My mom, who saw how I was struggling at times, decided to observe my process and offer some feedback. She gave me two pieces of advice that completely changed my results from that day forward. My momma told me, "apply more product to each section" and "make sure you're smoothing the product into the hair." By adding more relaxer and taking time to thoroughly smooth the product into the hair, I was able to achieve more desirable results. I'm grateful to my mom for those two pieces of advice because now I've begun to utilize those tips in my deep conditioning experience. Think about it, when we apply a relaxer (which is a pretty harsh chemical process), not only do we part our hair in tiny sections, we saturate our new growth with it and we manually "work" it into our hair to make sure the chemical process is working even more deeply to produce desired results. Why do this with a chemical that breaks down the hair and not apply a similar process with conditioners meant to help rebuild the hair?
So what I'm committed to doing, each deep condition session, is to make sure there's enough product to saturate my strands (root to tip) and that I'm massaging the product into the strands for deeper penetration. I have no proof that by massaging, the ingredients in the conditioner are going deeper into the cuticle but I figure there's something about the act of massaging (smoothing) that enables product to work more deeply. Think about it, sports cremes are able to impact the muscle deep beneath the surface simply through the act of massage. Even when I just applied more relaxer during the touch up, my hair still didn't straighten as well as when I applied more product AND smoothed it in.
I'm using the terms "massage" and "smooth" interchangeably in this post. Technically, I think it's a mix of the two. It's not massaging in the traditional way where we use our fingertips to massage our scalp. It's more about working the product in, not moving the hair around. When I smoothed my relaxer in, I would use the back of the rat tail comb to apply pressure to the new growth. With my conditioner, I use my hands to apply some pressure to the conditioner coated strands. I sorta press my hair between my hands. And I do it with each section. So I apply, massage, and move to the next area. Then when I'm all done, I do more smoothing to my entire head. Add heat to this process and you've got a recipe for well conditioned hair. As a matter of fact, I think that instead of just sitting under the dryer passively, I may try massaging my hair to help further penetrate the conditioner as the cuticle layer is opened by the warm air.
The hair strand is highly permeable. I base this on how easily it is able to absorb water from the air and how permanently its structure changes under the pressures of a chemical relaxer. Both humidity in the air and the highly acid nature of the relaxer evoke the cuticle layer to open up like a budding flower. Once open, the inner workings of the hair shaft is highly susceptible to whatever penetrates it. This is exactly why I believe it's important to apply enough product to make an impact to the hair structure, not just to cuticle layer. Adding heat to this equation only helps further promote that deep level of conditioning we so desire. The act of massaging the product into the hair acts as the cherry that sits on top of the proverbial healthy hair milkshake also known as deep conditioning.
And so that is what I learned about deep conditioning from my mama.