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When it comes to caring for naturally textured hair, the first thing that comes to mind is moisture. The main goal is to keep the locks hydrated for the curls to form beautifully.
But there is something called protein-moisture balance, and it’s a hot topic in the natural hair community.
You see, aside from moisture, we also need protein to keep our curls bouncy and healthy.
However, you might have doubts about using protein-packed hair products because you think they’ll ruin your curls.
But worry no more! We have listed curly girl-approved protein products that you can use.
From shampoo to hair treatments, we’ll recommend something that’s sure to offer your hair the nutrient it needs for strengthening and maintaining well-defined curls and waves.
Here are our top picks:
- Features a unique triple-active blend of chia proteins
- Gives resilience, protection, and bond stability to your strands
- For weak, damaged hair
- Made with babassu oil and other high-quality certified organic ingredients
- Gives hair stronger elasticity and reduces frizz
- For all hair types
Why Your Hair Needs Protein
Each hair shaft is made mainly of protein, particularly keratin. Keratin keeps your hair strands strong and elastic.
So why do we need protein if our hair’s already made of it?
While hair cuticles protect our hair strands, this protection can be damaged by various things we do to our hair.
Some of our hair activities that cause cuticle damage are:
- heat styling,
- hair coloring, and
- chemical treatments (e.g., hair relaxing, perming, Brazilian blowouts, etc.).
Not only that but environmental elements like sun and pollution can affect our hair too.
And when the cuticles get damaged, they open up and can no longer be effective in protecting the inner layer of the hair strands.
As a result, your hair strands will be highly porous. That means moisture and protein can easily get out of the hair shaft.
When that happens, your hair won’t have enough protein and will then be limp and brittle.
Proper protein-moisture balance is essential for your curls to stay healthy and retain their shape and structure.
How to Know If You Need Curly Hair Protein Products
We know we said you need protein to keep your hair healthy, but you should use curly girl products with protein only when necessary.
So how will you know if it’s already “necessary”?
- Hair feels limp.
- The strands are stretchy.
- Hair feels mushy when wet.
- Your curls have loose shapes.
- There is more breakage than usual when you brush your hair.
If you experience those signs, you may need curly girl products with protein. These will help replenish the lost protein and repair the cuticles of your hair.
How to Identify Protein Products
It’s easy to spot protein products for curly hair when the word “protein” is written on the label. You can also look for “strengthening” or “repairing.”
And if those words are not included, what you can do is go straight to the list of ingredients at the back.
Here are the ingredients to look for:
- Oat flour
- Amino acids
- Wheat protein
- Any hydrolyzed ingredient
- Milk, yogurt, or dairy-related ingredients
Those ingredients are rich in the nutrient that we need.
In addition, remember that the product ingredients are listed in the order of the highest content to the least.
So if you see the protein ingredient near the bottom of the list, that means the product only has a small amount of that said component.
4 Best Hair Protein Treatments for Curly Hair
Let’s start with the products that can give you instant good results. These are curly girl protein treatments.
Do take note that protein treatments are different from other protein products for curly hair like shampoo and conditioner.
If your hair is damaged, protein treatments will help improve it because these are more concentrated and are specially designed to restore your locks.
This is our list of curly girl-friendly protein treatments with 100% curly girl method-approved ingredients.
This pre-shampoo protein treatment is not your ordinary deep conditioning treatment.
Its bond curl complex is a unique triple-active blend with chia proteins. It targets and fortifies hair bonds to strengthen and repair strands from the inside out.
Primary benefits: Gives resilience, protection, and bond stability to your strands; softens and smoothes the hair
- Has protein-rich, healthy ingredients
- For high-, medium-, or low-porosity hair
Make your hair strong and elastic once more with Curlsmith Bond Curl Rehab Salve.
This curly girl method protein treatment is a bonding treatment for weak, damaged hair.
It boasts of all-natural ingredients that it calls the Superfood Blend:
- Black currant
- Prickly pear pulp
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Shiitake mushrooms
The product also contains sweet almond oil that’s rich in vitamin E, and it uses radish root as a probiotic preservative.
And since Curlsmith promises to deliver curly girl-approved protein products, it does not include harsh chemicals in its formula.
There are no:
- mineral oils, or
Here are the steps to follow:
- Soak your hair with water.
- Apply Bond Curl Salve generously from root to tip.
- Let the product sit on your hair for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your hair’s porosity. The higher the porosity, the longer you leave it on.
- Rinse and follow with shampoo and conditioner.
Just like our first product in this list, the TGIN Miracle Repairx CPR protein treatment works deep into the hair shaft to restore lost protein.
If you’re looking for good protein treatments for curly hair, this one is among the best that fits the bill.
Primary benefits: Helps reduce breakage, prevents split ends, and repairs hair damage; moisturizes the scalp; smooths the cuticles
- Contains wheat protein, black castor oil, and biotin
- No animal testing
Get the best version of your curls with TGIN!
Thank God It’s Natural has a curl protein reconstructor ready to restore your dry, damaged hair. And it has powerful natural ingredients that do the job:
- Weight protein strengthens the strands.
- Biotin smoothes the hair cuticles and protects the hair.
- Black castor oil moisturizes the scalp and promotes hair growth.
Use this product every four to six weeks and pair it with Repairx Hydrating Mask to keep your hair’s protein-moisture balance.
Here’s how you use the TGIN Miracle Repairx CPR Protein Treatment:
- After shampooing, apply the product to your hair.
- For best results, cover your hair with a warm towel or shower cap for three minutes before rinsing.
Our favorite thing about this spray-on product is that you can use it not just to heal the damage but also to prevent it.
Redken Extreme CAT Treatment prepares the hair before harsh chemical services like coloring and perming by providing a coat of protection to your cuticles.
Primary benefits: Strengthens hair to prevent breakage, provides intense conditioning, reconstructs and reconditions the locks without adding any weight.
- Infused with protein
- Formulated with Strength Complex
For extreme results, use the whole Redken Extreme routine!
This fortifying rinse-out treatment promotes overall hair health with its active ingredients.
- Amino acids and arginine strengthen and fortify.
- Citric acid conditions and smoothens hair.
The treatment adds immediate power to distressed locks while strengthening the strands against breakage. Use it one to three times a week and see the difference in your tresses!
Here are the steps to use Redken Extreme Cat Treatment:
- Spray the product evenly on the hair after shampooing.
- Massage your hair to work the product through.
- Leave it on for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Rinse well.
This is the most ideal treatment for maintaining protein-moisture balance. It has both protein-rich and moisturizing ingredients that will help repair damaged hair and restore lost moisture.
Primary benefits: Deeply conditions hair to transform into hydrated, healthy-looking locks; rejuvenates the thirstiest, most over-processed hair
- Contains sweet almond and black oats
- Formulated with blended oils
Improve your hair structure by up to 43% with Noughty to the Rescue Intense Moisture Treatment!
This product is filled with carefully curated, 97% natural ingredients that assist in trapping moisture in the strands, helping to reduce dryness, damage, and breakage.
- Sweet almond and black oats aid in improving hair elasticity.
- Blended oils deeply hydrate.
The formula is also safe from:
- parabens, and
Here’s how you use this treatment:
- Work the product through your hair.
- For a quick fix, leave it on for three to five minutes.
- If you want a more intense treatment, leave for up to 20 minutes.
- Rinse out and follow with your normal conditioner.
Curly Girl-Approved Protein Products: Shampoos and Conditioners
Protein treatments are mainly for treating hair that already lost its most important nutrient.
If you’re only looking for products that can prevent that from happening, or you want to add more support to your treatment, you can also use regular curly girl protein products.
We know we’re talking about protein products, but we just want to say how much we love that oat is the first ingredient listed in this shampoo.
That means, it is mainly made with scalp-soothing, farm-fresh oats.
Primary benefits: Prevents breakage and color fade, nourishes your strands from roots to tips, helps protect against damage from heat styling
- Infused with blackberry and quinoa protein
Strengthen your hair and soothe your scalp with Aveeno Blackberry Quinoa Protein Blend Sulfate-free Shampoo.
This shampoo has a mild formula that contains no:
- dyes, and
When your hair lacks protein, this is the best product to use when washing your hair.
Unlike moisturizing shampoos, this one won’t make your hair slippery, smooth, and soft. In fact, some users commented that this made their hair somewhat drier than usual.
And that’s what happens when you use protein products. So it’s best to use this with a moisturizing conditioner.
However, don’t fear this shampoo’s drying effect as it can really strengthen your hair, which is why you’d want to use a protein shampoo in the first place.
In addition, it has a rich, heavenly scent.
This conditioner has enough protein content to make the strands stronger and the right amount of moisture to hydrate your locks.
Primary benefits: Nourishes the scalp, strengthens damaged hair, restores moisture without weighing hair down
- With shea butter, peppermint, and apple cider vinegar
- For natural, chemically processed, or heat-styled hair
For those who often color, relax, or perm their hair, we recommend the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil conditioner.
This conditioner is one of the highly sought curly girl-approved protein products.
It has castor oil that is loaded with proteins to strengthen damaged, brittle hair and reduces breakage and shedding.
Moreover, it contains peppermint oil to invigorate the scalp and apple cider vinegar to smoothen the hair cuticles.
What’s more, this conditioner has no harsh chemicals, so it’s safe for your curly tresses.
This deep conditioner is not only amazing but also affordable. It will give you an intensive salon-like hydration treatment without breaking the bank!
Primary benefits: Reduces frizz and flyaways, gives hair stronger elasticity, smoothens the strands
- Made with certified organic ingredients
- For all hair types
The best protein-and-moisture replenisher for your dry curly locks? Mielle Organics Babassu & Mint Deep Conditioner!
This product has no harmful chemicals or preservatives. What it does have are natural nourishing ingredients that take care of your hair.
It is infused with babassu oil that smoothens the strands and other high-quality natural oils for keeping the locks moisturized.
Plus, it contains fatty acids for strengthening the hair.
When you deep-condition your hair using this product, you’ll feel a mild tingling on your scalp. This lets you know that it’s working. Not to worry, because your scalp will feel wonderful after rinsing!
This product combines the hold technology of gel and the moisture property of cream. The result? Curls that stay fine and bounce all day long!
Primary benefits: Gives your hair medium, flexible hold; makes hair manageable
A little goes a long way with Curlsmith Feather-light Protein Cream!
This protein-enriched styling cream for weak, damaged curls handpicked these natural ingredients for the perfect strength recipe:
- Shredded kale
- Wild rice protein
- Guava fruit juice
- Sweet almond oil
- Pressed hemp oil
- Shiitake mushroom
- Prickly pear cactus
Furthermore, this styling cream doesn’t have silicones and sulfates that can harm your tresses.
We love Briogeo’s 6-free methodology. It promises to never use the top six harsh and unnecessary chemicals for hair care products.
There are no sulfates, silicones, parabens, phthalates, DEA, and artificial dyes in this leave-in conditioner.
Primary benefits: Minimizes frizzy hair, leaves hair soft and curls well-defined, supports healthy hair
- Made with NOVA complex
- For types 2, 3, or 4 hair
For the healthiest curls, use Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-in Defining Creme.
This hydrating, defining leave-in product has 94% naturally derived ingredients.
- Rice amino seals the cuticle to lock out frizz-causing environmental moisture.
- Avocado oil helps make curls soft and bouncy.
- Tomato fruit ferment enhances moisture retention for uniform curl formation.
Plus, it uses the NOVA complex technology–natural oils, vitamins, and antioxidants. This is the signature hair blend that fortifies, nourishes, and protects your hair naturally and effectively.
Use the whole Curl Charisma Collection for beautiful curls!
Beware of Protein Overload
Hold it right there! Don’t get too excited about using all these protein products right away. Did you know that you can have too much protein in your hair?
That is commonly known in the curly hair community as protein overload.
Sure, protein gives your hair fullness and life, but when you overdo using many products with protein, it can give you the opposite. You’ll end up having dull, brittle, and tangled curls.
Though there aren’t many studies that prove or explain how protein overload can damage hair, people with curly hair have observed that using protein treatments excessively does them more harm than good.
Their hair easily breaks and loses its shine.
To prevent this from happening, we advise you to only use protein treatments every two to three weeks if your hair is extremely damaged. Otherwise, use the product only once a month.
As for the regular curly girl-approved protein products, use them alternately with moisturizing products because too much protein can dry your hair like the rest of the population.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Get Protein for Curly Hair?
If you’re wondering how to add protein to curly hair, the first answer would be to use curly girl-approved protein products.
But aside from using hair care products that contain protein, you can also get this hair-strengthening nutrient from your diet. Eat foods rich in protein like meat, eggs, and dairy.
What Protein Makes Hair Curly?
Keratin is the protein that gives hair structure.
When your hair grows through oval-shaped follicles, the strand gets coated with more keratin on one side than the other. This is what gives your hair its curl pattern.
However, we’re not saying that when you use keratin treatments, your hair will curl. It doesn’t work that way. If you have straight hair and you want to have curls, you can get a perm instead.
Use Protein Products for Your Curly Hair Journey
For naturally curly or wavy hair, following the curly girl method is a must. That’s why it’s important that you’re aware of CGM-approved products. Your favorite protein treatment should be safe for your curls.
Remember that without protein, your hair may be weak and have low elasticity. On the other hand, when you have too much moisture than protein in your strands, you may find that your hair has gotten limp and you have loose waves.
So to help restore your gorgeous curls, find the right balance when adding moisture and protein to your hair.
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