Protein Overload? Let's Fix It!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Have you been experiencing...

  • Excessive dryness
  • Stiff hair
  • Hair that breaks off easily with little to no effort
  • No Shine
  • Hard Hair
  • Rough Hair
If so, chances are you have "Protein Overload".

It's no secret that protein overload is commonly feared in the hair care world. One tends to avoid getting diagnosed with this title because it can easily cause a set back and it takes weeks to correct. There's no doubt about it, protein is essential in building healthy, strong, thick hair. Protein is supposed to make the hair hard and stiff to guard against breakage and normal wear and tear.

What is protein Overload?

"Protein Overload" is a term used when there is an abundance of protein vs. moisture in the hair.

Here is an example of how you can rid yourself of "Protein Overload":

First, Clarify the hair to remove all product build up. This is necessary because the products you use after will have a better chance at penetrating.

Do a 30-45min deep condition with a thick moisture rich conditioner under heat. Rinse with lukewarm water.

Optional - Follow up with an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse to help close the hair cuticles and lock in moisture.

Use a moisturizing leave-in conditioner, then style.

It's recommended that you follow this "moisture based routine" for 2-3 weeks since it does take more than 1-2 washes to see an improvement.

Ways to avoid/overcome "Protein Overload":
  • After using a protein based conditioner or reconstructor, always follow up with a moisture rich deep conditioner for 20-30mins with heat or 1 hour without heat.
  • Stay clear of moisturizers with proteins in them i.e. Collagen, Keratin etc. (unless your hair responds well to them).
  • Moisturize and seal daily.
  • Baggy your ends often.
  • Use protein treatments maximum once a week, if you're relaxed, or once a month if you're are natural.

You Might Also Like


  1. Thanks for the blog, i have protein overload and im finally going to be able to solve it. so when you start seeing that your hair has more elasticity then does that mean the moisture is back?

  2. Those are also symptoms of hair damaged by hard water. Especially if you try a new shampoo and conditioner and it works the first few times and then all of a sudden you're hair doesn't respond to it. If you have a Sally's Beauty Supply in your area I would recommend Ion Purifying Solutions Hard Water Shampoo and Conditioner. It has worked wonders for my hair and my hair is still responding well after almost a month. I would also recommend using distilled water in your hair whenever possible (I use a water and glycerin mix in my 4b relaxed hair). There is a noticeable difference. Hope this helps! :D

  3. Great post! I realized I had been doing this to myself without realizing it. I went to try out a new conditioner then realized later it was a protein conditioner! Shame on me for not checking the ingredients!!!

  4. Great post Sunshyne! It's exactly what I did when I suffered protein overload at the beginning of 2010.
    (jyvetteshair on Hairlista)

  5. I think I am a victim of protein overload I have started to do this I am on week 2 and only doing moisture DC's. I wanted to ask will you clarify every wash day in those 3 weeks or just once?

  6. Yes once your hair has more elasticity it means the moisture levels are increasing. You should only be clarifying once, not every wash day. Baggying your ends is when you moisturize and then place a plastic bag over your ends to trap in moisture. It's great for dry ends. I have an article on bagging please check it out.

  7. do you do a protein treatment on the the days that you would usually shampoo and condition. I wash and shampoo 2x a week. WOuld I just choose on of those days to put in a protein treatment?

  8. What do you recommend for oil free moisturizing conditioners?

  9. Yes I do my protein treatments on the days that I wash my hair with shampoo. As for oil free moisturizing conditioners try I.e. Mizani moisturfuse, keracare humecto or kenra moisturizing conditioner. They are all oil free. Hope that helps.

  10. I have been using a keratin infused shampoo and conditioner for about 2 months now at first it was great but ivr noticed the pass couple of weeks more build up and my hair is dry now i know its bc of protien build up

    1. You have to be extremely careful. I recommend you wash with a clarifying shampoo to remove the product build up and do a rich moisturizing treatment for 30-45mins with heat. You may have to do this once a week for several weeks.

  11. Should the deep conditioner not contain protein??

    1. That's correct. Use something that is strictly moisturizing, no protein.

  12. Sure. Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle rose conditioner, Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque w/ Sea Kelp & Argan Oil, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner w/ Sea Kelp & Argan Oil etc. Those deep conditioners contain NO PROTEIN. Hope that helps :)

  13. These items contain kelp and/or aloe and both of those items contain protein. It gets tricky sometimes when trying to find protein free hair products.