Protein overload is the least spoken about hair care issue. Why? Maybe because most of us don’t experience it and if we do, we don’t know it’s protein overload.
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Our hair is mainly protein and due to manipulation, heat, chemicals and stress caused on our cuticles and scalp, the protein bonds get broken leading to changes in the health of our hair.
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If you are constantly using heat, color, you ought to consider using protein treatments often. Protein treatments are essential to repair and strengthen the hair and improve its elasticity making it easy to manipulate the hair without breaking.
How does protein overload happen?
Protein overload happens when there is a moisture-protein imbalance caused by overuse of protein rich products(protein treatments, styling gels.) Maintaining the moisture- protein balance is essential for growth of strong, elastic, soft, shiny hair and key in fighting & minimizing breakage. When the protein levels surpass the natural levels, that’s when you start noticing hair changes because of protein overload.
Moisture based deep conditioners have moisturizing ingredients like aqua, cetearyl/cetyl alcohol, glycerine/glycerol, polyquaternium, stearyl alcohol, stearic acid, lactate etc while protein treatments/ deep conditioners contain hydrolyzed proteins like soy, wheat, milk protein, amino acids, collagen, keratin, animal protein.
Signs that your hair is experiencing protein overload.
- Dry and weak hair that breaks easily because the excess protein prevents moisture from hydrating and penetrating the hair shaft.
- Experiencing more shed hair.
- Hair lacks shine. Well moisturized hair is glossy shiny while with protein overload, you will notice a change in hair color or hair may look dull.
- Hair is stiff & lacks elasticity. You will notice a change in your curl pattern, styles may not look as lush as they used to and you may feel like your hair is misbehaving.
How to fix protein overload.
Pause on using products with protein.
Check the ingredient list of the products you’re using for hydrolyzed proteins (wheat, rice, silk, soy, keratin) and remove them from your hair routine, you don’t want more protein on your hair. By products I mean all products, proteins are not only found in protein treatments but also in moisturizers/ leave ins and styling products.
Invest in protein-free products
Yes, we have protein free products from deep conditioners to moisturizers. All you have to do is pay attention to the ingredients list and product descriptions because some products that are described as repairing and hair strengthening may have protein.
Focus on moisturizing products and techniques. As you know hair with protein overload feels dry and brittle thus easily breaks but moisturized hair is less susceptible to breakage. So, keep your hair moisturized.
Deep condition with a moisturizing deep conditioner after cleansing and moisturize with a leave-in after rinsing off the deep conditioner or rather before styling. Use heat to help penetrate moisture when deep conditioning and you may also consider the baggy moisturizing method.
With moisturizing, don’t go overboard, hygral fatigue/ moisture overload is a thing and maintaining the moisture- protein balance is the ultimate goal.
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Have you experienced protein overload before? How did you fix it?