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The Dos & Don'ts of Deep Conditioning

April 07, 2020

The Dos & Don'ts of Deep Conditioning

DO...

DO KEEP IT REGULAR

Hair that is deep conditioned regularly is more manageable, softer, less prone to breakage and frizz, and is able to retain length.

Remember that whatever "regularly" means is determined by you. Some naturals and transitioners deep condition their hair every 3-4 days. Some, every 2 weeks. I personally aim for once a week, twice a week if I'm lucky. My recommendation is to start out weekly - if your hair begins feeling weak and limp, lessen to every two or three weeks. If it still feels dry, pump it up to twice a week.

DO HEAT IT UP

If you want your deep conditioner to work double duty and make your hair feel super soft and smooth (or super strong if it is protein based), heat it up. According to this article by JC of The Natural Haven, heating your deep conditioner up to 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) increases the amount and effectiveness of adsorption (the good stuff that sticks to the hair) of said conditioner. Long story short, warm conditioner works better.

Try heating your deep conditioner in a hot water bath instead of the microwave for best results.

DO FOCUS ON YOUR ENDS

Have you ever actually read the directions on the back of your jar of deep conditioner? Most of them say to start and concentrate on the ends of your hair first. I know personally, I'm guilty of the exact opposite. However, starting with the ends of your hair is the most beneficial, because your ends are the oldest, driest, and most prone to breakage and splitting. By starting with your ends, you allow them a little more time to soak up and adsorb all of the deep conditioning goodness your product has to offer.

 

And now, for the don'ts...

DON'T...

DON'T OVERDO IT

Don't deep condition overnight or for hours on end. The obvious exception to this rule is treatments like henna, that require hours to take to the hair.

But for your everyday run-of-the-mill deep conditioner, it should begin to work instantly, and reach maximum capacity at around the 20 or 30 minute mark. If your deep conditioner doesn't work after 30 minutes, it's time to ditch it for one that's more effective. Also, there is a such thing as over-conditioning the hair that can result in mushy, weak hair that has a more fragile keratin coiling. This is called hygral fatigue.

DON'T MULTI-TASK

Don't use your DC to co-wash or as a leave-in conditioner. Deep conditioners are specially formulated to be especially adept at what they do - providing intense conditioning to the hair. And while they may feel nice in the hair, and can in some cases make pretty sweet curl definers, using them to cowash or as leave-ins is generally a no-no. Deep conditioners tend to contain higher concentrations of cationic surfactants (their primary function is to stick to the hair), and will likely lead to even more buildup if used as a cowash or leave-in.

DON'T BLOW YOUR BUDGET

For the most part, deep conditioner base recipes tend to be the same:

  • water
  • fatty alcohol (ceteryl, stearyl, cetearyl)
  • gentle surfactant (behentrimonium chloride, methosulfate, etc.)
  • humectant (glycerin, propylene glycol, honey, sugar, aloe vera, etc.)
  • emollients (oils, butters)
  • hydrolyzed protein (optional)

The order in which these ingredients appear may differ, as will the concentration and types of ingredients. This does not mean all deep conditioners are the same - these variations in formulation can mean the difference between a holy grail product and a horror. What this does mean, is to be price savvy. Take some time and compare the ingredient lists from your favorite expensive deep conditioners with a few drugstore brands. Often times, you'll discover the cheaper brand will be just as good, if not better.

How often do you deep condition?





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