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Protein Free Shampoos and Conditioners for Curly Hair

March 1, 2022


Verna Meachum

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 We treat our blog with a curious, open-minded, and customer-focused attitude. We ask lots of questions about everything.

We think that people should take what information they need and leave what they don't. We suggest things we enjoy and believe are worth your attention.

Above all, we value your trust above anything else. We're so glad you’re here!

Hi,I'm Verna

product reviews

Last Updated on October 5, 2022 by Verna Meachum

Protein free shampoos and conditioners can be difficult to find, but they are out there.

Many shampoos and conditioners for curly hair contain some form of protein, which helps strengthen your curls. But what if you don’t want to use a shampoo or conditioner with protein in it?

Are there any good options out there that are protein free? Find out what you need to know before you make a purchase. 

Curly hair needs moisture and protein to look its best, but too much protein can cause negative effects.

It is important to find a balance between moisture and protein in order to keep your curls looking healthy and hydrated.

Why Use Protein Free Hair Products

There are a few reasons why you might want to use protein free hair products, such as your hair being protein sensitive, or you want to prevent protein overload.

If your hair is protein sensitive, you may want to avoid products that contain protein or use them sparingly.

Protein overload can happen if you use too many products that contain protein, if you use the wrong type of protein for your hair, if you use protein at the wrong time, or if you leave protein treatments in your hair for too long.

It can also cause your hair to feel stiff, dry, and straw-like, and eventually lead to breakage.

How Do I Know If I Have Protein Overload?

One way to tell if you have protein overload is by doing a simple strand test.

To do a strand test, take a small section of clean, dry hair and stretch it out. If the hair stretches out and then snaps back into place, your hair has enough moisture.

If the hair doesn’t stretch or breaks before snapping back, you may have protein overload.

Another way to tell if you have protein overload is by the way your hair feels.

If your hair feels dry, brittle, or straw-like, it may be a sign that you are using too much protein.

How Do I Get Rid of Protein Build Up?

If you have protein build up, you can try a clarifying shampoo or apple cider vinegar rinse.

If you have a lot of build up, you may need to do this treatment more than once.

Make sure to follow up with a moisturizing conditioner or deep conditioner to add hydration back into your hair.

Protein Has Benefits

Protein is essential for hair because it’s one of the main components of hair.

For years, hydrolyzed proteins have been used in hair care products. It can make a significant difference in hair products, even in small amounts.

Hydrolyzed proteins:

  • Add support to hair.
  • Slow water loss by forming a film over the hair.
  • Keep hair hydrated by penetrating below the cuticles.
  • Protein temporarily repair damage in hair by filling in the holes and gaps along the cuticle.
  • Is used as a conditioning agent.
  • Is also important for strength and hydration.
  • Helps reduce breakage.

Using Too Much Protein

Proteins are not evil and your hair does need some protein to stay healthy, but too much of anything is never a good thing.

Oftentimes, we are unaware that the hair products we use on a daily basis contain protein.

When you use too much protein or use it too often, you may notice your hair becoming tangly, rigid, dry, and stiff.

If your hair is feeling brittle or dry, using a product without protein can help to restore moisture and elasticity.

Protein free products are also ideal for people with sensitivities or allergies to proteins.

Identifying Proteins

Proteins can be found in shampoos, conditioners, stylers, and treatments, and many products do not mention the protein on the front of the package so you have to know how to identify the proteins.

The easiest approach to be sure you aren’t getting more protein than your hair requires is to read the ingredients on the product label. That is by far the best way to know for sure.

Common protein words in hair products

On the ingredient list, you can see how much protein is in the product by looking at where it’s listed on the product label. If there’s protein in the first 5 to 6 ingredients, that means the product has a lot of protein.

If protein is listed further down the ingredient list, that means there’s not as much.

To identify proteins in hair products look for words such as:

  • Hydrolyzed collagen
  • Keratin
  • Hydrolyzed silk
  • Hydrolyzed wheat
  • Amino acids
  • Peptides
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Soy
  • Vegetable
  • Hydrolyzed oats, oat flour, etc.

Protein Free Shampoos

Now that you know all about proteins and why you might want to use a shampoo without protein, let’s take a look at some of protein free shampoos (and protein free clarifying shampoo) on the market!

Make sure to follow the instructions carefully so you get the most out of your shampoo.

As I Am Curl Clarity

Alikay Naturals Moisturizing Black Soap Shampoo

Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils Oh So Clean!

Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Gentle Cleansing Shampoo 

CURLS Pure Curls Clarifying Shampoo 

EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea All Natural Moisture Shampoo 

Giovanni Smooth as Silk Shampoo

Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Threat Shampoo

Jessicurl Gentle Lather Shampoo 

Kinky-Curly Come Clean Moisturizing Shampoo  

Mop Top Detox Shampoo

MopTop Salon Gentle Shampoo

TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo

Uncle Funky’s Daughter Rich & Funky Moisturizing Cleanser

Righteous Roots Clarifying Shampoo

These are just a few of the protein free shampoos (and protein free clarifying shampoos), so be sure to do your research to find the best one for you.

Now that you know what to look for when identifying proteins in hair products, we’ll share some of our favorite protein free conditioners with you.

Protein Free Conditioners

Why would you want a protein free conditioner? Protein free conditioners are preferable for giving your hair optimal moisture without inundating your hair with too much protein.

So, if you have low porosity hair or are struggling with protein sensitivity, using a protein free conditioner could be the answer to your prayers. Trust me, your hair will thank you!

Protein free hair conditioners are also great for those who want to extend the time between washes, as they will help to keep your hair moisturized without causing protein overload.

There are a number of protein free conditioners on the market, here are our picks.

Alikay Naturals Caribbean Coconut Milk Conditioner 

As I Am Olive & Tea Tree Oil Conditioner

Bouncecurl Super Smooth Cream Conditioner

Bumble and Bumble Conditioner

Cantu TXTR Leave-In + Rinse Out Conditioner

Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Smoothing Conditioner

Curl Junkie Beauticurls Argan and Olive Oil Daily Hair Conditioner 

Giovanni 50:50 Balanced Hydrating/Calming Conditioner 

Giovanni Smooth as Silk Conditioner

Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Threat Conditioner  

Mielle Organics Mongogo Oil Hydrating Conditioner

Mill Creek Tea Tree Conditioner

NaturAll Hydrating Avocado Conditioner

The Mane Choice Soft as Can Be 3-in-1 Conditioner 


Does Low Porosity Hair Need Protein?

Low porosity hair does not need protein as much as other hair types. Low porosity hair is able to absorb and retain moisture well, so protein treatments are not always necessary.

If you use proteins, aim for smaller types. This process will fill in the empty spots within the hair fiber, as well as repair and strengthen the damaged structure inside, resulting to improved mechanical strength of the hair.

How Can I Add Protein to Low Porosity Hair?

There are a number of ways to add protein to low porosity hair. You can use protein-rich treatments and products. Just don’t use them too in all of your styling products at once, as this can make your hair feel dry and brittle.

You can also try deep conditioning with a protein-rich conditioner or deep conditioner. This will help to temporarily fill in the gaps in your hair’s cuticle and give your hair some extra strength.

What Should I do If I have Protein Overload?

Protein may be found in a variety of items, including shampoos and conditioners. We are sometimes unaware that the hair care products we use every day may contain protein.

If you have protein overload, it means you are using too many products with protein. You will need to cut back on the number of protein-rich products you use. You should also clarify your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove any build-up.

How Do I Tell If My Hair is Protein Sensitive ?

If you have protein sensitive hair, it means that your hair is unable to tolerate much protein. This can cause your hair to feel dry, brittle, and straw-like.

Read this blog to learn more about protein sensitive hair.

Curl care

 We treat our blog with a curious, open-minded, and customer-focused attitude. We ask lots of questions about everything.

We think that people should take what information they need and leave what they don't. We suggest things we enjoy and believe are worth your attention.

Above all, we value your trust above anything else. We're so glad you’re here!

Hi,I'm Verna

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