Protein overload and protein sensitivity can be a big problem for women with coily 4c hair. When you use products with too much protein in them, you can easily end up with hard hair that feels dry and tough. An average naturalista can use up to five products on wash day and if each hair product has large amounts of protein in it, you can easily have protein overload.
This is why in this blog post, I want to share ten protein-free shampoos you can incorporate into your hair regimen.
Before I get into product recommendations, I’d like to answer frequently asked questions about proteins in natural hair.
How do I get rid of protein buildup in my hair?
What are some popular proteins I should look out for in my hair products?
There are different sources a hair product company can source proteins from. To help simplify things, here’s a quick list of popular proteins found in hair products to watch out for.
- Amino acids
- Hydrolyzed keratin
- Hydrolyzed oat flour
- Hydrolyzed silk
- Hydrolyzed silk protein
- Hydrolyzed soy protein
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Hydrolyzed collagen
- Quinoa protein
- Rice protein
How do I know If I Have Protein Overload Hair?
Your hair will feel weighed down, dry, dull, and stiff if you have too much protein in your hair. You see, proteins strengthen the hair so it’s stronger to withstand breakage and damage. Therefore, if you have too much protein in your hair, your hair will feel too strong and with less elasticity.
This means that if you pull your hair, it won’t bounce back and it can even break. While strong hair is good, hair that is too strong is not healthy.
What Should I do If I have Protein Overload?
You can temporarily switch to protein-free hair products or products with fewer proteins in them while your hair regains its protein-moisture balance. And should you have protein-sensitive hair, you can hold off on hard protein treatments for a few months while your hair restores its balance.
Also, if you have protein-sensitive hair, you don’t need to do a bi-weekly protein treatment. You can reduce your protein treatment to just once a month or so.
How Can I Tell If I Have Protein Sensitive Hair?
As someone who used to have protein-sensitive hair, I can tell you that it’s not a good feeling. You would know if you have protein-sensitive hair if you find your hair feeling stiff and hard after applying products to it.
If you find your hair feeling this way, you should inspect the ingredients list on your product to see if it has ingredients such as soy protein, keratin, vegetable protein, collagen, and silk, just to name a few.
My Thoughts on Proteins in Hair Products
Your hair is made up of 90% protein, so you really don’t need to use too many products with protein in it. If you keep your hair in its natural state without hair color and you stay away from heat, you can go months without using hair products with excessive protein in them.
However, should you find your hair feeling weak and limp, you can slowly introduce hair products with small amounts of protein in them.
Does Coconut Oil Contain Protein?
Coconut oil does not have protein in it. I encourage you to go to your local grocery store and check the nutritional facts of every single coconut oil product in the store. You will find that each jar says there are ZERO grams of protein in the product. If you’re still not convinced, you can do an active search online and look up reputable sources to see if there are any trace amounts of proteins in coconut oil.
I also took it upon myself to look up the database on the U.S Department of Agriculture and I can see that coconut oil has zero grams of proteins.
Why does my hair act like it has too many proteins when I use products with Coconut Oil?
It’s possible that you are allergic to coconut oil or any other ingredients in the hair product. If you find that your hair absolutely does not like coconut oil, regardless of the product brand used, then I will suggest you do away with coconut oil for a while.
Your hair product may also be conflicting with a particular ingredient in the other hair products you have layered in your hair. So before you write off coconut oil, I will recommend pairing different products together to see if you get a better result.
Why Does My Hair HATE Proteins?
I’ve read a few platforms where some women talk about how much their hair hates protein. This is absolutely NOT true and I’ll encourage you to do away with that false thinking. Your hair is made up of proteins, so it doesn’t make sense for your hair to hate itself.
What may be happening could be product build-up which happens when you layer too many products in your hair. This is why I recommend shampooing your hair at least once a month so that your hair can start on a clean slate.
Coconut Oil Behaving Like Proteins is Junk Science
As a long-term naturalista with a science background, I’ve read and come across a lot of “scientific claims” about hair products that are nothing but junk science. Infact, the majority of these claims have disappeared with time due to the fact that they are unrealistic and false.
So in response to all the comments I get about coconut oil being a protein, I’d like to request for scientific evidence that proves this point from Science journals or a researcher.
If you’re unable to provide such proof, then I’d suggest commenting elsewhere. Because the truth is that I’m tired of having to correct these false claims about coconut oil being a protein or acting as a protein or contributing to protein buildup.
ARTICLES YOU SHOULD ALSO READ
- 10 Best Protein Free Deep Conditioners For Natural Hair
- 10 Protein Free Leave-In Conditioners
- 10 Protein-Free Curl Defining Creams For Protein-Sensitive Hair
- 10 Best Clarifying Shampoos to Remove Build-Up
- 10 Best Glycerin-Free Styling Products
- You can also check out our other Product Recommendation Posts HERE
Ten Recommended Protein-Free Shampoos for Protein Sensitive and Low Porosity Natural Hair
This post contains affiliate links which means that I make a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase with my link.
If you find a discontinued product on this list, please do let me know so I can keep this post updated. I’d also like to inform you that brands change their product packaging from time to time, which means that the product picture in this post might look a bit different from the retailers website at the time you decide to make a purchase.
It’s also worth noting that brands sometimes change their product formula for reasons best known to them. This means that the product formula might have changed by the time you decide to make a purchase. If such happens, please let me know so I can keep the post updated.
Product Claim: Treat your chronically dry hair to this lather-rich, deep moisturizing hair bath. Enriched with coconut oil, shea butter, and extra virgin olive oil. Tresses become super clean, soft, hydrated, and easier to comb.
5 Star Review: “I really like this shampoo. It is very luxurious and really cleans my hair”
Product Claim: A ‘truly’ sulfate-free, foamy cleanser that delivers loads of moisture and detangling effects. Long-lasting, concentrated formula with a clean, fresh natural scent.
5 Star Review: “Rich & Funky always leaves my curls popping! I LOVE this shampoo. I use it not only on my hair but on my daughter’s hair too! ”
*This product contains coconut oil (which is not a protein). This post is about “protein-free products.”
Product Claim: Finally a way to get your hair and scalp really clean with natural ingredients, gets down deep into the scalp to remove buildup.
5 Star Review: “My type 4 hair loves this shampoo.”
I’ve personally tried a few body care products from Alaffia because I was touched by the fact that they source their products from small farm communities in West Africa in ethical ways. This means that the farmers that grow the ingredients that go into their products are paid fair wages.
Product Claim: Leave your hair smelling fresh and clean after every wash with Everyday Shea Moisturizing Shampoo in vanilla-mint scent. This gentle, creamy shampoo features unrefined shea butter, virgin coconut oil and shea leaf extract to clean thoroughly without stripping hair’s natural oils.
5 Star Review: “It’s my first time buying this shampoo. Our family loves the smell, it smells so fresh. I love the light lather it creates when washing and how easy it rinses out your hair. It makes our hair feel very clean and doesn’t strip our hair. I love that it’s safe to use on my 3-year-old son.”
*This product contains coconut oil (which is not a protein).
Product Claim: Curls lost their shine and not behaving the way they should? Make a clean start with As I Am Curl Clarity Shampoo, a clarifying, sulfate-free cleanser that removes old, dulling residue without drying out your hair. Moisturizes and prevents hair from drying out and becoming rough and unmanageable.
5 Star Review: “My hair felt clean but not stripped of moisture. It’s definitely a keeper”
Product Claim: Most shampoos dry out curls, this one does the opposite. The baomint moisturizing shampoo deposits sebum mimicking natural oils, a blend of high-quality essential oils forged to stimulate the scalp, and enhance growth without stripping hair.
Aloe leaf juice, essential oils, and mild cleansing agents will minimize a dry, itchy scalp allowing relief from dandruff and product buildup. You can count on this shampoo to aid in detangling, promote shine, and leave your hair and scalp feeling clean and soft to the touch.
5 Star Review: “This shampoo smells amazing and definitely gets my hair clean. It feels good and leaves my scalp feeling just slightly tingly without being overwhelmingly so.”
Product Claim: This sulfate-free shampoo gently cleanses the hair, leaving your cuticles feeling smooth and your hair feeling soft. gently and effectively. It’s infused with Pro-Vitamin B5 to reduce breakage and increase moisture. Free of harsh detergents that strip hair of its natural oils.
5 Star Review: “I especially love the shampoo. It is gentile, very conditioning, and my hair feels very clean.”
Product Claim: Formulated with a rich coconut cleanser, this clarifying shampoo removes chlorine, product residue, minerals, and oil buildup, restoring balance to the scalp for healthy hair
5 Star Customer Review: “I like how this clarifying shampoo gently cleanses the product buildup off my hair and scalp. It also smells very good!”
Product Claim: Gentle lather shampoo creates a creamy, luxurious lather without leaving your hair dry after use.
5 Star Review: “I was able to detangle while wet and my hair felt clean and soft.”
*This product contains coconut oil (which is not a protein).
Product Claim: Gently cleanses while infusing hair with intensive moisture, reconstructive proteins and shine-enhancing nutrients. Formulated with certified organic Shea Butter, reparative Manuka Honey and Yogurt, this ultra-hydrating shampoo smoothes rough, dry cuticles, fights split ends and restores vitality to dull, lack-lustre hair. This moisture shampoo leaves hair feeling stronger and more resilient.
5 Star Review: “My hair is 4B/high porosity for the naturalistas who like to know. I have been using this shampoo for a few months and love it.”
Now that you have a list of protein-free shampoos to use in your hair, I’d like to know which ones you’ve tried in the past. Which one will you be trying? Let me know in the comments section.