Selecting a conditioner is perhaps the most important element in your haircare regimen. With our demand from our hair, conditions-products are what will make or break a healthy hair care regimen. A good conditioner restores moisture that was lost during the shampooing process and improve the hair’s manageability.
What is a Conditioner?
Conditioners are water-based, low-pH products that are added to the hair after shampooing to smooth and soften the hair cuticle. They tend to contain much less water than shampoos and often contain a wide range of cuticle-enveloping ingredients. Conditioners are formulated to adhere to the hair’s cuticle and produce long-lasting effects that remain after rinsing. Conditioners play the most critical role in maintaining the hair’s protein and moisture balance
They are specially formulated to help us achieve one of the two healthy hair characteristics: Strength or Softness.
Conditioners are usually formulated to both strengthen and soften the hair. However, they almost always tend to be better a one than the other.
Conditioners are the products charged with working on the surface of the hair to improve its look, feel and texture.
Damaged Hair conditioner:
In your wash routine, the conditioning step is when the cuticle elements are addressed and reinforced in the hair. Damaged hair reaps the greatest benefit from conditioning because it has more negatively charged binding sites along with its protein structure than healthy hair. Positively charge conditioner can bind more intently to these need strands. Damage to the hair fiber is always cumulative and can never be permanently repaired, however, the hair can be conditioned in ways that temporarily bond split ends, fill in missing material along the cuticle and add a layer of protection against further assault.
What is in your Conditioners:
- Conditioners are cationic ( positively charged and may contain a humectant, moisturizer, oils and small amounts of proteins to improve the overall quality of the hair).
- A conditioner’s ability to condition the hair is largely dependent on the pH of the conditioner’s various molecules. Higher-pH will damage the hair more readily when binds with conditioner because the hair in this state bears a strong negative charge that attracts positively charged conditioners. The positive charge of the conditioner neutralizes damaged hair’s strong negative charge. Whereas healthy hair carries a positive charge when matched with a positive charge conditioner, healthy hair tends to resist the conditioning product. Keywords Healthy hair Positive charge and damaged hair Negative charge).
- Cationic polymers are more desirable and important than cationic surfactants because of the expectation, that conditioning will contribute shine, bounce, and softness that will remain long after rinsing. They are a popular addition to black hair-care conditioners, they add structure and stickiness to the hair, improve manageability and even reinforce existing curl patterns in natural hair
- Silicones Aka Cones are often those formulated for dry, coarse or curly hair. Contain cationic silicone-based ingredients to smooth the hair fiber. It coats the hair shaft in a thin, breathable layer of protection that allows the strands to move freely and easily pas one another. They generally have a lighter feel on the hair than oil, but can be more difficult to wash away, which can lead to product buildup. They are used primarily to improve wet combing and enhance shine. ( PPG & PEG are the abbreviations), with silicones build up on the hair shaft, it burdened the hair and has a heavy, coated feel to it. Its straw-like dryness makes the hair prone to breakage. When silicones build up on the hair shaft, they can begin to mimic traditional oil. They seal and coat the hair shaft, preventing moisture from getting through the hair to where it is needed. Water solubility determines the factor in whether a particular silicone ingredient will cause buildup issues on the hair shaft. Water-soluble silicones dissolve or break apart readily in water. They are less of a threat. Water-insoluble silicones, however, create waterproof barriers on the hair, that are difficult to rinse away without an active shampoo detergent. These stubborn silicones cling to the hair and begin accumulating, use after use. When silicones have been quaternized, they adhere even more tenaciously to the hair shaft and are more difficult to remove. They tend to be strong humidity blockers and great shine boosters.
- Lipid, emollient and oils: lipids are found naturally within the hair fiber and the hair’s sebum. More in some hair types and less in black texture hair. These lipids provide conditioning for the fiber but are often lost throughout daily styling and manipulation. This group of lightweight emollients delivers an extremely breathable film to hair shaft without the heaviness and greasiness of oil.
- Low-molecular-weight: Panthenol also known as pro-vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid, is an ingredient whose small molecular size allows it to deeply penetrate the hair’s cuticle layer. It is water-soluble and it is a common ingredient in quality conditioner. It is a humectant ( an agent that absorbs moisture from the surrounding air and pull it into the hair, or from the hair to the surrounding depending on the quantity.
Types of Conditioners:
Instant Conditioners: are watery, thin and lotion like. They are generally best suited for those with fine oily hair and are the best rinse-out conditioners to leave in. These conditioners formulas rinse from the hair easily and cleanly, because of their high water content and large molecular size of their ingredients. They only coat the outer parts of the hair shaft and do not deep condition well. They are not suitable for weekly deep conditioning because they wear off soon after the shampooing or conditioning session.
A thicker conditioner product is required to nourish the hair strands weekly and keep the hair supple for an extended period.
NB Kinky-textured hair should never use a lightweight instant conditioner as a weekly deep conditioner. It may eventually take a toll on the hair, However, they are great for a daily washer, for those who work out and co-wash.
Cream-Rinse Conditioners: are generally used as a final rinse, like instant conditioners, they are often left on the hair shaft for less than three to five minutes. They contain a considerable amount of cationic and shaft-smoothing ingredients such as silicones, oil and emollient. All of which support hair detangling, they also work well for protecting the hair against heat damage from styling or may follow from conditioning session.
Deep conditioners: contain concentrated moisture of cationic. Moisture-Boosting elements and proteins to both reinforce the hair cuticle and impart moisture to the strand. The proteins in this formula ensure that the hair retains the moisture it receives and secures it deep within the fiber to support the hair until the next deep-conditioning treatment. Heat is often used with deep conditioners to ensure the best penetration of moisture, and cuticle adhesion of protein molecules and other cationic substances. Deep conditioners should be used weekly on damaged hair, once the hair is healthy, deep conditioning frequency becomes a matter of personal choice. I choose to deep condition weekly because I work out a lot.
Moisturizing conditioners: work to increase the moisture content of the hair and improve its elasticity. These products smooth the cuticle and soften the hair, improving its manageability and eliminating frizz. Moisturizing conditioners contain a high percentage of cationic surfactants and polymers, which boost the moisture content of the negative charge along the hair strand.
Protein Conditioners: may range in protein content from extremely light to much heavier protein concentration. Nearly all conditioners contain at least some protein. Protein conditioners temporarily rebuild the cuticle layer of the hair shaft by filling in areas of weakness along the strand and often contain very few additional conditioning agents.
Molecules in basic protein conditioners are too large to fully penetrate the hair shaft; therefore, the hair retains the strengthening properties of the protein conditioners for about seven to ten days ( between on to three shampooings). The strengthening effect of protein conditioners depends on the level of damage on the hair shaft and the frequency of use.
Protein-rich conditioners: with a high degree of protein concentration are called protein re-constructor. The mean difference between basic protein conditioners and protein reconstructor formulas lies in the size, type, and concentration of protein molecules in the product. Regular protein conditioners tend to have a greater moisturizing element to complement their protein characteristics. Many formulas add to the moisture level in your hair by binding with the moisture already present and repairing weak spots in the hair’s cuticle. They do not require a secondary deep-conditioning moisture treatment to replenish the moisture within the strands. They typically do not create wild swings in our hair’s protein or moisture balance unless they are only conditioning products used. Black hair in its natural state, however, may be more sensitive to proteins in conditioners than relaxed and/ or color-treated hair types.
Protein reconstructors/ treatments: offer more concentrated levels of protein than regular protein-based conditioners. These treatments are often more intensive and tend to require heat during application for maximum penetration or adherence of the protein molecules. These treatments work deeply to penetrate and rebuild the hair shaft from within. Their results are more dramatic and longer-lasting than those of protein-based conditioners. They continue to work and remain on the hair for four to six weeks after treatment.
The strengthening effect of protein reconstructors always depends on the level of hair damage and the frequency of shampooing. Must of the proteins in these products is hydrolyzed, it has been broken down into smaller components and is the correct molecular size to be absorbed into the cuticle. These types of protein products are needed to penetrate the hair shaft effectively, they work better on hair that is extremely porous and damaged. Hair with its healthy cuticle and protein structure will not readily accept the extra protein molecules, but will instead allow the protein molecules to build upon the outside of the hair shaft. This results in over-rigid, dry hair that breaks easily at the slightest touch.
The sole purpose of protein reconstructors is to increase tensile strength and add additional structure to the hair strand. The conditioning properties of these products are minimal and must be followed up, with an additional moisturizing deep-conditioning treatment to restore the hair’s proper elasticity and prevent hair breakage.
Leave-in conditioners: come in the form of both cream and liquids, and some are dually formulated as detangling products.
Creamy leave-ins are best for those with thick coarse hair while sprays often suffice for those with finer hair types. Most leave-ins with a creamy consistency are also great as a water-based moisturizer. They are also excellent for those with fine hair who cannot use heavier water-based moisturizers.
Leave-in sprays and mist are great for touching up and reinvigorating natural hair curls and coils throughout the day. They are also superior moisture boosters for relaxed, braided, sewn-in or twisted hair.
Always choose a leave-in conditioner that addresses your hair’s moisture or protein needs at the time of use. If your hair needs moisture, choose a moisturizing leave-in conditioner.
Conditioner washing Aka Co-Wash: is a moisture-boosting method that skips the shampoo stage of hair cleansing and uses conditioner ONLY. The hair is simply rinsed with warm water and washed with a light conditioner. Conditioner washing requires gentle products, and for people who workout, active, sweat or tend to get dry hair and require regular hair and scalp cleansing that does not lead to dryness. This process works well for both natural and relaxed hair. Hair can be effectively cleaned using this method because instant and lightweight conditioners often contain gentle cleanser in formulations and do not deposit heavy conditioning films on the hair. They rinse relatively cleanly.
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