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.
“Protein-Sensitivity”
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.
“Over-Conditioning”
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.