23 Best Curly Girl Approved Protein Products in 2022

If you are a follower of the Curly Girl Method, you probably know about the importance of protein. Protein is the building block of hair and is essential for your curls to stay healthy. Here is our guide to the best Curly Girl approved protein products on the market today.

Curly Girl Approved Protein Products

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Why Is Protein Important To Hair?

Approximately 85-95% of your hair is made of keratin and amino acids which are proteins. Keratin keeps your hair strands strong and healthy but these can be damaged by repeated heat styling and chemical treatments.

When this happens, the structural wall of your hair (the cuticle) is broken down and your hair can turn frizzy and brittle.

Too much damage to the cuticle can lead to conditions such as moisture overload, whereby your hair becomes limp and soft.

If the structural integrity of your hair is broken down too much, this can lead to hygral fatigue which is not easily reversible.

In this case, water will penetrate your hair strands and stretch out the hair so that it expands. Once the water evaporates, your hair strands remain stretched and weak and can then easily snap.

It’s therefore very important to use protein in your hair products if you’ve exposed your curls to chemical or heat styling in the past.

Signs Your Curls Are Lacking Protein

These are the common signs to look out for:

  • Hair feels limp and stretchy
  • Your hair has been color-treated
  • More breakage than usual
  • Hair feels too soft and flat
  • Curls have stopped forming

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you may well benefit from adding Curly Girl protein products into your routine.

Remember, in general curls need to retain more moisture as it is harder for natural oils to reach the end of curly hair strands than it is for straight hair.

It’s therefore vital that you repair the cuticles of your hair so that moisture doesn’t evaporate. Using Curly Girl protein products will help achieve this.

Of course, if you suffer from protein overload then avoid protein treatments in general.

If your hair feels stiff, hay-like, or dry, try a non-protein CG product instead. This is especially the case for those who have low porosity hair as their hair cuticles are often more compact than high porosity hair.

This means that it’s harder for moisture to penetrate and evaporate and so you should be focussing on hydrating products instead.

For a detailed guide on the Curly Girl Method, check out my easy step-by-step guide.

Now let’s move on to the products.

23 Best Curly Girl Protein Products

This list contains all our favorite CG products containing protein as per the ingredients list.

1. BEST OVERALL – SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner

SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner

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What I like

Significantly reduces frizz and encourages curls to form.

What I Don’t like

The product does get a bit thick in the bottle so can be hard to get out.

SheaMoisture is a very popular brand with the CG community and their Coconut and Hibiscus conditioner is a firm favorite. Great for those with thick hair as the product has a rich, creamy texture which helps soften hair. The conditioner detangles dry, frizzy hair and infuses your curls with intense moisture.


2. BEST FOR MOISTUREAunt Jackie’s Rescued Thirst Quenching Recovery Conditioner

Aunt Jackie's Rescued Thirst Quenching Recovery Conditioner

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What I like

Keeps hair feeling soft and moisturized for days.

What I Don’t like

It’s often out of stock!

This reparative conditioner from Aunt Jackie’s contains grapeseed oil, castor oil, and tamanu oil for maximum hydration. This conditioner helps to repair damaged and dry hair and you should notice a difference after the first wash. Can be used as an intensive repair treatment as well as a regular rinse-out conditioning treatment. Best used after a clarifying co-wash.


3. BEST CLEANSER – As I am Dry and Itchy Scalp Care Olive and Tea Tree Oil Co-Wash

As I am Dry and Itchy Scalp Care Olive and Tea Tree Oil Co-Wash

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What I like

Helps combat an itchy scalp and fights dandruff.

What I Don’t like

The texture is quite runny so be careful when using.

The As I Am Itchy Scalp Co-wash is a great moisturizing and soothing cleanser that helps improve impurities in your hair by 98%! It is effective for those who suffer from dry, sensitive, and itchy scalps. Contains olive oil and tea tree oil which help to prevent itchiness and Zinc Pyrithione which actively eliminates yeast and bacterial growth. Use alongside As I Am Itchy Scalp Conditioner for best results.


4. BEST DETANGLER – Giovanni Smooth As Silk Conditioner

Giovanni Smooth As Silk Conditioner

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What I like

This conditioner offers a lot of slip which helps to detangle curls very easily.

What I Don’t like

The pump on the bottle can be a bit difficult to manage.

Giovanni’s Smooth As Silk Conditioner is a budget-friendly CG-friendly product that works well for a lightweight condition. It helps to detangle knots while increasing shine and protecting against split ends. This product is vegan and can be used daily.


5. BEST FOR DEFINED CURLS – Bounce Curl Light Cream Gel

Bounce Curl Light Cream Gel

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What I like

This is a game-changer when it comes to defined curls. Adds volume and shine as well.

What I Don’t like

Quite expensive for the size of product.

This light gel from Bounce Curl is 80% gel and 20% cream which helps to lock in the shape of your curls whilst providing optimal hydration. It is vegan, color-safe and its lightweight formula will allow you to create maximum volume. For best results, mix with other Bounce Curls products if needed.


6. Aunt Jackie’s Purify Me – Moisturizing Co-Wash Cleanser

Aunt Jackie’s Purify Me – Moisturizing Co-Wash Cleanser

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What I like

Doesn’t strip hair of color and leaves it feeling soft and moisturized.

What I Don’t like

Has a strong smell that may not work for everyone.

The Purify Me Moisturizing Co-Wash Cleanser from Aunt Jackie’s is a great protein product for those who suffer from dry hair which needs detangling. This creamy triple-action cleanser washes away impurities and product build-up while replenishing moisture and softness back into your curls. Contains flaxseed which is known for preventing hair thinning and shedding. Gentle enough to use daily.


7. Cantu Complete Conditioning Co-wash

Cantu Complete Conditioning Co-wash

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What I like

Removes grease and build-up from hair for a very affordable price.

What I Don’t like

Not the best for very thick, curly hair.

The Cantu co-wash is a gentle cleanser that removes heavy product build-up. It contains a blend of over 15 natural butters and oils and helps to keep your scalp clean and moisturized. It is also very affordable!


8. SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-wash Conditioning Cleanser

SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-wash Conditioning Cleanser

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What I like

Cleanses hair and leaves it super soft for several days.

What I Don’t like

You do need to use a bit more than regular shampoo to get a proper clean, but the price is worth it.

This is a really popular coconut co-wash cleanser from SheaMoisture. Helps to clean waves and curls without harsh ingredients and moisturizes dry and damaged hair. The product contains coconut oil which hydrates your hair and added silk protein helps to keep your locks shiny. Can be used regularly on wash days and will help to keep your curls tangler and frizz-free.


9. Noughty To the Rescue Moisture Boost Conditioner

Noughty To the Rescue Moisture Boost Conditioner

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What I like

Works great for fine or thin hair.

What I Don’t like

It’s expensive for what you get.

This popular conditioner from Noughty Haircare contains a unique blend of plant oils that help restore and smooth damaged hair. The hydrating formula which contains shea butter and coconut oil helps to reduce frizz and breakage. An affordable product that is gentle enough for everyday use.


10. Eco Styler Gel – Olive Oil

Eco Styler Gel – Olive Oil

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What I like

Very cheap for the size of product you get and provides a great cast.

What I Don’t like

Can feel a bit sticky so use on dripping wet hair.

This eco styler olive oil gel contains 100% pure olive oil and provides a medium to strong hold. Great for CG beginners and for those looking for budget-friendly gels. The eco gel works great when layering with cremes or mousses and leaves your hair with a healthy shine. You may need more than you think for a superior crunchy cast but the gel is super lightweight and doesn’t leave white flakes.


11. Giovanni LA Hold Styling Gel

Giovanni LA Hold Styling Gel

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What I like

This gel gives curls a lot of definition and volume and for the price, it’s a steal.

What I Don’t like

Can be a bit heavy for fine hair types.

The Giovanni La Hold Styling Gel offers a strong hold for your curls. This gel is color-safe, cruelty-free, and won’t break the bank. Perfect for those who need extra frizz control and if you’re looking for more defined curls. The formula contains moisturizing ingredients such as aloe vera leaf juice, lavender extract, and grapefruit.


12. Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel

Aunt Jackie's Don't Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel

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What I like

Makes natural curls pop while keeping them elongated. Great product for 4c hair.

What I Don’t like

Could be too sticky for some.

This gel from Aunt Jackie’s is a styling gel that lasts all day. It contains moisturizing ingredients such as flaxseed, Shea Butter, and extra virgin olive oil which helps to give bounce to your curly locks. The gel offers a really great hold without flaking or caking. Use more product if you have tighter curls.


13. Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioner

Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioner

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What I like

Works great as a deep conditioner and leaves hair feeling noticeably softer and healthier.

What I Don’t like

Contains protein so not great if your hair is already a bit dry.

The Algae Renew Deep Conditioner from Camille Rose is full of incredible ingredients to help revitalize your curls. The formula contains a blend of blue-green algae, mango, and cocoa butter, as well as 65 minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. A fantastic deep conditioner that will help restore damaged hair.


14. Mielle Organics Babassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner

Mielle Organics Babassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner

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What I like

Detangles hair very easily and a little goes a long way.

What I Don’t like

Has quite a strong smell of mint, so avoid if you don’t like this scent.

This is a replenishing organic hair conditioner from Mielle. It works by reducing frizz and flyaways and infuses your hair with protein and rich hydration. The unique formula is made with babassu oil that contains sterols and tocopherols which help protect your scalp. You’ll also find fatty acids, natural oils, and complex amino acids which hydrate and give shine to your curls.


15. Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Masque

Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Masque

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What I like

Has a great scent and leaves curls looking super defined.

What I Don’t like

Can be a bit heavy for thin hair.

This hair mask offers an intensive reparative treatment guaranteed to prevent breakage. It contains blueberry extract, aloe leaf juice, and chamomile extract which helps to protect your natural curls. Use once a week as part of your CG routine for bouncy, soft, and hydrated curls.


16. SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Restore Treatment Masque

SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Restore Treatment Masque

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What I like

A very popular product as it helps to smooth and tame unruly and frizzy hair. Worth every penny.

What I Don’t like

The product doesn’t have the best smell.

This restorative treatment mask from SheaMoisture helps to prevent breakage and shedding. It is formulated with Jamaican black castor oil as well as Shea butter and should be used once a week for a deep condition. A firm favorite amongst many followers of the Curly Girl Method and works particularly well on heat-damaged and chemically treated hair.


17. Cantu Moisturizing Twist & Lock Gel

Cantu Moisturizing Twist & Lock Gel

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What I like

You only need a small amount for a strong hold.

What I Don’t like

Can leave hair feeling a little bit dry.

This gel from Cantu is great for shiny curls, twists, and braids. The creamy formula contains shea butter that helps to de-frizz and moisturize curls.

Other natural ingredients include avocado, almond, and olive oil which gives the gel a smooth formula for springy curls. Suitable for all hair types and use sparingly as a little goes a long way.


18. Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Conditioner

Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Conditioner

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What I like

Has a fantastic scent that leaves hair smelling great.

What I Don’t like

The bottle can be a bit difficult to handle.

This is a gentle conditioner from Andalou. It is designed for dry and damaged hair so if you have colored your hair in the past, this is for you. The formula contains PhytoCellTec Alpine Rose Stem Cells which help strengthen and protect your hair. Even more, Andalou’s products are 98% nature-derived, gluten and cruelty-free.

The conditioner has a fantastic scent and the texture is thick and creamy.


19. Alikay Naturals Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner

Alikay Naturals Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner

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What I like

Great for natural coils hair as it leaves curls hydrated and soft.

What I Don’t like

The product is a bit thick so may not suit fine curls.

This deep conditioner is thick and creamy and really gets to work on dehydrated and damaged hair. It has a slight smell of sweet honey and contains natural ingredients such as Babassu, sage, and extra virgin olive oil. The product shines in terms of its ability to penetrate each hair strand, leaving your curls feeling soft and nourished. Definitely worth a purchase.


20. As I Am Curling Jelly

As I Am Curling Jelly

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What I like

Creates a great, strong cast that keeps curls going for a few days at least.

What I Don’t like

Can leave some white residue if used with other styling products.

This curl jelly from As I Am is a favourite amongst the Curly Girl community. Perfect for any hair type, it helps to define and add shine to your curls. Works best if you use it on soaking wet hair and leave the gel to set. Once the cast has dried, scrunch to reveal the softest, bounciest curls. 


21. AVEDA Rosemary Mint Weightless Conditioner

AVEDA Rosemary Mint Weightless Conditioner

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What I like

Super light conditioner that doesn’t weigh down hair so is perfect for fine, wavy hair.

What I Don’t like

It’s quite pricey.

This shampoo from Aveda is great for those with a sensitive scalp. It contains 97% naturally derived ingredients and helps to detangle your curls whilst keeping moisture levels intact. The formula is infused with rosemary, peppermint and spearmint which add to the natural, pleasant scent. 


22. Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo

Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng shampoo

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What I like

This shampoo is perfect for those with thin hair as it adds volume and texture.

What I Don’t like

Can make hair feel a bit heavy.

This shampoo from Briogeo contains natural ingredients that help create volume and fullness in your hair. It is specifically created for those with thin, limp or fine hair as it stimulates the hair follicles and supports natural blood-flow to the scalp.

A perfect shampoo for those looking to clean and maintain color-treated hair and the formula contains 98% naturally derived ingredients. 


23. Bumble and Bumble Full Form Mousse

Bumble and Bumble Full Form Mousse

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What I like

Makes even thin hair look very full and with lots of volume.

What I Don’t like

The dispenser can be a bit tricky to use.

This is a great thickening mousse with a creamy texture for thin and fine hair. The mousse helps to lift your curls at the root, creating lots of volume. It is best used on damp hair and can be used instead of a gel if you want a lighter look.  Leaves hair feeling soft and curls defined without the heavy weight of product.


Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Dee Poulsen

Dee has been following the Curly Girl Method for over four years and is our in-house Curly Girl expert. She has a keen interest in natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She has a photographic memory of most sulfate and silicone-free hair products available on the high street and she's always happy to recommend you her favorites.