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Written by Susan Walker of Earthtone Naturals via CurlyNikki

Deep conditioning is an extremely important practice for many naturals and as a result there are various ways women deep condition their hair. But what is the proper way to deep condition the hair? Why are some methods more important than others and what is a complete waste of time. The purpose of this article is to sift through all of the information to give the real truth about this process, and how to get the results your looking for.

Why condition?

What you’re trying to accomplish with conditioning is to restore or maintain the elasticity of the hair so that it’s better able to withstand combing, brushing, cleansing etc. without too much damage. Conditioning can also improve the appearance of the hair causing it to appear healthy.

Conditioning in general should accomplish the following:

  • Ease combing (both wet and dry)
  • Increase softness to the hair
  • Minimize flyaways
  • Reduce the porosity of the hair
  • Improve the manageability of the hair

For the most part, a regular moisturizing or hydrating conditioner is able to give these results. However if you hair is damaged then deep conditioning should be a part of your regimen. Damaged is any condition where one or more of the hair structures – the cuticle, cortex, medulla, etc. – are physically or chemically altered so much that they are unable to return to their original state. Cuticles can become cracked and frayed, the hair shaft can become cracked damaging the cortex and medulla, and the hair fiber can be exposed and unprotected in extreme cases. Common causes of hair damage include that from regular hair care practices such as mechanical manipulation, to extreme processes like chemical altering. Once hair has been damaged there is no way to repair it. The only way to rid the hair of damaged areas is by cutting. What products actually do is temporarily improve the state of the hair to make it look, feel and perform like hair that is healthier, as well as prevent future damage.

Is your hair damaged?

Damaged hair typically has the following characteristics:

  • Loss of elasticity
  • Breaking hair
  • Dull-looking hair
  • Dry and brittle
  • Highly porous
  • Split ends or mid-shaft splits
  • A lot of tangling

What type of conditioner do you need?

The type of conditioner you use for your hair will depend on your hair texture and the state of your hair.

For example, fine limp hair will need a conditioner that can increase body and thick, dry hair will require a conditioner that can be used for softness and moisture. Reconstructors containing a lot of protein should be used on hair that is fine, limp and damaged.

Moisturizing deep conditioners with a lot of oils, emollients and moisturizers should be used on hair that requires softening or is very dry. If your focus is on real deep conditioning then the type of product you use will be important, as well as how that conditioner is used on the hair.

In order to get the best results enough of the conditioning agents must bind to the hair and sufficient amounts of active ingredients must penetrate into the cortex of the hair.

This occurs under one or a combination of the following situations:

  • High pH
  • Heat
  • Time
PHOTO COURTESY OF THEMANEOBJECTIVE
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