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Everything You Need To Know About Bond-Building Your Hair

Y’all, I won’t lie — sometimes I will see a Black woman with a texturized TWA (teeny weeny afro), and I will have to talk myself out of pulling out my clippers and going back to the days when I had one. Not only was that look super cute on me (if I do say so myself), but because I have cut my own hair, shoot, most of my adult life, it’s a look that is also really easy to manage. So, why don’t I just do it? Because this journey of learning about my hair via growing it out has been a metaphor for me on so many different levels.


Now, I must admit that the “downside” to knowing how to use shears is I don’t have nearly as many inches as I would’ve if I had more self-control when it comes to turning trims into cuts. However, for the past several months, there has been a different level of progress thanks to 1) taking an iron and biotin supplement); 2) being way gentler with my ends, and 3) adding bond builders to my wash days.

And that last one? When I tell you that it has been a complete game-changer for my hair in just about every single way that I can think of? That’s why I had to pen a piece on it: to help some of y’all out if gaining more inches is a personal goal for you in 2024. Because if one thing has gotten me closer to my own wishes for my hair, bond building, one thousand times over, is it?

Why Bond Builders for Hair Are a Haircare Game-Changer

What Exactly Are Bond Builders, Anyway?

Portrait-of-young-Black-woman-with-dyed-natural-hair-worn-in-big-afro

CoffeeAndMilk/Getty Images

I oftentimes compare hair to silk. The reason why is because, while on one hand, it’s hella strong (it is literally comparable to steel), at the same time, when it’s not provided the things that it needs, it can be extremely fragile, too. On the fragility tip, for instance, because I am borderline anemic and my periods can be a real trip on the blood loss tip during the first couple of days, I used to underestimate the need for an iron supplement.

As far as how iron affects my hair, without it, I can shed more than the standard 50-100 strands a day. Hair follicles? Did you know that there is such a thing as hygral fatigue? It’s when we end up damaging our hair follicles by applying too much moisture to them. And our tresses’ cuticles? Between heat, styling, hair dye, relaxers, and not giving our hair enough hydration, that can lead to breakage, split ends, and other drama that, unfortunately, is oftentimes irreversible — which means we have to cut our hair because there’s not much else that can be done. *le sigh*

And y’all, that last part is where bond building comes in.

Basically, bond builders are hair products that are loaded with structural proteins that help to both repair as well as strengthen the bonds that are within the hair fibers of your hair cuticles. What’s really cool about them is, unlike a lot of the hair products that claim to do stuff like fix split ends (there’s no such thing, for the record), bond builders actually penetrate your hair cuticles in order to restore some of what’s been lost deep within your hair strands.

As a direct result, your hair ends up becoming stronger (even after the first use), so that it’s less brittle, fragile, and prone to breakage.

Although it’s a bit of a complex process, probably the easiest and quickest way to explain how bond builders actually work is they strengthen your hair by “breathing new life” into the three bonds that make up your hair: the ionic, covalent, and hydrogen ones. The healthier those bonds are, the healthier your hair will be. Cool, right?

How To Know if Your Hair Needs Bond Builders

Okay, so you might be curious about who ultimately benefits most from bond-building products. Although honestly, everyone probably could on some level, many hair experts recommend bond builders to individuals who chemically treat their hair (including dyes) and those who use heat on a regular basis. Although I personally don’t fall into either category, the reason why I still apply bond builders on my wash days is because my hair is high porosity.

This means that my cuticles are lifted, which makes it easier for my hair to absorb moisture (good) and also makes it more vulnerable to losing moisture just as quickly, which makes it easier for my hair to get damaged quicker (not good). By applying a bond builder to my locks, my cuticles are smoother, which reduces frizz and makes my hair easier to manage while also keeping moisture in my hair for longer. I’m telling you, if someone wanted me to do a free commercial for bond building, I totally would! Few things have benefitted my hair so extremely as bond builders in a very long time.

Marc-Anthony-bond-builder-treatment-product-shot

Repair Bond + Resculplex Repair & Protect Leave-In Treatment

Marc Anthony

As far as the brand that I use, I’m a fan of Marc Anthony’s line. I started out with his Repair & Protect Leave-In Treatment and have added a couple of other products along the way. When I tell you that my hair IMMEDIATELY feels softer and stronger after spraying it with his conditioner and that it remains that way for days on end? I’m telling you, bond builders have totally changed my life as far as the quality of my hair goes.

Now, because I’m still relatively new to the whole bond building, I can’t offer much insight on other bond-building products. What I do know is bond building is gaining in popularity, so new ones seem to be popping up on a daily basis. So, if you want to read up on some other ones, Real Simple featured a few in an article that they published on bond builders close to around this time last year. You can look into it here.

What To Know About Bond Builders Before Adding It to Your Routine

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Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

If more and more, bond builders are something that you think you’d like to try, just to make sure that I offer up as much information as possible, I want to leave you with three things to keep in mind.

1. There are three main things that bond builders will offer your hair. If you’re still trying to figure out if bond builders are a personal necessity, just remember that it’s great for 1) reducing breakage, 2) retaining moisture, and 3) bringing healing to overprocessed hair. That said, if none of these things is much of a struggle for you, bond-building products are likely to be unnecessary.

2. Not all bond-building products are created equal. When it comes to what I use, I think I was lucky because I know other people who had to go through quite a bit of trial and error before finding a bond builder that was ideal for them. And because some are (way) more expensive than others and/or they can have a sticky residue or odd smell, just be prepared to do some (not the cheapest) experimenting before committing to a particular product.

3. Bond building comes in different forms. There are bond-building shampoos, bond-building conditioners, bond-building masks, and bond-building serums. What I use is a mask and leave-in conditioner because, even when it comes to bond builders, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, especially since they are full of protein (and too much protein can also dry out your hair and lead to breakage). So, as you’re figuring out which route you want to take, try to avoid overkill.

____

There you have it. A roaring endorsement of something that can help you retain length by keeping your hair strong from root to tip. Literally. Keep me posted (via the comments) on how bond building ends up working out for you.

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Featured image by PeopleImages/Getty Images

 

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