VIDEO: How to Correct Protein Overload | Protein vs. Moisture 101: GetGlammedUp - Everyday Beauty, Simplified

VIDEO: How to Correct Protein Overload | Protein vs. Moisture 101

Monday, May 11, 2020

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As part of the Curly Haircare for Beginners video series, I knew I had to cover one of the most important topics: protein vs. moisture. It's a daunting topic, because it involves science-y terms that can be confusing and overwhelming. I'm here to break it down for y'all and summarize my research to help you easily achieve healthy hair.

Hair that has a balance of protein and moisture is happy hair.

How to Correct Protein Overload & Balance Curly Hair

What is protein when it comes to hair?
Hair is made up of mostly protein, amino acids, and keratin. Protein gives hair is structure, strength, and elasticity. It even keeps the hair moisturized by helping it retain water. Hair products often contain protein ingredients to help with curl definition, strengthen the hair, and help it retain moisture.

What are some common protein ingredients?
Look for ingredients listed directly containing the word "protein," hydrolyzed, amino acids, collagen, keratin. Many products will also claim on the labels to be strengthening, restructuring, rebuilding, etc.
Typically naturally-derived protein ingredients that have been hydrolyzed are: rice, wheat, soy, oat, corn, quinoa, casein, and wey. These tend to be stronger protein ingredients and can lead to overload when used too often depending on the hair type.
Smaller proteins such as hydrolyzed silk, amino acids, keratin, and collagen can penetrate the hair and are more tolerable for most hair types. These can be used more frequently.

What protein ingredients are right for me?
It's important to understand that protein ingredients vary in molecular weight, so some are good at penetrating the hair's cuticle, and some are larger so they sit on the surface. Larger proteins are great at filling in the hair's cuticle, especially if it's damaged, porous, and high porosity.
Lower porosity hair can sometimes be protein-sensitive, and higher porosity hair tolerates protein more easily. The type of hair you have also plays a role, so knowing whether you have fine, medium, or coarse hair is important. Coarse hair is more likely to experience protein overload because it's already larger in diameter and stronger.

How often should you use each type of protein?
It depends on your hair type. Refer to the chart below for a helpful guide on how often to use both small and large proteins.

Best Protein Ingredients by Hair Type Chart

What is protein overload?
When hair that is healthy and already has enough protein receives too much protein from products, protein treatments, and/or masks. Large protein ingredients can buildup on the hair's surface and cause it to become brittle, break, and dry.

What are signs of protein overload?
  • Dry, straw-like feeling
  • Frizz
  • Stringy ends that won't hold their curl
  • Tangles
  • Breakage
  • Excess shedding

How to do a stretch test on your hair:
You can also perform a stretch test on a strand of hair. Take a hair dry, clean hair that has already shed, and gently stretch it between two fingers. 
  • If it snaps immediately than you need moisture
  • If it stretches some then breaks, you have a balance of protein & moisture
  • If it stretches and stretches far, then you need protein and may have hygral fatigue

How to you fix protein overload?
Add more moisture and reduce the use of proteins in your routine to balance your hair. Depending on the severity of your imbalance, it may take more than one wash day.
  1. Apply an oil as a pre-poo treatment and gently detangle dry hair
  2. Wet your hair and apply a deep conditioner to gently detangle again
  3. Clarify your hair to remove build up
  4. Apply a deep conditioning mask that does not contain protein
  5. Use a heat cap to help the mask penetrate the hair
  6. Rinse with cool water
  7. Style using a cream and/or leave in conditioner that is moisturizing
  8. Seal with a gel or a mousse

Products Used in the video:

What's the best way to incorporate protein and re-introduce it into your routine?
Avoid having protein in every product of your wash day routine. If your shampoo or conditioner contain protein, skip it in your styling products. If your gel has protein, avoid protein in your cream or leave-in. Also check where the protein ingredient is on the label, because if it's towards the end of the list it may be low enough in concentration to not throw your hair off balance.

Gradually adding back in one product at a time each wash will allow you to see how your hair reacts to each protein ingredient. This will help you determine which ingredient your hair prefers most.

More resources:

Leave any further questions in the comments below. Let me know if you'd like to see a video on moisture overload and hygral fatigue.

Check out the full Curly Haircare for Beginners playlist for more.

Check out my latest video:
-How to Cocktail Curly Hair Products

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  1. My hair seems to knot at the neck and shed a lot in the shower when i skip a wash, much worse after I skip 2 days. It's as if it doesn't shed, sits there till it gets washed then sooooo much comes out, like clumps. Very scary. So i pretty much wash daily.


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