Benefits of Deep Conditioning Natural Hair
If someone were to ask me what the benefits of deep conditioning natural hair were in my first year as a naturalista, I’d have responded with a guilty stare. I say that because I took it for granted.
I always thought that it was the one step in my regimen that was absolutely optional. How wrong could I have gotten? I found it messy and had no patience for it.
Funny enough, as soon as I started taking it seriously, I experienced a visible change in my hair growth and manageability.
Why you should deep condition often
The benefits of deep conditioners are derived from the contents of the product. Some are geared toward moisture and others are geared towards strength.
- maintain health and strength of hair (less breakage from protein)
- moisturise the hair (humectants enter the cuticle with heat)
- soften the hair (covers surface creating a smooth silhouette)
- repair dry damaged hair (filling in gaps and heavy duty conditioning agents)
- reduces frizz
Protein vs. Moisture
Deep conditioners will either be for moisture or for strength (protein). Hair fibres are made of about 70% keratin (protein) and about 15% water.
Afro textured natural hair is naturally dry and could always use moisture but it can definitely use a protein boost especially if you manipulate it a lot. It is advisable to alternate our deep conditioners in a 4:1 ratio (moisture:protein); which translates to one protein treatment a month.
When in doubt, go with moisture because moisture overload is easier to correct than protein overload.
What to use
- Well, you can use either a store-bought deep conditioner (deep treatment, hair masque, replenishing conditioner, hair mayonnaise, intense conditioner). Try to aim for those that have some humectants (glycerine) and penetrating oils (coconut, avocado, olive).
- Better still, use a homemade deep conditioner by adding any goodies to your regular wash out conditioner (honey, coconut oil, cocnut milk, olive oil, glycerine, palm oil, bananas, avocado, eggs, mayonnaise and lots more)… not all at the same time though!
How, how often and how long to deep condition
This is where the big debates start. Some people argue that it is not necessary to deep condition for more than 5 or 15 or 30 minutes… But we know of people who swear by overnight deep conditioning.
I say experiment and find what works for your hair. I personally deep condition every wash day (usually weekly) and will do it for about an hour.
- Start with freshly cleansed (shampoo, co-wash or mud-wash), conditioned and detangled hair. Mine is in sections at this point.
- Working one section at a time, generously paint the deep conditioner on the ends and roots of your hair first, then into the rest of the hair shaft.
- Twist up section and complete the rest.
- Cover your hair with a plastic cap and let it generate heat from your body. Either sit under a hooded dryer or cover with a towel and go about your business. I keep mine on for 45 minutes to an hour. The heat gently lifts the cuticles to allow the goodies inside the follicle.
- Rinse it out with cool water to shut the cuticles that had previously been opened by the heat.
- Cover your hair with an old t-shirt to drain most of the water and proceed to seal in the moisture and style.
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