Difference between protein and moisturising conditioners

Hey guys 🙂

One of the things that left us completely lost in the first weeks (or even months) that we started our hair journey was the difference between protein and moisturising conditioners. Specifically, what order we should follow for a successful routine (here).

As we have stated previously, the balance between the two is crucial for a successful hair journey. Given that hair needs moisture since we have naturally dry strands that with time break if no moisture is put back.

In the case of protein our hair is essentially composed by it, however a great portion of it is lost in our day-to-day lifestyle with processes such as relaxers, hair dyes, heat and our strands getting older. Therefore, it is essential to re-introduce protein in our strands in our routine, though it’s necessary to point out that the amount that we reintroduce will be influenced by how much we lose. That means that, if you do a heavy process like relaxing, for example, you would need more protein (once a month a heavy one and maybe every two weeks a softer one) and if you are natural once a month a soft protein treatment is enough.

*Unfortunately the exact amount that you will need is subjective from person to person and the only way to really find out is trial and error. We advise you to follow our plan at first and then increasing/decreasing accordingly*

So, in this post, we will show you the differences between the two, the most found ingredients in both, and everything you need to know so your search becomes more straightforward. Also, this will be perfect for avoiding setbacks such as protein overload (here) or lack of it (here) that we unfortunately went through due to our lack of information:

Protein Treatment/Conditioner

One of our favourite protein treatments: Shea Moisture Strengthen, Grow and Restore Treatment Masque

Ingredients normally found:

  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Silk Protein
  • Keratin
  • GlycoProtein
  • Milk Protein (Lactabumin)
  • Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
  • Collagen Protein
  • Vegetable Protein

(Some) Protein treatments we like

  • ORS Hair Mayonnaise (heavy) (here)
  • ORS Replenishing Conditioner (soft) (here)
  • Shea Moisture Strengthen, Grow and Restore Treatment Masque (soft) (here)
  • Aphogee 2 step treatment (heavy) (here)
  • Aphogee 2 minute Keratin reconstructor (soft) (here)
  • Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Conditioner (heavy) (here)
  • Kera Pro Restorative Treatment (heavy) (here)

Moisturising Treatment/Conditioner

One of our favourite moisturising treatments: Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Masque

Ingredients normally found:

  • Water (aqua) as the first ingredient on the list
  • Glycerol (or Glycerine)
  • Panthenol
  • Cetearyl Alcohol
  • Moisturising oils such as almond oil, macadamia, coconut, argan and hazelnut

(Some) Moisturising treatments we like

  • Shea Moisture Intense Hydration Hair Masque (here)
  • Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Masque (here)
  • Macadamia (here)
  • Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (here)
  • Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose (here)
  • Joico Moisture Recovery Conditioner (here)
  • Kérastase Specifique Masque Hydra-apaisant (here)
  • Keracare Moisturising Conditioner (here)

We hope that with this information you can understand better the difference as well as importance of including protein and moisturising products in your hair journey. We also hope that with this blog post, the label of hair products becomes clearer and you don’t get as lost in cosmetic shops. In addition, we hope that it becomes easier to follow your hair journey (and for the girls that bought our personalised hair journey guide – pi.di.eff – will also be super helpful) and eliminate or exclude any setback that can be caused by lack of information from ingredients on hair products!

Good luck!

Elle (L)

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9 thoughts on “Difference between protein and moisturising conditioners

  1. Megan

    Heard great things about ORS Replenishing Conditioner and the Shea Moisture Strengthen, Grow and Restore Treatment Masque. Which do you prefer?


    1. diElleci

      Hi Megan!
      Wow, I don’t think I can choose. The choice really will be based on your budget. The ORS conditioner is significantly cheaper and since we have been using it since we started relaxing (way before we started our hair journey) is kind of our comfort zone.

      However both are amazing and there is really no competition between the two



  2. Anonymous

    Hi Girls,
    Do you all have the same type of hair?
    I have either type 4 A or C (I am not totally sure), after air drying, it is always hard to bring moisture back in my hair. I have low porosity, so no porosity control for me, no ACV, as they close my cuticle further. Lately, I have been trying to go under the dryer with my leave in conditioner, but I am not very impressed. Cowashing does not work for me. I use very good quality conditioner(It is a 10 Miracle Hair mask, Keracare, Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Mask, Joico Intense Hydrator, Joico Revitaluxe, Joico Moisture Recovery treatment Balm, Nexus Polymedic, Aphogee 2 minutes, Silk Dream, Kenra, Strinillah). The problem is , during wash day, I have to hydrate my hair 4 times a day to bring moisture back.


    1. diElleci

      For your first question not really. Di has texture around 4b, Elle 4c and Ci 4c but thinner than Elle’s.

      In regards to your question, that is actually very annoying since I can tell you invest a lot of your time (and money) on your hair care routine. Since you have done quite a lot, what I can suggest (although it may be costly) is to invest on a steamer. An option, that we chose, is if you have a gym membership is to use their steam room (if it has one) and just do your wash days with that. Steam at least for us tends to work better than heat, so hopefully for you too!

      Let us know how it goes and good luck!


  3. Anonymous

    Hi girls

    Can you tell how moisturizing is Moroccan oil Hydrating Mask? Is it better than the Macadamia Mask? Regarding the Joico conditioner, do you use the instant conditioner or the balm? Do you use it to co-wash or to deep condition?



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