If you’re a wavy and curly girl, you already know how important it is to use conditioner on your hair, and you likely go through it triple the amount that you go through your shampoo… AND there’s no way you’d get out of the shower without using some! Can you imagine?  I shudder at the thought!

There’s a big secret to what type of conditioner you use and how you use it.  Did you know that the ingredients in your conditioner can literally either make or break your finished style?  Here’s a little insight as to why choosing the right conditioner is so important…

When you are shopping for conditioner; focus on these three things:

1) That it does not contain silicones.  You can find a list of silicones to watch out for here.
2)  The first two ingredients contain: Water and/or Aloe Vera.
3) It has a thick, creamy density, and also that it will give you ‘slip’ for detangling.  You can research the brand of conditioner you’re looking for online for lots of feedback before you even buy!  Some conditioners require the use of a comb to detangle your curls, and other conditioners allow your fingers to slip through like butter.  I would always recommend you stay with the latter.  Some of my favourite conditioners are: Innersense Colour Radiance Daily ConditionerDevaCurl One ConditionLong Hair Don’t Care, and Pureganique Moisturizer which can all be used on a daily basis and have lots of ‘slip’.

It’s not so much how long you leave the conditioner on, it’s how you work it in.  Spending time working it though your hair, and then also pumping water into it will give you the best frizz free clumped curls you’ve ever seen.  When I went to DevaChan and had my hair done (pics below), the stylist assistants spent AT LEAST 20 mins working in my conditioner at the sink… Not saying you have that kind of time at home, but that’s giving you an indication as to the time it takes to have fabulous curls, because I had ZERO frizz when my hair was finished. Your daily conditioner needs to be WORKED IN.  Read this Squish to Condish article by my Curly Hair Artistry colleague Melissa Stites that explains how to work your daily conditioner and pump water into your hair shaft to create the most gorgeous curls.  That is when you’ll get the most frizz reduction in your finished style, because we know that frizz is just dehydrated hair, right?

How do you choose the right conditioner for you? Read on…

  • If you have fine textured, low porosity hair:  you will want to use a daily conditioner that is protein based, and use protein treatments as needed to rebuild and reinforce the structure of the hair shaft and to restore the strength of the hair (even your stylers can have protein in them).  If your conditioner doesn’t have protein in it, you can always do overnight coconut oil treatments at least weekly (which are shampooed out the next morning).  You can use a plastic bag or a plastic shower cap, then wrap your hair in a towel to keep that cuticle open and allow the protein to do it’s best work.
  • If you have normal hair texture and porosity, you can use a wide variety of ingredients in products;  sometimes daily conditioners with protein, sometimes just a regular conditioner.  You can use protein treatments and emollient based deep moisture treatments, trading them out as needed.
  • If you have high porosity and/or coarse textured hair, it likely already has lots of natural protein and won’t need regular protein treatments as much as it needs moisture.  Stick to hydrating deep treatments and ones that contain emollients such as Aloe Vera Oil Extract, Abssinnian oil, Argan Oil, Avocado Oil, Castor Oil, Coconut oil and the list goes on but you get the idea.  Apply heat over a plastic cap covered with a towel or purchase a Thermal Deep Conditioning Cap to help deepen your moisture treatment, re-hydrate dry hair, and improve moisture retention. Using steam treatments will also help with adding moisture because it’s adding water back into the hair shaft. The Q-Redew is a great steaming tool for those of you who don’t have room for a hooded steam machine at home and can be done a few times throughout the week.  Use protein only when you feel your hair is limp, it just needs a little protein pick me up.

*Some of my favorite deep moisture treatments are Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment and DevaCurl Heaven in Hair Deep Moisture Treatment.  Remember when it comes to protein treatments, they are like a semi-permanent colour; it washes out and needs to be redone as needed…usually every 6-8 weeks or so.  Also, protein treatments need to be followed up by conditioner.  Use heat with your conditioner AND deep treatments to help pry open your tight cuticle, then follow up with cold water or acidic solutions (lemon juice in your palm with conditioner-do not pour lemon juice into your bottle) to lay the cuticle down and to help moisture stay within the hair shaft.  Examples of proteins for ingredients are: hydrolyzed casein, hydrolyzed collagen, hydrolyzed hair keratin, hydrolyzed keratin, hydrolyzed rice protein, hydrolyzed silk, hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed silk amino acids, hydrolyzed oat flour, wheat amino acids, and other large complicated names…

Leaving a deep treatment or protein treatment to sit on the hair is the only time you don’t need to work your conditioner in; because that’s one type of product that works best when heat is added and it is allowed to sit on your hair.  Boughten protein treatments (Joico K-pak Recontructor, Aphogee 2 Step Treament, Redken Extreme Cat Reconstructing Protein Treatment) usually contain silicone.  Staying on the hair for longer than 20 mins can cause breakage over time and should not be used more than once a month.  Some coarse hair textures may experience dryness, brittleness, and decreased elasticity if protein is used, so be careful as your hair may be sensitive.  This is general information, so always let your hair be your guide. It will tell you what it likes and doesn’t like if you pay close attention.

As an extra piece of advice, I feel that leave in conditioners are an added expense and not a necessary purchase.  In my opinion, it’s just as good if you rinse out all of your regular conditioner and then just put a little bit of it back in as your leave in if you like your curl that way.  Usually leave in conditioners are watered down versions of regular conditioner, kind of like how lotions are a lighter version of creams.  If your hair has enough water pumped into it, you can get away with just using regular conditioner.  Just an insider tip 😉

So, there you have it.  Gone are the days of putting on your daily conditioner and letting it ‘sit’.  You’ve got to work it curly girl!