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What Is Protein Overload & Why Is It A Problem?

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Everyone wants healthy hair.

In order to keep our hair healthy, we try to make sure that we use best practices as we style, wash, condition and look after our hair on the whole.

Sometimes we can unknowingly do things to our hair that can cause us a bit of a setback.

Protein overload is one of those things. Honestly, having too much protein in your hair is one of those things that you can do by mistake without having even thought about it.

Today we are going to be looking at exactly what is protein overload, why is a problem and how you can fix it.

Let’s start with exactly what protein is.


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A black woman who discovered she has protein overload


What Is Protein?

Most of us will associate the word protein with food and eating. That’s correct but protein is actually a huge part of your body right down to your hair.

Did you know that your hair is made up of keratin protein? Keratin protein is what makes up the shaft, follicles and root of your hair so it’s pretty important.

It might sound as though by adding more protein you will actually be strengthening your hair even more but that’s not the case.

As they say, too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.

Protein overload is just that.


What Is Protein Overload?

Protein overload is when you have an excess of protein in your hair and not enough moisture too.

In order for your hair to be at optimal health, it needs protein and moisture in order to balance.

Having too much protein in your hair unbalances that and begins to cause more harm than good.


What Happens When You Have Too Much Protein?

There are a few telltale signs of protein overload that you will begin to notice right away.


1. Your Hair Feels Stiff And Straw Like

You may experience stiffness in your hair that you don’t usually have. This is because the protein has built up on your hair strands making it feel harder.

If you put your finger through your hair and it feels very coarse it’s likely to be protein overload.


2. It Becomes Difficult To Manage And Style

Another symptom of having too much protein is the fact that your hair will become very difficult to manage.

No matter how you try to style it, it just won’t sit right. This is because the protein has actually created a film over your hair strands making it less elastic.


3. Hair Breakage

This is the symptom that we all hope to never have. Hair breakage.

When your hair has an excess of protein it makes it a lot more prone to breaking because the protein creates a rigid shaft which is not easy to manipulate therefore it breaks.


4. Prone To Tangles

Along with dry brittle hair comes tangles. Unfortunately, dry hair and tangles go hand in hand together.

The more tangles that your hair has the more chance of hair breakage that you will have.

There will no longer be flexibility in the strand so it will snap and break.


How To Fix Too Much Protein

Thankfully protein overload is something that is fairly easy to fix. Let’s take a look at some of the things we can do to correct it.                   


1. Try A Clarifying Shampoo

Clarifying your hair is one of the first things you should do. Clarifying your hair will completely remove all the buildup on your hair shaft including the protein.

You can purchase a clarifying shampoo or you can do an apple cider vinegar rinse by mixing apple cider vinegar with water and spraying it onto your hair.

If you can’t be bothered with messing around with mixing then a store-bought clarifying shampoo will do the trick.

Regular shampoo will not work as well so make sure the shampoo you get is a clarifying one.


As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo


2. Identify Products With Protein

Take a look at all the hair products that you already have in your home. Make sure you know exactly which ones contain protein and which ones don’t.

The last thing you want to happen is to unknowingly add more protein back into your hair after having clarified it and rectified the problem.

Products with protein will have ingredients such as keratin, cystine, and collagen.


3. Use A Moisturising Deep Conditioner

Deep conditions are great at really penetrating the hair shaft and giving your hair the moisture that it needs.

Remember we already spoke about having a good balance of protein and moisture?

While you will still need to have some level of protein in your hair you need to balance it with moisture too.

Doing this will help to give your hair the elasticity which was lost back again.

Be sure that when choosing your moisturising conditioner that it doesn’t contain protein as well. Some deep conditioners do.

I can suggest a good deep conditioner like this one.


TGIN Deep conditioning has mask


4. Avoid Protein Treatments

It goes without saying really. Make sure you stay well away from protein treatments until your hair has been fully restored.

Once your hair has been corrected feel free to do the occasional protein treatment alongside moisturising too so you don’t unbalance your hair again.

There is such a thing as moisture overload too!


High Porosity Hair And Protein

There are a few other things you need to consider when it comes to protein overload.

Your hair porosity is one of them.

If you have high porosity hair and you, unfortunately, end up with protein overload then you need to put some things into place to fix the problem.

With high porosity hair, the hair shaft is too widely open. This means that your hair will be able to absorb the moisture but not necessarily hold onto it.

If you are trying to rebalance your hair then you need to make sure that you close the cuticles as much as possible when adding moisture.

You can do this by using making sure that your hair is properly sealed after moisturising.


Low Porosity And Protein

If you have low porosity hair on the other hand. When you experience protein overload it’s a little different.

Low porosity hair is moisture resistant but protein will sit on the strands.

This makes trying to rebalance your hair with moisture a little more tricky.

To help you I would suggest deep conditioning your hair with a deep conditioning cap in order to allow the hair shaft to open up and moisture to penetrate.


How Long Does It Take To Correct?

Correcting protein overload shouldn’t take too long to correct especially once you have realised how you got to the point of overload.

You should begin to see a difference in your hair after a few weeks of implementing the strategies above.


Final Thoughts On Protein Overload

Protein overload is a very real thing that can quickly damage your hair if you don’t notice and treat it quickly enough.

The good thing about it is that is fairly easy to correct once you know how!

Have you ever experienced protein overload before?


Related Posts:

How to effectively deep condition your hair

10 Best deep conditioners for 4c hair

Why protein, moisture, balance is necessary



Protein overload in hair