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.
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.
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!!”
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!
- 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.
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.