Woman laying down with confetti all over her hair

If you’ve dyed or permed your hair just a little too much, you’ll know the signs of damaged hair. Your hair absorbs water more, meaning it has a weird, noodle-like texture when wet. It probably takes forever to air dry, and when it does dry, your hair looks and feels like straw. Damaged hair may also absorb color well in some places but not others, or the color bleeds out super fast. That’s when you’ll need protein filler.

How Does it Work?

Hair care products (shampoo, conditioner, protein filler) sitting on a table and a man brushing a woman's hair at a salon

Perms and color treatments break down the protein bonds in your hair making the hair shaft more porous and weak. So protein filler fills those gaps in the hair with protein bonds to strengthen and repair damage. Hair then looks far smoother and healthier. Protein filler will also make the hair shaft stronger to help prevent additional damage in the future.

Different Types of Protein Filler

If you feel your hair could really use some TLC after chemical treatments, there are several types of protein fillers to look into.

Woman sitting in a chair getting her hair washed at a salon

Conditioning: This is your basic type of protein filler. It’s used before and/or after you apply color. It contains no color and can be combined with hair dye or simply added to a spray bottle and applied on your hair. You can also use it to spot treat the part of your hair that have the most damage and split ends. Two popular products are Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Protein Power Treatment and L’Oreal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Protein Recharge Leave-In Conditioner Treatment and Heat Protectant.

Spray bottle protein filler next to hair shaped in a heart

Spray: Newer to the market are protein fillers in spray form that act almost like a leave-in conditioner. Many people just spray these in after they wash their hair. One of the most popular types out there is Redken’s Extreme Anti-Snap Anti-Breakage Leave-In Treatment.

Bonding: As the name suggests, these products work like a conditioning filler, but specifically build broken bonds and repair damaged hair. These products differ from conditional fillers because you must rinse them out after the designated time. With over 75,000 reviews and an average of 4.6/5 stars, a popular type of bonding filler is the Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment.

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