Protein based hair

The positives and negatives of protein-based hair care products and your hair

By Master Stylist Vicki Ogden-O’Fee

Listen to your trusted professional hairdresser and you will have amazing hair results, says Master stylist Vicki Ogden-O’Fee.

Your hair is protein! Your tresses are primarily made up of protein filaments, called keratin, and chains of amino acids. Exposure to harsh chemicals, cheap hairdressing and poor maintenance can break up the chains and lead to brittle, dull, and damaged strands.


Brittle protein-overloaded hair

Brittle protein-overloaded hair.

Stringy, limp, or sticky hair generally needs more 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.
Does a High Protein Diet Cause Hair Loss? High protein diets may be a great way to lose weight and burn fat. But they can take a toll on your body, and in some cases, even cause hair loss. … Carbohydrates have a lot of calories, which your body, including your hair follicles, uses for fuel.


Carbohydrates are necessary in a balanced diet

Carbohydrates are necessary in a balanced diet.

Sometimes when we examine our client’s hair, we see people experiencing protein overload. Now you may not know about protein overload but new see all too often clients with breakage/dryness and this due to an imbalance in protein/moisture in their hair. Also, when clients don’t follow the prescribed home hair care regime for their hair, go somewhere else and prescribe their own products and wonder why they are not getting optimum results.


This lady has followed her prescribed hair plan.

V for Hair and Beauty Merivale Christchurch - Protein-based Hair Products


What is a protein overload?

Before we tackle how to correct the issue of protein overload let me first fully explain what protein overload is exactly.

Protein Overload:
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’re going to need to pay close attention to what I like to call “your hair acting up”. When you just can’t put a finger on why your hair is reacting differently and feeling differently you are going to want to pay closer attention. If you’re noticing your hair is dryer than usual, your texture has changed/altered drastically, you’re having breakage and excessive shedding all without really changing your regimen then something is up.
There are a few specific things you are going to want to check/ test to identify whether you have protein overload or just dry hair due to a lack of proper moisturizing techniques

  1. Your hair snaps off when you do the hair strand test
  2. Unusually dry/lifeless and brittle
  3. Lacking the natural shine/lustre that it used to have
  4. Heavy shedding and tangles
  5. Feels very straw like and stiff.

When people have Protein overload, they can experience may of the above hair situation. We also see a change in clients hair texture and curl pattern due to the constant dryness despite their efforts to moisturize.
Clients sometimes say “My hair was falling out rapidly (excessive shedding) and was breaking off at the nape on the left-hand side. I was dealing with one half of my hair growing twice as fast as the other side as well.”

Before protein-overload , after a moisture treatment.

Before protein-overload, after a moisture treatment.


How to Recover:

In order to recover from protein overload, you are going to have to take very precise steps in your regimen and it will not be an overnight process. It can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months depending on how severe the protein overload is. What you’re going to want to start off by doing? Focusing on MOISTURE! And to do so you are going to have to head to a trained professional stylist and have a consultation and analysis of the hair and scalp condition.

You are going to want to get rid of any products that contain any proteins in the ingredients.
Even if the product claims to be moisturizing there could be proteins hidden in there that will continue to cause damage. It is extremely tricky because proteins can come in many different names/categories on the bottle. Here are a few common protein names that are found in many hair care brands/products on the market.

• Hydrolysed collagen
• Wheat protein
• Quinoa protein
• Soy protein
• Rice protein
• Silk protein
• Keratin
• Oat flour
• Amino acids

Many people are shocked to see that according to this list they would be tossing or getting rid of 80 percent of their product stash and must pretty much start from scratch to rebuild the correct home hair care regime.

Now I don’t recommend getting rid of ALL your products that contain proteins as you are going to want to still use them on occasion to balance out the moisture in your hair (to avoid moisture overload which is also a negative in your hair). However, for right now your focus will be moisturizing products with moisturizing ingredients until you get the balance right.

Choose you home hair care carefully.
Choose your home hair care carefully.


Cleanse:
With protein overload you are going to want to use a cleansing/clarifying shampoo. Cleaning will help get rid of the excess build-up of protein on the hairs surface.

Cleanse/clarifying treatment.
Cleanse/clarifying treatment.

Deep Condition:
I’m going to steer clear of products for deep conditioning for now and just simply use a moisturizing conditioner and mask moisturising treatment. A good idea is be alternating between a steamer and a hooded dryer to add to the mix of your deep conditioning, if doing this at home a hot towel is great over the mask to help, I penetrate.

Moisture infusion treatment.
Moisture infusion treatment.

Leave in Conditioner:
A Moisture based leave in conditioner is necessary & crucial to your overnight regimen. Adding that leave in between wash periods as well as a quick steaming session will help you moisturize during the week.

Styling:
Any styling lotions or creams will have to be protein free obviously. We also advise going for a more hands off/ low manipulation style for the first few weeks. With protein overload your hair is sensitive and trying to find the right balance. Therefore, too much manipulation will just cause it to snap off and break even more.

It’s a good idea to always have regular hair cuts.
It’s a good idea to always have regular haircuts.

Moisturize & Seal:
With moisturizing cream added you must seal the moisture in and focus on the ends that are old and fragile. It is advised to avoid coconut oil during this detox process as well (including products that include coconut oil which can be tough since natural hair products are usually drenched in it). Instead, I’ll be focusing on using products with moisture in them.

Use a heated towel to help the treatment penetrate more effectively.
Use a heated towel to help the treatment penetrate more effectively.


Tell the truth… When having a consultation with your stylist you must tell the exact truth on your prior hair history, for example, we had a lady in the salon for a full head powder lightener and tone. We asked about her hair history and she wasn’t very forthcoming, she later halfway through the colour service opened up and said she had been having “a natural organic hair colour” While this may sound effective it more often than not can have the opposite effect…too much protein loading can lead to fragile breaking hair. This client declined our professional recommendations and went to the local “Natural health shop” and purchased “Protein infused shampoo conditioner and mask” because it was “natural”, this is exactly what she should NOT have done, she should have listened to her professional hairdresser and planned to start a protein detox followed by a moisture infusion. Which will result in beautiful shiny hair?

Look after you and the results will speak for them selves.
Look after you and the results will speak for themselves.

We are not saying never use protein-based products, they are good when prescribed for the correct hair type.

So, in closing tell the truth to your stylist on your hair history and listen to the hairdressing professionals for your individual hair care needs.

Protein-based Hair Products

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