If you have natural hair, then you already know how important it is to include deep conditioning in your regimen. Whether you’re keeping your hair short or you're growing it out, your healthy hair routine must include this step.
Deep Conditioning: Everything You Need to Know
The goal of deep conditioning is essentially to keep your hair both moisturized and hydrated. It is considerably more intense than regular conditioning and promotes the growth of healthy hair by getting the hair shaft to absorb moisture.
While just about everyone who wants healthy hair should be deep conditioning, it's especially important for people with natural hair.
As you probably know, curly and kinky hair usually dries out more quickly and, therefore, deep conditioning needs to be a staple in your hair regimen. It's also worth noting that the tighter your curls, the more moisture you need to add. It takes a little more effort for water to run along the hair shaft when you shower due to all the curves and twists of the strand.
Benefits of Deep Conditioning
1. It helps with moisture loss
Deep conditioning goes one step further than a regular conditioner because it is much more intense and the products we use contain the specific ingredient to achieve the desired effect. How often you deep condition will depend entirely on your hair type.
Every head of naturally curly hair is different. Some people won't need to do this every week but, rather, every two weeks or even once a month. While on the other hand, some curlies decide to deep condition weekly. Either way, using a leave-in conditioner as part of your regular routine is also a must to help with moisture retention.
2. It reduces split ends
You can deal with split ends in two different ways: you can trim your hair often or you can deep condition.
The latter is an excellent strategy because it allows you to strengthen the ends of your hair which are usually the oldest and the weakest parts. If you take care of the ends, you should be able to slow down the process of split ends.
Of course, you will still need to trim once in a while but deep conditioning allows you to do it more infrequently. There really is no golden rule for trims, so it is best to get with a professional stylist to determine the best frequency for your hair type.
3. It makes your hair stronger
Things that are dry often become weak and fragile and inevitably break, and your hair is no exception. If you want your hair to be healthy and grow, you have to help it retain moisture, which you can do with deep conditioning. This will help bring your hair back to life.
4. It makes hair more elastic
Deep conditioning will improve your hair's elasticity, which will make it much less likely to break and snap.
Wondering if your hair is elastic? Pull on a section when it's wet and if it bounces back you can rest assured your hair is healthy and can weather potentially damaging treatments such as hair drying and braids. If you note elasticity, it means your hair is moisturized.
5. It brings back the shine
Everyone wants to have beautiful, shiny hair, and the best way to do this is to do deep conditioning right. If you love the look of your hair as soon as you wash it, keep in mind that this strategy will help give you that look as it will help your hair retain the moisture it needs. As an added bonus, you can also add some natural and essential oils to your deep conditioner for more shine and manageability.
6. It mitigates damaging effects from other treatments
Deep conditioning is also an excellent way to repair your hair, especially if it has damage from heat.
Hair can get damaged in many different ways. If you blow-dry it, straighten it, or use any harsh treatment with chemicals, adding deep conditioning to your repertoire can help reduce damage to your hair and restore it to its natural glory.
It is important to look for deep conditioners with protein and reparative properties to ensure you are using the correct products to help heal your hair.
How to Deep Condition Your Hair
Now that you can see the many benefits of deep conditioning, you're probably wondering how to get started.
It's important to note that there are two types of deep conditioning goals: to add moisture to your hair and to repair the damage.
Once you determine the best products to use depending on your needs, you can incorporate the deep conditioning process into your regular routine.
After using your favorite shampoo, work in a conditioner in small sections of your hair and let it sit under a deep conditioning cap for around 45 minutes. The main benefits of deep conditioning occur during the first 45 to 60 minutes, so it’s not recommended to leave the treatment on overnight. Not only are you unlikely to note a difference, but it might also leave your scalp itchy.
While using heat is certainly not a requirement, you might find that doing so helps the conditioner penetrate your hair shaft better. Luckily, you don't need fancy equipment to do this. You can use a heating cap or a tabletop steamer, or you can simply wrap a damp towel around your head.
Once the time is up, rinse off the conditioner with lukewarm water, and then give your head a blast of cold water. You don't need to shampoo your hair again and you can now add a leave-in conditioner and style your hair as you usually would.
It's worth noting that you can't use a regular conditioner to deep condition your hair as it won't be as effective. Deep conditioners contain different ingredients and different formulas for a more intense and rejuvenating process. You could, of course, use your regular conditioner, but you can't expect the same effects.
Choosing Between Different Types of Conditioners
Are you planning to use a homemade conditioner? A store-bought conditioner? A leave-in conditioner?
You'll need to decide, depending on your specific needs.
A deep conditioner you buy from the store will probably be the most convenient as it will have the longest shelf life. If you use a DIY deep conditioner, you can adapt the recipe specifically to your hair. This will also be the less expensive option; however, it will also go off more quickly as it's made with food.
As for leave-in conditioners, their uses are very different. These products are generally much lighter and do not need to be rinsed out of your hair. Deep conditioners, on the other hand, are much more intense and need to be washed out when you're finished with them.
Tips for Deep Conditioning Natural Hair
- Only deep condition if you have the time to do so. Don't start the process and then stop because you've run out of time.
- You can leave the deep conditioner on for extra time, but it may not provide any additional improvement.
- Always apply the conditioner to damp hair—not dry hair or wet hair, as the conditioner won’t penetrate it.
- Everyone's hair is different. Find out what works for you and follow that regimen. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing.
- Take advantage of sample-size products to find the right one for you. Try several. Shop around.
- Warm up your conditioner before you get started. Don’t use a microwave, as this could break down the structure of the product. Warm it up in a bowl of hot water.
- Work it into your hair in sections as this will make the process easier, reduce hair loss and allow you to spread your conditioner more effectively.
- Commit to deep conditioning your hair on a regular basis if you really want to see results.
- The ends of your hair need the most attention, so focus on repairing them.
- Determine whether you need a protein deep conditioner or moisturizing deep conditioner. If you have a lot of breakage and split ends, you need protein, and if your hair is very dry, you need moisture.
- You don't need to buy the products in the store; you can make your own conditioner at home with ingredients such as egg yolk, honey, banana, and avocado.
- If you decide to use a homemade conditioner, you can add a wide range of oils for additional effects: olive, coconut, jojoba, argan, grapeseed, and wheat germ are just a few examples.
Taking care of your natural hair doesn’t need to be complicated, as long as you have the right tools by your side. Once you have your deep conditioner and cap, you’re well on your way to a head of hair that is healthy and beautiful.