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Can I Over-Condition?

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Back in the day … like 2 years ago ;), you couldn’t tell me that there was such a thing as over-conditioning. As a 12 year natural, the first thing that I would tell anyone transitioning, newly natural or interested in natural was, “Condition, condition and condition again! There is no such thing as over-conditioning!” Well, to tell you the truth, I still pretty much stand by that statement. Buuuuutttttt, here’s the thing. That’s because I think the term “over-conditioned” is a bit of a misnomer. I think most of us, when we are seeking an answer to that question, want to know whether we can over-moisturize our hair. And the answer to that is yes … a fact that I learned the hard way.

via The Science of Black Hair

Out in the “real world” overconditioning, or “tipping too far” on the moisture side of the protein/moisture balance, is virtually rare …

The problem of overconditioning seems to arise once the individual has been indoctrinated into all things hair. By now, she has figured out which products are protein-based and which are more moisture leaning-and here, the tendency to over moisturize tends to develop. She develops an aversion to protein and throws all of her resources into achieving a perpetual “moisture high.” The proliferation of true “protein overload” stories may have gotten her to this point! She knows that there is a gentle, often tricky balance to maintain but she puts all of her eggs in her moisturizing basket just to be safe. She may even realize that different proteins have different properties, and some actually improve the hair’s elasticity rather than toughen the strands-but she’s not taking any chances with protein period. This aversion causes her to moisturize and overcondition her hair until the cows come home.

“Protein-Sensitivity”
In 2010, I discovered the term, “protein sensitivity” and thought that I’d finally diagnosed the problem that I had with many products formulated for black/”ethnic” hair. These products, especially the conditioners, most often made my hair hard when wet and brittle and hay-like once dry. So, when I discovered that this was because they contained protein, I started to avoid anything with protein like the plague. Instead, I began using henna as my strengthening treatment. However, an over-zealous henna routine (i.e. multiple full-length treatments in a short period of time) resulted in significant curl-loosening.

Therefore, in 2011, I started doing roots only treatments of henna, for color and strength without the resultant curl-loosening. But, I didn’t incorporate anything else to strengthen the length of my strands. By October 2011, my hair felt incredibly soft, but it was also flyaway, snagged at the slightest touch and was shedding (and probably breaking) like crazy. Every time I touched my hair, strands were littering my hands. At this point, I realized that I had omitted an important part of my regimen: strength. I began researching protein and revisited it after learning how to use it the right way (see this post for deets).

Revisiting Protein – ApHogee
After my first ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor, I saw an IMMEDIATE difference in the feel of my hair … it was harder, but hard-strong, not dry or brittle … and my shedding/breakage drastically decreased. So, I was a convert and began to incorporate protein into my regimen more regularly, typically every 3-4 weeks.

Then, in February, I tried my first (and thus far, only) heavy-duty ApHogee Two Step Protein Treatment. It went well and I would have done more, except that I didn’t have the proper bonnet dryer to safely and efficiently dry the first step.

Enter Aubrey Organics GPB
Back in May, I decided to try Aubrey GPB (Glycogen Protein Balancing) Conditioner for the first time. Something happened that I haven’t seen in a long, long, looooooong time … my shed hair was curly!!! That’s right. I’m a natural with curly/wavy hair who is telling you that I couldn’t remember the last time that I’d seen curly shed hair … maybe a year or two? My strands just seemed wavy and some were essentailly straight. But, after my first GPB treatment, I looked at my shower stall and, to my surprise, saw curly strands for the first time in ages! And, I got excited!! Every wash session with Aubrey GPB, the amount of curly strands seem to increase! This past Saturday, after my haircut, I had a shed hair that was a complete, collapsed coil and I ran into the living room to show Wei! I told him, “I know that this seems silly, but I’m so excited because my curls are back!! It’s a coil!!”

Towards the middle/bottom left, you see those straightish
strands that I was used to seeing.

Now, this isn’t an entirely fair comparison, but I had to show you a pic of my “curls” (i.e. waves) in February and my curls (i.e. CURLS! *lol*) now. The reason the comparison isn’t really fair is because I got a haircut last week to get rid of my henna-loosened ends and my hair is freshly washed after being straight for 2 weeks in the pic on the left whereas, in the pic on the right, it is 7 days old and shrunken.

“Over-Conditioning”
So, what’s my point in all of this? First, I wanted to clarify the term over-conditioned, because I think that most of us call both moisturizing and protein-based post-wash treatments “conditioners.” Therefore, when I say that “over-conditioned” is somewhat of a misnomer, it is because I think that most of us are really referring to over-moisturizing the hair and not using too much protein. We tend to refer to the latter as “protein overload.” Second, we can dip too far to either side and the key is to give our hair what it needs when it needs it. Sometimes it’s moisture, sometimes it’s strength/protein. So, how do you know what your hair needs? It’s all about elasticity.

  • Take a few strands of shed hair and hold one set of ends in the fingertips of one hand. Then lightly tug and release the other ends with your other fingers.
  • Does your hair stretch and stay there (i.e. it doesn’t shrink back like a spring)? Then you probably need protein.
  • Does your normally curly hair appear limp and curl-less? Then you probably need protein.
  • Does your hair snap/break immediately or quickly? Then you probably need moisture.
  • Does your hair stretch, then spring back? Sounds like you have the perfect balance of protein and moisture!

The above is nothing new and you’ve probably read it before. So, what I hope to add to the conversation is what I think that I’ve learned.

  • One, the fact that my shed hair no longer had any curl was an indicator that something was off. Though a variety of factors can contribute to this, over-moisturizing should have been one of the “Usual Suspects.”
  • Second, Aubrey GPB restored the curl that I thought had somehow been lost. That says to me that not all proteins are created equal for all people. Though my shedding/breakage decreased drastically with the ApHogee 2 Minute Reconstructor and the 2 Step Treatment, my shed hair still had little to no curl. However, with the introduction of Aubrey GPB, my curls are springing back to life and elasticity is returning in leaps and bounds.

So, all this to say, if you have avoided protein and your strands have become limp and lifeless and your curls have seemed to all but disappear, you may want to try experimenting with different types of protein. However, remember, just as “over-moisturizing/conditioning” is a real thing, so is protein-overload. And, it’s easier to correct over-moisturized hair than hair with too much protein. So, do your research, proceed with caution and always listen to your hair!

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How do you know when you need moisture or protein? Have you experimented with protein treatments/conditioners/reconstructors? Which one(s) have you found work(s) the best for you?

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I ♥ Aubrey Organics!!!

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This past Saturday I finally made time for a long overdue henna day.

Pre-Shampoo Deep Conditioning
On Friday night, I decided to take a leap of faith and do a pre-shampoo deep conditioner treatment with the Aubrey Organics GPB (Glycogen Protein Balancing) Conditioner mixed with Vatika Oil. Though it’s a protein conditioner and I was doing a henna treatment, I suspected that I could violate the cardinal rule to not use protein and henna at the same time for two reasons.

  1. I only henna my roots, so I could concentrate the protein conditioner on my length and go lighter on the roots that would get henna.
  2. I was doing the protein treatment prior to shampooing, so I would still be following the henna treatment and protein with a moisturizing deep conditioner.

I slept in the treatment overnight and, on Saturday at around 1 pm, I set out all of my henna and indigo supplies and hopped in the shower. I rinsed the AO GPB/Vatika Oil combo and my hair felt strong, sleek and smooth! SCORE!! It wasn’t hard or brittle at all, it just felt good! After rinsing the deep treatment, I placed my hair into 6 loose twists and shampooed with diluted DevaCare No Poo (again, diluting the shampoo with water makes it go on so much easier, more thoroughly and aids in detangling). I rinsed that and then applied Herbal Essence Hello Hydration to thoroughly finger detangle before rinsing and hopping out of the shower. Again, detangling was a total breeze. I can’t tell you how awesome that feels as my hair had started to become a struggle to detangle and I thought that it was due to the added length and wear and tear. What a difference Aubrey Organics makes!!! I am in love (I even begged Wei to let me put it in his hair on Sunday for a pre-poo DC before he hit the shower so that he could see what I was talking about!!! I was just so excited about it. I don’t think he was too impressed though ;). Of course, he didn’t condition after he shampooed either. Men. *lol*).

Henna/Hendigo
Now on to the henna/hendigo treatment. I reeeeeeeaaally didn’t feel like doing a two step treatment,which at the minimum adds another 1 1/2 hours to the process, so I decided to give hendigo another whirl. I applied straight henna (mixed with honey and Sally’s GVP Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm) to the center top roots of my hair. Then I applied what I think was about 2/3 indigo mixed with 1/3 henna to do the sides and back of my hair (again, roots only) in hopes that it would make them a dark brown. Finally, I applied Sally’s GVP MBCB to the untreated length of my hair and sat under my heat cap for a full 4 hours. #FAIL … AGAIN.

Ugh. So, it looks like I have no option if I want dark brown/black hair in some areas. I can’t take the shortcut. I have to do the two-step henna/indigo process *sigh*.

Anywho, though the hendigo was a bust, the length of my hair that had conditioner on it was so smooth and sleek!! The parts with henna had the typical, post henna, dry, hay-like feel. As it seemed the Sally’s GVP MBCB worked wonders on my length, I decided to pull out the jar of the real deal that I picked up many months ago on sale at Ulta!! Although it isn’t formulated as a deep conditioner, it seemed to work great! So, I applied it heavily to my henna treated hair and very lightly to the length. Then, I sat under the heat cap again.

After an hour, I removed the heat cap and allowed my hair to cool for about 10 minutes. Then, I pulled out my other new Aubrey’s acquisition, the Green Tea Cream Rinse. This is a different looking conditioning product. It has a light, minty green color and smells like mint green tea. The consistency is like Pepto Bismol, which was a surprise. I guess it is because the first ingredient is “coconut fatty acid cream base?”

What they say:

Want shiny, healthy-looking hair in a hurry? Fast-acting cream rinse infuses vital nutrients and rinses clean to help hair dry quickly for easy styling. Detangles on contact and controls flyaways to leave lengths silky and full and curls softly defined.

I diluted it with filtered water in a dye applicator bottle and applied it directly over the DC, then rinsed with cold water. Again, smooth, sleek, silky hair!!

Styling
Finally, I hopped out of the shower one last time and proceeded to gently and easily finger detangle and set my hair in 13 plump twists … yes, you read that right. THIRTEEN PLUMP twists! When does that happen on my fine hair?? I used AO Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner as my leave-in and sealed the ends with a JBCO/EVOO mix.

Wei and I then went out to dinner and those jokers had the nerve to be dry by the time we got home a couple of hours later. AGAIN, another “never” event for my hair!! The hits just kept coming!!

 Since my twists were dry, I decided to release them and found a very defined, but soft and silky twist-out!

Could have used some more fluffing, but it worked. I can’t wait until I fully transition out my thinner ends!

And that’s it!! Aubrey Organics is a KEEPER!! My PJ ways may be over y’all! I’ll probably still try other things to give reviews, but I really think that the products in this line are going to be my staples/holy grails!! I mean, have you seen Jasmine and Zhara’s hair?!?! The proof is in the pudding!! I ordered one other product that I’ve yet to try, the Green Tea Clarifying Shampoo. I didn’t want to strip my hair too much as I was doing a henna treatment. So, I didn’t use it this wash day. But, I want to try it this upcoming Friday in order to get nicely clean hair for my first Curlformers attempt!! We’ll see!! I don’t know if I should be experimenting with a Meet-Up on the line! LOL!!

Oh, and lastly, I put my dryer together on Sunday! It was very easy to assemble. Test drive pending.

Don’t get it twisted. I assembled it! He’s just Vanna White;).

GOOD MORNING SUNSHINES!! WISHING YOU ALL A WONDERFUL MONDAY!