Protein Masks vs. Bond Repair Treatments for Curly Hair

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. 

There is so much talk about protein masks and hair bond repair treatments that repair your hair, but what is the difference? Read on to compare bond repair treatments and protein masks for curly hair. I explain how and why to use each one. Including a decision tree to make it that much easier for you!

explained bond repair treat protein mask curly hair

Let’s get ready to dive into the fascinating world of hair treatments. As curly-haired peoples, we know the importance of proper care and nourishment for our beautiful rizos. I want to shed light on two kinds of treatments: protein masks and bond repair treatments. These powerhouses can work wonders for our curls, but understanding their differences is key to choosing the right one for our specific needs and whether you need them at all. I also share some examples of protein styling products and hair masks, and protein repair treatments. So, grab your favorite cup of cafecito and let’s unravel the secrets behind protein masks and bond repair treatments for our cherished curls!

What are bond repair treatments?

A bond repair treatment helps to repair the bonds in your hair. Your hair is made up of 3 different kinds of bonds: hydrogen, ionic (salt), and disulfide. A bond repair treatment helps repair some of those broken bonds in your hair strands, which makes your hair stronger again. The bond repair treatment is replacing those bonds. 

what are hair bonds?
Source: Curlsmith

How do bond repair treatments work for curly hair?

There is a misconception about bond repair treatments. It is NOT your hair repairing itself. Instead a bond repair treatment helps fill in the empty gaps in your cuticle of your hair strands to make the hair’s cuticle and therefore your hair strand stronger. The bonds from the bond repair treatment is almost like glue for your hair’s cuticle, it helps keep the hair strand together. These bonds are what make your hair stronger. 

However, similar to your hair’s natural bonds, the bonds created by the bond repair treatment also break. Like glue holding your hair strand together and preventing breakage, you need to reapply this “glue” or the bond repair treatment. This is why bond repair treatments have to be reapplied every couple of washes to continue to get the bond repair affect. 

How often should you use a bond repair treatment for curly hair? 

That depends on your hair’s needs. 

If you have virgin hair like me that’s pretty healthy, then it’s optional basically. The bond repair treatment would be reinforcing your good hair habits, but its not necesarry to keep your hair healthy as long as you already have a healthy curly hair routine.

If you do want to use bond repair treatment and your hair has not been color treated and is relatively healthy, then you can use a bond repair treatment between every 4 to 6 weeks. Depending on how high maintanence you’d like your hair care routine to be. Personally, I try to use a bond repair treatment once a month during my first wash day because that’s the easiest way for me to keep track! LOL 

If you have color treated hair or high porosity hair, then you’d want to incorporate a bond repair treatment about every 2 to 3 weeks. That is because color treated hair has chemical damage from the coloring process. For high porosity hair, the cuticles are lifted making it more susceptible to breakage. The bond repair treatment helps prevent that breakage. 

Remember to always follow the instructions of the hair product you are using!

bond repair treatment for curly hair decision tree

Is using bond repair treatments for curly hair necessary?

Honestly, I find that bond repair treatments are usually expensive products. If you have the money to spend or want to invest in a bond treatment, then muchacha, go for it. 

The bond repair treatment is also yet another step to add to your hair care routine. They are usually pre-poo treatments like the Curlsmith Bond Curl Rehab Salve. So if you’re a lazy curly girl, you can say Thank U, Next to bond repair treatments. 

In my experience, it’s a completely optional step to add bond repair treatments to  your curly hair care routine. Before I started this curly hair blog, I was not using any bond repair treatments and my curls were juicy af! Just make sure to keep protein masks and other hair products with protein in your curly hair care routine to keep your hair strong. Having strong hair strands means that you’ll break less hair bonds in the first place!

Do all bond repair treatments have protein? 

No, it depends on the hair product. For example, the Curlsmith Bond Curl Rehab Salve has both protein and bond repairing technology according to the product label. However, Olaplex No. 3 does not have protein and it has its patented bond repairing ingredient. Keep reading to see my list of bond repair products and protein masks/products. 

Protein Masks & Products

Protein masks and protein curly hair products are like your hair’s vitamins!

What are the benefits of using a protein mask or protein hair product? 

Protein hair masks make your hair stronger so that you don’t have breakage. Which also means you don’t need to use bond repair treatments–or use them as often. Of course, there is still some damage that your hair gets. Like mechanical damage from brushing or detangling your hair and even doing hairstyles. And don’t forget hair damage from UV rays in the sun! But overall, curly hair products with protein make your hair stronger and prevent breakage by acting like your hair’s vitamins!

protein mask protein product for curly hair decision tree

How do you know if a curly hair product has protein in it? 

The labels for curly hair products will usually describe if it has protein-rich ingredients in it. If it doesn’t say protein on it, then the hair product will usually say something like “strengthening” on the label. You can also read the ingredients list to see if it has protein in it. You can see some of my examples at the end. 

Exceptions! Like I mentioned earlier, there are some bond repair treamtents that also have protein. The Curlsmith Bond Curl Rehab Salve  is an example of that. But most protein hair products or protein masks do not have bond repairing ingredients. 

Examples of Curly Hair Products with Protein


Ocoa Styling Products

ocoa Curl Defining Styling Gel

Ocoa’s styling products are richly moisturizing and they have a little bit of protein. Like their Curl Defining Styling Gel has vegetable protein. Ocoa’s Hydrating Curl Cream has both vegetable and soy proteins in the product’s ingredient list. Ocoa is a Dominican-owned company run by two sisters!


Eva Nyc Therapy Session Hair Mask 

Eva Nyc Therapy Session Hair Mask 

Eva Nyc Therapy Session Hair Mask delivers both hydration and protein. Although be aware, because this product has silicones in it. If you’re a curly girl that doesn’t like using silicones in their hair (like me!), then you should steer clear of this product. No matter how cute the packaging is! For curlies that don’t mind silicones, then $17 for 16.9 oz of product is a freaking steal these days!

Examples of Bond Repair Treatments for Curly Hair 

Bond Treatment

Olaplex No. 3

The Olaplex Bond Building TechnologyTM is used in the formulation of this intensely reparative, at-home treatment for damaged hair. For hair that is noticeably healthier and stronger and to prevent breakage and split ends, it helps to repair weak and broken disulfide bonds.

Bond Treatment with Protein 

Curlsmith Bond Curl Rehab Salve

Curlsmith Bond Curl Rehab Salve is a pre-poo treatment that you put on your curls before shampoo. With their bondcurl complex and rich in proteins, this treatment targets all three hair bonds to strengthen and repair the hair. 

Some influencers say it’s a dupe for Olaplex No. 3. However, it’s hard to actually say. These treatments contain different ingriendients. Given that Olaplex’s products have a patented ingredient, which means the actual contents of that ingredient are hidden to the public, we cannot compare the ingredients to see if its a real dupe. However, they are made to have similar effects. 

Until next time! 

¡Y así concluimos, mi gente hermosa! We’ve gone through some information to demystify the difference between protein masks and bond repair treatments. I hope this helps you make informed decisions about which treatment will best meet our curly hair’s needs. AKA when you’re staring at two hair product bottles in the store deciding! I know ‘ cause I’ve been there, too!

Remember, our curls are unique and deserve the utmost care and attention. Whether you’re looking to strengthen, repair, or restore, protein masks and bond repair treatments are invalgreat allies in your hair routine. For healthy and vibrant curly hair. So, embrace your curls, pamper them with love, and continue to rock them juicy curls! 

And please comment below if you have questions or still confused. I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Sending you all the curly hair blessings and abrazos! 

Reference for hair science: Gavazzoni Dias MF. Hair cosmetics: an overview. Int J Trichology. 2015 Jan-Mar;7(1):2-15. doi: 10.4103/0974-7753.153450. PMID: 25878443; PMCID: PMC4387693. 





Curls by Mili Newsletter

Subscribe to the Curls by Mili Newsletter to receive my latest posts, exclusive content & giveaways, and be the first to know about exciting news in the curly hair world!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *