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When it comes to taking care of natural hair, one thing is for sure—hydration is key. Curly hair and hair that has been relaxed or colored tends to be much drier than other hair types, so rather than just going for the average shampoo and conditioner routine, natural hair needs extra moisture to help keep it soft, strong and hydrated. Deep conditioners are often the best method for defining curls and nourishing chemically treated hair.
While cleansing your hair is important, conditioning is number one on the priority list for natural hair care. Conditioner can be used in the shower to keep the hair smooth and manageable after shampooing, it can be used as a co-wash to replace shampoo that strips hair of its natural oils or use it can be used as a leave-in conditioner to treat the hair all day long.
Here, find the best deep conditioners for natural hair.
Best Overall: Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask
Whether you color your hair, heat style it or relax it, a deep conditioner can be a huge help in repairing damaged hair. The Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask was formulated for exactly that. The mask has B-vitamins to fight the damage caused by chemical processes and heat. Rosehip oil adds fatty acids to prevent frizz and add moisture. Algae extracts help to strengthen the hair with antioxidants and vitamins and almond oil gives extra shine to dull hair.
Apply it in the shower and leave it on for five to ten minutes or give your hair an even deeper treatment by wrapping it in plastic or a shower cap and letting it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing it out.
“My mixed ethnic hair is instantly more manageable, detangles effortlessly, is moisturized (but not oily or sticky),” one reviewer said. “I do notice a tremendous change in terms of strength and elasticity. I kept looking for broken strands in my comb and around/in the sink...after three uses, there are none.”
Best Budget: Cantu Argan Oil Leave in Conditioning Repair Cream
Since curly hair needs so many products to help keep it hydrated and styled—from co-washes to curling gels—it’s a relief when one of the best products is so affordable. Cantu Argan Oil Leave in Conditioning Repair Cream is a leave-in deep conditioner that helps your hair long after you’re out of the shower.
This product is filled with nourishing argan oil to drench the hair in moisture while protecting it from damage. It’s formulated for hair that’s been over styled and heat damaged. The argan oil helps give hair its elasticity back so it won’t break as easily.
Best for Transitioning: SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque
The transition from relaxed hair to going natural can be a process. Keeping your hair strong is important to ensure your curls are growing in and staying healthy. The SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque is formulated to do just that. The shea butter hydrates the hair and scalp to restore it to its natural balance while the sea kelp repairs damage as the hair is mid-transition. And argan oil helps keep the hair shiny and smooth.
One reviewer with 4C curls said that despite the fact that she shampoos four times a week (typically a natural hair no-no), this mask has helped give back those nutrients that shampooing strips out of her hair.
Best for Natural Hair: Insta Natural Keratin Complex Hair Mask
To keep natural hair shiny and curls looking defined, a deep conditioning mask that can protect and nourish is so important. The Insta Natural Keratin Complex Hair Mask is full of hydrating oils like argan, jojoba and coconut to help feed the hair the ingredients it needs without added sulfates or synthetic dyes. The oils help to coat the hair to keep it shiny, smooth, and frizz-free. The brand’s Keratin Complex also works to strengthen hair from the inside to keep it strong.
“I've used just about every deep conditioner for my 4B/4C hair, but I really noticed the difference the first time I tried it. I'm transitioning because relaxers just won't take on my hair anymore, but it's okay because this mask helped to make my comb out a lot easier,” one reviewer said, “And one of the strands that I combed out was super strong and elastic.”
Best for Relaxed Hair: ORS Hair Mayonnaise
Relaxed hair can tend to be brittle and prone to more breakage since it’s undergone more chemical processes than natural hair. The ORS Hair Mayonnaise was created to help build up the hair’s strength while adding moisture and elasticity. Egg protein and olive oil mixed with botanical extracts and herbs helps to revive hair and give it extra moisture.
Essential oils, amino acids and vitamin B5 work to improve damaged hair by encouraging elasticity and preventing spilt ends. Apply it in the shower and comb it through evenly. Then cover it up with a shower cap and let it sit for about fifteen minutes to take full effect.
Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask
This classic drugstore brand created an affordable and effective deep conditioning mask to help brittle hair get back to its healthiest state by working to target each part of the hair to give it maximum moisture. The Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask has olive oil in it that gets down to the core of each strand to moisturize from inside. Meadowfoam helps to hydrate the middle layer of the strands. And sweet almond oil wraps around the hair from the outside to nourish it.
This deep conditioner is also formulated to soothe the scalp, ease itchiness caused by dandruff and treat symptoms of scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
Reviewers say that it works well for colored hair as well, keeping it vibrant and healthy.
Best Organic: Original Sprout Deep Conditioner
To add the most moisture into your hair, it’s important to make sure that all those ingredients you’re adding into it are good for you. That’s why an organic deep conditioner can be a great addition to your routine. This non-toxic, all natural and vegan formula was created for families to use as a worry-free conditioner option.
The cucumber and rosemary extracts help to keep hair manageable while detoxifying it, while the kukui nut oil gives the hair and scalp moisture.