Back to the basics: deep conditioning
Deep conditioning! Deep conditioning! This is the ultimate step of any healthy hair journey! It is simply leaving conditioner in your hair for some time to allow it to penetrate the hair shaft. Regular deep conditioning will help reduce damage caused by heat, dyes, relaxers, weave-ons, braids, Sulfate shampoos, etc. It will also help you retain length.
Not all conditioners are deep conditioners because ONLY CONDITIONERS WHICH PENETRATE THE HAIR SHAFT CAN BE CALLED A DEEP CONDITIONER. Any conditioner whose usage instructions call for immediate rinse-off is not usually a deep conditioner. You should also take note that some conditioners will give your hair amazing slip (i.e. make it easy to comb through) but will not moisturize your hair. Ingredients to look out for in a good deep conditioner include:
- Panthenol to make your hair thicker
- A humectant: Humectants in hair care products help your hair retain moisture by binding to the hair shaft and attracting water from the atmosphere e.g glycerin, honey, etc. For a more complete list on humectants, read HERE.
- A fatty alcohol These alcohols are typically derived from coconut or palm fruit and are very conditioning to the hair.e.g stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol.
- Natural oils e.g olive oil, etc (This is not a must because you can add some to your conditioner before using). Avoid mineral oil as much as possible because your hair cannot absorb it and they don’t add any strength to your hair.
There are 2 basic types of deep conditioners: protein conditioners and moisturizing conditioners. The purpose of deep conditioning is usually to replace lost moisture into the hair, thus preventing & repairing hair breakage and encouraging maintenance of hair length. Both moisturizing and protein conditioners will do this. Protein conditioners, in addition, help to repair damaged hair shaft and infuse the hair with protein that it needs. To identify a protein conditioner, look out for amino acids, collagen, keratin, oat protein, vegetable protein, etc in the ingredient list. [One exception is Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein which is actually moisturizing].
Make sure you balance your protein and moisturizing conditioners out. You can either alternate them on your wash days: this week, use a protein conditioner and the following week, a moisturizing conditioner. OR pre-poo with a protein conditioner and then deep condition after shampooing with a moisturizing conditioner. OR if you’re experienced at knowing what your hair needs, go with the flow.
To maintain a healthy hair of head, it is good to condition at least once a week. If you have time, twice a week is very beneficial. On the other hand, you can do once in two weeks if you don’t have much time on your hands. Anything more than that is not healthy for your hair.
You can condition dry hair or wet hair. When conditioning on dry hair, you can follow up by simply rinsing it out and styling, doing a co-wash with a rinse-out conditioner or shampooing. When you condition wet hair, it is usually after a shampoo.
To increase the effectiveness of your deep conditioning, you can add absorbent oils like olive and avocado oil to your deep conditioner. Divide your hair into 4-8 sections and apply to entire strands from roots to ends. Leave it in for at least 20 minutes to overnight. To increase your hair’s absorption of the ingredients, it is advisable to use heat. I personally recommend using a steamer. I have a standing steamer that I use once in a while. If you’re using a steamer, don’t wear a shower cap: allow your hair to absorb the steam.
In the absence of a steamer, you can use a heating cap like The Hair Therapy Wrap I was wearing in my picture above. It has gel packs which you heat up and these release heat gradually when you wear the cap. It usually stays hot for about 20 minutes.
You could also use a regular bonnet dryer. If you don’t have any of these, you could warm up the oils you’ll be using, wear a shower cap and cover your head with a warm towel. Exercise will also release your body heat. If you can’t do any of these, don’t worry… just leave your conditioner for a little longer: it will still work.
If you must include anything in your healthy hair journey, it’s deep conditioning! Do it weekly and you will see a great difference in your hair!!
- Back to the basics: cleansing your hair(shampooing and other things)
- The difference between protein and moisturizing conditioners
- How to shop for hair care products: buying a deep conditioner
- Suggestions for protein and moisturizing conditioners
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