "O").
Note: More acid is NOT better.  Better to leave out the acids than use too much! Too much acid will interfere with the protein's ability to bond with your hair (yes, it does a little of that).

Want to make more? 
Double the recipe, triple or quadruple it and refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. Bonus points: freeze the leftovers in an ice cube tray (silicone ice cube trays work wonderfully).
  1. Mix half the water, the gelatine and xanthan gum well. This will thicken. 
  2. Add remaining water, a small amount at a time and mix. There will be small clumps of xanthan gum remaining.
  3. Heat the gelatin/water/xanthan gum mixture in the microwave until it boils (in short bursts) or in a double boiler on the stove. Stir frequently.
  4. Remove from heat. The mixture will have liquefied somewhat during heating. If it's not thick enough, mix in a little more xanthan gum and re-heat if it does not dissolve completely, then remove from heat and proceed to step 5 or 6.
  5. If you are adding honey, add it now while the mixture is hot.
  6. Allow mixture to cool before adding any additional ingredients. It will thicken as it cools.

The end result is a medium-thick gel that you can smooth over your hair for excellent coverage. It rinses out well. I find that I use much less because there are no drips.

Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. The mixture will become a rubbery solid when chilled. Put it in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds to melt it into a gel again.

Apply to clean (just-washed), damp hair. Squeeze out excess water so there are no areas where the treatment is diluted.

Leave it on how long?
  • 3-5 minutes with heat for a moderately strong protein treatment. 
  • 10-30 minutes (up to 60 minutes) with or without heat for a strong protein treatment.
  • Blow-dry for extra strong protein treatment. Apply the gelatin gel and blow dry your hair on medium to high heat until dry (don't bend it - it will be crunchy and solid). Then rinse and don't touch until your hair is less hard. If your hair is snapping off due to things like swimming or chemical-treatment damage, this method may be perfect for you!

When you're done treating your hair: Rinse, rinse, rinse! Then apply conditioner and go about your usual routine. Some people need an intense or deep conditioner following a protein treatment, even if you did add oils and conditioner to your treatment. If your hair feels rough or stiff or tangly and you rinsed very thoroughly, then you probably need to follow up a protein treatment with a deep conditioner. Or the protein was too strong... or you left it on too long.

  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon honey
  • yogurt (unsweetened, lowfat or full fat)
  • Full-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of conditioner (or more)
  • Neutral Protein Filler (protein additive from Sally's Beauty Supply)
  • coconut milk
  • use herbal tea instead of plain water
  • 2 drops to 2 tablespoons of oil - olive, coconut, avocado, grapeseed, apricot kernel, sweet almond...
  • 1 tablespoon aloe vera juice or gel (not with banana)
  • 1/4 pureed banana (in a blender). Banana baby food works well. If the banana isn't ripe enough or blended well enough, you will have banana chunks in your hair - hence the baby food. Do NOT use vinegar, citric acid or ascorbic acid with banana.
  • 1/16 or 1/8 teaspoon magnesium sulfate 

Some common gelatin protein treatment questions and answers can be found here.