Amino Acid Hair Treatments: Everything You Need to Know

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Our hair is our crowning glory, and we deserve to feel every bit the queen that we are. However, for a lot of women, it isn’t that simple. 

A hair specialist doing a special hair treatment procedure to a woman with brown hair

Many of us struggle with everyday signs of damage. These include dullness, split ends and frizz, lack of moisture, brittleness and flakiness, weakened strands, tangles, and lack of color. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t always have to be the case, and there’s a white knight that can come rushing to our rescue. What makes this one better is that it’s real, and it’s called an amino acid hair treatment.

Amino Acids in Hair: What’s the Deal?

First things first: what is an amino acid?

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are the building blocks of life. Nearly everything inside our body is made of protein, such as our muscles, bones, and organs like skin, nails, and yes, hair. 

In other words, when we strip our bodies down to their most basic components, what we have left are amino acids.

Do amino acids help hair growth and promote hair health? How? 

Since they make up blocks of proteins and proteins carry out the very functions that keep us alive and healthy, amino acids are integral to our wellness and survival. 

For hair health, amino acids do everything from strengthening hair strands to encouraging more growth and volume. For instance, keratin, a protein that makes up 95% of our hair, is made up of 15 to 20 types of amino acids. 

The human body needs at least 20 types of amino acids to function at its best.

11 of these amino acids (non-essential amino acids) are produced naturally by our bodies, and the other 9 (essential amino acids) are sourced from the food that we eat. 

Lifestyle and genetics also play a role in how your body manufactures and sources protein. A deficiency will result in various issues, including poor, lifeless, and damaged hair.

For example, according to the American Hair Research Society, nearly 50% of all women — regardless of their hair health history — will experience hair loss by the age of 50. 

That’s where an amino acid hair treatment comes in handy. 

What Is an Amino Acid Hair Treatment?

An amino acid hair treatment aims to encourage the vitality of hair that is in need of some extra TLC, without the use of harsh chemicals. Much like washing your hair with rice

Amino acid treatments can straighten and smoothen dull, flaky, or unruly hair, as well as add moisture and shine to dry hair. They can also reinvigorate hair strands and promote hair growth and overall hair health.

They’re suitable for all hair types, but more so for hair that is thirsty for some moisture and shine. Curly frizzy hair, for example, can benefit not only from protein products but also amino acid treatments.

If you got a botched hair dye job, these treatments can also bring life back to your hair after you use color removers. The same goes for damaged hair because of chemical straightening or perming.

You’ll find many hair products that contain amino acids, so you can effectively do the treatment at home. For best results, however, it’s recommended to go to a salon and get a professional to do it for you.

Benefits of Amino Acids for Hair Treatment

Getting amino acid treatments for hair promises many benefits. Some of the most important of them are as follows:

No Harmful Chemicals

What sets amino acid hair treatments apart from other hair treatments is the fact that they don’t use harmful chemicals. 

Chemicals such as formaldehyde, which are found in many hair products, are not only ineffective as long-term solutions to hair problems, but they also pose serious health risks.

Formaldehyde, for instance, can result in allergic reactions, which can prove to be fatal. 

Similarly, new research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that chemical hair straighteners can increase the risk of uterine cancer. 

This is in addition to the already existing risks between these products and hormone-related cancers like breast and ovarian cancer. 

Ditching the chemical straighteners and smoothers by opting for more natural treatments with amino acids is the safer, better, and smarter choice.

Fixes Common Hair Concerns

Amino acid hair products, which are used in these treatments, also provide immediate results for most of our hair problems. 

Beautiful woman holding long brown hair isolated on white

Want shinier hair with more volume? That’s not going to be a problem. 

Need more moisture in your locks? Consider it done. 

Hoping for more color retention in your hair? Sure thing.

Aside from boosting your confidence, these results also make your hair more manageable, so you don’t need to spend as much time trying to bend it to your will.

Instead, you can focus on other more important pursuits, like the boss babe that you are.

No Downtime

Finally, you don’t need to sit around at home unable to do anything — even taking a shower — after an amino acid treatment. You can go straight from the salon to wherever you need to be, and you also don’t need to dedicate an entire day to the treatment.

Who Needs an Amino Acids Hair Treatment?

Amino acid hair treatments are great for almost everyone, but more so particularly for the following people:

  • Those with pre-existing risks for serious health problems like hormone-based cancers
  • Those whose eating habits may not help them meet recommended amounts of foods rich in amino acids
  • Those whose lifestyle habits prevent them from ensuring optimal hair health for themselves
  • Those with chemically colored and chemically treated hair
  • Those with naturally textured or curly hair
  • Those who are no longer satisfied with the results of chemical hair treatments
  • Those who don’t have a lot of time for salon treatments and need something convenient, immediate, and effective; and
  • Those who want a more natural way of smoothing and straightening their hair

The only time you should rethink getting an amino acid treatment for your hair is if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Types of Amino Acid Hair Treatments

These treatments are typically categorized into two major types: in-salon and DIY.

In-Salon Amino Acid Hair Treatments

In-salon treatments, as their name suggests, are done at the salon with a professional hair stylist. These systems usually take up anywhere between two to three hours, and results can last for up to three months.

The main benefit of in-salon treatments is the assurance that you are getting the full power of the treatment. Also, you’ll get professional advice on how to maximize the results.

Examples of in-salon treatments include the Agave Smoothing Treatment and the Chi Enviro American Smoothing Treatment.

DIY Amino Acid Hair Treatments

There are amino acid hair treatments that you can also DIY at home.

These products tend to be a lot less complex than in-salon treatments, with some consisting of only four steps: shampooing, strengthening, treatment, and sealing.

Examples of systems that you can apply at home include Pravana Perfection SmoothOut and Design Essentials Strengthening Therapy System.

If you opt for this route, you should have more than basic knowledge of doing hair treatments, as they would be a lot more complicated than just attaching tape-in hair extensions

Also, make sure that you have an extra pair of hands to count on in case you’d need assistance.

Amino Acid vs. Keratin Hair Treatment

Many people tend to confuse amino acid hair treatments with keratin hair treatments. It’s true that both aim to straighten and smoothen hair, but a keratin treatment uses harsh chemicals — unlike an amino acid treatment.

A keratin treatment is ideal if you think your hair is strong but it’s been subjected to a lot of damage. On the other hand, amino acids are best if you want to keep things as chemical-free as possible.

What to Expect After an Amino Treatment for Your Hair

You can see noticeable results immediately after an amino acid hair treatment. if you already have 1a-type hair, the difference may not be that glaring. 

But if you have naturally curly, coily, wavy, or otherwise textured hair, you’ll be blown away by the effects.

Also, remember that while these treatments may not be as high-maintenance as chemical-based processes, some types may still require aftercare. 

For example, you may not be allowed to use pins, hair ties, elastic bands, or even eyeglasses for up to two weeks after the treatment. In other cases, you can’t color your hair for up to five days.

The whole process varies according to the specific products used. This is why getting it done at the salon is so much better, as you can get professional guidance on what you can and cannot do after the treatment.

How to Maintain Hair After an Amino Acid Treatment

You might experience some scalp sensitivity after a treatment. So you would need to be more mindful about what you put in your tresses to minimize discomfort.

Remember these tips:

  • Go easy on the shampoo.
  • Ditch mousses and creams that have alcohol.
  • Opt for hair products that don’t contain sulfates and parabens.

And don’t forget: you won’t need to wash your hair every day. In fact, you’ll find that your hair will retain amino acid treatment results, as well as its natural oils, better if you don’t wet it daily.

Best Hair Products with Amino Acids

Interested in finally giving amino acid treatment a try? 

Here are three of the best amino acids in hair products on the market for you to consider.

Drunk Elephant Cocomino Glossing Shampoo Coconut Amino Acid Blend

Touted as a "hairway to heaven," this sulfate-free shampoo delivers a powerful punch of hair care benefits that make it a favorite among many women.

Primary benefits: Helps hair retain moisture and shine; safe for color-treated hair; cruelty-free


  • Sulfate-free coconut-based surfactants that remove dirt and debris from hair without damaging shafts or muting colors
  • Lightweight feel that packs a powerful punch with minimal amount of product
  • Pleasant nutty scent

Its powerful formulation will leave your tresses — and you! — feeling and looking amazing.


Why it’s good: The Cocomino Glossing Shampoo’s multi-amino acids formulation helps make hair smoother, glossier, healthier, and more manageable, in every way. It also locks in moisture without weighing the strands down.

What it contains: On top of its coconut amino acid blend, this Drunk Elephant shampoo sacha inchi seed oil, which is a healing and moisturizing oil. It also contains panthenol or pro-vitamin B5, a hydrating ingredient.

How to use: Take a small amount and massage to wet hair. Make it sudsy. Rinse well.

Kerastase Bain Chroma Respect Shampoo

A gentle hydrating shampoo, the Bain Chroma Respect shampoo from Kerastase promises a host of benefits for healthier, lovelier hair.

Primary benefits: Gives hair 92% more color intensity and 74% more shine; offers hydration without weighing down hair; great for all types of sensitive or damaged hair


  • Delivers color maintenance, correction, and protection
  • Sulfate-free formula best suited to medium to thick hair
  • Also offers gentle hydration for fine hair

Whatever your hair story is, this shampoo will be a great weapon in your arsenal to help you slay, every day.


Why it’s good: Especially formulated to treat color-treated and damaged hair, this shampoo from Kerastase offers 92% preserved color intensity. It also delivers deep hydration and more volume and bounce.

What it contains: The Kerastase Bain Chroma Respect Shampoo features amino acids and Centella asiatica, a regenerative plant used for healing and nourishing hair.

How to use: Apply a pea-sized amount to your palm and massage on to wet hair, from your scalp to your ends. Rinse thoroughly.

Kiehl’s Amino Acid Conditioner

This conditioner from Kiehl's is one of the best ways to introduce amino acids to your hair, and it works because it's hassle-free and convenient.

Primary benefits: Preserves hair's natural shine and moisture, boosts manageability and hair strength


  • Light and creamy texture from its potent blend of amino acids, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and wheat proteins
  • Gentle formula that's suitable for everyday use
  • Ideal for all hair types

Kiehl has been taking care of hair since 1851. Find out why they're still loved with this conditioner.


Why it’s good: Kiehl’s Amino Acid Conditioner is a paraben-free and sulfate-free conditioner that is ideal for all types of hair. It leaves hair feeling and looking smoother and healthier by helping restore natural balance. It also makes your hair stronger and more manageable.

What it contains: Aside from amino acids, this potent little bottle contains jojoba oil, which helps further soften and nurture hair. Additionally, it has coconut oil, which boosts hair health by moisturizing and strengthening your locks.

How to use: After shampooing, massage the conditioner onto wet hair and leave it on for two minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

Amino Acid Hair Treatments: FAQs

Can amino acid products for hair straighten hair?

Absolutely. These treatments do not only smoothen and straighten hair strands, they also help lock in moisture, improve shine, and boost manageability.

How long do results from an amino acid hair treatment last?

You’ll enjoy straighter, shinier, and more manageable hair from an amino acid treatment for 6-8 weeks.

Is an amino acid treatment the same as a keratin treatment?

While amino acid treatments can help deliver keratin-rich growth for your hair, they are different from keratin treatments. The latter typically features harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde to bond to your hair, while amino acid treatments forego harmful chemicals.

Give Amino Acid Treatment a Try Today

Happy young woman applying hair mask in bathroom

With amino acid hair treatments, you don’t need to keep laboring under the limited and damaging effects of chemical hair treatments. Now it’s time to let loose, and let your hair down.

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  • Kat

    Kat brings a seasoned voice to our beauty blog with 13 years of dedicated writing experience. Her deep-seated passion isn't just limited to words; she's always on the pulse of emerging makeup trends. Beyond her articles, Kat crafts hand-made crochet swimwear and sundresses, and effortlessly steps in as a muse for beauty photoshoots. Kat holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology.

  • Jessica Hoelscher

    With thirteen years in cosmetology, Jessica Hoelscher is a seasoned stylist recognized for her modern techniques. A graduate of Paul Mitchell the School in St. Louis, her expertise has been showcased on Fox Two News and in People Magazine. Self-employed at Salon Lofts, her work has graced TV screens, styling for renowned events and Ole Miss cheerleaders.

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