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Published 19th May 2022

How To Fix Protein Overload

You may never have heard of protein overload. If you have, maybe you’re not sure how to tell if your hair is suffering from protein overload. After all, if you regularly use protein treatments on your hair, won’t it cause your hair to become overly saturated with protein?

You might be surprised to find out that protein overload isn’t actually real. What most people assume is protein overload is actually something called moisture deficiency.

There is certainly no shortage of protein treatments on the market nowadays. While they can be beneficial for some people with wavy or curly hair, they aren’t suitable for everybody. Just like any other hair care product, your hair requires specific and unique protein treatments to thrive!

But even if you are using the perfect protein treatment for your hair, you might be guilty of using too much. This leads to what most people call protein overload. Luckily, there are things that you can do to overcome protein overload and restore your hair to full health.

In this article, we’re going to cover how you can fix a so-called ‘protein overload’ (aka moisture deficiency) and which products you should be using to avoid this.

why is protein important for your hair?

Protein is the main component of hair. More specifically, it is a protein called keratin that makes up most of your hair, and it’s what keeps it strong and healthy. When you regularly use heat on your hair, it damages the keratin protein in your hair, leaving it looking and feeling dry and brittle.

So, when the keratin is depleted, it results in dryness and brittleness. But the opposite is also true. When your hair is overloaded with protein, it becomes deficient in moisture, and this also leads to dryness and damage. Moisture deficiency leads to frizziness, which makes it even harder to style.

what causes moisture deficiency?

When you use too much protein to overcome a lack of keratin in your locks, it can lead to an imbalance in the levels of protein and water in your hair. Disrupting the natural proportions of moisture and protein can result in your hair becoming dry and dull.

A lot of the time, people overdo it with the products in an attempt to fix your dryness but this only makes the issue worse. Many hair care products contain protein without you even realising it, too.

For example, products that contain amino acids, hydrolysed collagen, wheat protein, rice protein, soy, or silk contain proteins. It’s not just those that say the word ‘keratin’ on the front of the label! If you use multiple products on your hair at once or you like to switch things up a lot, it’s important to take note of how many protein-containing products you are actually using.

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what hair type is most prone to protein overload?

Depending on which hair type you have, it might require more or less protein than other hair types. Knowing what hair type your hair is important to figure out how often you can get away with using protein treatments or protein-containing products.

Here is a quick and easy breakdown to help you determine what your hair needs based on its unique type and your hair porosity:

• Low porosity hair tends to struggle with absorbing moisture, so it can easily become overloaded if you use a lot of protein-containing products.

• High porosity hair is less prone to protein overload and can withstand the use of regular protein treatments.

• Fine or damaged hair may need more protein to enhance its strength and hydration, and to reduce damage to the hair cuticle.

what are the signs of protein overload?

Knowing the key signs of protein overload, or moisture deficiency, means you can fix the issue as soon as it arises. Here are some of the most common signs to look out for:

• Your hair is dry. Although dryness has been normalised, it’s not normal! Your hair shouldn’t feel like straw, but if it does, it might be due to moisture deficiency.

• Your hair isn’t as shiny as it used to be. Changes in your hair’s shininess are key signs that indicate protein overload (deficient in moisture).

• Your hair is falling out in clumps. Although losing small amounts of hair each day (around 100 hairs) is normal. Also bear in mind that if you only brush your hair on wash days (instead of everyday) then it will appear like more hair is coming out. 

• Your hair is extra frizzy due to the dryness, making it difficult to style.

• Your hair breaks easily and lacks bounce, again due to the dryness.

how can you fix protein overload?

If you’ve read all of the above and suspect that your hair is deficient in moisture, there are things that you can do to overcome this. 

1. avoid protein treatments and high-protein care products

Since protein is the main culprit in protein overload, it’s best to avoid using protein treatments or products that contain high amounts of protein when your hair is moisture deficient. 

2. use a clarifying shampoo

Clarifying shampoo can prevent or reduce the build-up of protein on the hair. When protein builds up on the hair, it can prevent it from absorbing water and nutrients, causing dryness and brittleness.

Make sure not to go too overboard when scrubbing your hair with clarifying shampoo as you don’t want to strip your hair of its natural oils. This will only make the protein overload issue worse.

3. balance out the protein with moisture

When you are constantly using protein treatments on your hair and forgetting to balance it out with moisture-containing products, it leads to protein overload. Sometimes, all you need to do to overcome the problem is balance out the protein with more moisture.

When washing and styling your hair, focus on using hydrating products that will help to nourish, hydrate, and lock in more moisture into your hair. 

Your hair might also benefit from a deep condition with a nourishing deep conditioner once a week. This will provide your hair with a hydration boost that can balance out your moisture/protein levels. 



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