Have shiny soft hair for days by choosing the right conditioner
For any black woman who wants to grow her relaxed or natural hair long, finding a good conditioner is like gold! Conditioning treatments provide hair with much needed moisture and strength and with regular use, improve the elasticity and general health of the hair. Healthy hair has little to no breakage, it just gets shedding. Shedding is when a full hair comes off from the roots once its lifespan has come to an end. The hair should be long with a white bulb at the end and this is perfectly normal.
A conditioner should be used immediately after a shampoo to counter the drying effects many shampoos have or can be used instead of a shampoo to clean the hair, a popular practise commonly known as a ‘co-wash’. Conditioners are more effective when they are used to deep condition the hair. This involves applying the conditioner to the hair generously from root to tip, covering hair with a plastic cap and sitting under a hooded dryer for 20-30 minutes. Heat makes the cuticles open and the hair shaft swell to allow the conditioner to penetrate its inner layers effectively.
Conditioners can be divided into two groups: Moisturizing conditioners and Protein Conditioners.
Moisturizing conditioners: These provide the hair with moisture and promote elasticity in dry brittle hair. Many of the better conditioners tend to be cream based and are made with natural butters or oils for lubrication. The oils lubricate and give the hair slip which helps to avoid knots which could cause breakage. Conditioners containing mineral oil or any other petroleum based oils in the first few ingredients should be avoided. They have no benefit to the hair as they coat the hair shaft and prevent the conditioner from penetrating effectively.
Silicones in hair conditioners perform the same function as the oils. Silicones have had bad rap in the past for coating the hair but are perfectly acceptable in deep conditioning treatments as they give hair incredible slip. Some ladies will not even consider detangling their hair if the conditioner does not contain ‘cones’! As long as a clarifying shampoo is used every 4-6 weeks to remove build-up, silicones should have no adverse effect on the health of the hair.
Some moisturizing conditioners also have some strengthening properties (not by way of protein). There are many cholesterol creams that are available in beauty supply stores. Mineral oil free Olive Oil Mayonnaise creams are excellent inexpensive examples of this.
Protein conditioners/reconstructors: As hair is made up of protein the only thing that can provide it with added strength is another protein. These come in the form of protein conditioners/reconstructors or protein treatments. To give hair a boost of strength, a light protein conditioner/reconstructor can be used every other week. Strong protein treatments are only required in the event of extreme breakage or where breakage is anticipated e.g. just before a chemical service. Strong protein treatments should always be followed up immediately by a moisturizing conditioner.
Be warned though, too much protein can have an adverse effect on the hair. It can make the hair go hard and brittle and cause breakage. A good example of a protein conditioner that can be used safely every other week is Motions CPR Protein Reconstructor. An example of a strong protein treatment that should be used in the event of severe breakage or before chemical services is Aphogee 2 step protein treatment. See the article on why protein is important for black hair.
It is advisable to buy different conditioners for your hair periodically as your hair could get accustomed to any one conditioner and you will find that that it doesn’t work as well. Having two moisturizing and two protein conditioners on rotation should do the trick!
With the right arsenal of conditioners, hair breakage will be a thing of the past and when length retention is achieved, long flowing relaxed or natural tresses are right around the corner!