Too Much Protein In Hair: How To Fix It

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Ramona Sinha

Protein is the primary component of the hair, and healthy hair needs to have a balance between protein and moisture. However, too much protein can have the opposite effect.

Protein overload can make the hair feel brittle and dry. You also experience more breakage and shedding. This article explains the possible causes of protein overload and ways to deal with it.

The Reasons For Protein Overload Explained

Protein overload occurs when you use too many protein-rich hair products. Shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, serums often contain keratin. Too much keratin in your hair follicles prevents water from penetrating the hair shafts, making the hair dry and brittle.

If you notice a difference in texture, check your hair products to see if they contain any of the following:

  • Soy protein
  • Silk protein
  • Keratin
  • Hydrolyzed collagen
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Hydrolyzed rice protein
  • Amino acids

If you have protein sensitivity, avoid using protein products for a while. Excess protein buildup affects all types of hair, especially low-porosity hair (type 3 and 4). Low porosity hair cannot absorb water easily, and using protein-rich products can further prevent water absorption, causing hair breakage.

Here are some signs of protein overload in your hair.

5 Signs Of Protein Overload

1. Brittle And Dry Hair

Too much protein makes the hair dry and brittle.  Try pulling a strand. If it snaps easily without stretching, it indicates excess protein.

2. Stiff Or Straw-Like Feeling

Run your fingers over your hair. If it feels rough, coarse, and straw-like, it is because of excess protein. Use a deep hydrating conditioner and nourishing oils to moisturize the hair.

3. Radical Change In Curl Pattern Or Hair Texture

If you experience noticeable changes in the hair texture or pattern, it may be a sign of protein overload in your hair. It can involve loss of the natural curl pattern or the usual sheen.

4. Lack Of Shine

Healthy and lustrous hair needs the right amount of hydration. When the hair lacks water due to protein overload, it loses shine. You may notice your hair losing its natural color and becoming dull.

5. Shedding

Though not proven scientifically, excess hair shedding could be one of the signs of protein overload.

In the next section, we discuss the solutions for protein overload in hair.

How To Fix Protein Overload

To determine if your hair has protein overload, you may try the hair strand test. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take a strand of either wet or dry hair and stretch it gently.
  • If it snaps easily, it indicates protein
  • If it stretches a bit and then snaps, it has the right protein-water balance.

If your hair has excess protein, try the following methods to fix it. Remember, fixing the problem takes time and may take weeks or months.

1. Avoid Hair Products With Protein

Do not buy hair products that have protein. If you are using a protein-containing hair product, stop using it. Some hair care products mention protein as an ingredient, while others mention amino acids, yogurt, and keratin.

Avoid using coconut oil as it prevents protein loss from the hair (1). Use hydrating products that contain natural ingredients to revitalize your hair and scalp.

2. Hair Clarifying Products

Get a good deep-cleansing or clarifying shampoo to remove excess protein, sebum, and dirt buildup. Use it once in two weeks and always follow up with a hydrating conditioner.

3. Moisturizer

Your hair needs moisturizing ingredients to cover the moisture loss and regain its natural bounce. Use hydrating hair masks and oils (except coconut oil) to keep the strands hydrated and soft.

To increase the moisture levels in your hair, you may follow this hair care routine:

  • Co-wash and shampoo on an alternate basis.
  • Apply a deep conditioner and wrap your head with a warm towel for better penetration.
  • Use a moisturizing hair mask once a week.
  • Use a natural oil or hair serum to seal the hair cuticles and prevent moisture loss.
  • Try steaming your hair with a steamer.
  • Use overnight masks to moisturize and seal your hair. Cover it with a plastic bag overnight. Your hair should feel hydrated by morning.

These tips can surely help you deal with too much protein in your hair and help it regain its former shine.


Your hair needs the right mix of moisture and protein. Too much moisture causes swelling and hair damage, and too much protein makes it dry and brittle. That is why it is crucial to use a mix of hair care products. Use a mix of protein-rich and hydrating products for optimum hair health. If you think your hair has excess protein, stop using protein products, and follow the tips to fix it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does protein overload cause brittle hair?

Protein overload is one of the reasons for brittle hair. However, the lack of hair maintenance and excess heat styling can also cause brittleness.

Is coconut oil helpful against protein overload?

No, coconut oil is not helpful against protein overload – it prevents protein loss.

How soon can I get rid of protein overload?

Depending on the severity, it may take a few weeks or months to get rid of the excess protein.


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Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.