6 Top Protein-Free Shampoos for Low-Porosity Hair

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Have you ever tried incorporating healthy products into your hair regimen, but instead of getting the ideal result, you’re left with more horrendous-looking hair?

We feel you. 

A young girl with curly hair is holding a red bottle of shampoo on a yellow background

Dealing with a bad hair day requires more work than you think. But it doesn’t have to be exhausting and expensive.

Sometimes, the top solution to your problems begins and ends at home.

With that being said, why not try using shampoos without protein?

Let down your hair and let’s discover what protein-free shampoo is and what it does to the hair.

Aunt Jackie’s Oh So Clean! Moisturizing and Softening Shampoo
Editor's Choice
  • Lather-rich
  • Deeply moisturizing
  • Thoroughly and gently cleanses and softens hair
As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo
Budget Pick
  • Cleanses residue and product buildup while moisturizing the hair
  • Prevents hair from looking dry and rough
  • Eases combing and detangling 
Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo, 8.5 Fl Oz
Premium Pick
  • Curl-friendly
  • Gently strips residue and buildup but not moisture
  • Reboots curl patterns

Why Does Our Hair Need Protein?

Everybody dreams of having healthy, bouncy, and shiny hair, like the ones we see in TV ads and magazines.

But out of all the products we put on our hair, what’s responsible for those effects?

Each hair strand is made up of approximately 90% protein that fortifies its strength and elasticity. 

It also works hand in hand with moisture. Together, they are two of the most vital needs for growing your hair faster, stronger, and more manageable.

Protein in the hair works on the strength, shape, and structure of hair, even for the curly ones. It’s also associated with increasing the thickness and volume of each strand.

And by now, you’ve probably heard about keratin

It’s the heart, the main protein, and the structural building block of the hair. It goes deep into the bonds between molecules on each strand, dispersing the nutrients and nourishment the hair needs to strengthen itself.

Protein in Hair Care

Generally, the different products formulated to supply protein to the hair are classified into two: general products (like shampoos and conditioners) and protein treatments. 

Protein Treatments

Protein treatments such as keratin treatments contain 5% to 25% protein composition and are reasonably more concentrated than the typical protein-rich products we use daily.

This is because these treatments are specifically designed to supply more protein to restore strength, structure, and shine to chemically damaged hair. 

So if you constantly put your hair into a battle with heat styling and dyeing, you know what to reach for.

General Protein-Rich Products

If you take hair care seriously, your bathroom probably already homes a protein-rich product or two.

These general products are what we commonly use every day including shampoos, deep conditioners, leave-in treatments, and the like. 

Although they are good sources of hair protein, they only carry about 0.25% to 1%, which is usually reflected on the label. 

A woman is smiling while brushing her long black curly hair in front of a mirror

Protein Ingredients in Hair Care

Whether you’re avoiding or indulging yourself in protein-rich hair products, you should always carefully read the labels. 

How the ingredients are listed also matters.

The first few ones on the list are potentially those with higher levels of concentration. But not every manufacturer does this. 

Still, these are the ingredients you should watch out for:

  • Soy
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Keratin
  • Collagen
  • Oat flour
  • Peptides
  • Vegetables
  • Amino acids
  • Hydrolyzed oats
  • Hydrolyzed silk
  • Hydrolyzed wheat
  • Hydrolyzed collagen

Protein Sensitivity vs Protein Overload

Too much of everything isn’t good, even when supplying protein to the hair.

Protein may bring all the goodness, but it can also cause the opposite of what’s expected. 

But proteins aren’t exactly hair antagonists.

Whether you’re using protein-rich products too often or depositing too much protein to the hair, excessive protein can deliver a domino effect to the moisture, which then leads to a significant change to the overall texture, health, and structure of your hair.

So what exactly happens when you go overboard with protein? 

Protein Sensitivity

After your typical wash day, you find that your hair just doesn’t feel right.

Split ends are everywhere, you can hear each strand breaking as you brush through it…

So you decided to use protein treatments more often in the hopes of getting better-looking hair. Still, your hair feels stiff, frizzy, and dry. 

You’re likely developing protein-sensitive hair

Frequently exposing your hair to protein increases the chance for your hair to grow extra dry, brittle, and more prone to breakage over time. 

Those with low-porosity hair already have a hard time having their locks absorb moisture, and this makes you more prone to experiencing protein sensitivity.

Protein Overload

Being hair-conscious as we are, we tend to smother our bonds with one product after another. And without knowing, your hair may reach the point of protein overload.

Protein overload or protein buildup happens when we overuse or overdose the hair with so much protein that it messes up the moisture balance. 

As much as we hate to think about it, the signs of protein overload are pretty easy to tell:

  • It looks lifeless from the lack of shine and bounce.
  • It’s straw-like, frizzy, and more tangled than usual.
  • More hair strands are caught in your hair brush due to increased shedding.
  • It’s becoming more brittle, making the ends snap off easily when you perform a strand test

This condition can also be compared to how our body reacts to food when we get allergies. Hair reacts differently once it encounters the wrong protein or once it has the wrong protein at the wrong time. 

Why Use Protein-Free Shampoo?

A black woman is smiling while shampooing her hair

If proteins are necessities of the hair, then why would I shift to products that are free from them?

To reverse the negative effects of protein sensitivity or protein overload, we need to bring those locks back to life, and that’s when protein-free shampoos came into existence.

Remember, protein-free shampoos still contain protein, but those that your hair needs are at an adequate amount.

Some of the benefits of using protein-free shampoos include the following:

  • Color protection
  • Healthy hair growth
  • Deep-rooted hydration
  • Stronger, fuller, and more manageable hair
  • Prolonged life and vibrancy of the hair and extensions
  • Long-lasting maintenance of quality, texture, and shine
  • Cleansing and removal of hair impurities like product residue and protein buildup

6 Top Protein-Free Shampoos To Try

Aunt Jackie's Oh So Clean- Moisturizing Shampoo

Keep your hair oh so clean with a shampoo that’s oh so gentle you can use it every day.

Primary Benefits: Lather-rich; deep moisturizing; thoroughly and gently cleanses and softens hair


  • Safe for color-treated hair
  • No parabens, sulfate, mineral oil, and petrolatum 
  • Moisturizes with coconut oil, shea butter, and extra virgin olive oil 

What’s even more refreshing is its coconut scent! 

What are you left with after this shampoo is all washed up and your hair has dried?

Aunt Jackie’s has formulated one of the top protein-free shampoos, especially if your hair has low porosity. 

The Oh So Clean shampoo detangles even the most stubborn tresses without breakage and cleanses your hair and scalp without draining its moisture.

Also, it tames frizz, protects against heat, promotes thicker hair growth, and prevents premature graying. So your hair will not just feel clean but will also be oh-so nourished and moisturized thanks to these key ingredients: 

  • Coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Shea butter
  • Fatty acids 
  • Vitamins A and E

And it’s sulfate-free! Instead of interfering with the natural composition of your hair, this shampoo will keep it cleansed and smelling fresh with its coconut scent!

Jessicurl Gentle Lather Shampoo

Lather this shampoo with healthy ingredients, rinse off all the impurities and lock in the moisture.

Primary Benefits: Mild, creamy lather; deeply cleanses without weighing the hair down; hypoallergenic


  • Vegan
  • Formulated without oils and moisturizers
  • Contains natural gentle cleansers derived from sugar and coconut 

Get the same formula in 2 different scents or without any scent at all.

Gone are the days of beating your hair with traditional shampoos that drain all the moisture and natural oils from your scalp.

Jessicurl Gentle Lather Shampoo will give you a new view of deep cleansing shampoos. 

It uses the mildest cleansing agents and purest organic ingredients, such as raw shea butter and virgin coconut oil, to deliver the top protein-free moisturizing shampoo you’re ever gonna have.

As soon as the creamy froth of shampoo lands on your head, it washes out all the impurities and buildup from the hair and scalp and then leaves you with healthy-looking voluminous hair in an instant.

Having the same formula in three available fragrances — Island Fantasy, Citrus Lavender, and unscented — is a plus point.

As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo

Give your hair the love it truly deserves with As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo, one of the best products for low-porosity curly hair.

Primary Benefits: Cleanses residue and product buildup while moisturizing the hair; prevents hair from looking dry and rough; eases combing and detangling 


  • Safe for color-treated hair
  • Enriched with coconut, amla, and tangerine
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free

It’s protein-free, sulfate-free, and frees you from having a moisture-protein imbalance

The best-looking curls are a product of the perfect synchronization between moisture and protein.

As mentioned, depositing too much protein in the hair can be harmful. And that’s when these protein-free clarifying shampoos come to the rescue!

As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo does everything the hair needs to achieve the perfect moisture-and-protein balance. 

First, it gently cleanses the hair to take away all impurities. It has a powerful formula that soothes the scalp, leaving your hair looking soft and manageable. 

Next, your hair gets penetrated by a sulfate-free formula that won’t rob the moisture out and won’t strip the color of your strands.

Lastly, to give your hair the love it truly deserves, it has antifungal and antiseptic agents blended with coconut extract, amla oil, and tangerine that repair and protect hair from damage, supply proper nourishment, and boost collagen production.

Alikay Naturals Moist Black Shampoo

Expect a protein-free, sulfate-free, and anti-dandruff formulation from Alikay Naturals Moist Black Shampoo.

Primary Benefits: Heals damaged hair; removes product build-up; mild on the scalp


  • Safe for color-treated hair
  • Formulated with raw black soap
  • Contains cocoa seed butter, plantain enzymes, and tea tree oil 

Freshen your hair up with this tropical-scented, award-winning formula.

Protein-free shampoo made from the finest natural ingredients is the best friend for people with low-porosity hair.

But if you think it only restores moisture to dry hair and makes it healthier, this Moist Black Shampoo from Alikay Naturals does more than that.   

It has an award-winning formula made with an actual raw black soap that surprisingly does a lot for your hair.

It deeply removes pollutants, grease, and dirt accumulated from the environment and heals damage within each follicle. Plus, dandruff-causing buildup and an itchy scalp are also no match for this.

Its list of healthy ingredients doesn’t stop there, by the way! We might as well have to highlight these:

  • Cocoa seed butter for hair regeneration
  • Plantain enzymes that fill the hair with antioxidants to revive the hair and reduce breakage
  • Tea tree oil to break down residue and help fight dandruff-causing buildup 

You wouldn’t have to worry about using it on hair of all textures and colors too because it’s also sulfate-free!

tgin Moisture Rich Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Flaunt soft, moisturized, and healthy hair fueled by natural components.

Primary Benefits: Leaves the hair soft and smooth; gentle cleansing; made for natural hair


  • Cruelty-free
  • Enriched with aloe vera, coconut oil, amla oil, and provitamin B5
  • Free from harsh chemicals including sulfate, parabens, mineral oils, and many more 

This works well on the hair regardless of using it straight from the bottle or having it diluted. 

You’ll be surprised by how this four-letter brand can transform your hair from dull and dry to strong and manageable. 

Not only does it not contain any harsh chemicals and detergents; this shampoo gently cleanses your hair using pure botanical components that don’t intensify the dryness of low-porous hair. 

It has aloe vera and coconut oil, two moisturizing and hair-growing agents we’re all aware of. 

In case you don’t know what amla oil is, it’s extracted from gooseberries, and this oil stimulates hair follicles for faster hair growth and prevents hair thinning and hair loss. 

Amla oil is also packed with vitamins and antioxidants that promote healthy blood circulation in the scalp.

Provitamin B5, which is a natural moisturizing instrument found on most beauty products such as lotions and shampoos, is also present.

What it does to the hair is it locks in moisture and strengthens each shaft by enhancing hair elasticity.

Ouidad Water Works Clarifying Shampoo

It’s a deep clarifying cleanse that won’t mess with your curls.

Primary Benefits: Curl-friendly; gently strips residue and buildup without touching moisture; reboots curl patterns


  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Infused with citrus and botanical extracts
  • Works to manage shine and maintain colors 

The scent of this shampoo will take you on a trip down to the memory of springtime.

This clarifying shampoo from Ouidad is one of the top protein-free shampoos for low-porosity hair in terms of washing away impurities.

Just like the rest of the products on this list, Ouidad keeps the hair healthy by keeping its natural moisture balance and sustaining it with the right nutrients.

It handles those luscious curls gently and begins work by removing dulling residue and washing away hard water deposits and chlorine.

A non-stripping and cleansing blend of citrus extracts such as lemon, grapefruit, and orange also enhance its formula.

The way it manages all types of curls and keeps them healthy is impressive enough, but wait ’til we expound on its fragrance. 

The moment you pour it out, you’ll recognize a citrus scent of tangerine, oranges, and soothing greens.

As you lather and foam it on your hair, you’ll notice how it changes to a blend of apricot, banana, prune, peach, and strawberry. 

To top it all off, it dries in your hair leaving a musky, coconut, and cedarwood scent that lasts all day! 

A young woman with curly hair is smiling against a yellow background.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does protein affect hair color?

The hair’s natural color is made of a protein naturally produced by the body. It’s called melanin. 

But if we’re talking about chemically colored hair, too much protein absorption of the hair can lead to color fading as it strips the hair’s protective barrier, allowing synthetic pigments to escape and to be drained from each strand.

Does coconut oil contain protein?

Although it may behave like a protein in terms of its hair-penetrating capability, coconut oil does not contain protein.

Hair oils such as coconut, argan, and almond oil are made up of 100% organic fat that aids in promoting moisture back to the hair.

How often can I use protein-free shampoos?

The frequency of using protein-free hair products depends on how badly your hair needs the right balance between protein and moisture. 

On average, you can use protein-free shampoos and conditioners at least 2 to 3 days a week. 

Should You Switch to Protein-Free Shampoos?

The rise of this kind of product doesn’t intend to outgrow traditional and other kinds of shampoos. 

But if you find yourself stuck in a situation where your hair constantly feels brittle and dry and is getting worse as you go through with your usual routine, then it’s probably time to assess if your hair has low porosity or if it has protein buildup.

Nonetheless, it’s never wrong to find the best treatment for your hair and use whatever it is that will work for its improvement, even if it means keeping your shampoo protein free. 

Just don’t forget to do proper research and read the labels!

Want to Know More About Keratin Treatments?

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  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

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