Most of us know that to have healthy afro hair, you need to ensure it has enough protein. Keratin is the main protein your afro curls need, which can be added through leave-in conditioners and deep conditioning treatments to keep your strands strong. Your hair structure also naturally contains keratin, as this substance forms the inner coil of your hair's cortex. However, when this type of protein builds up on your hair's cuticle, it can cause damage to your afro curls and result in a condition known as protein overload. This article will detail the signs you need to watch out for, the causes, and the treatments to fix the issue.
How Do You Know If You Have Protein Overload?
The first sign that your afro curls have too much protein is hair that is brittle, dry, and stringy. This is because your afro hair lacks enough moisture to possess natural stretch and definition. Next, your afro curls will feel like they lack elasticity, so your strands will split or break easily. Moreover, you could also suffer from more frizz than usual, and your natural hair might be more prone to shedding, especially when brushing.
What Causes Protein Overload?
It is essential to understand that your afro hair needs a mixture of moisture and protein. Therefore, you might start using protein-based products when trying to fix dull, processed, or relaxed afro hair. However, you could suffer from protein overload when you use too many protein-based products but are not balancing them with enough moisture-based items. Protein overload can also occur when you are unaware of the ingredients in the products you use and whether these products are what your hair type or porosity needs. So, once you have discovered that protein build-up is the cause of your lifeless, brittle hair, you can try various ways to fix it.
Methods That Can Combat Protein Overload
Cleanse With A Clarifying Shampoo To Remove Initial Build-Up
If you fall victim to protein overload issues, start using a gentle clarifying shampoo at least once a week to prepare your afro hair for moisture absorption. Once your hair starts feeling more hydrated and softer, you could opt for this type of shampoo at least twice a month to prevent future protein overload. Then, your wash day routine should include our sulphate-free moisturising shampoo to cleanse and hydrate your curls simultaneously.
Be Aware Of Any Proteins On Ingredient Labels
Remember that when ingredients are listed on any product list, they are always listed in the order of concentration. The first ingredient always has the highest concentration. If you see proteins towards the middle or end of an ingredients list, this means that this particular product does not contain much of this type of ingredient.
Apart from keratin, other common proteins that can be found higher up an ingredients list include biotin, silk protein, soy protein, hydrolysed rice protein, hydrolysed wheat protein, hydrolysed collagen and amino acids. If you have favourite products that contain these ingredients, do not throw them out immediately. It’s an overuse of protein products, not just the use, that causes protein overload.
Instead, use water-based moisturising products more regularly and these protein-based products every four to six weeks. For example, our wash day trip of the Hydration Shampoo, Moisture-Rich Conditioner, and Leave-In Conditioner can cleanse and nourish your afro curls without the build-up if used as instructed.
More importantly, manuka honey and avocado ingredients are naturally extremely moisturising, can fight frizz, and can put the shine back into your afro hair. Additionally, to avoid further protein overload or product build-up, you can limit our conditioning products to the end of your curls rather than applying them to your roots.
Style Your Curly Hair Using Natural Products
After your wash and go routine, you need a moisturising styling product that can gently accentuate your curls and give them back the elasticity you lost due to protein overload. Our Curl Elongating Gel With Flaxseed Oil & Rosewater will provide your curls with hold, stretch, and definition without drying them out. If you feel that your curls are parched during washes, you can also use this gel for a quick, hydrating touch-up.
Make Sure Your Natural Hair Is Trimmed Regularly
Trimming off your split ends might be a good option as your afro curls break easily when overloaded with protein. This action will prevent any damage from travelling up your hair shaft and can prepare your strands for healthier growth.
Understand Your Hair Type Before Opting For Protein Treatments
If you do not understand how your afro hair absorbs moisture, you could make the mistake of using too many protein products. For instance, if you have low porosity hair, this type of hair does not absorb water very well, so protein overload can occur quickly.
On the other hand, protein treatments will be more beneficial for high porosity hair as they can enhance elasticity and reduce breakage for this type of hair. Check this guide if you are unsure whether you have low, medium, or high porosity hair.
Continue to be patient with your hair care routine once protein overload occurs. Start by removing excess protein by clarifying your afro hair and limiting your use of protein products to once a month. Then, choose moisturising products that can restore healthier, hydrated hair.