Our natural hair needs special care – Afro-textured coils and curls can be prone to frizz or breakage depending on climate, products, or styling techniques. The usual haircare routine begins with shampoo and conditioner, but what’s the deal with deep conditioner? When do you need it and how often should it be used? What if your hair is gray? We’re here to help you keep your tresses well-conditioned with helpful tips from haircare experts.
Don’t Deep Condition Every Wash Day.
First things first, what makes a conditioner a deep conditioner? Cosmetic chemist Erica Douglas – AKA Sister Scientist – broke it down: “Deep conditioner is essential when caring for your natural hair, and dare I say, one of the most important products in any hair regimen. They are formulated with a higher concentration of conditioning agents, proteins and moisturizers, which aid in maintaining the hair’s health.”
Made with compounds that can help to reduce breakage, and promote healthy hair growth, deep conditioner can be noticeably nourishing for your hair. It can be tempting to slather one on every time you wash, but according to Aeleise Ollarvia, professional natural hairstylist and co-founder of Black Girl Curls, your use should be judiciously based on your hair’s specific needs: “Deep conditioners are a problem-solving product. Two main challenges they are formulated to address are strength or moisture. Overuse and improper use of a deep conditioning product can result in compromising the cuticle of the hair and impacting the health of it as well.”
Seasonal conditioning tips – from fall to winter.
Just as you might change your styling products from season to season, it can be advisable to switch things up in terms of your deep conditioner too. Summer tends to mean exposure to humidity and moisture. Transitioning to fall can have a significant effect on kinky hair. “As we transition into colder, drier seasons, the level of static electricity in the air can increase, which causes frizz and flyaways. Also, because it’s not as humid, your hair may dry out more. Therefore, it could be helpful to incorporate a deep conditioner that’s rich in humectants like glycerin, honey or aloe vera. These are ingredients that abundantly pull moisture from the surrounding environment towards the hair to hydrate the hair and also help to combat static build-up,” advises Douglas.
Deep Condition those Grays
Gray hair has different needs. Aeleise Ollarvia recommends a dedicated approach to dealing with greys and deep conditioners. “Gray hair can have up to 25 layers of the cuticle layer, and the thickness of the hair strand can contribute to the hair being resistant to moisture uptake. For chronically dehydrated hair, a moisturizing deep conditioner can be the extra oomph needed.” Erica Douglas also recommends regular deep conditioning for grey-haired sisters seeking moisture retention and manageability. “Gray hair tends to be brittle and often feel rough, making it hard to style and comb. Deep conditioners often have a lower pH which helps to seal the top, cuticle layer of the hair, making it smoother and shinier.”
There’s a variety of deep conditioners on the market, so consider your needs in terms of damage, dryness, climate, and porosity before making a purchase. Here are five deep conditioners and one conditioning accessory to consider:
Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioner ($20, CamilleRose.com), Pattern Beauty Intensive Conditioner for Tight Textures ($28, PatternBeauty.com), Oyin What the Hemp Deep Moisture Mask ($15, OyinHandmade.com), Aunt Jackie’s Curls and Coils Rescued! Thirst Quenching Recovery Conditioner ($11, AuntJackiesCurlsandCoils.com), Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner ($11, EdenBodyworks.com), Flaxseed Bonnet for Deep Conditioning, ($30 BrushWithTheBest.com).