Hair Q&A – Protein Overload?

Q. Hey Suburbanbushbabe!!!!

I’ve been following your progress for quite some time now and I always enjoy the tips/information you give!!!  You share a lot of helpful info and with that, I have an issue that you may be able to help out with.   I tried the Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment out and I probably found out the hard way that my hair is sensitive to protein that strong. Good news is that my shedding has slowed down …I never had much of a problem with breakage, mainly shedding. My only problem is that now my hair feels like a brillo pad! My hair is SO dry 😦 I’ve washed it several times, done several deep conditioning treatments–even did one for a few hours. I REALLY need some help…what do you suggest I do/use to get my soft hair back?

– 1NappyNewbie

Hair feeling crispy as a cracker? Could be too much protein.

A. Hi 1NappyNewbie,

Great question.  I bet with the colder climate in many regions, lots of curly vixens are doing protein treatments right about now and wondering WTF happened to their hair? How proteins in products affects the hair can vary with a number of factors including porosity and whether the hair is fine, medium or coarse/thick in diameter.

Although I’ve never used Aphogee, I can relate to the protein overload. I was using Nexxus Emergencee alternated with Sebastian Penetraitt about once every 5-6 weeks. When my hair started feeling crispy, dry and looking grizzly at the crown, I was convinced I was protein sensitive and could never use proteins again. I stopped using proteins in products for almost a year, which meant giving up some of my favorite conditioners.  What I discovered was that–

  1. Some proteins (like keratin) can quickly overload on my fine, porous hair  — and most of those protein specific treatments contain keratin
  2. I didn’t need a special protein treatment if I was using conditioners or deep treatments with a good protein moisture balance
  3. It was just overload not a permanent sensitivity, and it self-corrected after almost a year of no proteins, and
  4. Some protein in a water-based leave-in is not a bad thing, as it smoothes the hair shaft without actually penetrating it.

I have not done a protein specific treatment since that disastrous year. But I am now happily using a deep treatment with 5 proteins that is also verymoisturizing and detangling (Mop Top Deep Conditioner) and I can use conditioners with protein, as long as keratin is not among them or way, way down the ingredients list.  My hair sheds normally – sometimes less and sometimes more — depending on the season, my diet, and how much I manipulate my hair.

My suggestion to you is to continue  to shampoo with a non-sulfate shampoo as well as condition wash, and do a very good moisturizing non-protein containing deep treatment (not a home made one). Then continue your usual regimen minus proteins for a while, using moisturizing conditioners.  As your hair returns to normal, gradually add back conditioners with a good moisture/protein balance. HTH

Some no-protein or low-protein conditioners:
Onesta Moisture Balancing Conditioner
Qhemet Biologics Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee
Curl Junkie Hibiscus & Banana Deep Fix
Curl Junkie Beauti-curls conditioner
Jessicurl Weekly Deep Conditioning Treatment
Yes to Cucumbers Daily Makeover conditioner
Kinky Curly Knot Today (leave-in)

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