We all condition our hair to gain good measure with our strands: to be smoother, softer, tangle-free, and frizz-free. We’ll even turn to conditioners for preventative measures against further damage and breakage. Needless to say, the benefits of conditioning can seem endless. But during a time when we’ve been encouraged to shampoo our hair less and less, (in true Carrie Bradshaw fashion) I can’t help but wonder—are we conditioning our hair enough?
Between density, porosity, and texture, every one of us has our own unique hair type. Wavy, fine, dry. Straight, thick, silky. Fine hair, but lots of it! And on top of all that, we have to consider our styling habits, our chemical treatments, sun exposure, water filtration, diet, and all sorts of other factors that come into play when considering our hair’s state of health. It’s understandably difficult to pinpoint the right formula for hair care, let alone conditioners, but no matter what you’re working with, conditioner is not to be skimped.
While shampoos are generally meant to manage our scalp health, conditioners are supposed to be the shields for our strands. Its purpose is to help us fight all of those outside barriers. To get things started on the right foot and simplify the decision making process, we’re here to play matchmaker for your strands' conditioning game.
If your strands are fine (but you have a ton of hair) you probably want to be sure you're conditioning every other day. A primary concern with your hair type is avoiding tangles. Conditioning often is so much gentler—and therefore better—for the integrity of your hair as opposed to using a brush to pull tangles out all the time, which may lead to breakage. Instead, comb through in the shower as you apply to your ends.
When your hair is fine and there isn't too much of it to work with, the tendency is to skip conditioner altogether—but you, too can use conditioner to your advantage. Try a volumizing conditioner; they're made specifically for your hair type so they shouldn't weigh your hair down like most other conditioners will. Plump up those few strands 2-3 times a week, and just remember to keep conditioner on your ends—it doesn't belong on your scalp.
Thicker strands might need a ton of hydration, so conditioning may play a very important role in your hair's health and should be used on a daily basis. Even if you're skimping on shampooing your hair, the same rule doesn't apply to conditioner (unless your desired end game is dry, brittle ends). Whether you're a gym rat or just a firm believer in minimal shampoos, your thick mane needs to stay moisturized, so be sure to get it wet and apply conditioner every day.
Using a deep conditioner once a month may boost your daily maintenance to keep strands strong and moisturized.
Color Treated Hair
With color treated hair, we suggest using a deep conditioning treatment 1-2 times a week on top of regular conditioning to try to help rebuild cuticles from the inside out. Hair that's been colored or bleached has been stripped and its porosity has likely been heightened by bleach and/or peroxide damage (meaning, your hair absorbs moisture but can't actually retain it). A deep conditioner may keep your strands soft and smooth and will fight against treatment-induced frays and breakage. As for your daily conditioner, there's a slew of them out there that can actually support your color from getting stripped or altered by minerals (or other buildup), and we've rounded them up for you here.
Dry hair might be a result of heat styling too often, or a reaction to a change in your climate. The key word needed in your conditioner is moisturizing, and it's a word you'll want to frequent in your hair care regime. Moisturizing conditioners are going to smooth out any frailties. You can get away with conditioning every other day, but there are also other protective measures we recommend: Use a conditioning oil, cream, or leave-in spray to add extra moisture to your hair after the shower. You'll also want to do a deep treatment conditioning masque once or twice a month. Sticking with this frequency will keep your hair on the shinier side and should provide a barrier against drying out.
Conditioning may be a crucial part of our hair's overall health. When it comes to how often we condition—whether it be a leave-in spray, deep treatment, or attempt at breakage prevention—the moral of the story is more is more.
Gavazzoni Dias MF. Hair cosmetics: an overview. Int J Trichology. 2015;7(1):2-15. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.153450