A conditioner is an essential product in any hair care regime. It’s crucial for maintaining healthy, shiny, and moisturized hair. Without it, your hair can become dry and easy to break, while too much of it can cause greasiness. So how often should you use conditioner?
Determining this can be challenging since different factors play a role, such as your hair type, hair care routine, scalp condition, type of product, and climate.
This article will discuss the different types of conditioners, their significance, and how often you should apply them for optimal hair health.
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What is a conditioner?
A conditioner is a product applied to hair, usually after shampooing to retain moisture, improve texture, add shine, and make your hair more manageable.
Its main purpose is to reduce or prevent friction between the hair strands allowing for smooth brushing and styling, which otherwise could lead to damage.
Common ingredients in conditioner
Fatty alcohols: Fatty alcohols are fatty, waxy substances derived from natural oils and fats from animals and plants. They have both hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-hating or water-repelling)
It’s often used as an emollient (moisturizing agent), a carrying agent for other ingredients, emulsifier, and a thickener. They help create slip and provide moisture.
Humectants: These are moisturizing agents that work by pulling moisture or water molecules to the hair
Oils: These help lubricate hair strands, detangle, and smoothen the hair cuticles, preventing frizz and brittleness.
Protein (not all): Strengthens hair strands and increase manageability.
Thickening agents: Enhance volume, consistency, and viscosity. They also have the ability to retain moisture.
Silicones (not all): Silicones can form a barrier on the hair to prevent humidity, eliminate frizz, and enhance shine.
Why Use Conditioner?
First, let us begin with the point that using a conditioner is necessary for your hair care routine!
Secondly, there is no doubt that a high-quality shampoo will not only clean your hair and leave it feeling fresh.
However, with shampoo, you may experience a loss of natural oils in your hair and scalp. This is where the application of conditioners comes in to provide the necessary benefits listed below.
1. Restoring natural oils
Conditioners contain ingredients that are essential in replenishing natural oils within the hair. These ingredients include butter, coconut oil, or argan oil which are necessary for moisturizing and nourishing the hair while leaving it feeling and looking healthier and easy to manage.
2. Coating the hair follicles with a protective layer
Generally, conditioners work by coating the hair shaft and filling around the cuticle, the outermost layer of the hair. This is vital to reduce friction and tangling within the hair strands. Thus, making it easier to brush and comb.
3. Replenishing the moisture stripped when shampooing
The coating effect of conditioners is beneficial in keeping the hair down to the cuticle smooth by sealing in moisture and repairing any damage caused by the shampooing process.
Some conditioners also contain ingredients such as castor oil and hydrolyzed proteins, e.g., hydrolyzed collagen and keratin, that can penetrate the hair shaft to provide moisture and strengthen the hair from the inside out.
These ingredients also aid in counteracting the drying effects of shampoo and other styling products, leaving the hair feeling moisturized, hydrated, less prone to breakage, and more manageable.
Notably, with selective market research, there are brands producing conditioners containing humectants, such as glycerin and honey. Humectants are good at drawing moisture into the hair from the surrounding environment.
In fact, a humectant is a common ingredient in both hair and skin care products, including lotions.
4. Recover hair from heat damage
Heat styling tools such as flat irons, curling irons, and blow dryers often damage hair if used at high temperatures or too often.
Heat damage can range from broken hair to split ends and dryness. Even though you cannot fully reverse heat damage, a conditioner can restore some of the lost moisture and nourishment.
How often should you use conditioner?
The first and most crucial step in determining how often to condition is identifying the suitable type of conditioner for your hair. The common types of conditioners include;
Regular rinse-out conditioner
This is the most common type of conditioner, which is applied to the hair after shampooing and then rinsed out after a short period, usually after a minute or two.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) review, you should apply a rinse-out conditioner after every wash to minimize wear and tear.
Additionally, if your hair is dry, coarse, curly, or treated with color, ensure you condition it daily. This is because these hair types tend to be dry and require extra moisture to stay healthy.
Alternatively, if you have oily or fine hair, condition it less frequently, as it may weigh down your hair or make it look greasy.
Leave-in conditioner is a type of conditioner that is meant to be left in the hair and not washed out until the next shampoo. Typically, these conditioners repair damage and moisturize hair.
The general thumb rule requires using a leave-in conditioner once a week as an excellent starting point. However, if your hair is curly, dry, or damaged, ensure you increase the frequency of its application.
Before rinsing it out, these conditioners must be left on the hair for more extended periods, approximately 30 minutes after application.
This is because they work more intensely than leave-in and rinse-out conditioners, so you need to give them more time on the hair.
They are also best for repairing severely damaged and moisturizing parched hair. They are best used every one or two months.
Cleansing conditioners are conditioners with the ability to clean and condition hair.
In other words, they are a conditioner and a shampoo all in one. They are, however, made of more gentle formulas that may not be as harsh on your hair as regular shampoo would.
This is because, unlike traditional shampoos, a cleansing conditioner is free of foaming agents and detergents, both of which can make your hair dull, dry, and damaged.
A cleansing conditioner gently cleanses the strands while conditioning and detangling them.
They are usually lighter than other conditioners; hence they don’t leave the hair weighed down or look greasy after application. This makes them the appropriate option, especially for oily hair.
According to experts, cleansing conditioners provide the best results for those with thick, dry, coarse, or curly hair.
If you have thin hair, cleansing conditioners can only make it flatter. But luckily, there are many formulations these days to cater to different hair types.
Additionally, if your hair tends to dry out during the cold months, cleansing conditioners can also be a good option irregardless of your hair type.
How to apply conditioner
- Choose the right conditioner for your hair
- Start by washing your hair well with shampoo, then wring out any excess water, so it’s not soaking wet. If your hair is short, you probably won’t have much to work with, but if it’s long, ensure you get out as much water as possible. You can also use a towel to do that.
- If your conditioner is liquid, pour some on your palm, and if it’s cream based, scoop with your fingertips.
- The amount you need will depend on your hair’s length and volume. So take a sufficient amount.
- Run the conditioner through your hair shafts working towards the end of your hair. Avoid the scalp as much as possible, as the conditioner can clog your follicles.
- If your hair is too short, gently pull it before you apply the conditioner.
- Allow the conditioner to sit for 1 or 2 minutes before rinsing it out with lukewarm water, then finish with as cold water as you can tolerate. Why cold water? It’s therapeutic to the brain but can also trigger a response and stimulate the scalp, increasing blood flow. Besides, cold water is gentle on the scalp and will prevent you from stripping off nutrients.
- Additionally, cold water helps lock in moisture.
- If your hair still feels slimy, keep rinsing until it’s smooth but not super slimy.
- Wring out excess water, and you’re done!
Using a leave-in conditioner
- As with regular conditioners, choose a leave-in conditioner suitable for your hair.
- Shampoo and condition your hair, then rinse it off, as seen above
- Using a towel, dry your hair so that it’s just dump
- Put some leave-in on your hand (Again, the amount you need will depend on the length and density of your hair). So you can start with a small amount and then add if need be.
- Thin out the conditioner by rubbing it in your hands. This will make it easy to apply.
- As with a regular conditioner, rub it through your hair, along the hair shafts being careful not to get to the scalp.
- Give more attention to your ends, as they are more prone to damage
- Use a wide-tooth comb to brush your hair, as this will help spread the product evenly
Using a deep conditioner
- Rinse your hair to make it wet, or simply shampoo it.
- Scoop a good amount of deep conditioner with your hand and apply a thick layer on the entire head, paying more attention to the ends.
- Put on a shower cap and, depending on specific instructions on the packaging, let it sit. This may usually take 20-30 minutes.
- To make this step more effective, set your hairdryer on warm and heat your head with the cap still on.
- Rinse it off with lukewarm water and finish with cold water.
How can you tell if you are over-conditioning?
Using too much conditioner can have adverse effects on your hair. Some of the signs that you may be over-conditioning your hair include:
- Limp and heavy hair
- Flat hair that lacks volume
- Greasy or waxy residue on the hair
- Hair that is prone to breakage and split, especially at the ends
Whenever you notice the above signs, the best thing to do is to reduce the usage of conditioners. Alternatively, you can use smaller amounts and focus on just the ends of your hair while avoiding the roots.
How can you tell if you’re under-conditioning?
Similar to over-conditioning, you can under-condition your hair. You can notice under-conditioning in the following ways;
- Overly dry and brittle hair
- Excessive tangling
- Frizz and dullness
Once you notice these signs, ensure you increase the frequency of conditioning. Additionally, use a deep conditioner every four weeks to give your hair a nourishing boost while retaining its moisture content.
Factors to Consider when conditioning
Below are factors to take into account when using conditioner to achieve the best results
- To prevent an oily scalp, always apply conditioner only to the length and ends of your hair. Avoid using it on the scalp.
- Similarly, to avert dryness, ensure you apply shampoo mainly on the scalp only while preventing it from coming into contact with the ends as much as possible. You can easily achieve this by sectioning your hair then shampooing one section at a time.
- For a smooth and clean rinse of the conditioner, always brush your hair while you are still under the shower.
- A better way to keep moisture locked in is by rinsing your hair with cold water immediately after conditioning.
- Lastly, always target the driest and most brittle areas on your hair, such as the ends as you work your way up toward the scalp.
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A conditioner is a moisturizing and conditioning agent used to improve the texture, feel, appearance, and manageability of hair. It makes the hair softer while protecting the shafts from damage.
While you can’t quote the exact number of times one needs to use conditioner in a week, a month, etc, Using a conditioner after every shampoo is listed among the best ways to keep and make your hair look healthy.
However, depending on the type and the condition of the hair, the amount of conditioner and the frequency of usage may vary. As such, it is best to identify your hair type so you can target specific products meant for your hair.
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