HOW TO MAINTAIN PROTEIN AND MOISTURE BALANCE IN NATURAL HAIR


WHY PROTEIN MOISTURE BALANCE IS IMPORTANT

It is always said that too much of anything is bad. Just like every other thing in life requires balance, so does the hair require a balance of protein and moisture to stay healthy. Protein and moisture is like the two side of a coin. Favouring one over the other will only make your hair suffer. 

The first thing that comes to mind when people notice breakage is that the hair is lacking moisture. What if I tell you that too much of moisture can cause breakage too. Surprised right? Don't worry I'm about to take you on a cool ride so stick with me. In this article you will learn how to determine if your hair needs protein, moisture or both. 

WHY IS MOISTURE IMPORTANT TO THE HAIR? 


The hair needs moisture to stay soft and supple, retain length and elasticity. Natural hair or black hair in particular needs a lot of moisture because of its tendency to dry out. Without moisture, the scalp dries out leading to flaking and dandruff. You know healthy hair growth starts from a healthy scalp right? 

MOISTURE OVERLOAD - HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR HAIR IS OVER MOISTURIZED

 

Although moisture is required for natural hair to stay healthy, too much of it can lead to moisture overload. Overmoisturizing the hair can lead to hygral fatigue, a condition where the hair cuticle is damaged due to excessive moisture entering and leaving the cuticle. It is more common with high porosity hair which has widely open cuticles that water can easily enter and leave anytime (more on hygral fatigue coming up soon). 
The following signs show that your hair is overmoisturized;
  • The hair looks limp and lifeless.
  • The hair feels mushy (extremely soft).
  • The hair is extremely elastic, it stretches too much and doesn't return to its original state after stretching. 
  • The hair stretches really long before breaking. 
  • The hair lacks volume.
  • The curl definition is lost.
  • You experience excessive breakage with little manipulation.

CAUSES OF MOISTURE OVERLOAD

Moisture overload can be caused by using too much of moisturising products without balancing them out with protein. Other factors include; 
  • Leaving deep conditioning treatments on for too long 
  • Washing the hair too often
  • Not allowing the hair to dry before re-moisturizing.

HOW TO REBALANCE MOISTURE OVERLOAD

If you are experiencing any of the signs above, here are a few things to do to restore life back to those strands;

Do a Clarifying Wash 

You know how they say sulphate shampoos should be avoided because they dry out the hair? Well this is the right time to use one. If you are not comfortable with using sulphates, then try an alternative like the baking soda and apple cider vinegar mask or a bentonite clay mask. Clarifying will strip the hair of product build-up, excess oils and of course the excess water. 

Protein Treatment

Now that your hair is all clean and free from all that build-up and dirt, follow up with a protein treatment. Protein repairs the hair cuticle and strengthens the hair. Make sure to follow a hard protein treatment with a moisturising deep conditioning treatment to restore balance and elasticity to the hair. 

Adjust Your Routine

Your hair care routine might be slightly off the balance and favouring moisturizing products far more than protein products. Introduce some protein products to balance this out. You may need to adjust how frequent you moisturize in between wash days. You should also try and move your wash days forward. Increase the time between wash days. 

WHY IS PROTEIN IMPORTANT TO THE HAIR?

The hair is made up of a protein called keratin. This protein structure can be damaged by manipulating the hair. Combing, brushing, styling,  coloring/bleaching, heat or chemical straightening etc. can cause damage to the hair cuticle. While a steady source of protein is needed in our diet to form new hair, protein treatments are required to help repair the damage done to the already grown hair. 

Image showing how the hair structure is built from keratin


PROTEIN OVERLOAD - HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR HAIR HAS TOO MUCH PROTEIN 


Protein overload is a very serious condition. It is easier to balance moisture overload than to balance protein overload. Usually, hair that is experiencing protein overload requires lots of moisture to balance out. The following signs show that your hair is experiencing protein overload; 
  • The hair is dry, brittle and rough 
  • The hair experiences a lot of shedding and breakage 
  • The hair experiences a lot of tangles and knots 
  • Hair doesn't stretch much before breaking

CAUSES OF PROTEIN OVERLOAD

Protein overload can be caused by;
  • Overdoing protein treatments
  • Not following up protein treatments with a moisturising treatment 
  • Using too many products that contains protein
  • Using the wrong type of protein for your hair 
  • Protein sensitivity

HOW TO REBALANCE PROTEIN OVERLOAD

As stated earlier, to balance out protein overload,  you will need lots of moisture. Follow these steps to treat protein overload; 

Do a Clarifying Wash

Clarifying will help strip the hair of dirt and product build-up. This will give the hair a better chance of absorbing moisture. 

Moisturising Treatment 

Do a moisturising deep conditioning treatment to infuse enough moisture into the hair. You might need a couple of deep conditioning sessions to balance out the protein in your hair. 

Steaming

Steaming helps lift the cuticles allowing the moisturising treatment to penetrate better leaving the hair soft. You can go to a professional stylist for a steaming session or use an electric steaming cap at home while deep conditioning. 

Adjust Your Routine

Check your products to see if you are using too many protein products. Balance out with moisturising products. Adjust the time between protein treatments. For those with protein sensitivity, check the ingredient list of products you buy to know if they suit your hair. Some products that are labeled as moisturizing may have some protein ingredients in them. 

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR HAIR IS PROTEIN/MOISTURE BALANCED


Hair that has a good balance of moisture and protein will show the following signs; 
  • The curl definition is normal
  • The hair is perfectly elastic (stretches and returns to its original state without breaking or losing the curl pattern)
  • There is little or no frizz
  • Minimal shedding and breakage 
  • The hair is shiny

TIPS TO HELP MAINTAIN PROTEIN MOISTURE BALANCE

  • Always follow a protein treatment with a moisturising treatment. 
  • If you notice your hair has a good balance of moisture and protein, try using a deep conditioner that contains both moisture and protein to keep the balance. 
  • Be mindful of your hair's need at any particular time and make sure you use products that attends to that need. 
  • Put your hair porosity into consideration when choosing products and creating your routine. Low porosity hair will need less protein treatments than high porosity hair and will need an entirely different hair care routine. 
  • Always read the ingredient list of products you use so you don't unintentionally add too much moisture or protein to your hair. 

The bottom line in this article is to study your hair closely to know what it wants at a particular time so you can avoid overdoing things. 

That's it! Thanks for taking time to read this article. It took a lot of time, energy and research to put this together and I'm grateful to everyone one of you that acknowledges this. 

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