From the dry air in winter, the damaging effects of summer, and all the blow drying and straightening in between, our hair really is put through a lot.
It’s no wonder that sometimes we end up with dry, brittle hair that lacks lustre. My hair suffers particularly badly after exposure to salt water, chlorine and wind in the summer, and I end up with a frizzy mess which is hard to handle.
Instead of heading to the salon, I decided to research how to deep condition your hair at home. Although it’s quite a simple process, there’s a little more to it than slathering on some conditioner and hoping for the best.
I also discovered there is such a thing as overdoing it when using a deep conditioner, so it’s best not to do it too often. The key to getting healthy hair which is silky and smooth is finding the right balance between adding moisture and protein, so your hair gets all the nutrition it needs.
With so many products out there, it can be confusing trying to find the right one for you. Just read my simple steps to help you know what to look for, and how to get the best results once you’ve chosen a deep conditioner.
Things You’ll Need
Here are a few things you’ll need to deep condition your hair at home. For most people, doing it once a week will be enough to replenish your hair’s moisture and help make it strong and healthy.
If your hair starts to feel limp or weak, once a week may be too often for you, so try every other week instead. On the other hand, if you’re hair still feels very dry or brittle, you could try increasing sessions to twice a week.
The right amount will depend on your hair type, the condition it’s in, how much heat it’s exposed to and the environment you live in.
Sulfate Free Shampoo
To get a head start in combating dry hair, it’s a good idea to switch to a sulfate free shampoo. They don’t contain harsh cleaning detergents which can strip your hair of its natural oils, and should help in retaining your hair’s natural moisture.
By using a gentle shampoo to wash your hair, you should start to see an improvement in your hair’s manageability and smoothness even before you start deep conditioning.
One of the most important thing to do when you’re deciding on a deep conditioner is take a look at the ingredients list. The order they’re listed in goes from most to least used, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to read through them.
Lots of brands use clever marketing to entice us into buying their products, so doing a little research into the ingredients can help us avoid disappointing results or overspending when we don’t need to.
You might find a product which is marketed with just the ingredient you’re looking for, such aloe vera or keratin, but if it’s not listed in the first 10 ingredients, it probably won’t contain enough quantity to make a real difference (NaturallyCurly).
Another thing to bare in mind is that a product which claims to condition hair in 2 or 3 minutes probably won’t be a deep conditioner, as this isn’t enough time to truly penetrate the hair shaft (NaturalBeautyTips).
So, how to choose a deep conditioner which is right for you? It all depends on your hair type, and the results you’re hoping to achieve from deep conditioning.
To gain moisture and softness, products that contain fatty alcohols like cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl can get the best results, as well as emollient butters, humectants and ceramides.To gain more strength and suffer less breakages, look for a product that contains ingredients like hydrolysed proteins, amino acids or keratin.
By creating a balance between protein and moisture, your hair will be getting everything it needs to be healthy, strong and nourished.
If you have colour treated hair, look for a product which is formulated to protect and improve hair colour. Weak, dry hair can’t hold colour as well as if it’s properly moisturised, so if you’re not happy with colouring results, using a deep conditioner could help you achieve the shade you’re after (InStyle).
There are some lovely designs available nowadays, so you can walk around in style whilst your deep conditioner works its magic.
You could also use a regular plastic bag, but Betty Dain have some fabulous shower caps available, and they will help avoid any uncomfortable dripping.
Deep conditioners are best applied to damp, towel dried hair. But did you know that drying your hair too vigorously can cause split ends, breakages and frizziness?
Microfiber towels are much more absorbent than traditional terry towels, and they are more gentle on hair and skin too. As they draw water from your hair more quickly, you can save some time and achieve just the right ‘dampness’ if you usually apply styling products before your hair is totally dry.
Wide Toothed Comb
Brushing your hair vigorously when it’s wet can cause more breakages and increase frizziness. Using a wide toothed comb such as this Sandalwood Comb can help prevent hair loss and breakages, as it should glide through your hair smoothly.
This type of comb can also help improve circulation on your scalp, which should lead to healthier, more hydrated skin.
Step By Step Instructions On How To Deep Condition Hair
If you’ve decided to deep condition your hair, just follow these simple steps to help you get the best results from your product.
How many times a week you need to use it will depend greatly on your needs, so you might have to experiment a little before deciding on the right amount for you. I find that once a week helps keep my hair feeling strong and smooth.
1. Wash your hair
If possible, use a sulfate free shampoo which will be more gentle on your hair and skin, and then rinse out thoroughly. It can take about 30 seconds to get rid of all your shampoo and product build up, so try not to rush.
Pat your hair dry with a soft towel. Microfibre towels are much better at absorbing water from hair and skin than traditional towels, and can save you valuable time.By taking care when towel drying your hair, you should be less prone to breakages and frizz. Your hair deserves a little love after everything it goes through!
2. Apply conditioner
Once your hair is towel dried, apply conditioner all over your hair, but starting at the ends and working your way up.
These are the driest and oldest parts of your hair which are more prone to split ends, so it’s better to give some extra time for them to soak up the nutrients from the conditioner.
Using a wide toothed comb, gently comb through your hair to smooth out any tangles, and evenly distribute the conditioner. As we’re aiming to replenish hair from top to bottom, it’s ok to apply conditioner at your roots too.
Warming the conditioner up to about 35ºC can increase its effectiveness of adsorption, making it easier for it to stick to the hair shaft and provide some serious hydration. You can use a water bath to heat it up, which is better than placing the bottle in the microwave.
3. Relax for a while
To decide how long to leave your conditioner in, you could either follow the instructions on the bottle, or just go with your instinct. As a general rule, most products will reach their maximum capacity after 20 to 30 minutes, so it’s best not to leave it in for hours or overnight.
Once you’ve applied the deep conditioner, massage it gently into your scalp so it can also benefit from some added hydration. Cover your hair with a shower cap, and take some time to relax whilst your hair gets some well deserved nourishment.
It’s best not to do this too often though, as over conditioning could make your hair feel weak and limp. The constant swelling and contracting of hair follicles could create a problem called hygral fatigue, where hair lacks protein and strength.
That’s why it’s best not to use a deep conditioner with every hair wash; normal conditioners tend to have lighter formulas and less ingredients designed to stick to your hair.
4. Rinse your hair
Once you’ve let your hair absorb all the lovely moisture from the conditioner, it’s time to rinse it out. If you can stand it, it’s much better to rinse in cool water, as this helps close the hair shaft and seal in more moisture.
I know this is especially difficult in winter, but give it a go, as it should help you gain great results from your hydration session.Gently towel dry your hair again, and if you do blow dry, try using a cooler setting to protect your hair from drying out from exposure to really hot air.
Your hair should feel instantly more manageable and soft, and you should notice less breakages throughout the weeks if you continue to deep condition on a more regular basis.
I used to think that getting an intense hydration treatment required a trip to the hairdresser, and therefore it didn’t happen very often. But adding moisture back into your hair at home is actually quite simple.
Often the hardest part is choosing a product that will work for you, and getting the right balance between adding moisture and protein to your hair.
My best advice is to concentrate on the first 5 ingredients listed on the product, and use this to help you select the best one for your needs. Remember not to use it too often, as there is such a thing as over conditioning.
Now that I use a deep conditioner once a week my hair is less frizzy, and looks healthier and shinier. I’d love to know which deep conditioner worked well for you, and whether you found this article useful towards getting stronger, smoother hair.