Google Header -->
Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

Revisiting the Idea of Protein Overload

By January 27th, 202115 Comments

Hair Liberty’s Nicole Harmon, our Resident Curl Chemist, is answering your most urgent hair questions. Check it out below! 

Q: I’m interested in your comments on “protein overload.” My hair seems to have a hard time absorbing moisture, staying moisturized; products evaporate quickly, hair dries very quickly after getting wet, conditioner seems to just sit on top instead of penetrating. A stylist suggested I might have protein overload as I have been using Giovanni’s Smooth As Silk Deeper Moisture conditioner religiously for about 6 months (high concentration of soy protein, 4th ingredient). Does protein overload exist? If not, what do you think is going on with my hair? I definitely have noticed a change.

Read On>>>

A: Hair that dries quickly and has trouble staying moisturized is porous. That’s exactly why porous hair is constantly dry and breakage prone. That’s the opposite of protein overload. Your hair definitely needs protein. I know that sounds completely wrong, but I’ll explain. The ingredient listed as “soy protein” in Giovanni Smooth as Silk is not the kind of protein that can benefit your hair. What you need is “hydrolyzed soy protein” which is different. That one word, “hydrolyzed”, doesn’t seem like it should make a big difference but it does. The important thing to understand is that “soy protein” doesn’t attach to your hair. It just rinses away when you rinse the conditioner out. “Hydrolyzed soy protein” has been formulated to stay on your hair through the final rinse and keep it moisturized between washes. So “soy protein” may be a good ingredient for a leave-in (or body lotion), but it’s not as helpful in a rinse out conditioner. Each company comes up with their own recipes for their products. Some recipes are effective for curly-kinky hair, others are not. I can’t tell you why Giovanni chose to use “soy protein” in their rinse out conditioner. All we know is that it didn’t help your hair retain moisture.

That little distinction is exactly why the protein overload myth exists. Giovanni Smooth as Silk doesn’t contain any hydrolyzed protein so it wouldn’t be a good idea to avoid all protein because of your experience with that conditioner. In order to strengthen your hair and get its porosity under control, you’ll need a conditioner that contains hydrolyzed protein which can be from soy, but also from silk, oats, wheat, quinoa…there’s a long list. Ouidad Deep Treat contains hydrolyzed wheat protein. The other conditioners in the Rehab article contain “hydrolyzed keratin” which could also be called “hydrolyzed wool/sheep’s hair”. Studies show hydrolyzed keratin to be most effective for damaged hair. If you prefer only natural brands, I suggest EO Products Repair Deep Conditioner. It contains hydrolyzed quinoa protein around the middle of the list. I hope that helps!

Hair Liberty (def): The freedom to rock whatever style you want, whenever you want. Curly, straight, natural, relaxed, whatever! Free yourself! Go to, to get expert advice for curly-kinky hair


  • roo08 says:

    wow, no wonder a shampoo i used with hydrolyzed protein turned my hair into a dry, brittle mess…i'm super protein sensitive by the way. I don't know what i was thinking!

  • CBCLady says:

    This artical is such a blessing for me! Thank your for posting this. I have relaxed hair I was using Wave Nouveau finishing lotion as my daily moisturizer, Aphogee 2min 1x wk before my dc with Mega Silk Olive and my HE Long Term Relationship leave-in. Every one of those products had protein of some kind. I was doing apple cider vinegar rinse 1x weekly but it was taking my color rinse out. I think I will get the shampoo for helping porosity. My hair too was identical to the person who posted the question. I'm going to continue to do acv rinses until I can get the porosity shampoo. Thank you again for addressing protein/porosity concern. :o)

  • Anonymous says:

    There is most definitely hydrolyzed soy protein in Giovanni SAS. I just checked my bottle; it's the second from last ingredient.

  • livelovelaugh331 says:

    I have been having this problem as well. I decided to cut down on products that contain protein to determine if this is the issue. As I Am Naturally has several protein free products in their line. I will be using the coconut cowash and their leave in. As a styler I'm using curls goddess curl gel cause it is alcohol and protein free. Wish me luck on getting my hair back to normal.

  • Krystina says:

    Thank GOD for this article because I wasn't going crazy trying to figure out what was going on with my hair. I found the EO and Giovanni lines available at an amazing discount at using the promotion code MOB100 will get you 5 dollars off your entire order. I am stocking up right now. =)

  • Unknown says:

    You should try henna. I've been doing it for about 3 months and my hair is always nice shiny and most importantly moist!!! Try using more water based products and add shea butter and a heavy grease to your ends to lock in that moisture. Also doing regular deep conditions will help like adding mayo or an egg is a good cheap start with no commitment of a product for conditioning purposes that have protein.

  • says:

    I believe my hair is like that also. I would really like to find a good leave in conditioner, maybe an everyday styling product with this hydrolyzed soy protein, I hope it will be able to help my hair.
    any suggestions on really good products with ingredients like that?

  • socialitedreams says:

    oh this is RIGHT on time! my hair sounds exactly like hers, so good to know what i need for it :D

    Vonnie of

  • Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty says:

    Great great article!!! finally, somebody who understand protein and how to use it.

  • Anonymous says:


    From @Anon 9:55a!

  • Nicole - Hair Liberty says:

    @Anon 9:55a – Aphogee 2 step Protein Treatment is a great product if you use both steps as directed. A lot of people just use the stinky protein treatment and then follow up with their usual conditioner. You'll get much better results if you follow the protein with Aphogee's "Balancing Moisturizer".
    @Beth – Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose doesn't contain any protein… As far as I can tell, the only AO conditioner that contains hydrolyzed protein is the Island Naturals Replenishing Conditioner… The Island Naturals description also says "Recommended for relaxed and natural styles". It's definitely your best bet from Aubrey Organics, but still not the best overall.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have low porosity hair and Giovanni SAS works for me. I suggest that you get your hair analyzed at It will save you time, money and frustration.

  • janubie says:

    This sounds just like my hair! It soaks up conditioner but still gets dry after a day or too. I just started an intense DC routine and was worried about overdoing it, but it sounds like I am on the right track!

  • Beth says:

    How about Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose conditioner? Id that enough of the right kind of protein for dry hair?

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear Nicole:

    Your article ( mentions "ApHogee Intensive Two Minute Keratin Reconstructor". May I have your opinion on the "ApHogee Two-Step Protein Treatment"?

    My hair condition sounds just like the poster's. I trimmed my 4c hair two weeks ago and I'm still seeing little broken "C's" on my shoulders.

    Thank you for your input!

Leave a Reply