With the warmer months approaching, it is only befitting to talk about conditioners and the importance of their use. During this time of year folks are more prone to trying a new bold color, cut, or even experimenting with highlights. We have been trained to apply a conditioner after shampooing and this is correct! Do you really understand why? Let's talk...
Before we go any further, let's start with a bit of hair anatomy. The hair is comprised mainly of a protein called keratin. Keratin, by nature has a negative charge. Remember that, because you'll need that little tid-bit later.
The outermost layer of the hair shaft is called the cuticle, which is looks like overlapping scales. Over time, the hair cuticle is manipulated through the use of shampoo, conditioner, heat tools, chemical services and more.
Beneath the scalp, we have (among other things) little sacs that produce an oil called sebum. This oil travels down the hair shaft in an effort to protect each hair strand and the scalp.
So, you have just shampooed your hair, huh? So what exactly did you do? Shampoo usually contains a detergent that attaches itself to the oils in your hair (sebum, product build-up and other environmental nastiness). When you shampoo your hair you usually use warm water, right? Well, what that did was lift the cuticle (scales; outermost layer of the hair shaft). This means precious sebum is escaping and may result in your hair appearing and even feeling more dry.
Conditioner to the Rescue
So, do you remember the charge of the cuticle? Negative, yes the hair has a naturally negative charge. Okay wonderful! After your hair has been shampooed with warm water, the detergent has stripped your tresses of any and all oil. The positively charged conditioner attaches itself to your naturally negatively charged strand of hair like a magnet! In addition, the conditioner replenishes each strand of hair with nutrients. Remember how the cuticle was raised because of the warm water? Well, the conditioner lays it right on down! This results in hair that is softer to the touch with a wonderful shine. Think about it, it's much easier to see a reflection on a smooth surface rather than a jagged one.
Another important thing to note is that when rinsing out your conditioner, you or your stylist should use slightly cooler water. We don't want to lift those cuticles again and we want to trap in as much nutrients as possible. So, please don't be hesitant to remind your stylist to cool that water down when rinsing out your conditioner. It works out well for the both of you in the end.
By Hair Type
For all of my curly girls out there, you will definitely want to rock with extremely creamy conditioners. Our hair tends to be a bit more dry and this is because of the nature of our curves (in the hair that is). The sebum has a harder time traveling through our curvaceous strands. Look for ingredients like wheat germ oil and nut oils like shea butter or macadamia nut. My favorite right now is the Taliah Waajid Enhancing Herbal Conditioner.
Leave-in Conditioners are also great for this hair type.
For all my ladies with processed hair (color, relaxer or perm) you will benefit greatly from moisturizing shampoos. These are normally labeled as humectants and are creamy in consistency. Humectants attract water molecules, which results in more moisture for your hair. I have had very positive results from the KeraCare Humecto Cream Conditioner. My clients rave about it.
Also, if you have made the decision to color your hair, be sure to invest in shampoos and conditioners that are gentle enough to maintain the integrity of your color service. You may even be able to find a conditioner that deposits hints of color as well.
Regardless of hair type, you may also benefit from a deep conditioning treatment approximately once per month. Read the labels on your conditioner because you may find that your conditioner can be used as a deep conditioner via the application of a shower cap and a bit of heat. This enables the nutrients to absorb deeper into the structure of the hair. Remember heat lifts those cuticles. I actually prefer to put the cap on and allow the natural body heat work it's magic, but your stylists can determine which method will work best for you hair.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the importance of conditioners and you know what to look for when visiting your stylist. If those detergents in shampoos make you wonder, you can actually go without shampoo completely.
Image Credit: P&G Beauty Grooming