Strong hair needs protein to thrive — but sometimes, an overload of protein can be too much of a good thing. For that reason, it's good to find the best protein-free conditioner to give your hair optimal moisture without overwhelming your strands and causing breakage. Those with protein-sensitive hair can benefit from the right treatments, which will typically add nourishment and hydration — sans the risk of protein-related damage.
Here's the thing: Your hair is naturally comprised of 90% keratin protein (that's a lot). And when you use a protein-rich product to repair damage from everyday styling, it's possible that you're adding too much protein to the mix. Adding more protein than needed can actually do more harm than good, creating brittle, broken strands without enough moisture.
Thankfully, there are tons of conditioners on the market that'll provide adequate hydration without totally overloading your hair with protein. The easiest way to decipher which products are protein-free is by checking each ingredient list. Some common proteins found in hair products include wheat protein, silk protein, soy protein, keratin, and more.
So if you're currently dealing with brittle, breaking strands (and you're not sure why), too much protein could be the problem. The only way to find out is by trying protein-free conditioners, like the ones listed below.
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1. The Overall Best Protein-Free Conditioner
Great for anyone with protein-overloaded curls, this moisturizing treatment from Curl Junkie is just the thing you need to help your strands bounce back to their naturally healthy state. Made with shea, cupuaçu, and cocoa butters, and other ingredients that don't include protein. However, this formula is nutritious enough to revive your strands without being too harsh.
While it's marketed as a "treatment," you can still use it in the shower and wash it out like a conditioner. If you decide to do that, it's suggested that you leave it on for at least five minutes before rinsing. For deep conditioning, leave it on for 15 minutes (possibly with a plastic cap on).
What fans write: "My hair is also protein sensitive. I had tried some bad products before this and they left my hair feeling like Brillo. When I put this deep conditioner in my hair, I could feel my hair just soaking this up."
2. A Protein-Free Conditioner That's Organic
Give your hair a dose of deep hydration with this organic conditioner by Mielle Organics. This formula is made with nourishing ingredients such as organic almond, sacha inchi, and and mongongo oils — and, of course, no proteins are listed. To use this one, it's recommended to apply the conditioner to wet, washed hair and leave it in for five to 15 minutes before rinsing (depending on your hair type).
What fans write: "Very moisturizing for my natural, tightly coiled hair. I also love that there is no protein in this deep conditioner. I have protein sensitive hair, so this is very important to me. I highly recommend this product, if you struggle with dry hair or just want an extra boost of moisture."
3. A Leave-In Conditioning Spray That Reddit Loves
Designed to be sprayed on and left in your hair while it dries, this leave-in conditioner is a simple solution for detangling and restoring shine — and Reddit loves it. It helps smooth and tame unwanted frizz, and it's infused with various oils such as rose hip, argan, and coconut to make hair soft, hydrated, and manageable. The formula also contains vitamin E, as well as other protein-free ingredients (it doesn't include parabens or phthalates either). This product can be used on wet or dry hair — and also acts as a protective shield against heat damage.
What fans write: "This product makes my hair feel so soft and hydrated. I use it after my shower and spritz through my way hair, then allow my hair to air dry. The scent is perfect as well!"
4.The Best Protein-Free Conditioner For Sensitive Skin
If you're looking for a protein-free conditioner for highly sensitive skin, then this dermatologist-tested pick by Free & Clear is a good choice. Unlike other conditioners on this list that boast scents, this conditioner isn't made with fragrances or dyes. Like others that I've mentioned, it's also free of parabens and sulfates. Leave it in for one to three minutes before rinsing, and you'll be all set.
What fans write: "This is absolutely the best product. No perfumes and dyes. I am extremely sensitive to all scents in all 'beauty' and cleaning products.This is wonderful product and leaves hair soft and clean."