Are you an advocate of navy showers and wash-and-wear hair? It’s time to revamp your hair habits. Ignore that inner skeptic that tells you that conditioner is a marketing ploy.
Much like body lotion, it’s actually a necessity if you’re looking to maintain your hair’s health. And for those of us who’re trying to grow long, thick locks – remember that you won’t need to trim your hair if you’re not getting split ends and that you can minimize the breakage simply by conditioning regularly.
Why Conditioning Hair is Crucial
Like any other part of our body, our hair needs moisture and hydration. When you apply conditioner on hair, it creates a barrier around each strand, that allows your tresses to repair themselves.
The outer layer of your hair strand is called a cuticle. For a simple visual, imagine it as overlapping shingles on a roof. When hair is dry and unhealthy, the cuticles don’t lie flat and constantly rub against your other hair strands creating a negative charge which manifests as dreaded frizz.
Conditioner restores hair back to it’s healthy state by being cationic, so it neutralizes the negative change causing frizz. Ingredients typically found in conditioners, such as citric acid and silicone, also restores hair back to it’s slightly acidic natural state and subsequently causes the hair cuticle to lie flat again.
Lastly, the presence of silicones, fatty alcohols and humectants help hair strands retain moisture and repair areas of the cuticle that have been damaged due to constant friction with surrounding hair strands, which also contributes to making hair visibly thicker.
Even on days where you skip shampooing, it’s still important to condition everyday. Just keep in mind that the proper way to condition is to apply the conditioner on the middle to tips of the hair only because those tend to be the areas that are desperate for moisture since the natural oil of hair rarely trickles down all the way to the tip.
Putting conditioner on the scalp has a tendency to weight down roots and make hair look greasy.
What’s the Best Hair Conditioner?
You also have to be wary when going down the haircare aisle at your neighborhood grocery store. There are more than a dozen kinds of conditioners and it’s easy to get confused.
One tip to remember though is to stop yourself from reaching for the shampoo and conditioner combos. Shampooing and conditioning are for two very different purposes, and mixing them in one may be cheap and convenient, but it’s never as effective as getting two separate bottles.
A no-fail option would be to opt for a moisturizing conditioner. It’s the most effective if you’re after healthier strands that are able to retain moisture better.
What sets moisturizing conditioners apart is the presence of humectants such as panthenol, which help draw moisture out of the environment and infuse it in your hair. Think of those little packets of Silica Gel you put inside your bags, that’s an example of a humectant. It draws moisture out of the bag and collects it inside the little packet.
Moisturizing conditioners are also filled with antioxidant-rich, healthy-fat-packed natural oils that act as antioxidants that shield your hair from the damage caused by pollutants.
Aside from the nutrients in the oils that get deposited onto the hair, the oils also create a barrier coating for each hair strand that helps it in retaining moisture in the hair shaft.
Our favorite moisturizing conditioner, especially for thinning or unruly hair, is Nexxus Humectress Ultimate Moisturizing Conditioner. You only need to use a tiny bit of this conditioner and true to its name – it leaves your hair (and scalp) nourished, hydrated, and much less prone to breakage. It’s the best moisturizing conditioner we’ve found so far.
…And Don’t Forget to Deep Condition
Aside from a daily conditioning ritual, it’s important to set aside time to deep condition hair at least once a week to reverse the damage from any tight hairstyles, blowout sessions, and hair irons you’ve subjected it to throughout the week.
Even if your moisturizing conditioner is doing a superb job of keeping your hair hydrated, deep conditioning treatments focus on repair and contain a greater concentration of lipids and humectants, and also includes ingredients such as aminosilicones that come in smaller particle sizes, so it can better penetrate the cuticles to strengthen the actual composition of hair, increase hair elasticity, and reduce friction between hair strands.
For deep conditioning, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better than the Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask – it’s rich, creamy and transforms dry, brittle hair into moisturized, manageable locks.
Plus, it’ll leave your hair smelling damn good. For an all-natural treatment, go for a DIY hot oil treatment – you can find the best oils for hair here.