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Moisture vs protein for curly hair
4 minute read

Does your curly hair need moisture or protein? | Bouclème

New to curlcare or want to find out which one your hair craves? You’re in the right place. Understanding what your curly hair needs is key in creating a balanced routine. Here’s the lowdown.

Curly hair needs both protein and moisture to stay healthy and strong. Our hair is made up of 91% protein. Protein is useful for strengthening and also for repair. However, if we damage our hair with too much straightening, colour treatments, and heat styling, the protein can break down (oops). Moisture, on the other hand, helps keep your hair hydrated and improves elasticity (for curls that bounce back).

Protein Vs Moisture

Everyone’s hair is different, but when it comes to moisture and protein balance, texture tells you more than curl pattern. So how do you know what your hair needs? Take a closer look at your strands before washing or styling (and don’t forget that low moisture levels can be a knock-on effect of high porosity):


When your hair is wet, try separating out a strand and stretching it. If there’s no elasticity, the strand will snap with little effort - this is an indication of lack of moisture. Good elasticity is when the strand takes on a lot of tension and bounces back without breaking. If it doesn’t bounce back but doesn’t break, your hair may be absorbing too much moisture from products.


Porosity is all about how much moisture your hair can retain. Just as you may have combination skin, it’s possible to have a mixture of different porosity throughout your hair. For example, you can have low porosity at the roots and high porosity at the ends, particularly if they are damaged. Here’s how to recognise porosity levels:

  • Low porosity - This hair doesn’t allow moisture in easily because it has a tight cuticle. Strands can be easily weighed down by products as they sit on the surface rather than being absorbed. So what does low porosity hair need? Moisture but not protein (not much repair to be done here!)
  • Medium porosity - Hair with a looser cuticle allows for a steady, moderate flow of moisture in and out of the hair. This kind of hair benefits from both moisture and protein, especially if it’s not colour treated as it will have little damage to worry about.
  • High porosity - High porosity hair may feel dry and break easily because it has gaps in the cuticle. It absorbs moisture easily but then releases it quickly. Chemical treatments like colouring can also lead to high porosity. What does high porosity hair need? Moisture (and make sure you seal that with an oil) plus a good dose of protein!

How do I recognise the signs of moisture or protein overload?

Protein overload

Hair feels stiff, crunchy, and rough to the touch while looking dull. It’s still snapping and breaking despite the treatment. The remedy? Pause any further protein treatments. Instead deep condition with a moisturising mask or do an oil treatment before clarifying.

Moisture overload

Curls won’t hold their shape and hair feels weighted down or soft and fluffy. The remedy? Opt for a clarifying wash (our Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo is perfect for the job) and make sure you add in a protein treatment like our new Protein Booster.

How do I get more protein into my hair?

The easiest and best way to get protein directly to the hair is adding a protein treatment made for curly hair like our new Protein Booster. The key ingredient is hydrolyzed vegetable protein which strengthens bonds and restructures to improve shine, texture and moisture levels. Hydrolyzed means that the protein is broken down into smaller molecules (which are more readily absorbed into hair), for a bonding hair treatment that can enrich hair from the inside out. Our Protein Booster is super easy to use and fully customisable - just add a few powerful drops to your cleanser or conditioner for improved elasticity, stronger bonds (to protect against breakage) and increased moisture retention. No extra step necessary!

What if I don’t need protein?

If your hair simply needs softening and deep conditioning to keep frizz at bay, moisture is the main thing for you. Water is hydrating so make sure you apply your conditioners and stylers onto wet hair to lock all the moisture in.

Look for products that contain humectants and emollients like aloe vera and argan oil, they’re moisture-retaining. Our Intensive Moisture Treatment, Curl Cream, and Curl Conditioner are all chock-full of moisturising goodness that can help you find the right balance specifically for your hair.

Need more expert advice? Our team is here for you, just email with a picture of your hair and we’ll help you find the best routine for you.

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  • Use these powerful drops of protein booster to improve hair elasticity and to strengthen your curls.

    Protein Booster


  • A powerful, award winning deep conditioning treatment to strengthen and redefine curls.

    Intensive Moisture Treatment


  • Scalp scrub deep cleanses and massages scalp, energises, removing product build up and promoting healthy hair growth.

    Scalp Exfoliating Shampoo


  • This leave in curl cream offers unrivalled moisture for perfectly defined curls.

    Curl Cream


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