Proteins and hair. (why too much is not good!)
Updated: Dec 16, 2018
Proteins are essential in maintaining healthy hair. Hair is made of protein, if you’ve ever colour-treated your hair, your hairdresser might have suggested you to use a protein treatment to help to repair damaged strands by filling in the gaps on porous hair.
Let’s see how proteins can affect your hair and determine the symptoms of PROTEIN OVERLOAD, and how to reverse it.
Protein is crucial for colour-treated hair and in fighting damages caused by friction and UV. Without protein, your hair would become weak, prone to breakage, and difficult to style. Manufacturers include protein in their products to ensure protein replacement for the amount lost through everyday handling. Proteins attract water molecules and readily bond with them. Proteins helps to draw in moisture through the hair, and some penetrates the shaft to fix weak areas.
However, some people have so-called a protein sensitive hair -hair that is too sensitive to the effects of protein.
When exposed to protein the protein sensitive hair becomes stiff and hard.
If you have used products with protein before without any problems. Then, you might not have protein sensitive hair; your hair, probably, just overloaded with protein. Anyone can overload their hair with protein, but only some people have protein sensitive hair that reacts badly to any amount of protein. The outcome of either one is the same- stiff, hard, crunchy hair.
Try this: remove all products with protein out of your regimen and heavily moisturize your hair for a couple weeks to get rid of the protein overload. Then, try a protein treatment again.
If your hair feels good, you just overloaded your hair with protein last time.
Protein overload happens when you add too much protein to the hair. Several types of protein make up a hair strand, but the major protein that makes up the hair is Keratin.
Keratin gives hair its structure and strength for health. However, it is not the only key ingredient required for hair.
Healthy hair needs water. Moisture and protein must exist in balance for optimal health.
Too much of either will compromise the integrity of the hair.
Protein overload is when the moisture/protein balance in your hair has pretty much come unbalanced. With too much protein in your hair, your hair feels coated/dry and brittle. It is also more susceptible to shedding and breakage.
IDENTIFYING PROTEIN OVERLOAD:
First, you will need to pay close attention to how your hair behaves. If you are noticing, your hair is dryer than usual, your texture has changed/altered drastically, you having breakage and excessive shedding all without changing your regimen then something is up.
There are a few specific things you need to check to identify whether you have protein overload, or just dry hair due to a lack of proper moisturisation.
1. Unusually dry/lifeless and brittle
2. lacking the natural shine/gloss that it used to have
3. Heavy shedding and tangles
4. Feels very straw like and stiff.
An overuse of protein can cause dryness, brittleness, and fragile damage prone hair.
Proteins in shampoos and conditioners can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the size of the protein and how it is applied. Smaller proteins, like silk or vegetable proteins will lodge inside the cortex of the hair. Larger proteins like wheat or keratin adhere to the cuticle. Styling products, when used with heat, can seal in protein for much longer usually about 1-3 months.
Internal supplements of proteins like silica, bamboo, or biotin can cause all growth emerging at the root to contain protein.
If your hair feels tough or hard, it probably has too much protein in it. However, if your hair is dry, tangled, and weak, it needs moisture.
If your hair texture has changed since starting to take the supplements determine whether or not your hair requires more protein.
Any residues from the protein can cause dryness if it is not absorbed in to the hair.
CAUSES OF PROTEIN OVERLOAD
Hair needs protein to be healthy and strong, but using too much can be bad for your hair. Manufacturers place protein in hair care products to fill the gaps of damaged hair so it can be strong again. However, too much of this can cause your hair to become stiff, brittle and inelastic. Using too many products with protein listed in the ingredients can cause overload.
PROTEIN OVERLOAD RECOVERY
Too much protein is only a problem when you don’t have enough moisture. If your hair suffers a protein overload, the best thing you can do is balance the protein with moisture.
Your hair is made of protein, and it needs it to thrive and be healthy. So, rather than taking a necessary and beneficial component away from your hair, you should simply add an ingredient to work alongside it.
Protein and moisture work synergistically together. By working in unison, they will create the perfect balance for your hair.
To start the process of protein overload recovery you will need to add moisture to combat the excess protein and re-establish balance. The severity of your hair’s protein overload determines how long it will take to undo the damage.
It also indicates the extent to which you need to avoid protein.
If protein overload is not severe, you don’t have to eliminate all protein from your regimen. Your hair still needs protein to maintain strength. Make sure the products you use on a daily or weekly basis are protein free, and do a light protein treatment every 4-8 weeks. If the treatment makes your hair stiff or crunchy, be sure to follow it up with a moisturizing treatment.
If your protein overload is severe, your regimen needs to consist of hair products WITHOUT protein.
Review your products to identify which ones contain protein. Your whole product line should be moisturizing and free of all proteins.
It can take weeks or even months to correct protein overload.
REMOVE PROTEIN FROM HAIR
Your hair will recover in time if you make sure to avoid protein-containing products.
Look for shampoo and conditioners without protein.
Protein and moisture must be in balance for your hair to be healthy.
Moisture overloaded hair is extremely elastic, while protein-overloaded hair is brittle.
Protein overload takes much longer to correct whereas single protein treatment is usually enough to restore the balance for moisture overload hair.
You can use a mild protein treatment or a strong one, depending on the extent to which your hair is moisture overloaded.
Be sure to follow strong protein treatments with moisturizing deep conditioning treatments to make hair softer and less dry.
You must restore elasticity or the hair will break during manipulation and styling.
HOW TO REVERSE PROTEIN OVERLOAD
1. Check all your product labels and do not use them if they contain protein.
2. Use a clarifying shampoo for protein overload, to remove buildup. Buildup hinders your attempts to moisturize your hair.
3. Use a moisturizing shampoo on the regular basis.
4. Deep condition with heat once or twice weekly depending on the severity of the problem. Use moisturizing deep conditioners that are protein-free. Apply heat during the deep conditioning process to help the moisture penetrate the hair shaft.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) for protein overload. ACV is well-known remedy for many common hair problems, and helps to soften the hair.
The first step in treating protein-overloaded hair is to identify the problem. Pay attention to your hair and this will make it easier to diagnose and solve issues before things get worse.
PREVENT PROTEIN OVERLOAD
The best way to avoid overload is to make sure you balance the protein with moisture. Many people claim that when they mix different brands into their routines, their hair tends to suffer.
Why? It is because manufacturers create their products to work in unison. They account for things like protein overload and moisture overload in their labs during the research and development stage.
A manufacturer can only protect your strands from protein overload if you stick with products from within their line. Otherwise, you could end up getting too much of a certain component by using products from different companies.
What is your experience, have you ever had protein overload?