Protein Overload in Hair: Balancing Moisture and Protein in Hair

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protein overload in hair

With proteins, having too much in the hair is problematic, it leads to a condition known as Protein overload.

Similarly, it’s possible to have a moisture overload. The goal should always be to balance moisture and protein in your hair.

Protein overload in hair

A protein overload is a condition where the hair is weighed down with too much protein.

Hair that has protein overload becomes hard and stiff. It also tends to feel dry and hard like straw as moisture has a harder time penetrating the hair strands.

Having a protein overload results from using products with too much proteins in your hair.

A good example (and a common mistake) made by people with low porosity hair is using too much rice water.

Rice water in itself is a protein treatment. Read this article to find out how to use rice water on low porosity hair to avoid protein overload.

Signs of a protein overload

  • Hair is drier than usual
  • Hair easily snaps off when you do the hair strand test
  • Heavy shedding, tangles, and breakage
  • Hair is dry, lifeless, and brittle
  • Hair feels stiff and hard like straw

How to fix a protein overload

Fixing a protein overload is much harder than fixing a moisture overload as the hair needs super hydration. However, there are a few known ways to fix it.

1. Pause protein products

As hard as it may seem, you have to stop the protein treatments and get rid of any products that contain protein ingredients as using this will continue to damage your hair.

You may not have to toss them all away but you need to avoid them for a while until your hair achieves the right balance.

Your main focus now should be on moisturizing products that contain moisturizing ingredients.

To identify products with protein ingredients, look out for the following product labels.

  • Keratin
  • Hydrolyzed collagen
  • Wheat protein
  • Quinoa protein
  • Rice protein
  • Soy protein
  • Silk protein
  • Amino acids
  • Yoghurt
  • Biotin
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein

2. Clarify Your Hair

Find a good clarifying or deep cleansing shampoo that will help in getting rid of excess protein from your hair.

While it is not advisable to use it all the time, a clarifying shampoo will be useful in the initial stages of dealing with a protein overload.

3. Deep Condition

A deep conditioning treatment will help in nourishing your hair, adding moisture, strengthening your hair, and restoring it to its healthy state.

During the process, ensure that you use heat by use of a shower cap to ensure that the products penetrate the hair strands.

4. Use the LCO Method

A protein overload requires you to get more moisture into your strands. If you are having a protein overload you may want to use the LCO method and NOT the LOC method.

The LCO method involves the use of a leave-in conditioner first after you’ve cleansed your hair. This process is then followed by the application of styling cream or butter and lastly the use of oil.

5. Wear Low Manipulative Styles

With a protein overload, hair tends to become very fragile and prone to breakage. As you work on resolving the problem it is important to wear low manipulation hairstyles.

What is Moisture Overload?

A moisture overload is a condition where your hair has an excess of moisture.

A moisture overload happens when there’s an imbalance between protein levels and moisture levels in your hair.

Hair is made of protein and moisture.  Human hair contains up to 80-90% Keratin protein. Protein and moisture are both important components that make hair healthy.

However, there needs to be a balance.

It is the balance between them that determines the elasticity of your hair.

Signs of a Moisture Overload

Over hydrated hair is likely to lose its strong protein structure and has the following signs:

  1. Weak and too soft
  2. Limp or without volume
  3. Stretchy
  4. Lifeless
  5. Dry and fluffy
  6. Mushy and greasy
  7. Elastic and stretchy

Additionally, hair with a moisture overload does not hold a style for long and will not curl well.

The causes of a moisture overload include:

  • Over washing
  • Leaving hair wet for long hours
  • Over conditioning or deep conditioning
  • Failure to incorporate protein products in hair care.

How to Fix Moisture Overload

Once you discover that you have a moisture overload, it is important to rectify the problem as early as possible.

Failure to correct the problem may lead your hair to experience hygral fatigue. This is a condition where excess moisture leads to swelling and contraction of hair cuticles regularly.

As the hair stretches beyond its capacity, hair becomes weak and prone to breakage.

This condition is more likely to affect people with high porosity hair as it easily absorbs moisture.

1. Clarify the hair

Clarifying your hair involves getting a deep cleanse of your hair to get rid of any product build-up, oil residues, or impurities in your hair.

The process also helps to remove excess water from your cuticles.

2. Use Protein Products

Switching to protein products can help restore your hair back to its glory.

Using protein products helps restore the core structure of your hair and is one of the best ways to get rid of excess moisture.

3. Use Oils

Oils are commonly known as a way to seal in hair moisture. They can however be used to reverse a moisture overload, by protecting your hair against excess moisture.

Some oils can penetrate the hair and reduce the amount of water absorbed in the hair, leading to less swelling of hair strands. [1]

This results in lower hygral fatigue (repeated swelling and drying) a condition that damages hair.

The most effective way to use oils to reverse a moisture overload is by applying the oils after a wash.

Ensure that you squeeze off excess moisture after a wash before applying the oil to your hair.

Bottom line

No matter your hair type keeping it healthy and shiny takes effort and patience. The key to having healthy hair is in understanding it, and knowing well how to deal with problems such as protein overload.

To achieve happy hair, there is a need to strike a balance between protein and moisture.

You can naturally prevent a moisture or protein overload by paying close attention to your hair, monitoring the effect of the hair products that you use, and keeping an eye on the protein, moisture balance of your hair.

BTW, did you know hair porosity plays a key role in hair growth? Take this simple hair porosity test to determine if your hair is HIGH, LOW or NORMAL porosity.

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