Do you have a protein overload hair issue?
Your hair needs protein to stay healthy, but you know what they say, too much of anything is bad.
In this post, we’ll explain what protein overload in hair means, the signs, and causes, and how to solve and restore your hair to the perfect protein balance.
- What is Protein Overload in Hair?
- What Causes Protein Overload Hair?
- How do I Know if my Hair has Protein Overload?
- How to Solve Protein Overload Hair Issues
- How to Prevent Protein Overload
- Moisture Overload Hair Issue
- Protein Overload Hair vs Moisture Overload Hair Side-by-Side Comparison
What is Protein Overload in Hair?
Protein overload means there’s too much protein and little moisture in your hair.
Healthy hair has a perfect balance of both protein and moisture — the former makes your hair strong and healthy, while the latter keeps it soft and shiny and prevents breakage.
But when you have protein overload, your hair becomes stiff and easy to break.
What causes it? Let’s see!
What Causes Protein Overload Hair?
There are three common causes of protein overload in hair:
Overuse of Protein Treatments
This has to be the most obvious reason.
Overloading your hair with masks, conditioners, or treatments containing keratin, oat flour, wheat protein, or collagen can upset the protein-moisture balance.
Your hair will get more protein than necessary, and that’s never good.
Lack of Moisture Treatments
When you focus on infusing your hair with protein without caring about moisture, you risk protein overload.
Your hair needs moderate levels of both to stay healthy.
So when your hair care routine includes protein treatments without moisturizing products, you can get protein overload.
Chemical and Heat Styling
Hair is made up of keratin, a type of protein.
When you use chemical hair products – relaxers, dyes, bleaches – or heat styling tools, you break down (or damage) keratin to achieve your desired result.
That makes your hair protein deficient, and it’s fine to use protein treatments to reinfuse your hair.
How do I Know if my Hair has Protein Overload?
Are you unsure whether you’re dealing with protein overload? Look out for these signs:
Protein overload takes away your hair’s elasticity — its ability to stretch when pulled.
So the hair will break when you pull, comb, or style it.
If you’ve noticed your hair has been breaking more than usual, you could have a protein overload.
Low elasticity also makes hair unusually stiff and inflexible.
Look out for other elasticity issues like these too.
Protein overload also means that your hair has little moisture.
So despite your efforts to moisturize, protein-overloaded hair will remain dry.
It will have a parched, straw-like texture, lacking the smoothness associated with well-nourished strands.
Protein overload may increase frizz and make your hair harder to style.
The lack of moisture leads to unruly locks that resist your usual styling efforts.
While split ends are common, they become excessive when you have protein overload.
You can identify split ends by holding out a few hair strands and checking the ends.
Split ends will look frayed, brittle, and different from the rest of the hair strands.
Lack of moisture removes the hair’s shine, making it appear dry and dull — another sign of protein overload.
Loss of Natural Curl Pattern
For those with curly hair, protein overload can disrupt your natural curl pattern.
Your curls may lose definition and bounce, appearing dry and lifeless.
Tangling and Shedding
Because of the dryness and stiffness associated with protein overload, the hair also tangles and sheds easily.
So if you find yourself detangling your hair more often than before, it could be suffering from protein overload.
How to Solve Protein Overload Hair Issues
Now, to the major deal; how do you fix protein overload in hair? These five tips are here to help.
Remove Protein Treatments
If you’re dealing with protein overload, you must cut back on all protein hair products.
So check your products, and remove anything featuring keratin, collagen, or protein.
These products are great if your hair needs protein, not when you have an overload.
Once protein products are out, bring in the next tip.
Use Clarifying Shampoos
As you take out protein hair treatments, bring in clarifying shampoos.
Clarifying shampoos use “stronger” ingredients than the usual shampoo to remove product buildup from your hair.
That means they’ll also strip your hair of any protein buildup.
Use Moisturizing Products
Remember, protein overload is not only too much protein but also too little moisture.
So as you use clarifying shampoos to remove protein buildup, introduce products to moisturize your hair.
Leave-in conditioners, moisturizing deep conditioners, and hair oils should be your new best friends.
Use Essential Oils
Essential oils like lavender and peppermint help to solve protein overload.
They have clarifying effects that can help remove excess protein.
Remember to mix any essential oil with a carrier oil like olive or argan oil.
Maintain a Balanced Diet and Hydration
Your overall well-being also determines your hair’s health.
According to a nutritionist on Refinery29, our body is made up of cells and the healthier we eat, the healthier our hair cell growth.
So maintain a balanced diet with adequate protein intake and stay hydrated. Being generally healthy improves your hair and can help solve protein overload in hair.
Gentle Styling Practices
Minimize heat styling and adopt gentle styling practices.
Avoid excessive brushing, tight hairstyles, or anything that may further stress your already sensitive hair.
Trim your hair regularly to get rid of damaged ends.
This promotes healthier growth and prevents split ends with overloaded protein from traveling up the hair shaft.
Keep these reminders in mind before trimming your hair.
Having protein overload doesn’t mean you cut ties with protein forever.
As your hair begins to recover, reintroduce protein gradually into your routine.
Strike a balance between protein and moisture to maintain optimal hair health.
How to Prevent Protein Overload
Better safe than sorry, yeah?
Every hair is at risk of protein overload. So if you don’t have it yet, it’s best to prevent it by following these tips:
Balance Protein and Moisture
Maintain a balance between protein and moisture in your hair care regimen.
Make sure you have both protein and moisture treatments, and not just one of the two.
Also, regularly assess your hair’s condition and adjust your products accordingly.
Know Your Hair’s Needs
Understand your hair type and its specific needs.
Not all hair requires the same amount of protein, so tailor your routine accordingly.
If your hair benefits from protein treatments, use them moderately.
Reserve protein-rich products for when your hair needs strengthening, and avoid overusing them.
Read Product Labels
It’s possible to overload your hair with protein without even knowing — if you don’t check product labels.
To avoid that, always check a product’s protein content before buying. Choose products based on your hair’s requirements.
Alternate between protein and moisture-based treatments.
This helps prevent an accumulation of either element, ensuring your hair receives a well-rounded care routine.
Deep Condition Regularly
Apart from usual moisturizing products like leave-in conditioners, include regular deep conditioning sessions in your hair routine using products rich in moisture.
This helps keep your hair hydrated and resilient.
Limit Heat and Chemical Exposure
Reduce the frequency of heat styling and chemical treatments.
Both can weaken the natural protein structure of your hair, making it more susceptible to protein overuse and overload.
Schedule regular trims to remove damaged ends and prevent potential protein imbalance.
This encourages healthier hair growth and minimizes the risk of overload.
Moisture Overload Hair Issue
While there’s protein overload, there’s also moisture overload — both are extreme ends in the world of healthy hair.
It happens when you overuse conditioners and moisturizers, you sleep with wet hair often, or you use a conditioner that’s too heavy for your hair.
Here are signs of moisture overload:
- Overly soft but dry hair
- Less hair volume
- Overly high elasticity
- Loss of natural curls
- Limp, weak hair
You can solve moisture overload by:
- Changing your conditioner to a light one
- Pre-pooing with oils like coconut oil
- Introducing your hair to protein treatments moderately
- Drying your hair before going to bed
Protein Overload Hair vs Moisture Overload Hair Side-by-Side Comparison
|Too much protein and little moisture
|Too much moisture and little protein
|Overuse of protein treatment and lack of moisturizing treatments
|Overuse of moisturizing/conditioning products and lack of protein treatment
|Stiff, dry, and non-elastic hair
|Limp, weak, and overly elastic hair
|Pause protein treatments and introduce clarifying shampoos and moisturizing treatments
|Cut back on moisturizing by switching to a lighter conditioner. Introduce protein treatments moderately.
|Maintain protein-moisture balance. Use protein and moisture treatments moderately.
|Maintain protein-moisture balance. Use protein and moisture treatments moderately.
Protein is great for hair, but not when it’s too much.
If you have overloaded your hair with protein, you can solve it by using clarifying shampoos and essential oils and cutting back on protein treatments.
The key to healthy hair is to maintain protein-moisture balance without overloading your hair with either nutrient.