One key component of a good hair care regimen is deep conditioning.
Go on YouTube, trawl your favourite blogs, visit Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. All decent regimens include deep conditioning. Whether you're happy with the general health of your hair or you feel it needs a boost, deep conditioning should be a part of any healthy hair regimen.
It is the best way you can effectively replenish the nutrients and moisture your hair naturally loses after mechanical/manual (breakage from combing or manipulating hair), physical (breakage caused by heat appliances or physical elements such as winter air), and chemical (breakage caused by chemical treatments such as relaxers, blow out or Keratin treatments).
You should aim to deep condition your hair at least twice a month (I do it once a week because that's what works best for me).
There's no point in doing it if you don't it properly though...
Here are a few things you need to do to make sure your hair benefits from deep conditioning.
1. Deep Condition on Clean HairYou may think this is an obvious step but I used to make the mistake of applying deep conditioners on unwashed hair when my hair was feeling a bit dry. Big mistake. Just like your facial skin benefits from a good wash before applying make-up so too does your hair. Piling on product on dirty hair doesn't allow the deep conditioner to fully penetrate your hair. Cleansed hair allows for maximum penetration and rids the hair of any product build up. If you don't - all you'll have is piles of gunk and hair that is dull and dry. Cleansed hair allows for maximum penetration and rids the hair of any product build up
For weekly or bi-weekly deep conditioning I suggest you clarify with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water or a clay mask. I tend to stay away from shampoo because when used too often on a kinkier texture like mine; it may result in bone-dry hair. I use a clarifying shampoo once a month because I co-wash my hair weekly. If you only co-wash or rinse before you apply the product, your hair won’t be able to absorb as much protein.
Trial and error taught me that but your tresses may be different. Cleanse your hair thoroughly with a clay/Apple Cider Rinse before deep conditioning. Use what's best for your hair, time and budget.
2. Use HeatI know I have always been staunchly anti-heat but heat used the correctly can be beneficial to your hair. After applying your deep conditioner, cover it with a shower cap or plastic bag. My head is huge and usually braided with extensions; so I use plastic grocery bags or clingfilm and add heat. Heat will open up the hair cuticle and allow the deep conditioner to deeply penetrate. I cover the plastic bag with a beenie and use a blowdryer or a heated wet towel as a turban. If you have a hooded dryer that's best.
For better deep conditioning leave it on for at least 30 minutes. If for some reason you can’t use heat, wrap you hair in clingfilm and use your body heat. Just add on an extra 15 more minutes.
3. Read the Labels
You don't need to get all science-y. Just remember that the ingredients you see listed on the back of a product are listed according to quantity. If the first ingredient is water (aqua), then that's what that product contains the most of. Always make sure that WATER is the first ingredient.
If you're using a store bought deep conditioner make sure that it contains:
• Hydrolyzed protein to make your hair less breakage prone
• Conditioners to make your hair more manageable
• Sealing ingredients that trap moisture in the strands
It’s very important your deep conditioner contains sealants to lock in all the benefits.
Here are some sealant oils that you should look for in a deep conditioner:
You can also add carrier oils to your deep conditioner to enhance its benefits:
Here are some proteins to look out for in a good deep conditioner:
Hydrolyzed Keratin (from wool)
Hydrolyzed Oat Protein
Hydrolyzed Silk Protein
Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
"Hydrolyzed" means that a chemical compound is split into smaller units. If you see the word "hydrolyzed" preceding a specific protein, it just means that protein has been broken down into smaller units.
4. Balance Protein and Moisture
One of the keys to healthier hair is mastering the protein - moisture balance. Switch up your deep conditioning sessions between moisture and protein to help keep breakage to a minimum and to keep your hair strong and nourished. For moisture and softness, stick to conditioners that include emollient butters and oils, humectants like glycerin or honey, and ceramides. For strengthening treatments, look for ingredients like hydrolyzed proteins, amino acids, keratin and henna.
5. Always Rinse with Cool WaterAlways rinse the conditioner out with cool water. This is really important as cool water seals the cuticle; ensuring you don't lose the moisture that you've added your hair. Hot water can have a drying effect.
Let me know how you deep condition your hair or if you have any questions about homemade deep conditioners.