Can I Over-Condition?

by Shelli of Hairscapades 

Back in the day … like 2 years ago, you couldn’t tell me that there was such a thing as over-conditioning. As a 12 year natural, the first thing that I would tell anyone transitioning, newly natural or interested in natural was, “Condition, condition and condition again! There is no such thing as over-conditioning!” Well, to tell you the truth, I still pretty much stand by that statement. Buuuuutttttt, here’s the thing. That’s because I think the term “over-conditioned” is a bit of a misnomer. I think most of us, when we are seeking an answer to that question, want to know whether we can over-moisturize our hair. And the answer to that is yes … a fact that I learned the hard way.
Out in the “real world” overconditioning, or “tipping too far” on the moisture side of the protein/moisture balance, is virtually rare …
The problem of overconditioning seems to arise once the individual has been indoctrinated into all things hair. By now, she has figured out which products are protein-based and which are more moisture leaning-and here, the tendency to over moisturize tends to develop. She develops an aversion to protein and throws all of her resources into achieving a perpetual “moisture high.” The proliferation of true “protein overload” stories may have gotten her to this point! She knows that there is a gentle, often tricky balance to maintain but she puts all of her eggs in her moisturizing basket just to be safe. She may even realize that different proteins have different properties, and some actually improve the hair’s elasticity rather than toughen the strands-but she’s not taking any chances with protein period. This aversion causes her to moisturize and overcondition her hair until the cows come home.
In 2010, I discovered the term, “protein sensitivity” and thought that I’d finally diagnosed the problem that I had with many products formulated for black/”ethnic” hair. These products, especially the conditioners, most often made my hair hard when wet and brittle and hay-like once dry. So, when I discovered that this was because they contained protein, I started to avoid anything with protein like the plague. Instead, I began using henna as my strengthening treatment. However, an over-zealous henna routine (i.e. multiple full-length treatments in a short period of time) resulted in significant curl-loosening.

Therefore, in 2011, I started doing roots only treatments of henna, for color and strength without the resultant curl-loosening. But, I didn’t incorporate anything else to strengthen the length of my strands. By October 2011, my hair felt incredibly soft, but it was also flyaway, snagged at the slightest touch and was shedding (and probably breaking) like crazy. Every time I touched my hair, strands were littering my hands. At this point, I realized that I had omitted an important part of my regimen: strength. I began researching protein and revisited it after learning how to use it the right way (see this post for deets).

Revisiting Protein – ApHogee

After my first ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor, I saw an IMMEDIATE difference in the feel of my hair … it was harder, but hard-strong, not dry or brittle … and my shedding/breakage drastically decreased. So, I was a convert and began to incorporate protein into my regimen more regularly, typically every 3-4 weeks.

Then, in February, I tried my first (and thus far, only) heavy-duty ApHogee Two Step Protein Treatment. It went well and I would have done more, except that I didn’t have the proper bonnet dryer to safely and efficiently dry the first step.

Enter Aubrey Organics GPB
Back in May, I decided to try Aubrey GPB (Glycogen Protein Balancing) Conditioner for the first time. Something happened that I haven’t seen in a long, long, looooooong time … my shed hair was curly!!! That’s right. I’m a natural with curly/wavy hair who is telling you that I couldn’t remember the last time that I’d seen curly shed hair … maybe a year or two? My strands just seemed wavy and some were essentailly straight. But, after my first GPB treatment, I looked at my shower stall and, to my surprise, saw curly strands for the first time in ages! And, I got excited!! Every wash session with Aubrey GPB, the amount of curly strands seem to increase! This past Saturday, after my haircut, I had a shed hair that was a complete, collapsed coil and I ran into the living room to show Wei! I told him, “I know that this seems silly, but I’m so excited because my curls are back!! It’s a coil!!” 

Now, this isn’t an entirely fair comparison, but I had to show you a pic of my “curls” (i.e. waves) in February and my curls (i.e. CURLS! *lol*) now. The reason the comparison isn’t really fair is because I got a haircut last week to get rid of my henna-loosened ends and my hair is freshly washed after being straight for 2 weeks in the pic on the left whereas, in the pic on the right, it is 7 days old and shrunken.

So, what’s my point in all of this? First, I wanted to clarify the term over-conditioned, because I think that most of us call both moisturizing and protein-based post-wash treatments “conditioners.” Therefore, when I say that “over-conditioned” is somewhat of a misnomer, it is because I think that most of us are really referring to over-moisturizing the hair and not using too much protein. We tend to refer to the latter as “protein overload.” Second, we can dip too far to either side and the key is to give our hair what it needs when it needs it. Sometimes it’s moisture, sometimes it’s strength/protein. So, how do you know what your hair needs? It’s all about elasticity.
  • Take a few strands of shed hair and hold one set of ends in the fingertips of one hand. Then lightly tug and release the other ends with your other fingers.
  • Does your hair stretch and stay there (i.e. it doesn’t shrink back like a spring)? Then you probably need protein.
  • Does your normally curly hair appear limp and curl-less? Then you probably need protein.
  • Does your hair snap/break immediately or quickly? Then you probably need moisture.
  • Does your hair stretch, then spring back? Sounds like you have the perfect balance of protein and moisture!
The above is nothing new and you’ve probably read it before. So, what I hope to add to the conversation is what I think that I’ve learned.
  • One, the fact that my shed hair no longer had any curl was an indicator that something was off. Though a variety of factors can contribute to this, over-moisturizing should have been one of the “Usual Suspects.”
  • Second, Aubrey GPB restored the curl that I thought had somehow been lost. That says to me that not all proteins are created equal for all people. Though my shedding/breakage decreased drastically with the ApHogee 2 Minute Reconstructor and the 2 Step Treatment, my shed hair still had little to no curl. However, with the introduction of Aubrey GPB, my curls are springing back to life and elasticity is returning in leaps and bounds.
So, all this to say, if you have avoided protein and your strands have become limp and lifeless and your curls have seemed to all but disappear, you may want to try experimenting with different types of protein. However, remember, just as “over-moisturizing/conditioning” is a real thing, so is protein-overload. And, it’s easier to correct over-moisturized hair than hair with too much protein. So, do your research, proceed with caution and always listen to your hair!

How do you know when you need moisture or protein? Have you experimented with protein treatments/conditioners/reconstructors? Which one(s) have you found work(s) the best for you? 

CN Says:
Funny Shelli should mention GPB.  I went on a PJ run a few days ago and picked up Aveeno's Conditioner (impressed, especially since the price is right) and Aubrey's GPB.  I remembered it being super slippery, strengthening yet moisturizing, oh and did I mention super slippery?! It detangles like an Aussie or  Herbal Essence conditioner!  Check out my original review HERE.  
After 3 years, I will most certainly add it back to my regimen... it never left my hair hard or dry like some other protein conditioners, specifically ones containing hydrolized wheat too far up on the list.

18 Weigh in!:
Anonymous said...

So how often do you use the Aubrey Organics GPB and do you still use the Aphogee Reconstructor?

amyahsmom said...

Wondering the same thing Anonymous. I have mostly relaxed strands and am considering transitioning (again). Should I use GPB every week when I wash my hair, or every 3-4 weeks like I would an Aphogee treatment??

The Curly Oenophile said...

Interesting. When I still had relaxed hair, I tried a keratin protein treatment. The application was normal but as soon as the water hit, my hair felt hard like hay! In retrospect, I may have used too much. I may give protein another try. I used the Organix Straight Brazilian Keratin Therapy Hydrating Keratin. I won't be trying that one again though. Thanks for the heads up on this conditioner.

hairscapades said...

I started using the Aubrey GPB last month and haven't used the 2 Minute ApHogee Reconstructor since nor do I have any plans to re-up on it. I wash weekly and have been using the Aubrey Honeysuckle rose for 2 weeks and the GPB on week 3, then repeat. I also mix it both Vatika oil. It seems some use it as frequently as every wash though and others use it less frequently (maybe once a month). So, again, I think that you have to decide what works best for you. I may go to an every other week schedule and see how my hair does ... or maybe I won't:). Once every 3 weeks is working okay for right now. One thing I'll mention as well is that it works when I follow the deep condition directions .... meaning, I apply it to dry hair before shampooing. I leave it in more than the 15 minutes they indicate though. I leave it overnight or for an hour or two, depending on what I'm doing. Then, I shampoo with diluted DevaCare One No Poo and my hair has detangled like a dream thus far.

Thank you!


Anonymous said...

I layered GPB and 2 Minute ApHogee. My hair felt strong and moisterized. The two products were great by themselves, over the top when mixed together. I had curls for days, my hair was soft and stronger. I will be using this at least twice a month.

Anonymous said...

I like to use aphogee keratin reconstructor & if I want a lighter protein treatment I add an egg to my henna gloss.

Brooke B.

Anonymous said...

uh yeah you can over condition..and I know first hand.

When I first went natural I stayed on these message boards and tried to incorporate every bit of advice from natural veterans.

I co-washed, oiled, moistured, sprayed, sealed, co-washed, conditioned, deep-conditioned with heat, eliminated proteins, etc. Chiled my hair was so moisturized it was never dry. My hair was limp, and lifeless. It broke off at the touch. It was hair was thriving simply washing my hair with a moisturizing shampoo, regular conditioning it and callin it a day! It took me a good trim and literally leaving my hair alone for a month to get it back.

Lesson learned.

Nikell said...

So informative! Thanks for sharing!!

Lola said...

Very good information. Going to try the GPB. Have heard only good things about it.

Anonymous said...

Had it in my hands today and put it back!

Anonymous said...

I just use egg protein from eggs or silk or my one n's only argan oil mask with moisture and keratin protein, only when I straighten my hair I use keratin or eggs mixed with coconut oil. I use silk every week because it softens,but not wheat protein even if it is lower on the list my becomes like hay. I use moisture more and protein in small amounts.

Megan Montgomery

Annabel said...

Great post, I love AOHSR and will try AOGBP as well. I had the opposite occur when I was going natural... I used too much protein. Now, I assess once per month whether my hair needs it or not (spring test: gently tug coil, if it quickly bounces back, not needed, if it just sits there I do a treatment). Also if my hair is breaking at the touch of my finger, I typically add in protein. Currently, I use Nivea Cashmere conditioner, which has rice protein or add a little silk protein to a moisturizing conditioner.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Aubrey Organics GBP--I tried to use the Aphogee 2 step a couple of months ago and it dried my hair up like it was nobody's business. My usually soft, fluffy, moisturized hair was dry, tight, and angry. lol

I use GBP every other week with my steamer--so far so good. It does the job in an all natural way without taking out all of the moisture--love it!


Anonymous said...

You can over-moisturize, I was "baggying" for a little while, like a week, and my curls almost disappeared. As soon as I quit, my curls recovered.

Jaemi said...

i love Aubrey Organics GPB! I get the peppermint rosemary one. I use it every week as my staple deep conditioner.

drea said...

Sounds great I use Nature's Gate herbal daily conditioning conditioner it has all kinds of good ingredients including chamomile ,lavender and it also has soy proteins and panthenol which adds strength and shine to hair and vegetable proteins which condition and moisturize and reduce the appearance of split ends. It sounds pretty similar to Aubrey organic GBP since this conditioner is pretty balanced. I got it at whole foods for 7.29 for an 18oz which isn't bad.

Anonymous said...

I use Aubrey GPB everytime I wash my hair. I have been using it for over a year and I love it. It is a light protein conditioner. I shampoo with SheaMoisture Shampoo and I use yes to carrots when I want to co-wash but Aubrey GPB is my go to condish.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I actually never thought I could "over condition" my hair being that I suffer for dry scale and dry hair. However when I started use the shea mostiure products specifically the smoothie (I forget what its called) my hair did a complete 180 and started breaking even more than when my hair was too dry. Happy with how supple my hair felt but horrified at how much it was breaking I stopped using it. Now I think I'll try adding a some type of protien treatment and try using it again being that I did really like the product. Finding the proper balance is key and a bit tricky but its all about trial and error to get the result ya want. Thanks again

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...