Question of the Day: Protein Sensitivity

Q: How do you determine if you are protein sensitive?

A: If your hair feels hard or dry (strawlike) after using something with protein, that is often a sign of protein overdose (similar to how hair feels after a very strong PT, then you need to DC). People who are protein sensitive get this feeling easier/quicker than those who are not, and their hair often feels like this even when it is wet. For instance, I do not use protein products daily, because after a few days my hair feels gross, while someone who is not PS may use light protein daily with no issues. If I use a protein conditioner on my hair sometimes, it will instantly feel like straw, nothing like a conditioner should feel. Low porosity and coarse hair are also more prone to protein sensitivity.

9 comments

  1. Hi I am new to looking after my hair, have been using giovanni smooth as silk as a conditioner and KCKT as a leave in which has been working well, but my hair had been shedding and breaking due to not being previously cared for. I did my first protein treatment with ORS hair mayonaise at the weekend, and for the first 3 days my hair felt amazing and the breakage/shedding stopped literally over night and I have had minimal shedding since., my hair feels strong now, but it seems to be getting progressively drier and straw like. This is day 5. Nothing I put on it seems to be softening it out. I have added some of my leave in ( as I don’t want to wash again) along with EVOO and I am spritzing, but I guess it would seem that my hair doesn’t like protein. Do you have any suggestions. I think the mistake I made was not following up the protein treatment with a moisturizing conditioner.

  2. Silly question, is the protein sensitivity do permanant damage to the hair? i recently used a reconstructor, having no idea of protein sensitivity. Just looked like a nice conditioner for strengthening my colored hair. Turned my beautiful hair into what feels like hay and looks like dread locks. I realized something was not right and began searching online and found protein is in these reconstuctors and sensitivity is a big issue. Just nobody says if this is temporary or if this is real damage now done to my hair. I have been cowashing, and getting softer, but i have sooooo much frizz now! I never had such frizz on the top of my head, its like a helmet! Wondering when this will subside, or if those frizz are there to stay?

    1. No, it’s not permanent. Your balance is off now – you need to moisturize to get it back to normal. Clarifying will also help because protein coats your hair so when you wash your hair some of the coating will wash away.

  3. Well, when I do a protein treatment my hair feels horrible. It feels really dry and I usually have to correct that with another moisturizing conditioner like Aussie Moist. But, my hair is a bit porous and drinks water pretty fast. I just did the porosity test and my hair floats, but I swear if I put water on my hair it dries superfast. I just did a Cholestorol treatment and left it on overnight and when I woke up my hair was hard, dry and just a hot mess. I immediately used a leave-in and it corrected the damage.

    1. Protein treatments are supposed to make your hair hard (to strengthen), and you are supposed to follow up with a deep conditioner. People who are PS get the same reaction with using lighter protein products, like the protein in stylers or lighter rinse out conditioners.

  4. That’s a good answer Elle. Only recently worked it out myself (back in October last year), about why my hair needed light protein on a regular basis, a bit porous! and today i read about it in that Science of Black Hair book. cool 🙂

    1. Do you have the book?!?!? How is it? I keep seeing “reviews” on it from people who haven’t even read it yet! I want to know if it’s worth it to have as a resource. I love hair books but I have like four.

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