Professional stylists share their favorite protein treatments for damaged hair, and we're stocking up.
Just like your body, your hair can benefit from protein. If locks feel limp or deadbeat, it could be a sign that you're due for a protein treatment. These at-home formulas boost hair's health with a variety of nutrients to strengthen and nourish strands. A godsend for sun-damaged tresses or hair that's fried from heat styling, at-home protein treatments are also miracle workers for color-treated or chemically textured hair.
Just remember that a little goes a long way. While they work wonders to fortify hair, you don't want to go overboard with the stuff or use protein treatments every day, says Mike Martinez, a stylist at Cutler Salon in New York City. "Your hair can only take so much protein and too much can make hair weak and brittle," he tells Health.
If you've noticed your locks are feeling weak, dry, and brittle—or if your stylist not-so-subtly mentioned that you need a protein treatment at your last appointment—fear not. Below, we've enlisted the help of professional stylists and hair gurus for their top protein treatment picks that will save your tresses.
1 Eufora Nourish Fortifi Keratin Repair
2 Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Protein Treatment
"Shea Moisture has managed to produce an equally moisturizing and strengthening hair mask that is a must for me—and any hair types that constantly heat-style their hair," says celebrity hairstylist David Lopez. Also great? It's perfect for curly or thick tresses.
3 Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment
Maria Ruiz, a stylist at Eddie Arthur Salon in New York City, is a huge fan of Olaplex because it restores internal strength and intensifies moisture levels in hair to add shine. "It’s recommended for all hair types, but works especially well to repair damaged hair that has been over-processed from harsh chemical procedures," she says.
4 It's A 10 Miracle Hair Mask
This mask contains a powerful wheat protein that penetrates deeply to deliver instant deep conditioning results, says Carolyn Aronson, hairstylist and founder of It’s a 10 Haircare. Safe for color-treated, heat-styled, and processed hair, the creamy mask will detangle, soften, and add shine to your locks.
5 Kiehl's Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak
If you're in the market for a light protein treatment, this mask packs a big punch without weighing down hair. Loaded with avocado oil, lemon fruit extract, and olive oil, it strengthens and restores shine without making hair feel oily or greasy, says Martinez. "I always keep a tub in my kit."
6 Davines Living Enzyme Infusion
"My favorite protein treatment for distressed hair is the Davines Natural Tech Nourishing Line," says Sergio Pattirane, a master stylist at Rob Peetoom Salon in Brooklyn, New York. The Hair Building Pak and Living Enzyme Infusion, combined with the brand's shampoo and conditioner, are perfect for those who need a lot of protein, nourishing hair from the inside out so it's silky soft, he says.
7 Orlando Pita Play Former Glory Protein Treatment Spray
This formula contains a unique blend of proteins and amino acids that help combat the four most common types of damage: chemical, thermal, mechanical, and environmental, says celebrity hairstylist Orlando Pita. "These vital nutrients will restore hair back to its optimal health.” Bonus: The travel-friendly spray is ideal for throwing in your carry-on for tropical destinations where hair might get fried from the sun.
8 CHI Deep Protein Masque Strengthening Treatment
The formula has a blend of olive and monoi oils along with a protein-rich complex of natural essential oils, botanicals, herbs, and vitamins. All these nourishing ingredients make it great for dry, damaged hair, says Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist Laurie Heaps.
9 Aphogee Serious Hair Care Double Bundle
Butterfly Studio Salon colorist Austin Medearis swears by this duo. “This has been in my arsenal for hair repair since I became a stylist and colorist," he says. Although the process takes a little longer since it's a two-step treatment, it's worth it, Medearis says.
10 IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray
11 Redken Extreme Anti Snap Leave-In Treatment
If you want a heavier protein treatment for seriously damaged locks, this treatment is for you, says Martinez. "It’s good for hair that’s been over-processed or has serious chemical damage," he tells us. Like many protein treatments, this is a leave-in formula. But Martinez says it surpasses others with its ability to not only fortify damaged hair, but also reduce breakage without adding buildup.
12 L'Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Protein Recharge Treatment
This budget-friendly drugstore option is another one of Medearis's favorites. “It's worth its weight in gold," he raves. Formulated with almond and protein elixirs, this treatment strengthens hair and doubles as a heat protectant. You'll notice 97% less breakage from heat styling in just one use!