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I'm Verna,
Your Curly-Haired Friend.

Curly hair is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. It could be super-defined one day and a frizzy concoction the next day – and it's never exactly the same from one head to another. Our mission is to equip you with the necessary tools for restoring and maintaining healthy locks and celebrating the hair you were born with! 

10 Best Protein Free Deep Conditioners for Curly Hair

March 18, 2022


Verna Meachum

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Curl care

I am highly experienced in the beauty industry and specialize in writing for brands and websites that focus on curly hair care. Moreover, I actually have curly hair and have curly-haired children with varying hair textures. I am also surrounded by curly-haired friends, including curly hairstylists and curly-haired family members. You get the point :) I’m well-versed in the language and nuances of curly hair care, styling tips, and product recommendations.

Furthermore, I collaborate with my friend who has a Ph.D. in organic and inorganic chemistry and works as an R&D Chemist to help us navigate through the misinformation around curly hair care. He advises us on Hair Care Science to ensure we are well-informed.

Hi,I'm Verna

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Last Updated on April 10, 2023 by Verna Meachum

Do you have curly hair that needs a little help? Are you trying to switch up your routine and infuse your mane with some much-needed moisture, but don’t want to use products loaded with protein?

For many of us with curly hair, finding the perfect balance between hydration and protection is hard. Too much protein can cause our strands to feel weighed down or hard – but without any protein at all, our hair can lack strength or bounce. 

Thankfully, we’ve rounded up our top ten picks for the best protein free deep conditioners on the market.

All of these light yet powerfully moisturizing conditioners are specifically formulated for curly hair—so get ready to slip into something comfortable and enjoy pampering sessions that leave your hair smooth, soft, and free from breakage!

Protein Free Deep Conditioners for Curly Hair

Alikay Naturals Avocado  Moisture Cream Hair Mask

Don’t be fooled by what’s on the label because it states that it is a moisture “repairing” mask. Usually when you see “repairing” on a label, it means protein.

But Alikay Naturals has found a way to make this mask protein-free by adding ingredients like shea butter, olive oil, and avocado.

These ingredients will help to moisturize and repair your strands without the use of protein.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol(Coconut derived), Stearalkonium Chloride(Coconut derived), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice(Aloe Vera Juice), Persea Gratissima (Avocado Oil), Persea Gratissima (Avocado Butter), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary Oil), Olea Europaea (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), Citric Acid, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Germ Oil), Behentrimonium Methosulfate (Natural Detangling Agent), Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil , Sorbic Acid(Food Grade Preservative),Arctium lappa (Burdock) Root, Fragrance (Parfum), Color additives, Botanical Blend Ingredients.

As I Am Hydration Elation

This is one of the best deep moisturizers for hair on the market and is a staple in many curly girl’s routines. It’s infused with herbal ingredients and enhances manageability and overall hair health.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Betaine, Cetyl Esters, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Quaternium-91, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Methosulfate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Phytosterols, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Fragrance/Parfum, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Polyquaternium-37, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Ppg-1 Trideceth-6, Sodium Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Abies Balsamea (Balsam Canada) Resin, Limonene. *Certified Organic.

I AM Hydration Elation Intensive Conditioner, 8 Fl Oz
$14.99 $11.56 ($1.44 / Ounce)
Grab it Here
06/09/2023 02:48 pm GMT

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner

Transform struggling dry hair in 3 minutes with this formula that works to replenish and hydrate.

This hair treatment uses several different oils to help lock in moisture. If you follow the Curly Girl Method, then beware that it does contain silicone and may not be for you.

Ingredients: Water, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Fragrance, Glutamic Acid, BIS-Aminopropyl Dimethicone, Benzyl Alcohol, EDTA, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.

Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioning Mask

This is a vitamin-packed moisturizing and strengthening treatment infused with blue green algae that strengthens hair and prevents breakage. This is the best deep conditioner for 4C hair!

It also contains Mango and Cocoa Butter that moisturizes and locks in moisture.

Ingredients: Deionized Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Behentrimonium Methosulfate (BTMS), Cetyl Alcohol, Theobroma Cacao ( Cocoa) Seed Butter, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Panthenol, (Honey) Mel, Vegetable Glycerin, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Phenoxyethanol (Optiphen ND), Caprylyl Glycol, Blue Green Algae, Biotin, Msm, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Phthalate Free Fragrance.

Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioner, 8 fl oz
$19.99 ($2.50 / Fl Oz)
Grab it Here
06/10/2023 10:58 am GMT

Curl Junkie Curl Rehab Moisturizing Hair Treatment

If you’ve never tried this brand, then you’re missing out. This is a lightweight moisturizing protein free deep conditioner that uses Aloe, herbs, and healing butters and oils to restore and revitalize your curls.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail) Leaf Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Leaf Extract, Melissa Officinalis (Melissa) Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Yucca Leaf Extract, Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip) Fruit Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Theobroma Grandiflorum (Cupuaçu) Seed Butter, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Vanilla Planifolia oil, Cananga Odorata oil, (Soy) Lecithin, Fragrance/Parfum, *Benzyl Benzoate, Citric Acid. *Fragrance Component.

Curlsmith Double Cream Deep Quencher

This deep conditioning treatment was specifically formulated for ultra-dry hair. It has a thick, buttery consistency, which will deliver intense moisture to your curls. This is a great deep conditioner for 2C hair. Oh, and it’s a vegan formula!

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol (Plant Derived), Behentrimonium Chloride, Propanediol, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Cetyl Esters, Fragrance (Parfum), Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Selaginella Lepidophylla (Rose Of Jericho) Extract, Carapa Guaianensis (Andiroba) Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Leaf Extract, Piper Nigrum (Black Pepper) Seed Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Panthenol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Disodium Edta, Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Linalool, Limonene.*Organic Ingredients.

EDEN BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner

This is a hydrating, nourishing hair mask that has a thick consistency. The botanical blend of ingredients in this deep conditioner works to restore the smoothness of your hair that may have suffered from breakage.

It contains Jojoba Oil, Tiare Flower, and Tea Tree Oil to bring nutrients and help smooth and repair hair.

It’s a strengthening formula without the protein!

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Stearalkonium Chloride, Coconut Oil, Tiare Flower, Glycerin, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Polyquaternium-11, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Camomile) Flower Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor)Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol , Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid.

Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment

This deep treatment does a wonderful job at moisturizing curls without weighing them down. It’s a creamy, moisturizing treatment that is made with all-natural ingredients to quench the driest curls.

It contains a blend of ultra-hydrating ingredients includes cocoa butter and shea butter to help soften and smooth your hair.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice Powder, Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail) Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Laurus Nobilis (Bay Laurel) Leaf Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Leaf Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Leaf Extract, Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Root Extract, Althea Officinalis (Marshmallow) Root Extract, Origanum Vulgare (Oregano) Leaf Extract, Cymbopogon Flexuosus (Lemongrass) Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Lecithin, Cinnamal, Citral, Eugenol, Geraniol, Citronellol, Limonene, Linalool, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol.

Jessicurl, Deep Conditioning Treatment
$18.85 ($2.36 / Fl Oz)
Grab it Here
06/10/2023 11:18 am GMT

OBIA Natural Hair Care Babassu Deep Conditioner

This is a vegan formula that is enriched with Babassu oil, Avocado oil, and Pro-Vitamin B5. It promotes the natural moisture balance in your hair.

It does not contain any sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, petroleum, phthalates, DEA, synthetic colors and drying alcohols, just all good ingredients for your hair!

I honestly think I’ve never heard a bad review about this product, so go for it!

Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Stearyl Alcohol, Vegetable Glycerin, Orbignya Oleifera (Babassu) Seed Oil, Centrimonium Chloride, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Panthenol, Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Phthalate-Free Fragrance (Parfum).

Ouidad Triple Treat Deep Conditioner

This deeply conditions and moisturizes your curls while restoring dryness. The intense moisture comes from natural oils and botanicals, which helps to restore and retain moisture.

This does contain silicone, so if you follow the Curly Girl Method then this is not for you.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Glycerin, Bis-Hydroxy/Methoxy Amodimethicone, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Behentrimonium Chloride, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Lanolin, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Cetyl Esters, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Morinda Citrifolia Fruit Powder, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Leaf Extract, Cellulose, Polyquaternium-37, Quaternium-91, Palmitoyl Myristyl Serinate, BHT, Tocopherol, PEG-8/SMDI Copolymer, PEG-8, Panthenol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PPG-1 Trideceth-6, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, C10-40 Isoalkylamidopropylethyldimonium Ethosulfate, Amodimethicone, Trideceth-12, Sodium Polyacrylate, Sodium Acetate, Vinegar, Disodium EDTA, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetrimonium Methosulfate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Isododecane, Propylene Glycol Dibenzoate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Dipropylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Limonene, Linalool, Fragrance (Parfum).

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque 

This Shea Moisture hair treatment is perfect for dry damaged hair. It intensely moisturizes hair. It contains certified organic shea butter to protect and restore hair’s natural balance. It also contains  vitamin E, argan oil, and sea kelp to help repair and add shine.

This is a protein-free deep conditioner that will leave your curls feeling moisturized and healthy.


Protein Sensitive Hair

Image of my daughter's hair with low porosity hair after using As I Am Hydration Elation protein free deep conditioner for curly hair.
In this picture, my daughter’s hair was low porosity at the time. We discovered that her hair didn’t thrive with an overload of protein compared to other products; however, after using the As I Am Hydration Elation deep conditioner, she got amazing results!

Do you have protein sensitive hair? It’s a question many curly girls ask themselves at one time or another. If you’re not sure, check out my article on protein sensitivity to see if you might be.

Protein-rich products are intended to fill in the gaps and holes along the hair shaft hair caused by damage.

But, if there are no gaps or holes to fill, then adding protein can actually cause problems resulting in the accumulation of protein molecules at the hair’s surface.

Build up will leave your hair feeling stiff and straw-like and may difficult to style.

The most common reason for protein sensitivity for low porosity hair is overusing proteins. However, you could also be using the wrong protein at the wrong time for your hair type.

Perhaps, smaller protein molecules will work better for your hair than larger protein molecules.

If you’re ever experiencing build up, then you’ll want to clarify your hair.

It’s also important to alternate between protein-based and protein-free treatments to avoid protein overload.

When is protein required for low porosity hair?

When you see breakage or a loss of hair elasticity, it’s an indication that your hair may benefit from protein.

Protein treatments must also be carefully monitored to avoid causing further damage to your hair. For example, if you swim frequently in chlorinated water, you may time your protein session right after a swim so that your hair can benefit from the protein.

How often should I use protein?

If you use protein treatments often, you may only need to do so every other week or once a month.

Listen to your hair and see how it responds to protein. If you use too much, you’ll know because your hair will feel dry and brittle.

For more in-depth information about protein and low porosity hair, read: Best Proteins For Low Porosity Hair and Does Low Porosity Hair Need Protein? How To Know.

Protein Ingredients

Are you unsure as to what to look for on a hair product label? Here are some common protein ingredients to watch out for:

  • Keratin
  • Silk Amino Acids
  • Collagen
  • Peptides
  • Hydrolyzed Silk Protein
  • Oat
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Modified proteins, such as Cocodimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed ___keratin, wheat, etc.

Protein-free deep conditioners are a great option for those who are protein sensitive or those who want to avoid a protein altogether.

What to Look for When Purchasing a Deep Conditioner

Consider your hair needs

When looking for a deep conditioner, it is important to consider your hair’s needs and address those specific needs.

If your hair is damaged from chemical treatments or heat styling, you might need a deep conditioner with protein to help strengthen it.

If your hair feels stiff or rigid, however, you should look for a deep conditioner that will add moisture. By considering your hair’s needs, you can find a deep conditioner that will work best for you.

Protein is often beneficial for repairing damaged hair, while moisture is essential for maintaining healthy hair.

If you are unsure what your hair needs, consult a professional to help you decide. Once you know what your hair needs, finding the perfect deep conditioner will be a breeze.

Natural Ingredients

Some of the best protein free deep conditioners for hair often contain natural ingredients. They can gently but effectively nourish the scalp and hair follicles by imparting vitamins, minerals, oils, and botanical extracts.

Natural ingredients also tend to be more gentle on the hair and scalp, which is important for those with sensitive skin or scalps.

Emollients and Humectants

Emollients are ingredients in hair products that create a smooth, uniform film on the surface of the hair to soften it and they do not produce an unpleasant sticky or greasy texture. They also help to keep tangles at bay by taming and smoothing the cuticle surface, which adds shine and lustre.

Humectants are ingredients that absorb moisture from the air and help to keep hair hydrated. They are often used in deep conditioners to help lock in moisture and prevent dryness.

Common emollients and humectants include glycerin, propylene glycol, and honey.

These ingredients are essential for hair that is hydrated and manageable, as well as making the detangling process considerably easier.

Low Porosity Hair and Protein

Low porosity hair has tightly packed cuticles
Low porosity hair has cuticles that lie flat and are smooth.

If you have low porosity hair, it is important to use products that will not further weigh down your strands.

Low porosity hair can be difficult to moisturize because the cuticles are tightly packed and lay flat, making it more resistant for moisture to penetrate the hair strands.

This can often lead to product build-up on the hair, which can leave it feeling heavy and greasy.

Lower porosity hair has very few broken cuticles, so it tends to remain smooth and sleek.

Protein-free deep conditioners are often a good choice for those with low porosity hair, as they can help to add moisture without adding protein.

There are many protein-free deep conditioners on the market, so finding one that suits your needs should not be difficult.

When choosing a protein-free deep conditioner for low porosity hair, look for one that contains emollients or humectants.

These ingredients will help to add moisture, hydration, and flexibility while also detangling your strands and making them more manageable.


Why is deep conditioning important?

Deep conditioning is important because it helps hydrate and nourish the hair. They help restore what may have been lost due to the environment, everyday wear and tear, etc. It can also help to repair damage and add shine.

However, it is not for everyone. Deep conditioning hair is not an exact science because everyone’s hair is different. It all depends on the hair type, the condition of the cuticle, and a range of other factors.

How can I put moisture in my hair without protein?

There are a number of ways to add moisture to your hair without protein. One way is by using natural ingredients such as honey, glycerin, aloe vera, etc.

Also, find protein free hair products, such as protein free shampoos and conditioners, and protein free leave-in conditioners. Learn what moisturizing ingredients are and find products that have them.

Do you have a favorite protein-free deep conditioner? Let us know in the comments below! And, be sure to check out our other blog posts below.

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I had to listen to what my hair curls are finally ready to take in some moisture again!!!


- renee, Stylist Liaison

- renee, Stylist Liaison

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See how easy the topics are to find on her page (a few posts screenshot)? There is no topic Verna hasn't covered.

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- dominique P, wavy hair enthusiast

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Inspiring hair tutor, grateful for what she offers the Curly Community in authenticity, passion, and knowledge.

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“I was so excited to embrace my curls and take better care of them. As I started to dive in, I immediately became overwhelmed with the information.”

I read books and tried doing things because "that's what I'm supposed to do," but it didn't always work and I didn't understand why. I'm so grateful for Verna and her blog. Her info. actually helped me understand more of the science of why some methods helped and what products or ingredients to use and why. Anyone that compliments my hair and wants to start a curly journey, I tell them to start here. My hair is so much healthier and I'm so happy with it.

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