Lather Up & Prevent Brittleness With These 4 Protein-Free Shampoos


A good balance of protein and moisture is needed for strong tresses. However, when your hair is overloaded with protein, it can become weak. Thankfully, the best protein-free shampoos are here to help those with protein-sensitive, low-porosity hair that might feel coarse. Since these products don't contain protein, they're able to thoroughly cleanse strands without overwhelming them and creating brittleness.

To figure out what cleansing product is best for you, it may be helpful to first understand how hair proteins work (and why your 'do might need a break from them). First, let me point out that protein is not a bad thing. In fact, it's a very necessary component of your hair's natural structure. Hair is comprised of about 90% keratin protein — but if you have low-porosity hair, your strands are likely packed with more protein than usual so using products rich in protein then can result in stiff, easy-to-break strands.

Enter protein-free shampoos. Common protein ingredients to avoid include silk protein, wheat protein, and keratin — and you can make sure of it by checking each label. To help you find exactly what you need, I've come up with a list of the best protein-free shampoos that you can buy on Amazon. Some are highly rated picks and others are fan favorites.

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The Overall Best: A Protein-Free Shampoo That Cleanses & Moisturizes

This clarifying shampoo from As I Am has been raved about online and recommended by Redditors, because it cleanses and strengthens hair without the use of proteins. Thanks to its nourishing ingredients (like coconut fruit powder, tangerine fruit extract, and more), it works to rejuvenate dry strands while remaining gentle, non-irritating, and non-damaging. Not to mention, it doesn't strip hair of much-needed moisture. The sulfate- and protein-free product is even safe for color-treated hair, and it can be paired with the brand's leave-in conditioner (which, yes, is also protein-free).

What one fan wrote: "This shampoo gets rid of all the build up and you start fresh. My hair is soft and manageable and no frizz, accepting of the low porosity products I now use. This stuff is awesome."


The Best Protein-Free Shampoo For Sensitive Skin

A great product for those with skin sensitivities, Free & Clear's shampoo contains no fragrances, dyes, gluten, sulfates, or preservatives that could cause irritation. Gentle enough for daily use, this protein-free, dermatologist-tested formula works to cleanse product buildup while relieving flakiness or dryness. Not only is it protein-free (based off the bottle's label), but it's also pH-balanced to restore harmony to your hair's natural composition. You can pair it with Free & Clear's conditioner, which is also free of protein.

What one fan wrote: "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."


A Lightweight Shampoo With A Creamy Lather

Jessicurl's Gentle Lather Shampoo has also been recommended by Redditors and various sites dedicated to those with curly hair like Naturally Curly and Spiral and Quirk. It boasts a gentle, lightweight formula that works into a creamy lather to cleanse hair without drying it out or creating heaviness. Of course, this product is made without proteins and sulfates — and it can even be used as a body wash. If you love the results, you can also add Jessicurl's deep-conditioning treatment to your beauty stash, which is also protein-free.

What one fan wrote: "It doesn't strip my hair or leave it greasy, just enough cleaning power. My low porosity, protein sensitive, 2c 3a 3b curly hair is happy even on days requiring two washes."


A Protein-Free Shampoo Made With Moisturizing Sea Kelp

Kinky Curly's Come Clean Shampoo is formulated with various nourishing ingredients like mandarin orange and marigold flower extracts to cleanse hair while helping it retain moisture ⁠— you can also thank the sea kelp. It's another tried-and-true protein-free shampoo that's been given a nod by Reddit, Trials & Tresses, and more. This sulfate-free selection is also powered with phytic acid to help thoroughly cleanse your tresses and remove buildup along your scalp. (While phytic acid binds easily to proteins, it isn't a protein itself.)

What one fan wrote: "This gets the job done without the harsh sulfates and chemicals. Love it and will continue to buy it. Ps. I have 2c low-porosity hair."