If your waves and curls are looking and feeling mushy, droopy, lifeless, mushy, and just meh, you probably need a protein treatment. We have researched a LOT of them and narrowed it down to 9 favorites.
Keep reading to find out which protein treatments made the list and which ones are worth your time and money!
The Benefits of Using a Protein Treatment
Before we share our favorites…a few pointers.
Protein treatments can be an important part of any hair care routine, especially if you have damaged or color-treated hair.
A protein treatment helps to rebuild the hair shaft from within to mechanically strengthen the hair, reduce breakage and improve hydration.
Proteins help by temporarily filling in the gaps in the cuticle layer (the outer layer of hair) because of chemical treatments, heat styling, mechanical stress, and environmental factors such as the sun or wind. This helps to reduce frizz and makes curls look and feel stronger, smoother, and more defined. The cuticle has overlapping scales of keratin. These scales are thought to prevent hairs from matting together when smooth.
Compared to high-porosity hair, low-porosity hair strands with healthy cuticles and protein structure do not need lots of extra protein molecules, because these will pile up on the outside of the hair. Using too much protein on hair that does not need it will cause it to become dry, brittle, stiff, and may cause breakage.
The use of protein products varies from person to person and also depends on the condition of your hair.
In summary: proteins help restore the hair strands’ cuticle layer, as well as strength, elasticity, and health that were broken down by chemical treatments, high heat and styling tools, and mechanical damage.
Our top picks – effective and affordable protein treatments (proteins are shown in italics):
HAIRFINITY Strengthening Amino Masque (CGM) (paid links)
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe Vera), Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Behentrimonium Chloride, Butylene Glycol, Fragrance, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (Jojoba Oil), Olea Europaea Fruit Oil (Olive Oil), Persea Gratissima Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Coconut Oil), Cetearyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Wheat Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Organic Lavandula Angustifolia Oil, Thuja Occidentalis Leaf Oil, Organic Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil, Thymus Vulgaris Flower/Leaf Oil, Organic Mentha Piperita Oil, Biotin, Dimethyl Sulfone (MSM), Keratin, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Equisetum Arvense Leaf Extract (Horsetail), Disodium EDTA
Ecoslay Matcha Boost (CGM)
Ingredients: Distilled water, Cetearyl alcohol, Colza oil, hydrolyzed quinoa protein, hydrolyzed keratin protein, Matcha extract, Propanediol, Hp starch, Caprylhydroxamic acid gg
Colorful Products Neutral Protein Filler drops (make your own protein product)(CGM)
Ingredients: Water, Hydrolyzed keratin protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein and Wheat Oligosaccharides, Keratin amino acids, Aloe, Humulus Lupulus (hops), Urtica Dioica (nettle), 1,3 bis(hydroxy-methyl)5,5 dimethylimidazolidine-2,4 dione, methyl ester 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, tetrasodium EDTA, Polysorbate-20, Parfum
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Saccharomyces/Rice Ferment Filtrate, Brassica Alcohol, Squalane, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Water, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Sargassum Filipendula Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Brassicyl Isoleucinate Esylate, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Diheptyl Succinate, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Glycerin, Arginine, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Pentylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Fragrance (Parfum), Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Iron Oxides CI 77491
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Cetyl Alcohol, Brassica Alcohol, Propanediol, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Biotin, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Laurus Nobilis Leaf Extract, Palmaria Palmata Extract, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Amyris balsamifera Bark Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Elettaria Cardamomum Seed Oil, Ferula Galbaniflua (Galbanum) Resin Oil, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Esters, Isododecane, Cetrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Brassicyl Isoleucinate Esylate, Citric Acid, Isopropyl Myristate, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin*, Fragrance (Parfum), Sodium Hydroxide, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol
Aphogee Two Step Protein Treatment (not CGM)
Ingredients: Water (Aqua, Eau), Hydrolyzed Collagen, Citric Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Imidazolidinone, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Phytantriol, Magnesium Carbonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Dimethylol Urea, Trimethylsiloxyamodimethicone, C11-15 Pareth-7, C12-16 Pareth-9, Glycerin, Trideceth-12, DMDM Hydantoin, Fragrance (Parfum), Linalool
Ion Rapid Repair Kit Packette (not CGM)
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Keratin Amino Acids, Sodium Chloride, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Polyquaternium-11, Dmdm Hydantoin, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium Edta, Peg-4 Laurate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Pg-Propyl Silane, Amodimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phytantriol, Dimethicone Peg-8 Meadowfoamate, Panthenol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Peg-2 Dimeadowfoamamidoethylmonium Metho, C11-15 Alketh-7, Hexylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Trideceth-12, Laureth-9, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Benzyl Cinnamate, Citronellol, Coumarin, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool
Ingredients: Water/aqua/eau, behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl esters, *Orbignya oleifera (babassu) seed oil, Pyrus malus (apple) fruit extract, glycerin, sodium PCA, sodium lactate, arginine, aspartic acid, PCA, glycine, alanine, serine, valine, proline, threonine, isoleucine, histidine, phenylalanine, *Euterpe oleracea (acai) pulp oil, Pentaclethra macroloba (pracaxi) seed oil, *Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, *Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, *Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) oil, *Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium) flower oil, Salvia officinalis (Sage) oil, Mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, Citrus paradise (Grapefruit) peel oil, Litsea cubeba fruit oil, Mentha Viridis (spearmint) leaf oil, isoamyl laurate, dehydroacetic acid, benzyl alcohol
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Hydrolyzed Keratin Protein, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Panthenol, Keratin Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Glyceryl Stearate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glycol Stearate, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Tocopherol Acetate*, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance/Parfum, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, *Benzyl Benzoate. *Fragrance Component **Derived from coconut oil. ***sourced from Soy.