How To Choose The Right Deep Conditioner For Your Natural Hair!
So where were we?
Yeeess! How to Select Your Deep Conditioning Products!!Whoop whoop!
Now, be warned! This particular topic can be broken down into one thousand other posts! I daresay, it could fill up whatever's left of the World Wide Web! There's a tonne to discuss when it comes to picking the right Deep Conditioning products for your hair, so I'll highlight and summarize the most critical aspects. Feel free to use these ideas as a springboard for more research into your hair products.
General pointers on selecting deep conditioners:
There's lots of really great marketers out there. They label their products as "moisturizing" and "hydrating". They claim that their product will "add shine", "restore bounce", "get rid of embarrassing flakes"...etc, etc. That's all nice and dandy. But a product, at the end of the day, is the sum of its ingredients. The formulation of a product is what allows it to do its job.
Typically, the first 5 ingredients are the most important. An ingredients lists for a really great deep conditioner may read something like this: "Water, Aloe Vera Juice, Centromonium Bromide, Behentrimonium Chloride, Coconut Oil...". This set of ingredients have been scientifically proven to penetrate the hair strand.
A marketing gimmick might read something like this: "Aqua, Paraffinium Liquidium, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Citronellol...". Ugh! These ingredients not only do little, if anything, for the health of your hair, they may be carcinogenic and therefore harmful to your health.
Generally, these are ingredients you need to be wary of:
1. Silicones - should be applied sparingly. Can cause heavy coating on hair.
2. Sulphates - not all are bad, but most strip the strand of good oils, leaving your hair dry.
3. Mineral Oil/Petrolatum/Petroleum - may clog your hair follicles and stunt your hair growth.
4. Parabens - most are carcinogens and are therefore harmful to your health.
5. Alcohols - this is a highly fraught ingredient in the natural hair community. There's tens if not hundreds of alcohols, so do your research on each alcohol listed before you purchase your product.
Types of Deep Conditioning Products
When I first returned to natural haircare, I was super duper confused about the whole moisture/protein balance thingy!
Simply put, this is what moisture/protein balance means: for our hair to thrive, it must receive both moisture and protein, but not necessarily in equal measure. Type 4 hair requires more moisture due to its lifted cuticles. However, it is also one of the weakest hairtypes due to the kinks and coils along the hair shaft. These kinks and coils can be potential points of breakage, and therefore need to be enforced with protein.
Moisturizing Deep Conditioners
Moisturizing Deep Conditioners infuse our strands... (Infuse, what a pretty word!).. with water. Yes, water. The only moisturizing element on the planet is WATER. Oils cannot be moisturizing, Butters cannot be moisturizing. Only water is moisturizing. Moisturizing Deep Conditioners contain water/aqua as their first ingredient. They may also have Aloe Vera Juice as another prominent ingredient.
Typically, a great moisturizing deep conditioner will have these ingredients: Aqua/Deionized Water/Water, Aloe Vera Juice, Behentrimonium Chloride, Argan Oil, Tocopherol, Pathenol...etc etc. If you see one with Red 33 Cl 17200, run! These are preservatives and stabilizers that do absolutely zilch for your hair!!!!
This is a great website on which you can compare hair products based on ingredients. It only ships within the US, from what I know. But loads of resellers are shipping internationally from Facebook "markets", ebay.com, amazon.com and even etsy.com. So check 'em out if you're keen.
Protein-based Deep Conditioners
Protein Deep Conditioners infuse (there's that pretty word again!) our strands with PROTEIN. At its most basic level, a hair strand is made of protein. However, wear and tear caused from the elements chips away at the integrity of our hair strands. When proteins are applied to our hair, they fill in the sections of the strands underneath the follicles and in so doing, fortify the structure of the strand.
Protein Deep Conditioners contain ingredients such as Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Silk Amino Acids...etc.
Not all protein deep conditioners are of equal strength! Some Protein DC's are realllly strong! The old school ( ie when-we-were-addicted-to-creamy-crack) products such as Motions Deep Penetrating Treatment have a high concentration of protein. This can actually be really harmful to your hair's health. In order to find a protein deep conditioner that works for you, invest some time in reading product reviews and watching Youtube reviews. (Check out this YouTube product review I did a while back on Hello Curlies Products.)
Note Better 1: Hydrolyzed Protein has been altered such that it is small enough to actually penetrate the hair strand. Some protein molecules are too big and therefore simply sit on top of the strand. This means, that in actuality, they aren't strengthening at all. Hydrolyzed protein molecules are small enough to fit under our hair's cuticle. This means that they strengthen the hair strand.
Note Better 2: I've found that in order to achieve a protein/moisture balance, I use my moisturizing deep conditioner every week. I use my protein conditioner only once a month.
Note Better 3: Some deep conditioners are moisturizing but contain lots of protein. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you'd have to watch your hair's progress. If your hair likes it, well, you've killed two birds with one stone!
1. Check your wallet. At the end of the day, you want your money's worth of products. Just because a product goes for $78 does not mean it is necessarily more superior than one that is $9. Check out this post on being a naturalista on a budget.
2. Do your research. As the natural hair community grows, more and more vendors are looking to get into the hair products market. Read reviews before you purchase a product or request testers before you opt to splurge!
3. Use what works for you. It takes TIME to find a product that works for you. Trust me, I'm always on the hunt for great products - and I've been at it for 4 years! Haha! Listen to recommendations from friends and colleagues, but don't be fooled into buying a product that promises miracle results.
Long, healthy hair is not the sum of a single, magical product but rather the outcome of great hair practices, one of which is deep conditioning.
Phew! Now that was a post and a half!
In the next post, I'll be sharing my top tips on how to maximize your deep conditioning sessions. I'll be answering questions related to how long you should have your DC on, and when and why you should or shouldn't use heat during your DC. I'll also include a bonus section on DO IT YOURSELF Deep Conditioners for all my crafty, budget-aware or simply hair-dventurous naturalistas! Stay tuned!
What questions do you have? Feel free to leave me a note down below! Also, if you want to add more pointers for the rest of us naturalistas! Please do! After all, sharing is caring!!! xx
Love and SSSUUUNNshine!