How To Choose A Conditioner for Relaxed and Natural Black Hair

Finding the perfect conditioner

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!



15 Ways To Get Longer Healthier Hair


About Alma

Hi! I'm Alma Ruddock, a full time blogger. I stumbled on a hair care forum in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair forever!. I started as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to bring new information about hair on both this website and my personal blog.


  1. 1
    lestwins says:

    In the event of extreme breakage, If hair is brittle and breaking wouldn’t protein just harden the hair and make matters worse?

    • 2

      It depends what is causing the breakage lestwins. Hair is made up of protein so when there is a lot of damage to the hair structure, moisture is simply not going to fix it. Think about it this way, if protein is missing from the strands, there’s nothing to hold the moisture in place which means that hair becomes brittle. It’s unfortunate that you get the exact same symptoms with hair that is in need of moisture but that’s why it’s so important to learn your own hair and judge by results instead of assumptions.

      I would say that if one was really worried about getting brittle hair, start off with a good quality light protein conditioner and see how your hair feels afterwards.

      • 3
        lestwins says:

        I see.I see. It really is a shame that the symptoms of both protein and moisture need are the same.

  2. 4
    Husseenah Abdul Jabbar says:

    How about starting ur regiment with a protein conditioner/reconstructer if ur new on your hair journey?

    • 5

      Absolutely! Nothing wrong with that at all. At the end of the day it’s about getting a feel for your own hair and learning what it needs.

  3. 6

    Hi. I am reading though most of these topics on the website about hair and I must say I am happy. I was near to giving up and my natural hair and getting it relaxed again to see if it would grow. What I want to know now is how do I start getting my healthy hair back Can you tell me what shampoo I can start with and then the conditioner and simple steps to use from there. I go to school so I need to know how to take baby steps with my hair to get it back. I miss it. I live in Jamaica and I don’t know where to start and I cant keep going to stylist and not getting positive results.

    Thanks much.

  4. 8

    Hi first of all i apologize for the mistakes below. I am a French speaker…
    I just start my hair journey and I have some questions. I know this is an old post but I hope you will answer my questions.
    I still trying to find the good regimen for my hair. My main problem is breakage :(
    I see that my hair grow and they grow fast but they break all the time. I used a light keratin leave in and it worked well. I saw food results. My hair didn’t break anymore… Almost… I was so happy that I try to put more keratin in my hair. I didn’t use “strong” keratine treatment but I bought hydrolyzed keratin (powder) and I did a sort of prepoo with it that I leaved on my hair the whole night. When washed my hair at the morning they just restart to break til today. I moisturized them and still doing it but nothing… Before that I used the ORS hair Mayonnaise in wich I added 2 eggs (it was the week before). And before the ORS (so weeks before I used the hydrolized keratin) I did a prepoo with avocado egg and hemp oil. My hair was perfect and strong and I saw how beautiful they were. When touched them they were strong…
    Now i don’t know what to do.. I though that I can just restart my regimen like that:
    – this week I do moisturizing regimen
    – the week after I will use a reconstructor

    Do you think it will help or I just need to keep moisturizing them during the whole month?

    One last thing, when I touch them now I feel that they are not “silky” as they were. It is not “silky” under my fingers…

    And another question is: Is a deep mask a conditioner?

    Thank you

  5. 9


  6. 10

    I’m reading all of your suggestions for property hair care and I am extremely motivated as to growing my hair. The only issue I had while reading, was how often to shampoo/condition my hair. If you could give a brief breakdown I would appreciate it!
    I have been natural all my life, but never knew how to take care of my hair. Hoping to see results with these new methods and my hair vitamins in the first year.

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