Our hair is made up of 90% protein aka keratin as well as amino acids. Protein strengthens and repairs hair helping it to grow stronger and longer.
However, protein is lost in the course of chemical treatments, heat application manipulation and undue stress on the hair.
Highly porous hair can also benefit from protein deep conditioners. Read What is Hair Porosity for more on highly porous hair.
Protein deep conditioners help to restore strength to hair and continues strengthening hair over time preventing breakage and hair loss.
Protein deep conditioners also repair, reconstruct and rebuilds hair.
However, you shouldn’t automatically apply protein deep conditioners for no reason.
5 Types of Protein for Hair
This protein is derived from bovine bone and cartilage. Some people get these benefits via bone broth as well.
It improves hair elasticity and makes hair softer and more pliable.
This protein is primarily for strengthening hair and restoring protein loss from hair.
It also coats the hair shaft and prevents further protein loss from hair. It is similar to the protein found in hair.
3. Silk Protein
The primary purpose of this type of protein is to soften and moisturize while strengthening hair. It is aka silk amino acids.
4. Wheat Protein
This protein adds strength and retains moisture. It’s in-between strong and mild, and the type of protein my hair likes best.
When I look up protein deep conditioners, I look out for this ingredient in the top 3. Ideal for protein sensitive hair types.
5. Soy Protein & Plant Proteins (Oat & Corn)
This type of proteins is sourced from plants and vegetables and provide moisture retention, protect and seal, add shine, body, and manageability.
This type is of protein is also ideal for protein sensitive hair types. I went into greater detail about protein in 365 Days of Moisture for Dry & Parched Hair.
How to Choose the Best Protein Treatment for Your Hair
All hair types and textures can benefit from protein deep conditioners. However, the type you use depends on what is going on with your hair.
Strong Protein Deep Conditioner
Hair that’s being damaged by chemical treatments and heat application needs protein deep conditioners the most.
The treatments will restore the natural protein that’s being stripped from your hair.
If your hair falls into either or both of these categories, a weekly protein deep conditioning session is recommended with a strong protein deep conditioning session every 8 – 10 weeks.
Mild Protein Deep Conditioner
If your hair is healthy and just stressed from over manipulation while styling hair, then a mild protein deep conditioner every few weeks is best.
The strong deep protein conditioners will be too much for your hair otherwise.
Listen to your hair and feel your strands. My hair is very healthy and I only do deep protein treatments 2 – 3 times a year.
I also apply henna and indigo every 12 – 16 weeks, which plays a significant role in strengthening my strands as well.
10 Best Protein Deep Conditioners for Damaged Curly Hair
I have graded the protein deep conditioners below from 1 – 5 with 1 being mild and 5 being the strongest protein deep conditioner.
This is based on my experience as well as reviews from curlistas around the web.
They might have a different strength level when applied to your hair but this acts as a good reference point for you.
Do not overdo protein treatments. Just because they work so well the first few times doesn’t mean you should use them frequently.
Overuse can lead to stiff and dry hair, which will inevitably lead to breakage. Always listen to your hair needs.