Do You Need a Conditioner? Not every hair type requires it but most of us do. Conditioner adds moisture to the hair – some of the product may even sneak under the protective cuticle layers to infuse the inner strands with a temporary surge of moisture. It lubricates strands, helping to reduce static electricity, keeping hair from getting dry and brittle, and making locks easy to brush.
Conditioner acts as a temporary spackle that fills in chinks in the cuticle layer. This keeps strands from tangling around each other as you brush and style your hair. Conditioner also forms a protective seal around hair, which forces the cuticle to lie flat – this flat surface reflects light and makes hair shine.
Lubricants and emollients are used in conditioners. They attract and lock in moisture. These can include vegetable oils, mineral oil, plant oil, and vitamin B derivatives. Proteins are popular conditioner ingredients and can include collagen, elastin, and amino acids, which are small, natural building blocks of hair that penetrate the cuticle to strengthen strands. Some conditioners contain shine enhancers such as dimethicone, which helps to smooth cuticles.
Choosing an after-shampoo conditioner
Because there is a wide variety of hair types and hair needs, there is also a wide variety of after-shampoo conditioner formulas. Sometimes called rinse-out, regular, everyday, or instant conditioners, these products are the ones you apply after every shampoo, leave on for 1 to 5 minutes, then rinse out.
Detanglers are very light conditioners. Their main purpose is to smooth strands and keep hair from tangling. Because they are not moisturerich, detanglers are best for fine hair, oily hair, or for use whenever you don’t need a lot of moisturizing but still want hair to behave.
Body-building conditioners are great for fine, lank hair. Because they are so light, they don’t add a lot of moisture. Instead they detangle hair and leave strands looking firmer, thicker, and fuller. Balancing or normal hair conditioners are middle-of-the-road conditioners that are not too light, not too heavy. This makes them ideal for normal hair. For those of you who can’t give up your blow dryers, look for thermal formulas.
Low pH products cause the hair’s cuticle layer to clamp tightly shut, which protects the inner strand from moisture loss and creates terriftc shine. For the glossiest results, look for a conditioner with a pH of 3.0 to 3.5.
Conditioners for dry or damaged hair
Conditioners for dry or chemically treated hair are heavier than those for normal hair and take into account the special needs of moisture-starved dry or chemically treated hair. These conditioners leave a bit of residue to lubricate and protect strands.
Conditioners for damaged hair use high concentrations of lubricants and proteins to nurture hair that is fragile, frayed, ultra-dry, or injured by color, permanent waves, or relaxing services. Damaged hair formulas leave some protective residue on strands to keep locks moisturized and insulated from further damage.
Spray-on conditioners are great for those of you with dry, damaged, wavy, curly or frizzprone hair. Just mist on craggy looking spots whenever needed.