Gorgeous Hair: Getting the Most from Conditioners
How can you keep that high shine you get from hours at the salon? Conditioning your hair regularly will improve its strength, shine and keep hair damage to a minimum, though it can't actually repair damaged hair. "Conditioners smooth the cuticles, reduce static electricity, protect against UV damage and enhance overall appearance," says Dr. D'Anne Kleinsmith, an award-winning dermatologist.
Conditioners also help keep the hair's cortex hydrated. "Conditioning improves the moisture content of the hair by improving the weatherproofing of the cuticle," explains John Gray, author of The World of Hair.
Your hair's length, the amount of chemical processing it endures and the frequency with which you use hot styling tools are all factors to consider in your conditioning regimen. "Ask yourself what kind of hair you have," suggests celebrity stylist Steve Lococo. "Volume conditioners have ingredients that will plump up the hair, usually with grapefruit or some type of citric ingredient. Smoothing conditioners have a tendency to have more oils or lanolin to help coat the hair shaft."
Thin hair typically cannot support a high level of conditioning ingredients. To prevent weighing down delicate tresses, consider conditioning just the middle and ends, where your hair is most susceptible to damage. A light volumising conditioner will moisturise your hair and provide thermal protection for blow-dryer use. If your hair is extremely fine, you may want to replace a basic conditioner with a leave-in conditioning spray, which boasts a lighter formulation and will help strengthen the hair shaft.
The right conditioner is a fundamental component of an effective hair care regimen if you have thick, wild tresses. "Unlike fine hair, hair that’s thick can support a lot of conditioning ingredients," explains leading hair care research scientist Steve Shiel. "I would recommend more intensive conditioning products. Conditioning masks can also help to tame unruly hair." Another option is a detangling night treatment, which can detangle and repair hair while you sleep.
“Condition, condition, condition” is the mantra for curly tresses. Hair experts suggest you condition your locks every time you shampoo. On the days you don't shampoo, run a conditioner through your corkscrews if they’ve gotten bulky and unkempt to help them relax and detangle easily. Rinse your scalp thoroughly but leave a trace of conditioner in your strands.
To avoid dehydration and frizz, use a deep-conditioning mask every two weeks. Maximise the results by applying the mask, then covering your hair with a shower cap or plastic wrap and running the heat of a blow dryer a 5 cm or so above your head for five to ten minutes. If your hair is extremely dehydrated, use a basic conditioner to detangle, followed by a leave-in conditioner to sustain moisture.
Coloured and Highlighted Hair
Colouring your hair can remove the lipid layer on the surface of each cuticle, depleting your hair's natural waterproofing qualities. And since a basic conditioner is formulated to deposit on waterproof hair, it becomes ineffective on color-processed tresses. Conditioners specifically made for coloured hair contain different polymers designed to work on a non-waterproof surface.
Conditioning Tips for All Hair Types
Using your fingers almost like a comb, apply the product from the midsections of your hair down toward the ends. "You should concentrate on these areas, as they are the most damaged parts of your hair," explains Shiel. "When you rinse your hair, enough of the product will then deposit on the parts of your hair closest to your scalp."
Bonnie Steele is a freelance writer and author of a romantic guidebook.