Why Is Deep Conditioning Important For Relaxed And Natural Black Hair?

Why is deep conditioning important

Find out why this process is the key to the health and length of your hair

All hair is made up of the same material. Keratin. What makes hair different is the shape of the hair shaft coupled with the shape of the follicle below the scalp. Sebaceous glands below the scalp secrete an oily substance which travels down the shaft of straight hair making it shiny and locking the moisture in. With curly hair the sebaceous oil does not make it very far, this is why curly and kinky hair tends to be dry, frizzy and prone to breakage.

Curly and kinky hair requires extra care and attention. Because of its dry state, it will be brittle and quite fragile. Deep conditioning is easily one of the most important aspects of the curly and kinky hair care regimen.

So what is a deep conditioner and why does your hair need it? Strictly speaking, a deep conditioner is any type of conditioner left on the hair for 20-30 minutes (sometimes overnight). For the deep conditioner to be truly effective, it is important that heat is used along with it. Heat allows the hair shaft to swell and the cuticles to open and allow the conditioner inside. By promoting elasticity, deep conditioning improves the strength of the hair making it more resilient which helps in length retention in the long term.

All hair types can benefit from deep conditioning but for black hair, this is an absolute must! As the hair is dry by nature, deep conditioning restores the moisture balance in the hair which stops breakage. Deep conditioning should be done straight after a shampoo especially if a shampoo with a sulphate is used as they strip the hair leaving it dry.

The type of deep conditioner used should depend on the condition of the hair. If the hair feels mushy when wet and stretches a lot before breaking then a protein conditioner is required to restore the hair’s strength. If however, the hair feels brittle and just snaps when any tension is applied; the hair is in need of a moisturizing conditioner. The aim is to get the hair to a stage where the hair is both strong but has a certain degree of elasticity. Too much protein will make the hair go hard and too much moisture will make the hair mushy.

Moisturizing deep conditioners should be used in conjunction with protein deep conditioners in the hair care regimen to maintain a healthy balance. You may find that to begin with you may just want to alternate between light protein and moisturizing conditioners with every wash (assuming you are washing your hair twice a week) then adjusting your regimen according to how your hair feels.

It is better to err on the side of moisture with natural black hair. It is already pretty strong as none of the bonds have been broken by chemical service but it is likely to be dry. Some naturals also report being protein sensitive which is to say that protein tends to make their hair go hard. In this instance, a light protein should only be required once per month.

With relaxed black hair some bonds have been broken during the chemical service so is quite likely to require protein to strengthen the hair but moisture will also be required as chemicals only aggravate the dry condition of the hair. See the article on how to deep condition hair.



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 BlackHairInformation.com 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

    This is such a cool post, thanks for the great info. and I am so excited to read more

  2. 4

    I am so glad I found this website!! I am 10 months post BC & although I love my 4b/c natural hair…it is a chore! I was recently seriously considering getting a texturizer but was afraid that it would loosen my curls too much. I don’t want to change the appearance of my hair…just the manageability. However, I was willing to take the risk because I simply could not take it anymore. I came across the caramel treatment on this website and a light bulb went off over my head! A deep conditioning treatment like that is exactly what my hair needs. I almost never DC. Hopefully this will help soften up my hair and make it a bit more easy to work with. Thank you for this information!

    • 5

      Oh, deep conditioning with heat or steam is a must every single week especially if you have coarse natural hair. Over a few weeks you will find that the manageability of your hair will greatly improve. It would also help if you come up with an easy styling regimen that can be done while your hair is wet and easier to deal with so that you don’t have to revisit styling until you wash your hair again.

  3. 6

    Hello Alma, I currently deep condition with Blue Magic Cholesterol
    Conditioning Rinse and I still have a hard time identifying protein in
    the ingredients of the products I purchase. Could you tell me if you
    consider it to be a moisture or a protein deep conditioner? Could you
    also recommend good moisture and protein deep conditioners? (I have 4c
    relaxed hair – I relaxed two weeks ago and still experience quite a bit
    of breakage).

    Thank you!

  4. 9

    Hey just a question I have heard of some women mixing protein and moisture based conditioners together. Do you recommend this or just alternating between protein and moisture such as on a weekly or biweekly basis? Thanks

    • 10

      Nothing wrong with that. If you mixed them at the very least you will be creating a light protein conditioner. At the end of the day you have to go with how your hair feels, with my hair I do sometimes feel that I need something stronger protein wise now and then. I always suggest alternating to begin with until you learn what your hair needs.

  5. 11
    Kendall Gray says:

    Hey! Today marks the start of my HHJ! c: I have an anxiety disorder, so my hair breaks like crazy :/ (I’m 18 and a junior in college). Because of this, i figure I will need to focus mainly on protein conditioners for a while. Is that a good idea? I have relaxed hair (i don’t know what type, maybe 4a?), I plan to buy Nunaat Naat Treatmant Intensive Mask (Cupuacu/Keratin). Is this a good protein conditioner? What are some good moisturizing conditioners? If I only wash my hair once a week, should I still alternate between the two types of conditioners? Thank you so much!

    • 12

      Hi Kendall. The hair mask has hydrolyzed keratin so can be considered a light protein conditioner. It has decent reviews but I would make sure to shampoo weekly as it contains mineral oil which can actually make dry hair conditions worse if you don’t cleanse regularly. There are better ones out there too so experiment with other conditioners too. Yes I would still suggest that you alternate between protein and moisture in the beginning until you know what your hair needs (and how it reacts to protein) then you can adjust your regimen to suit you.

  6. 13


    I use Africa’s Best Organics Olive Oil Extra Virgin Deep Conditioner to deep condition my hair weekly after co-washing my hair (I shampoo my hair once a month). I was wondering if this conditioner would be a good conditioner you would recommend to someone to use and also if this conditioner would be considered a protein or moisture conditioner.
    Thank you!

    • 14

      Hi Abbie. With it’s 3rd ingredient being mineral oil I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it as a deep conditioner. It won’t make your hair fall out nor will it cause your hair harm unless you choose not to use shampoo but it’s certainly not a high quality product IMO. It’s got very little protein so I would say that it is a light protein but mostly moisturizing conditioner. hth

      • 15

        Thanks for replying! So what moisturizing and protein conditioners would you recommend then? I also use Crème of Nature Argan Oil Intensive Conditioning Treatment as a moisturizing conditioner. In your opinion, is that a better choice of conditioner than the one I mentioned in my post prior? I also noticed in your article that you mentioned that Motions CPR Protein Reconstructor is a good protein conditioner, is that recommended to any hair type or more geared to relaxed hair? Thank you, once again!

        • 16

          It’s hard to say because what works for me may not necessarily work for you. The only way to learn is by trial and error love. Learning your hair is the end goal of any hair regimen. A good place to start with good quality products like aubrey organics, shea moisture or as i am products. Tresemme naturals conditioner is cheap and good quality so you could try that. I don’t know the ingredients of that conditioner you speak of as I haven’t used it before. Witth motions cpr, again it’s hit and miss. It worked for me when I was relaxed but I’ve never tried it as a natural so I just don’t know. Sorry I can’t be more helpful but products and how they work for is very individual.

  7. 18

    I use olive oil, honey and eggs to deep condition my hair.

Speak Your Mind