How to Deal With Protein in Hair Products

Last updated on November 18th, 2018 at 06:57 pm

protein in hair products

They are in nearly every hair product. It’s difficult to find even a deep conditioner without a little protein in it. That’s because they are also used as humectants (to help retain moisture) in hair care products.

In an ideal world, protein would only be a part of protein treatments. Yet, for some reason most manufacturers put protein in nearly every hair product they make – from shampoo to stylers. It can be difficult to find even a deep conditioner without a little protein in it.

For those with low porosity hair or those whose hair doesn’t seem to react well to protein in hair products, it can be problematic. A build up of these proteins on the hair shaft may cause your hair to feel brittle.

Yet, if your favorite hair products contain protein in them, there’s no need to chuck them. I mean, they are your favorites for a reason right? They must be helpful in your hair regimen.

Check Your Ingredients

Sometimes its difficult to spot proteins in your hair products. That’s why you must become skilled at reading ingredient labels.

There’s a number of proteins that you may be unaware are actually proteins. So, let’s take a look at a pretty exhaustive list of proteins you may find in your hair products.

General names for Protein in Hair Products

Amino acids
Silk Proteins
Animal protein
Vegetable protein
Glyco protein
Blue-green algae
Quinoa seed extract
Milk protein
Oat flour
Rice protein
Soy protein
Wheat protein

You’ll also find these words associated with proteins:

Cocodimonium hydroxypropylnium
Cocoyl hydrolyzed
Potassium cocoyl
Glutamic acid

For hair products that are not fully natural, there may be a long ingredient list. The first 5-6 are what compose the product in abundance.

So, if you see a protein at the very beginning of the ingredient list, chances are you may want to steer clear of it unless you are seeking to treat your hair to a nice healthy dose of protein. If that’s the case, you’ll want to follow it with a moisturizing deep conditioning product sans protein so that you can maintain your hair’s protein/moisture balance.

Now, let’s take a look at a list of hair products (by type) that either don’t contain protein or do contain it but are also moisture balanced. I’ve used and liked each of these products (except the Shea Moisture ones highlighted in red…I plan to try these and have heard good things) so you can also consider this my list of recommendations.

Deep Conditioners That Don’t Contain Protein

As I Am Hydration Elation Intensive Deep Conditioner
Eden Body Works Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner

Leave in Conditioners Without Proteins

Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner
Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia Leave-In Conditioner
Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner (not labeled as a leave in but you can definitely leave some in)
Shea Moisture Baobab & Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Leave-In Detangler

Protein/Moisture Balanced Deep/Leave-In Conditioners

Mielle Organics Babassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner

The Mane Choice Ancient Egyptian Anti-Breakage & Repair Antidote Hair Mask

Camille Rose Naturals Coconut Water Penetrating Hair Treatment

True by Made Beautiful Intense Treatment Masque

Shea Moisture Sacha Inchi Rescue & Repair Hair Masque

Shea Moisture Manukah Honey and Mafura Oil Hydration Intensive Masque

TRESemme Botanique Conditioner (same deal as AO Honeysuckle Rose)

A Prayer for Our Hair:

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of protein to strengthen our bodies from our muscles to the tips of our hair. May you give us wisdom on what type of protein to use for our individual hair needs. In Jesus Name, Amen.


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  1. Thank you for sharing this information. I am taking pics of the list of proteins so I can have it at hand whenever I buy any hair products… My hair does not like protein.

    1. Hi Cecilia-

      It’s like the type of protein you are using or the imbalance of protein to moisture. Without protein, you’d have no hair 🙂 It’s mostly protein. You likely only need light protein treatments balanced with moisturizing treatments.

  2. Thank you Michelle,for your comments, and God bless i am also a christian

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