How do you know if you are overconditioning?

1.) Stretchy, gummy, limp/lank hair.
The number one sign of overconditioning is simply limp, stretchy, gummy feeling hair. This stretchiness can occur with or without hair breakage. Though the hair is typically very soft when it is in an overconditioned state, it is this softness that can cause it to eventually break, often with little manipulation. Stretchiness without breakage is the first warning sign that protein is needed to strengthen the hair. When your hair reaches a degree of pliability (stretch factor) that is acceptable to you, introduce a bit of protein to help your hair maintain this level of moisturization. Remember–The protein/moisture balance is not about having to experience breakage on one end before correcting, and then starting to feel breakage on the other side before correcting that. What you do NOT want to do is wait for the breakage to happen before you start correcting with protein. Breakage is the final warning sign.
2.) No moisture retention, chronic dryness
One other sign of overconditioning is that your hair is not retaining moisture, and feels porous. As stated above, overconditioning leads to porosity issues- though, in a less invasive way compared to chemical treatments like chemical relaxing or coloring.
3.) Low protein use and belong to a chemically vulnerable population
You may be over-conditioning your hair if you belong to one of the vulnerable, chemically treated populations listed above (relaxed or color-treated hair), and you haven’t given your hair even a light protein boost in months.
How I Balance with Protein
I use two product lines exclusively on my hair-Kenra for moisture and Joico for protein. When I plan to deep condition my hair, I often use a combination of these two lines for a customized conditioning experience. So on hand, I’ll have:
• Joico Moisture Recovery Balm or Joico K-Pac (protein line)
• Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner or Kenra Platinum Conditioner (moisture line)
You can use whichever products you like for your moisture and protein needs. The ratios of the products you use will help you achieve a customized balance, and will depend on your exact mission at the time.
For example, If I’m using protein just for moisture assistance-meaning my hair needs a more moisture-focused conditioning session — I use just a little of the lighter protein conditioner. (For me that is about a nickel sized amount of Joico Moisture recovery mixed with a bunch of Kenra). If I’m using protein to try to maintain my regular moisture/protein balance when its fairly balanced right where I want it, no breakage – I’ll add a bit more of the Joico Moisture Recovery to the Kenra generally at a 50/50 ratio, or a bit less. If I am trying to correct a balance that has starting to edge a bit too far over onto my moisture side, I’ll use the stronger protein conditioner from Joico’s K-Pak line and will up the ratio of Joico to Kenra.

An excerpt from the article “Protein and Moisture Balancing in Black Hair Care: When to Say No to Moisture” by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy a Houston-based freelance writer, publisher and long-time, healthy hair care advocate and enthusiast. A trained Health Scientist, Sivasothy has written extensively on the intricacies of caring for hair at home.
More articles on hair care by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy can be found here.

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