Too much protein in hair

September 15, 2015
Home Recipes for Soft Hair


Dear Karen,

Hi, I have heard that too much protein for hair could do more damage than good.

I have been using a shampoo and conditioner that have both hydrolyzed wheat and soy protein in the bottom third of the ingredients list.

I have fine, straight hair and it has been looking dry, frizzy, fuzzy and yucky lately. I just did a deep conditioning treatment infused with jojoba oil and shea butter. Now my hair looks great.

Do you think the protein shampoo and conditioner could have been contributors?

Should I stop using them or is it a myth that too much protein is bad?

Thank you very much for your time and feedback.



Dear Anna,

Human hair is a tough fibrous protein consisting primarily of keratin. Protein makes our strands strong, enabling them to grow long and be healthy.

RedkenCat_250hSome people believe adding extra protein to hair in the form of treatments will make it even stronger. Unfortunately, adding too much protein to hair can actually cause more harm than good.

Are You Overdosing Your Hair With Protein?

Consumers make the mistake of thinking protein moisturizes hair. It doesn’t. It strengthens it.

Even if you’re not specifically applying protein packs you may still be overdosing your hair without even being aware of it.

Products heavily infused with soy protein, silk amino acids, wheat protein and keratin add protein to your tresses, whether you’re aware of it or not. The more protein you apply, the more risk you could be overdosing.

JoiciKPak-39_250hThere’s another problem with too much protein. It can throw off the natural moisture balance making hair more prone to breakage, frizz and damage.

Of course if you over hydrate, you might have the reverse problem of causing an imbalance of the hair’s protein level.

Over-hydration occurs with overuse of products with humectant ingredients such as Shea butter, vegetable glycerin, jojoba and similar.

Performing too many deep conditioning treatments can also cause as many problems as too many protein treatments.

Great Lengths Long Blonde HairDo Your Homework – Perform A Traditional Hair Strand Test

How do you determine if your hair is unbalanced on the protein/hydration scale?

A good method is to perform a traditional hair strand test.

1. Start by capturing a strand of hair which has fallen naturally from the scalp. It should still have a little white bulb attached.
2. Wet the strand with water.
3. While holding the wet strand between two fingers, gently stretch it.

When the strand of hair stretches slightly, returning to its original length without breaking, the moisture/protein levels are balanced.

If the hair stretches more than it should and then breaks, it’s likely your hair may need more protein. When the hair has very little stretch and easy breaks, you need more moisture.

Ideally if the wet strand stretches just a little and returns to its normal length without breaking your hair is most likely perfectly balanced between moisture and protein.

When Strand Test Doesn’t Provide Clarification

When the strand test doesn’t give you clarification of whether your hair has a good protein/moisture balance or not, observe your hair closely for a few weeks.

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