moisturizing conditioner vs. protein conditioner

I know I know… first I tell you to deep condition, now I’m telling you there’s a certain way to do it? Well yes… and it’s not just deep conditioning either. Conditioners for your natural hair usually focus on one of two things: Moisture or Protein. These two simple words hold a lot of weight in the natural hair community, thus hold a lot of weight in the natural hair product aisle!

Moisture and protein balance in your hair is key to successful growth and length retention. Once you’ve figured out the balance that works best for your hair you are GOLDEN! But then of course theres’s the rest of us who are still trying to figure out just what works best for our hair in various seasons. Once we think we’ve got the regimen down… something comes around to change our minds. This post hopefully will help you make a few final decisions in the matter of what conditioner types should you be using on your hair.

So let’s dive in and figuring out the difference between  moisturizing conditioner vs. protein conditioners.

Moisturizing Conditioner vs. Protein Conditioner

Moisturizing Conditioner: Moisturizing conditioners focus on just that adding moisture in order to soften the hair, make your hair easier to manipulate, and “waters” your hair so to speak. Moisturizing conditioners provide nourishment to your hair by depositing moisturizing ingredients on to the hair.

Protein Conditioner: Protein conditioners are used to strengthen the hair by adding in protein and amino acids. The purpose of a protein conditioner is to rebuild damage that has occurred to the hair follicle. Protein conditioners also help in decreasing shedding. They are the “gate” so to speak that helps keep the bad things out that could potentially damage your hair.

Which Should You Use:Both conditioners are vital to your hair care regimen, however they must be used differently. 9/10 you should be using a moisturizing conditioner, depending on what shape your hair is currently in. If you have generally healthy hair you want  to deep condition with a moisturizing conditioner, or use moisturizing rinse out conditioners 3 weeks out of four weeks in the month. On the fourth week you can add in a protein conditioner to deep condition to help keep a peaceful balance.

When Do I Use Each One: If you notice that your hair is weak, mushy or damaged that means you need more protein. But be very careful when adding protein into the hair (not all protein is created equally and some are way stronger than others). Adding in too much protein to the hair will cause it to snap off (just like straw). Take it from me I’ve experienced protein overload and had to pretty much start my natural hair journey from scratch (see my first professional haircut in 5 years here)


Protein Overload : What Is It & How To Reverse It
20 Best Protein Treatments For Natural  Hair
Benefits of Protein Treatments 

So which products are which? There’s nothing like a quick google search to take the guess out of your question. When looking for a moisturizing product it should say moisture on the container as a big giant sign. You also want to make sure your moisturizing products have water listed as their first ingredient. What is better than water as a moisturizer duh! Protein conditioners usually have keratin, amino acids, and soy listed in their ingredients.

It’s best to assess your hair to figure out what it needs, and pay attention when those needs change. And if you can’t figure it out yourself, I’m always an avid fan of heading to a professional to take the guessing out of the equation.

For more natural hair info, tips, tricks and DIY recipes follow our dedicated natural hair board on Pinterest below!