If long healthy natural hair is what you desire then conditioner is key.
Conditioning is an important step in a natural hair care routine because it helps minimize damage and breakage. Conditioning natural hair works to keep the older parts of your hair healthy and strong as you continue to grow out your hair to reach your goal length. Without conditioning you will find that your natural hair breaks more easily and is difficult to manage. There are various types of conditioners designed to do different things for hair.
Not all conditioners are made equal! Some are designed for daily use, others for weekly use and yet others for less than weekly use.
Types of Conditioners for Natural Hair
1. Instant/ Rinse-Out Conditioners:
Designed for regular/daily use.
This type of Conditioner is designed to be left on for a short amount of time, usually no more than 5 minutes, to smooth and coat the hair.
Don’t deep condition well, they are very much surface acting.
If you use an instant conditioner you also need a deep conditioner for weekly use.
QUICK TIP: To reduce frizz, leave a little rinse-out conditioner in your hair. This works best for thick or course hair, according to the Science of Black Hair.
2. Cream-rinse (a.k.a. creme-rinse) conditioners
Great for detangling. Great for heat protection, so you can use this type of conditioner AFTER your regular condition and shampoo for heat protection element. Cream-rinse conditioners generally do not contain all the moisturizers, oils and ingredients that are strongly attracted to hair as found in a deep conditioner, a moisturizing conditioner or a protein conditioner. On average they are also thinner in consistency.
3. Deep conditioners
Strengthen the hair strands
Should be ideally done weekly or every 10 days.
Deep conditioners are made to penetrate deeper into the cuticle layers. They are typically heavier and have more lasting results than instant conditioners. Leaving on an instant conditioner for a longer time is NOT deep conditioning. The conditioner must be designed to penetrate the hair, some conditioners can double as both an instant and deep. To improve product take-in when deep conditioning apply a plastic cap and use either a towel, hooded dryer, or steamer for added penetration.
4. Moisturising conditioners
Boost hair elasticity
Moisturizing conditioners do just what the name says; help the hair retain moisture. Many women with natural hair will find that their hair tends to be dry. Moisturizing conditioners for natural hair will generally leave the hair looking and feeling softer and more hydrated.
Some are a great combination that moisturize the hair while also strengthening with protein. Choose the right conditioner based on your needs:
brittle/hard, dry, frizzy, poor elasticity (hair breaks when stretched)- moisturizing conditioner
overly elastic (hair does not bounce back when stretched), limp feel to hair, breaks easily even when handled gently, hair overall seems weak- protein conditioner
5. Protein conditioners
Temporarily rebuild damage along the hair’s cuticle.
To put it simply natural hair conditioners that are primarily protein based help strengthen the hair by replenishing keratin that may have been lost from the hair.
Protein conditioners for hair come in various strengths. It is important not to use too strong of a protein because it can lead to breakage. Typically most naturals only need a mild protein. Chemically treated hair usually needs more protein to help rebuild the strands.
Proteins are surface acting so when you wash your hair you remove this protein.
They also so contain moisture boosting element unlike “protein reconstructors / treatments”
Protein reconstructors / treatments
Not really a conditioner because a conditioner is designed to boost moisture and protein treatments don’t do that at all. In fact, you have to condition your hair after using one
Act on a deeper level, i.e. they penetrate the hair shaft they don’t just act on the surface
Ideal for porous or damaged hair
If your hair is already healthy and balanced they will dry your hair out so don’t overuse.
6. Leave-in Conditioners
These are not rinsed out of the hair and usually help balance the hair and smooth the cuticle. A leave-in can be used in conjunction with a deep or rinse out conditioner.
A typical leave-in conditioning formulation was created to fortify the hair with strength and/or moisture, aid in detangling, and provide ease of styling without weighing down the hair or creating a buildup. These concoctions were made to allow the freedom of frequent, daily usage without unwanted side effects. This is usually a third step after cleansing and conditioning, but it can also be used as a daily refresher. The leave-in concoction is the lightest form of conditioning compared to the rinse out or deep conditioner and serves best as a quick, light means for elasticity, hydration, and manageability.