Protein Overload: What It Is & How To Correct It

My hair has definitely been the victim of protein overload when I first started my hair journey. My protein overload resulted in using ORS Mayo as a pre-poo and then also using ApHogee 2 Min Reconstructor during the same day, for weeks. At the time I did not fully understand that ORS Mayo was protein based and by using it alongside ApHogee 2 Minute Reconstructor, I was tipping my hair’s moisture/protein balance.

Why does our hair need protein? 

Our hair is about 70% protein. Protein-based products help strength hair and prevent breakage by reinforcing the hair shaft and weakened areas.

What heads of hair require more protein? 

Relaxed and color treated because chemical services degrade the protein structure of hair. Relaxers break the protein bonds in hair, permanently straightening hair. The amount of protein hair will require depends on the strength of the relaxer, how much the hair is processed,

Not all protein-based products are created equal; some are stronger than others and offer different levels of repair. Even with mild protein-based products, daily or weekly use can tip the moisture/protein balance of our hair. Each head of hair has its own level of protein that it can tolerate without adverse effects. I’ve always read or watched in wonder at women who report using hard protein products (like ApHogee Two Step) every few months because that would just be far too much protein for my hair. The key is to test out different products to determine how strong they are and how they react to your hair.

How to spot protein overload: 

Wet or dry assess a few strands. When either wet or dry, take a strand of hair and gently stretch it. If the strand barely stretches and snaps, more moisture is needed. If while dry, your hair feels brittle, hard, rough, more moisture is needed. Protein overload robs our hair of its elasticity. Because elasticity is what allows us to manipulate our hair without causing breakage because hair is able to stretch, hair that breaks easily when manipulated is a sign of protein overload. Lack of elasticity also leaves hair feeling rough and brittle

How to correct protein overload:

  • Focus your regimen on moisture, moisture, moisture for a few weeks. This will give your hair the chance to balance out its moisture/protein levels.
  • Shampoo with a moisturizing shampoo like: Kenra Moisturizing Shampoo; Creme of Nature Kiwi & Citrus Ultra Moisturizing Shampoo; Silk Dreams Hair Care Whip My Hair, or any other moisturizing shampoo you may have.
  • Deep condition with a moisturizing deep conditioner bi-weekly, if possible, with heat. Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner; Nexxus Humectress or the GVP version; Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Mask; Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose, Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm; KeraPRO Restorative Intense Treatment for Dry to Very Dry Hair, or any others you may have.
  • Co-wash.
  • Use a moisturizing leave-in conditioner. 
  • Moisturize and seal every night, paying close attention to the ends of your hair.

50 Comments

  1. May I ask what you are deep conditioning with? Also was your hair every 5 to 7 days. Stop conditioning daily and deep conditioning every 2 days. What oil are you using. To me it sounds like you have protein overload.

  2. So I have a question.

    I genuinely can’t tell from a strand test whether i need protein or moisture. Sometimes it snaps, sometimes it stretches and then springs back into a weird curl (like when you take a knife edge to a ribbon to curl it). I’m also not sure what would cause too much protein in the hair (just dryness?) so I can’t say for sure if it is happening here or not.

    Here is what my hair has been through since November of last year:

    – 3 lifts, one set of highlights. Olaplex used twice as far as i know. (I went from a 2 to about an 8-9)
    – several dyes, one set before the highlights. All semi-permanent.
    – hair type – extremely thick and medium texture, wavy.

    Describing the state it’s in now:
    – frizzy
    – breakage
    – split ends to hell
    – gets DRIER between washes (I only use shampoo maybe once every week or two and typically condition daily and deep condition every 2 days)
    – when its wet, it feels stiff, like wet straw
    – it feels dry to the touch and yet still somehow greasy

    My care regime:
    – Conditioning daily
    – Deep conditioning every second day (leaving it in for 10-20 minutes)
    – Wash with moisturizing or clarifying shampoo once a week, sometimes less
    – After conditioning, I add leave-in conditioner, hair oil

    Thoughts?

  3. Thank you all , day by day , day by day

  4. Luz I read what GP wrote u & it is so true. When it gets colder I am going 2 buy a human hair wig & do a protective style under it. DO NOT buy synthetic wigs bcuz they contain chemicals. Also I have used the Shea Moisture high porosity protein free moisturizer. It really does hold the moisture in. Stop looking at ur hair in the mirror & look at YOU. By that I mean do whatever u need 2 do w/makeup or just putting on pretty earrings & focus on that. By my hair being so short now, I don’t even look at myself 2 brush or oil it. I promise u this works. Before u know it, ur beautiful hair will b growing back in & the most important thing it will b healthier.

  5. Also what is co wash? Like rinsing again after the deep conditioning ? All this is new for me. Sorry

    1. Co washing is washing your hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. You just take any conditioner of your choice and wash your hair with it as if it were normal shampoo. Natural girls usually tend to go for one that is not so thick in consistency like Alberto Vo5 or suave naturals, and you can use the same one to condition your hair or a thicker one in consistency to help aid in detangling the hair like Aussie Moist or Herbal essences hello hydration (blue bottle)

  6. Hey girls one silly question , you guys already know all the products that I have in my luggage , I never been in this situation before, can someone walk me step by step how to use it. Ex : the vinegar nutrient when I have to apply it etc , I feel like a fool asking for advice, but is my reality . It’s 2:20 pm in India , I know you girls are sleeping , when you got a chance please help, Regards Luz

    1. I didn’t really understand what you meant by thus question.

    2. Luz my understanding of doing vinegar rinse is: Wash hair as usual then rinse. Apply the vinegar rinse throughly thru hair & gently massage thru scalp & hair to remove buildup of products. Let set for a few minutes. Maybe five minutes or less. Then make sure to RINSE OUT THE VINEGAR COMPLETELY. You then need 2 do a deep conditioner to prevent drieness from da rinse. A deep conditioner requires heat. U can use plastic Seran / wrap 2 to wrap hair in if u don’t have a heating cap or hooded dryer. U can determine how long u want 2 do the deep conditioner.I don’t do vinegar rinse every wk. I do it every fourteen (14)days. Hope this helps.

  7. GP I don’t know about those products , sorry that I can’t help in that . After they cut my hair , very short by the way , I still have many areas of brittle hair and still feel like hay. I try the porosity test I think I am low, no matter the product or bagging my hair , when get dry feel and look dry and dull. I have to apply a little bit of olive oil to see some shine in it. These days has being brutal , but I always say tomorrow will be better . I will research those products. Take care and if some product works for you , please, let me know . Same here. ?

  8. For me is difficult to buy products here , remember I am overseas . But through Amazon I am gradually buying products so when I get home , I will be ready to start my journey .✨

  9. What products you are using now if you don’t mind to ask, thank you

  10. Sissy we are going to be fine , I hope lol?

    1. I was thinking of buying the Devacurl hair products I don’t know if you guys have ever heard of it, but again it contains a lot of products that are on the protein side and I’m afraid I will damage my hair again so I’m not sure if I’m going to be purchasing them. You guys should look into porosity to check whether you low or high porosity. Porosity basically means how well your.hair is able to take in and hold on to moisture. I myself have low porosity which means the cuticles of my hair lay flat making it harder for moisture to penetrate and get into my hair strands but it also makes moisture harder to scape ; this makes my hair more sensitive to protein so that is the reason I prefer to use products that contain moisturizing products instead of protein based products. I will really recommend you guys to check your porosity first before buying anymore products because I spend 1000’s of dollars on hair products that ended up being given away because they didn’t work for my hair. Oh I’m just thinking how are they supposed to know their porosity if we are bald headed or have less then a couple of centimeters on their head. Well as soon as you hit a length where you can actually take a hair strand out it doesn’t have to be super long but you needed to be kind of lo so you can do this test. I think that since I also use clippers to cut my hair the porosity and thickness of my hair have been changed a bit. I hope my hair texture doesn’t change and it grows back thicker and of a loses its curl shape. Do both of you hair feel kind of different? More prickly to the touch?

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