Monday, February 13, 2012

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.


  1. Thank you for this post Jeni! I'm actually combating protein overload at the moment.  I picked up the Aphogee Keratin and Green Tea leave in and was quite heavy handed in its usage. That combined with Lacio Lacio made my hair dry, crunchy mess. Thankfully, I caught it quickly. You're tips are great. :)

  2. Glad you spotted it early!

  3. I Love This Post! It explains so much, Thanks :)

  4. Thanks for the helpful tips Jen! 
    I've been trying to maintain my moisture/protein balance :) think I've gotten the hang of it.
    It's so wonderful to have great resources like your blog to turn to!

  5. this was a great helpful

  6. This post is very helpful for me today. I have enjoyed reading your blog for the past few months and I love how in tune you are with your hair. I unfortunately have done almost the exact thing that you did when you first started your HHJ. My hair is very thick and APL. It looks totally different now and I'm almost in tears. My ends look like straw and are very wirey. With moisturizing will my hair return to normal? Will I have to cut those ends? I am not sure if you respond to prior posts but I figured I'd give it a try. Thank you!

    1. Hi there, consistently using moisture will help correct protein overload but you'll eventually have to cut your thin ends :( At the end of 2010 I had very thin damaged ends and I had to let them go. They diminished the overall look and strength of my hair. You can slowly trim away your ends if you don't want to do it all at once, but regardless of what timeframe you chose, your hair will thank you!

    2. Thanks sooo much! I guess this was an unfortunate lesson that had to be learned.

  7. I just noticed that I've been using a protein shampoo. I knew that I was using a conditioner with protein but I thought it would create balance. I immediately came here to figure out what to do. Thank you.

  8. My hair is natural and I mostly do my products. I made a moisturizing lotion with coconut and phytokeratin which is made of hydrolyzed protein. I just done cherry lola treatment with bakins soda, yogourt and soy protein. I was wondering why my hair is not moisturized. I guess too much protein. does using water and seal will help?

  9. Hi Jennie..what would be the best match to keep giving my hair protein and moisture? I was thinking about : bi-weekly DC first time using moisturizing treatment and the second time using the method in your article...What do you think?

  10. Hi im recovering from a protein overload it has gotten way better but im getting a relaxer and I heard its good to do a protein treatment before or after a relaxer, but im scared to use protein again I don't want to go back to a protein overload can you please give me advice on what I should do

  11. have this right now found out that my oil, heat protectant and leave in conditioner had protein.. but I noticed that my hair doesn't break excessively but it's clammy... doesn't move...dull looking.. :( :( I really don't know how to keep this balance

  12. I'm kinda confused now because I would have just read some articles and it describe my "symptoms" as moisture overload? any suggestions?


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