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:

  1. Water
  2. Panthenol to make your hair thicker
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!! 

Dr Fomsky

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About the author
Dr Fomsky

Nigerian-born Dr Fomsky is a God-lover, a wife, a mom of three, a medical doctor by day. Plus she owns a Nigerian-based online hair product store called Sizzelle.
Dr Fomsky is very passionate about hair, skin and weight management. Since she's had her babies, she's been struggling to keep her weight and her tummy down!
At night, she likes to read books, write blog posts and leave comments on other blogs. She lives in Alberta, Canada and is also the author of Solving your relaxed hair breakage book .
LAST RELAXER DAY: December 15th, 2016
BIG CHOP: January 14th, 2017
Natural Hair, Unknown Porosity, Fine Hair strands, Low to Moderate Density

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16 Comments to Back to the basics: deep conditioning

  1. Ifai says:

    I used to think any DC that says mayonnaise is a protein conditioner and any that says cholesterol is a moisturizing deep conditioner. I usually use Organics Hair Mayonnaise as a protein deep conditioner and Organics Cholesterol with tea tree oil as a moisturizing DC. Is it okay? However, my Organics cholesterol (which I love so much) is finished. Went to my trusted Everyday supamarket and it wasn’t available. Had to make do with Lustrasilk Tea Tree Cholesterol. The way hair products disappear from the shelves of Everyday supamarket, I want to believe a lot of ladies are on healthy hair journeys.

    • Dr_fomsky says:

      You’re right: every Dc that has mayonnaise is protein but not every conditioner with cholesterol is moisturizing. Sometimes, they contain some proteins too: that’s why you always have to read the ingredients. You’re doing just fine because I believe that Organics Cholesterol (which I also like) is moisturizing and Organics Mayonnaise is def protein.
      So sorry about not finding your fav Organics Cholesterol at Everyday 🙁 You must have been really disappointed. I really do hope there are that many ladies on a healthy journey 😛 They may also just be buying whatever they find, not knowing the benefits 🙂 Take care Ifai

  2. Jenny says:

    I actually don t have any of the above, but what i sometimes do is to apply heat using a hand-dryer. Would want to know if this is a good alternative as regards using heat during deep conditioning.

    • Dr_fomsky says:

      It’s not a bad alternative Jenny as long as it heats up your hair. I always say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” You could also try heating up the oils a little before using

  3. Ifai says:

    Like Jenny above, I use a hand dryer. Previously I used shower cap covered with a warm towel but it makes me very sleepy. I always want to sleep once I wrap the towel around my head.

  4. Jenny says:

    Tanx! Good to know i m still on the right track

  5. JOYCE says:

    well actually i dont understand about turning any creamy leave-in to a spray conditioner and moisturizer i have run out of my s curl activator have searched the whole city of kano to see if i can get any leave -in i could not find .Na wa o so much love that s curl dont know what to do.Doc that product is so nice make my hair so soft and manageable am so glad that you introduced me to it.Thank you.

  6. […] Deep conditioning –This is leaving a deep conditioner and/or oils (I love adding extra virgin olive oil to my conditioners) on your hair for at least 20-30 minutes, usually with heat. You can use a heating cap, steamer or blow dryer. Or you could warm the oil before applying to your hair. The heat helps the product to penetrate the hair cuticle. Regular deep conditioning results in healthy hair. You should deep condition at least once a week if you’re serious about hair care. […]

  7. […] Deep Conditioning. You can read my post, BACK TO THE BASICS: DEEP CONDITIONING […]

  8. mary says:

    nice work u r doing doc. Pls is thr any bad effect of nt washing off deep conditioner from the hair aftr conditioning

    • Dr_fomsky says:

      Thanks for your compliments Mary. Sorry for the delayed response: been really busy.
      I think that it depends on how much conditioner you used in the first place and what type of conditioner it is. If it is a protein conditioner or a conditioner that doesn’t make your hair soft, you should rinse it out. In addition, if you applied a lot, you should also rinse it off. If you really like this conditioner, you can reapply a coin-sized amount to your hair as your leave-in conditioner. I hope this helps.

  9. […] Deep conditioning –This is leaving a deep conditioner and/or oils on your hair for at least 20-30 minutes, usually with heat. You can use a heating cap, steamer or blow dryer as your heat source. Or you could warm the oil or conditioner lightly before applying to your hair. The heat helps the product to penetrate the hair cuticle. Regular deep conditioning results in healthy hair. You should deep condition at least once a week if you’re serious about hair care. […]

  10. Tebogo says:


    I reside in South Africa. Are there any places that can ship the heating cap to me. I have searched around and can’t find it in Johannesburg.

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