Conditioning your curly hair

You should definitely deep condition your hair over the winter months.

Cold weather can be a mixed blessing for curly hair. Frizz-causing humidity disappears. But the frosty cold winter air coupled with the blast of indoor heating can cause dry, frazzled locks.

That’s why stylists say deep conditioning is a must for curlyheads during the winter months.

‘Right now, you should be slathering on the deep conditioner if you have curly hair,’ says Richard Marin, spokesman for Salon Selectives, who has worked on the heads of such celebrities as Britney Spears and Jennifer Aniston as his clients. ‘Summer and winter are the harshest periods on the hair, especially curly hair.’

Deep conditioners generally differ from everyday conditioners in consistency and application.

Deep conditioners tend to be thicker, sticking to the hair rather than dripping off. They often contain more oils and lanolin. They may use words like ‘mask’ or ‘treatment.’ ‘Look for products that say ‘moisturizing,” Marin says.

While an everyday conditioner can be rinsed out immediately, most deep conditioners should stay on the hair longer — sometimes as long as half an hour. ‘You should keep it on the hair five to 10 minutes, at least,’ says Cheri McMaster, senior scientist for Pantene.

Many deep conditioning products are designed to be used with heat, which helps the conditioner penetrate the hair shaft.

Rowena Cutruzzola, national technical educational director for Toni & Guy, recommends putting a hot turban over the deep conditioner. She takes a face towel, runs it under a faucet, wrings it out and sticks it in the microwave for a minute. After making sure it’s not too hot, she wraps the towel around the head.

‘The heat expands the hair shaft and allows the conditioner to soak into it,’ Cutrozzola says. ‘As it cools, it seals it. The combination of the product and the heat produce instant results on curly hair.’

At a salon, a client will be placed under a hair dryer. Some stylists will use a flat iron to get the conditioner into the hair.

Because a deep conditioner can flatten out hair, Marin suggests using it before shampooing.

‘ I go with the basic theory that you should leave it on 10 minutes while in the shower or apply on dry hair before you shower and put a very warm towel on hair,’ Marin says.

You don’t need to use a deep conditioner every day, McMaster stresses.

‘Depending on the dryness and coarseness of the curly hair, some women may only need to do it once a month,’ McMaster says. ‘For others, they may need to do it every week.’

Michelle Breyer

Michelle Breyer

As co-founder of, a website for curly hair she began with her business partner and friend, Gretchen Heber, Michelle Breyer helped create the leading community and resource for people with curly hair. Frustrated by the lack of information on curly hair and the limited products available in the marketplace, the duo launched the site in 1998 with the help of a 14-year-old web designer. When Procter & Gamble called three years later to advertise to the® audience, Breyer knew they had indeed created a force in the industry, providing helpful information and unparalleled expertise for what was then considered a niche market.

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