Thursday, December 3, 2009

Deep Conditioning for Maximum Moisture

Deep conditioning, ah yes, the holy grail of our hair care practices. Deep conditioning is where we enlist the powers of our fave product(s) to bring about glorious results. The strength of your hair for the week to come relies on how well your deep conditioner was able to get the job done. Because of the crucial nature of this process, we need to make sure we get this step right.

In order for this to be a well rounded discussion, I feel that we need to first cover the basics of deep conditioning. Let's talk fundamentals:

First you'll need.....a deep conditioner. Notice that every conditioner is not a deep conditioner. What you're looking for is a conditioner specifically designed to work even more instensely with increased time/heat. Take a look at the back of your current conditioning product, is it instructing you to rinse a minute or two after application? If so, then your product not working deep enough. Damage to the hair can occur deep below the surface layers so your product needs to get at least that deep. What you're looking for as you inspect your product label is the requirement that the product remain in the hair for more than 2 minutes. Anything 2 minutes or less is not likely going to have a dramatic impact on the hair.

I'm not going to specifically name or recommend products in this post. We all know that not all conditioners are created equal. What I love may work just o.k for you. Because of this, I'll keep my discussions at a higher level. I will tell you that when I deep condition, I rarely rely on the strength of just one product to get the results I am seeking. Most often, you'll find me blending a variety of products each with its own specific purpose.

Although strength should be a major objective of deep conditioning, I almost always layer my need for strength within my desire for moisture. I've tried several different methods of deep conditioning only to find that, for me, I can rarely ever go wrong if I first focus on moisture. So what I do is seek out thick moistening conditioners that coat the hair heavily. I don't have the time, nor the money, to allow even a small percentage of my product to run down my back and into the shower drain. I need my product to stay where I need it the most, on my hair. So thickness is key.

Along with thickness, my deep conditioning products have to soften the hair the minute its applied. I'm not waiting all the way to the rinse step to know for sure whether the product has softened the hair. I've been disappointed one too many times by deep conditioners leaving me less than impressed after rinsing. If I can't get slip from my deep conditioner, when is it gonna happen?!

Softness, slip, and strength. How can you get this from one conditioner? If you've got a conditioner that fits this description, then more power to you. I find that I get more of the result I want when I combine several heavy hitters to make one phenomenal conditioning concoction. There is no exact recipe involved in this creation. Only the mixing of moisture heavy conditioners coupled with strengtheners to create a delightful masterpiece. Prior to selecting my favorite conditioners for the mix, I made sure to measure their pH levels with my testing strips. Adding this step makes me feel a bit more confident that I wasn't just mixing for the heck of it. My creation also landed in the desired pH range where the hair most benefited (quick tip: Porosity Control boasts of a low pH. This is perhaps the reason why this product added to conditioners makes them seem more effective somehow). The final product looks something like this: 80% moisturizing 20% strengthening. This percentage only arises out of the fact that my hair doesn't deal too well with heavy proteins. If your hair can flourish with a 50/50 mixture, then have at it! I find that if I am able to create balanced enough conditioning mixtures of strength and protein, I don't have need to set aside certain weeks where I've got to barrage my hair with an intense strength treatment because I've been overlooking that aspect of my regimen. Same goes for the moisture aspect.

Ok, so once I know that the product going on the hair is impactful, my next area of focus is in maximizing the conditioner with the application technique. Once upon a time, my conditioner application consisted of me, standing in the shower, while rubbing a single conditioner into the length of the hair. As you would imagine, there were several problems with this technique:

1. By remaining in the shower, I was unable to accurately keep track of time. I always had this false impression that more time had passed than realized. In the end, I was robbing my hair of precious and much needed repair time.

2. Another fatal flaw in my technique was my lack of attention to detail during application. I AM CERTAIN this is the reason for the areas of damage my hair suffers from today. I wasn't taking the time to gently part my hair into multiple sections before applying. I did this thing where I'd apply all over the parts of the hair that were most visible to me. The result was long thick hair in the front and sides while the hair underneath struggled to maintain strength levels. I head my head in shame when I think of it.

3. Finally, I have to also admit that when I followed this technique, I rarely did anything more special than placing a plastic cap over my head. There was no additional heat for deeper penetration. No warm towels, no sitting under the hair dryer, nada. Honestly, I don't know how I expected to have healthy chemically treated hair deep conditioning the way I did.

But now, my friends, I am in a different place. Deep conditioning is no longer executed poorly. I now put in an adequate amount of time thinking about ways to improve on what I do, even if its only a slight adjustment. No change is too small.
There will probably be a video from me in the near future discussing the virtues of deep conditioning the right way. Until then, I hope this post was helpful in your quest for moisturized hair.

I'd love to hear your comments.
  1. FIRST....I really like and admire you. I LOVE your blogs and videos; thank you for them! I've been on my journey for a year now and have gained about 2 inches in growth, but not evenly; therefore, my hair still looks the same in length. I then found you. I don't wear protective styles (don't like fake hair; not even ponytails. braids, ok, but i had breakage-so never again). You helped me realize I can achieve my goals, i just have to have the "right" approach & focus.
    I love the current series you are doing right now...I feel this will help me in my journey. Someone also recently mentioned to me that perhaps my hair can't handle heavy protein and I need to look for a conditioner that is moisturizing w/some protein. Please explain further how I can create my own....knowing I'm heading in the right direction.

    Sorry so long....but, one last thing...I tried the reverse roller set and loved it! My new growth really laid down...I wasn't able to maintain the style well after two days (pincurling) my new growth began to poof with humidity.

    But, you are one of the best...and please keep doing what you do.

  2. I'm confused on when to do what or determining my hair needs pertaining to: when to deep condition on dry hair or use heat? When to use protein? Also, a reconstructor...what is this really; another word for protein? And, when should that be used? Does your deep condition always consists of mixing both protein and moisture? It's sounds so simple, I wish someone told me before. Seems like it would save me time and give my hair exactly what it needs.

  3. great post! and i too love the thick moisturizers.

  4. I love this post!! So true on many levels. I had to step my DC`ing game up a notch last year around this time (doing it in sections) and I`ve noticed a huge turn around in my hair.


  5. First, thank you guys so much for the kind words.
    To answer Anonymous' question, you pretty much always want to use heat when you deep condition. Heat causes the little breaks in the hair to expand allowing for the product to penetrate more deeply which gives you better results.

    A reconstructor is a protein heavy product meant to strengthen weak areas of the hair. I recommend using a reconstructor if you see that your hair is fragile and breakage is increased. Yes I always mix the two together because my hair is vulnerable to breakage. I take on more risk because I don't protective style consistently.

  6. Hi

    I know this is a really old post but I'm curious. As you didn't mention products in this post when you mention the protein/reconstructor are you referring to products such as Aphogee 2 Min Reconstructor?

    Could you clarify this for me please as I am mindful that this product is only supposed to be left on the hair for 2-5mins whereas I leave my DC on for 30-60mins with heat. At the moment I add Hemp Oil and Porosity Control to my DC but I would also liketo add the protein in there too to reduce the amount of time my whole wash process takes.

    If you don't reccommend using Aphogee 2 min in my DC, please could you suggest an alternative product(s).

    Many thanks,I love your blog, very informative!!!


  7. Hi Simhair,
    As a matter of fact, I just used the 2 min reconstructor the other day. Once I rinsed the shampoo, while still in the shower, I applied the Aphogee 2 minute, then waited around 2-4 minutes or so, then rinsed. Afterwards, I stepped out of the shower then applied my moisturizing conditioners and waited the customary 30 minutes to an hour before rinsing. Worked like a charm!

  8. I must admit, I'm new to this whole taking care of my hair and i'm seriously lost, this seems to be geared more towards people who already have experience taking care of their hair. I have no idea of differences in thick conditioners vs not thick. It's very daunting. I don't know where to begin, it's as if I'm reading another language. Can anyone give me examples so I understand what I'm looking at?