Not enough? Too much?

Hello all,

Not new to this forum, but I can never remember old SN's.

I've recently discovered that my hair seems to like protein. It's completely stopped my persistent matting/tangling issues and my curl pattern has improved somewhat (though this is not saying much at all; this is explained below). I avoided it for years because heavy treatments, such as Aphogee, had no effect, while protein stylers left me with dry, crunchy hair. I thought I had a sensitivity to protein.

For a month or so, I've been using protein-rich rinse-out conditioners, leaving them on for, at least, 5 minutes. I've also done three treatments with Komaza's Protein Strengthener.

For all the protein I've been using, and despite some positive effects, overall, there hasn't been any dramatic difference in my hair. It's still dull, still brittle, still unable to clump/curl (just a few sections have seen improvement) and most of all, still breaking. I know it's not too much protein because the minute I use a protein-free product, my hair feels horrible - wiry, rough texture, extreme dullness, gummy/mushy, and ugly, explosive frizz. ETA: And a lot more breakage.

I did a protein treatment today and a strand test afterward. All of the strands stretched, snapped and... completely straightened. Only one strand semi-reverted to its original pattern; the rest either remained straightened out or recoiled intensely into a tight, ribbon-like 4b-ish strand (my hair is type 3!). (My strand test results were the same in the past, too, which is what caused me to rethink the idea that I was protein sensitive.)

My hair currently feels soft with terrible frizz. I didn't follow the treatment with any moisture. The last two times I did, my hair felt like it was going to slide right off my head.

Sorry for how long this is, but my question is - what do I do? Should I use stronger treatments? Or am I using too much protein? I feel like I'm getting nowhere with my hair.

Last edited by biloxi; 08-01-2013 at 04:04 PM.
IMO go back to basics. What are your hair properties, what are your dew points/ humidity? Do you have harder water/ go swimming, have you chelated lately? How did your hair get so bad in the first place, is it inexplicable or down to heat styling, bleaching/ dying, sun damage? Is some hair beyond saving, do you just need a trim?

Is that Komaza's new formula protein strengthener, with the aloe and behentrimonium? What do you mean by 'sliding right off your head' and which conditioners have you been using - leave in and deep? Have you tried coconut oil soaks on dry hair, if so what does that do for you?
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect
Hi, Firefox. Thanks for responding.
This might be lengthy.

My hair is porous and fine or fine/medium. I don't know how it got to this state, just that it happened pretty quickly. I don't swim, use heat or dye, and I'm never in the sun for long periods. All I can come up with is diet.
I used a chelating shampoo where I previously lived (years ago), but it never did anything. Admittedly, I don't know whether I have hard water at my current location, but I see no obvious signs of it.

I'm unsure of the dews here, but when it feels particularly hot and/or muggy, all humectants leave me uncontrollably frizzy and too soft or too dry. Some also leave me tangled/matted in said weather. One possible exception is honey, which I've had mixed results with when used in DC's. I avoid humectants in the winter, also, with the exception of panthenol. Under 'mild' conditions, I seem to tolerate panthenol ok, too.

My current routine is to just do a rinse with Mill Creek Biotin. I switched to a coney protein conditioner, Organix Biotin/Collagen (***I do not use cones; this was just a brief experiment***), when it started getting muggier outside but stopped when I noticed more shedding (I think it may have been the particular Cyclo-cone in it).
I don't use leave-in right now. I didn't fare too well last summer and the one before that when I used leave-ins (I alternated between Giovanni SAS, KCKT, and Trader Joe's Nourish Spa). I also don't really DC much anymore, but for years my go-to was Giovanni SAS. Over time I grew leery of it because it always left me with super soft but completely dead curls that were crispy by morning. I've tried several other DC's (Aubrey O Honeysuckle, Kenra, etc.) with no consistent results.

The leave-ins I've tried in the past several months include:
Darcy's Pumpkin Seed, Camille Rose Naturals, Oyin Hair Dew, Giovanni Smooth as Silk and Direct Leave-in. All leave me soft, stringy, frizzed, waxy/mushy and brittle. The SAS is the 'least' offensive but still terrible.

Yes, that's the Komaza formula I used yesterday. When I wet my hair today, it felt soft and pretty manageable, but the roots were stuck together as though my cuticle had been raised.
What I meant was that when I styled after the treatment, my hair was so soft I could barely feel it between my fingers. I rinsed later on and my hair felt like it could just fall out - It had no strength, no real 'substance' to it, just felt very soft. I did use coney conditioners after those first two treatments, so I'm wondering whether that had anything to do with it.

I've not tried coconut oil.

Hope this helps any.
Yeah, so I did another strand test, this time on dry hair.

This strand was brittle. Didn't even pull on it much and the middle straightened out while the ends coiled into a very weird, kinky configuration.

I don't get it. All I can think is that my hair is in desperate need of protein/structure, but I don't know. Maybe it really is just damaged.
Have you had your thyroid checked? I don't understand all the hair lingo but if you haven't been treating your hair with chemicals, relaxing, coloring, and using a lot of hear then it could be an underlying medical issue.

My hair always felt great with protein treatments but I couldn't understand why the ends kept splitting worse and worse. When my hairdressor told me about protein overload, I cut out the protein and my ends stopped splitting.
Hi Ashleynicol,

Sorry for the really late reply. I've actually had blood work done recently and I did have my thyroid checked. All seemed normal. I did discover that I'm moderately anemic (extremely low iron stores, low red cell count, etc.) and have a low vitamin D level. How any of that relates to my hair is anyone's guess, but maybe this is a start.
Hi Ashleynicol,

Sorry for the really late reply. I've actually had blood work done recently and I did have my thyroid checked. All seemed normal. I did discover that I'm moderately anemic (extremely low iron stores, low red cell count, etc.) and have a low vitamin D level. How any of that relates to my hair is anyone's guess, but maybe this is a start.
Originally Posted by biloxi
Both relate to hair thinning and hair shredding.

I've suffered from both. The iron deficiency years ago and I'm currently (hopefully) at the end of sorting my Vitamin D issue out.

The hair shredding was the first indication in both cases I had a deficiency before other symptoms followed. With iron deficiency I had bald temples, there as with Vitamin D the hair loss was from my whole head.
Hi Ashleynicol,

Sorry for the really late reply. I've actually had blood work done recently and I did have my thyroid checked. All seemed normal. I did discover that I'm moderately anemic (extremely low iron stores, low red cell count, etc.) and have a low vitamin D level. How any of that relates to my hair is anyone's guess, but maybe this is a start.
Originally Posted by biloxi
Both very much relate to hair heath and strength - for bioavailable vitamin D and a little iron eat more very oily fish like mackerel, herring and sardines/ pilchards, for loads of haem iron eat more organ meats like liver. Even if you are not keen on either both can be made into tasty dishes and you only need fairly small servings.

I am fussy and have trained myself to enjoy both - fish either whole oven baked or in a pate with low fat soft cheese. Liver again as homemade pate, fried with bacon and served with an avocado salad or disguised in a pasta bolognese. To best absorb iron you need to eat with vitamin C rich produce.

Aubrey Organics is richer in oils or butters than the 'true' conditioning agents/ major emollients (fatty alcohols and cationic surfactants), Nourish Spa and Knot Today are richer in plant extracts than major emollients. Oils and butters are not moisturising (add or increase water). The Giovanni and Nourish Spa do contain soy protein tho, it's interesting you don't use them anymore.

It would be worth trying a lighter simpler conditioner - i.e one rich in the major emollients - perhaps containing some hydrolysed protein. I wouldn't use intensive protein on the root area, that should be the healthiest hair on your head so is at higher risk of getting overproteined.

Also overnight coconut oil soaks on dry hair to reduce porosity and increase elasticity. It may be however hair that has grown in weak is beyond saving unfortunately. I know hair that is fried (usually from persulphate bleach) can go mushy, not just hair that is overconditioned. You might consider a hair analysis?
Mineral Oil Versus Coconut Oil: Which is better?
Pedaheh's Hair Blog: GoosefootPrints Hair Analysis with My Analysis Results

HTH.
2a-2c, medium texture, porous/ colour treated. Three years CG. Past bra strap length heading for waist.

CO-wash: Inecto coconut/ Elvive Volume Collagen
Treatments: Komaza Care Matani, coconut/ sweet almond/ fractionated coconut oils, Hairveda Sitrinillah
Leave in: Fructis Sleek & Shine (old), Gliss Ultimate Volume, various Elvive
Styler: Umberto Giannini jelly, Au Naturale styling gelee
Flour sack towel, pixie diffuse or air dry.
Experimenting with: benign neglect

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