Conditioner 101

Conditioners are the holy grail for black hair because black hair needs moisture more than any other hair. You see, because of our curly hair texture, moisture does not readily travel to the ends of the hair like other hair types. Additionally, when we wash our hair with harsh shampoos we strip it of moisture and make a bad situation worse. Of course there are ways to get around this, you can pre-shampoo (pre-poo) with conditioner thus mitigate some of the harsh effects of shampoo or you can deep condition your hair after every shampoo session.

Regardless of what you do, conditioner needs to be an integral part of your hair care. Conditioner adds to the natural supply of oil that the hair produces and it gives the hair flexibility, keeps it shiny and bouncy and adds strength to the strands. The key ingredients in conditioners include lubricants like panthenol, dimethicone, fatty acids, acidifier which balances the hair’s and helps to tighten  the scaly  surface of the hair. Conditioners also include antistatic agents and detanglers which smooth hair  cuticles, and oils which add gloss,  especially essential fatty acids to mimic the scalp’s natural sebum.

Three Types of Conditioners

There are three types of conditioners on the market and they target different hair conditions. These are moisturizing, protein which adds volume and detangling or smoothing conditioners.

Moisturizing Conditioners

Moisturizing conditioners add moisture to the hair by replacing the oils that are removed in the shampooing process. These conditioners contain what are called humectants. Humectants are compounds that trap moisture into the hair shaft. There are some conditioners which add oils like jojoba and coconut oil that mimics the scalp’s natural oils and restore moisture to hair strands. These conditioners usually contain ingredients like panthenol, methicones, silicones, essential oils and botanicals like shea butter and avocado. The hair types that benefit the most from moisturizing conditioners are dry, curly, coarse or frizzy hair.

Protein Conditioners

Protein conditioners usually coat the hair shaft with a layer of protein that gives the hair body and gives the appearance of thicker hair. They are often labeled as voluminizers or re constructors. This conditioner works by filling in the gaps of the outer cuticle of damaged hair giving hair the illusion of being smoother and shinier. Have you ever wondered why your hair looks so good after going to the hair dresser and then a few days after it reverts into a hellish mess? Well the protein conditioner is like a temporary repair man. Unfortunately, though they are touted to strengthen and reconstruct hair, the effect is only temporary. The hair types that can benefit the most from these conditioners are fine and limp hair that is damaged.

De-tangling Conditioners

The secret to de-tangling conditioners is that they have a low pH of 2.5 to 3.5; this enables it to close the cuticle layer of hair and allows the individual strands of hair to remain separate from each other. They reduce static and allows the hair to be more manageable. This type of conditioner contains silicone which also coats the hair and gives it a fuller appearance.The hair types that work especially well with this conditioner are natural tightly curly hair and fine hair. All hair types can benefit from a de-tangler now and again especially after hair is tangled after shampooing.

Difference between Leave In and Rinse Out Conditioners

The difference between leave in and rinse out conditioners is similar to the difference between fats and oils. Leave in conditioners are thinner and heavily diluted than the usual conditioners, it has different surfactants which add only a little material to the hair, they are based on unsaturated chains which make them lighter and thinner. This has to be the case because it is left on the hair for a significant period of time and is not usually washed out for a few days. On the other hand, rinse out conditioners are thicker, they form thicker layers on the surface of the hair and they coat the hair shaft with a thick layer adding more material to the hair. Additionally, the thicker conditioners which we call deep conditioners have penetrative benefits, this penetration is usually activated by heat when it is applied to hair for a longer time, it generally repairs very dry or damaged hair.

My conclusion based on research is that leave in conditioners are much thinner forms of rinse out conditioners. Rinse out conditioners are thicker but they coat the hair surface and deep conditioners are penetrative, the properties enter the hair strand when triggered by heat and does wonders for the hair shaft.

Source:

Toedt John et al, Chemical composition of everyday products, Greenwood Press, 2005

 

12 Comments »

  • frederique said:

    Hi Brenda, could U give us examples of detangling conditionner?

    • Magna said:

      How about Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Detangler? Or Tropic Isle
      Living Leave-in Conditioner & Detangler. I hear those work great and I will be trying them too. The Rosemary oil and Jamaican black castor oil in it do wonders for growing strong roots especially.

  • christine said:

    HI BRENDA, UM IM 15 AN I GET RELAXERS. WHEN I FIRST GOT MY HAIR PERMED I DIDNT EVEN GET IN RIGHT. MY HAIR WAS STILL PUFFY AT THE END AN THE MIDDLE. I DONT KNOW WHAT THAT LADY PERMED MY HAIR WITH.SHE DIDNT DO IT RIGHT. SO THEN WHEN I GOT MY FIRST RELAXER I MADE A MISTAKE AND TOOK THE OLIVE OIL SUPER ONE. SO WEN MY MOM WAS WASHING MAHAIR I JUST SHED SHED SHED. I STARTED TO PANIC. I THINK I OVER PROCESSED MY HAIR. AN IT WAS BREAKING AND SHEDDING. AFTER THAT I WOULD LOOK ON YOUTUBE ON HOW TO STOP BREAKAGE AND HSEEDING. I DID A PROTEIN TREATMENT LIKE EGGS AN STUFF. AND MY HAIR DID STOP BREAKING BUT I KEPT SHEEDING AND STILL IS. WHAT DOD I DO? HELP ME PLEASE? OH AND THE PROTEIN MADE MY HAIR THICKER

  • mochamadness said:

    Hi, this is what helps my hair when it’s breaking/shedding:

    1.) Be gentle no matter what you are doing to your hair. Treat it like silk.

    2.) Give yourself condition-only washes every 2 days until your hair stops breaking/shedding. Motions has a great Hair Breakage recipe that you can use as a guide. But you don’t have to use their products only. You can use other products that do the same thing and work for your hair.

    3.) Gently massage your scalp nightly, wear silk scarves and sleep on satin/silk pillow cases at night or whenever you are laying down.

    4.) Wash hair regularly, at least twice a week. BUT you may not need to wash your hair that much b/c your hair/scalp may become dry. You will have to determine when to wash your hair. You may only need to wash it once a week or once every 2 weeks since you’ll be condition-washing your hair.

    5.) Do deep conditioning treatments even after condition washes. Use ORS Mayo, LeKair Cholestrol, Motions CPR, Crom Emergencia (a dominican product and my favorite protein/reconstructor conditioner), or any other deep conditioner suited for your hair. The Le Kair Cholestrol is great too. But again, you will have to determine what’s best for your hair.

    HTH

  • mochamadness said:

    Hi,

    My favorite detangling conditioner is a homemade leave-in conditioner:

    1 tbsp. aloe juice (not the green gel, but the stuff at GNC or Whole Foods that you can drink. You can also use the juice squeezed from the plant)

    1 tbsp. jojoba oil

    1/2 cup spring water

    essential oils of your choice, optional

    Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle. Add essential oils (though this mix has no odor the essential oils aren’t necessary if you don’t want to use the). Shake well and spritz on hair. Use this after washing hair as a detangler as well as to freshen up hair between washes. Keeps hair from being frizzy and takes some of the ‘poof’ out. Also defines waves a bit.

    Recently, I heard that the dollar stores sell a detangler conditioner made by Equate, but I’ve never tried it, but I plan on looking into it.

    HTH

  • mochamadness said:

    I just saw on line that Profectiv has a detangling conditioner. I’ve never used it but I really like a lot of their products.

  • Mrs.Jackson said:

    Hello Ms./Mrs. Brenda:

    I love my hair and I have been researching how to make it stop falling out for two months now. I found to avoid alcohol in my hair products, but all of the conditioners that I find have alcohol. Do you have any suggestions for me to counteract that alcohol ingredient?

    Mrs. Jackson

  • dee said:

    Hi my hair is really dry and broken off bad what can I do to get my hair healthy it’s relaxed hair but hasn’t been relaxed in a while help

  • shirley minage said:

    Kindly tell which which are the best conditioners and shampoos used to help grow hair long and stronger.

  • Karen said:

    Hi,
    Can you use leave-in conditioners daily to help keep hair moisturised or is that bad for black hair.
    Thank you

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      You can use a weak mixture, mix it with water and then spritz your hair daily and then seal with an oil or butter. Over time, your hair might not need to be done on a daily basis.

  • lauren steer said:

    What do you think of Salerm glass vial treatments? For the past 3 months, I have been using their washout deep conditioning oil which I like because it only needs to be left on for 5 minutes and it does not remove the color rinse covering my gray hair and the leave in treatments: keraliss, vegetable placenta and others. My hair has never looked or felt this good. The breaking has practically disappeared. It seems to good to be true.

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