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Protein for hair – what you need to know

  • 4 min read

Skincare has been ‘in’ for years now, with people taking the time to educate themselves on their skin type and the ingredients that will work best for their needs. But now people are taking the same care with their hair. 

The likelihood is you’ll have heard all about rosemary oil for hair, but what about protein for hair? It’s no secret that we all need a healthy dose of protein as part of our diet, but hair protein is important for luscious locks. 

The basics of protein for hair 

Hair protein is unfamiliar territory for a lot of us, so let’s start with the basics. 

Hair is primarily made up of the helical protein keratin. Keratin is made up of amino acids, and is an essential protein in building healthy skin, hair and nails. 

The structure of a strand of hair includes: 

  • The cuticle: Several layers of overlapping flat, thin cells.
  • The cortex: Contains the keratin bundles.
  • The medulla: Open and disorganised area in the middle.

Human hair has three stages of growth: anagen (growth), catagen (transition), and telogen (rest). Growth of the hair follicle – a structure found in the epidermis where hair starts to grow from – is cyclical, with around 85% to 90% of hair on the body at any one time being in the growth phase. 

Does my hair need protein or moisture?

Hair needs both protein and moisture to stay healthy and looking and feeling its best. We firmly believe that nourished and strong hair needs both protein and moisture – and these actually work together to support healthy hair.

Moisturised hair is happy hair that better retains both its length and shine. Ingredients such as coconut oil help to provide intense nourishment and prevent frizz and breakages. Studies have shown that coconut oil can reduce the protein loss – which can lead to premature shedding of hair strands. 

Protein for hair is essential for strong strands that feel great. Restoring damaged hair and protecting it from damage caused by free radicals, hair protein plays a large role in the health of your hair. Interestingly, hair protein can actually help to keep the hair hydrated, as it locks in moisture. 

Does protein help hair grow?

Low levels of protein have been associated with stalled hair growth and potential hair loss. Studies have found that supplementing protein both reduced hair loss and boosted hair growth in a group of adult women with temporary thinning hair.

How to add protein to hair 

There are various ways in which you can add protein to hair. Including more protein in your diet can help to prevent hair loss over time and make your hair look healthier. Sources of dietary protein include: legumes, nuts, eggs, tofu and more. Some people choose to take protein supplements too. 

Protein hair treatments have become more and more popular, with people opting for both DIY treatments and professional ones. Protein treatments and masks can be applied to the hair, wrapped for a period of time, and then washed out. 

Another way to add protein to hair is to use protein-rich haircare products. Common proteins included in haircare include: soy, corn and wheat proteins. However it’s important to choose haircare that is kind to both you and the planet. 

Opt for refillable products that are both fragrance-free and sulphate-free

UpCircle’s Conditioner Crème with hair protein

Designed to be paired with our fan-favourite Shampoo Crème, our Refillable Conditioner is suitable for all hair types to enjoy. 

In this product, we upcycle orange peel wax – a by-product of the orange juice industry – and harness its intensely conditioning properties that work to soften and moisturise the hair. Also formulated with turkey tail mushroom extract to rejuvenate dull hair, this conditioner works hard to pamper your scalp and nourish your locks. 

The conditioner works to protect, soften, and moisturise the hair after cleansing. The upcycled orange peel wax contains botanical lipids, which create a safeguarding shield against environmental stressors, while sealing in essential moisture for lasting hydration. 



Soy protein

Our conditioner crème is enriched with soy protein to strengthen the hair. A water soluble protein, soy protein for hair works to both repair the hair strands and nourish them. 

Hydrolysed – when a substance is reacted with water – soy protein has isoflavones, naturally occurring plant compounds which are ranked among the most estrogenic compounds. Isoflavones exhibit a considerable antioxidant activity, which helps to protect the hair and scalp from damage caused by oxidative stress and free radicals.  

Soy protein has conditioning properties that can improve the hair’s natural shine, making it appear healthier and more radiant.

Corn protein

The amino acids in corn protein work to strengthen your hair from within, helping to reduce breakage and boost resilience. Our Conditioner Crème with Upcycled Orange Peel Extract is also enriched with bamboo extract to help repair and restore damaged hair.

Corn protein can help to repair any damage caused by heat styling, chemical treatments, and environmental factors. In addition, the smoothing effect of corn protein can also make detangling easier, further reducing the risk of hair damage during brushing.

Wheat protein

Wheat protein works to strengthen the hair shaft, provide much-needed moisture, prevent breakage, and add shine. With all these wonderful benefits, it’s no surprise why we included wheat protein in our conditioner crème!

The hydrolysed wheat protein we use has the ability to penetrate the hair cuticle, hydrating the hair shaft. It also helps to retain the moisture in your hair, making it appear thicker and fuller. 



Better still, shop our Shampoo + Conditioner Haircare Duo to save 20% on the RRP. 

At UpCircle, we take pride in upcycling ingredients that would otherwise go to waste and are certified vegan, cruelty-free, plastic negative and B-corp. 

Discover our full range of organic and cruelty-free skincare and haircare products at UpCircle.