Photo of :@kaylaniquiocho
Curly hair without deep conditioner is like peanut butter without jelly. Fries without ketchup. Waffles without syrup. They need each other, but it’s not quite that simple.
There are a ton of different types of deep conditioners, and there are a ton of different types of curly hair. It’s definitely possible to deep condition in a way that is “wrong” — or, at least, that doesn’t maximize the potential benefits of deep conditioning.
Here are a few of the mistakes you might be making with your deep conditioner, because you and your hair deserves the best!
You’re using the wrong product for your hair type.
You already know your curl type, right?! If you have a looser, thinner hair texture (type 2 and 3a), you should use a deep conditioner that’s on the lighter side. Conversely, if you have tighter coils (type 3b and above), a heavier deep conditioner may be more effective for your curls.
It’s not just about curl type, though. You should also consider whether your hair is high or low porosity, whether it’s chemically treated, and whether it has any brittleness or damage. Every deep conditioner is formulated to nourish your hair in a specific way, so you’ll need to figure out what your hair likes to find the perfect one for you.
For example, most deep conditioners fall into two categories: protein or moisturizing. Protein deep conditioners contain hydrolyzed protein, and they rebuild and strengthen your hair strands. These deep conditioners don’t need to be used very often — there is such a thing as too much protein — but they’re a vital part of the hair routine for damaged curls. Moisturizing deep conditioners, on the other hand, intensely condition the hair, so they’re great for combating dryness and keeping your hair generally healthy.
Tip: Try samples of deep conditioner before you commit to a whole jar. Most natural hair companies offer deep conditioners in the form of a single-use packet for a couple bucks.
You’re not leaving it on for the right amount of time.
Every deep conditioner includes instructions for how long to leave it on your hair, and it’s important to follow them. Some formulas only need to sit on your hair for 5 minutes to be effective. Others need to stay on for 15 to 30 minutes.
One common assumption is that the longer you leave the deep conditioner on your hair, the more effective it’ll be. But in fact, the opposite can be true! These products are typically a lot heavier than your everyday products; they’re not designed to sit on the hair for a prolonged period of time. Avoid leaving a deep conditioner in your hair overnight or for longer than the package recommends, as this can result in over-conditioned hair and/or buildup.
You don’t deep condition often enough.
Aim to deep condition regularly rather than for a super long time each time. For many hair types, deep conditioning weekly is just right — not so often that it weighs down your hair, but often enough to replenish your hair and avoid damage.
However, depending on your hair type, you may want to deep condition more or less often. If your hair is extremely dry and damaged, for example, you can deep condition twice a week until your hair is back on track. Other curlies may only need to deep condition twice a month.
You’re not using enough product.
This is not the time to be shy or conservative with the amount of product that you use! Apply the deep conditioner generously so that each and every strand is coated with product. Focus on your ends, since they’re often the most fragile and damage-prone part of the hair.
If you’re worried about running out of product because your deep conditioner costs a million dollars, consider that cheap deep conditioners often contain many of the exact same ingredients as high-end ones, so there may be a less expensive alternative to your fave product. Compare ingredient lists to see if you can save some money or make your own.
You’re not adding heat.
If you have low porosity hair, and you’re not using heat with your deep conditioner, you are seriously missing out! Low porosity hair is more resistant to absorbing moisture, so products tend to sit on top of the hair without fully penetrating and doing their job. Heat opens up the hair cuticle so the moisture can get in. You can add heat by using a steamer, Hot head, or a hooded hair dryer, or you can simply warm up your deep conditioner a bit before you apply it.
You use deep conditioner before shampooing.
Always apply deep conditioner after you shampoo, not before. Shampoo cleanses and (in some cases) strips the hair of moisture, so it basically undoes all of the moisturizing power of the deep conditioner. On the other hand, deep conditioner restores moisture and rebalances your hair after shampooing.
If you deep condition your hair and then shampoo it afterward, that’s technically a “pre-poo” treatment. Pre-pooing is great for your hair, but it doesn’t count towards your regular deep conditioning routine!
What deep conditioner mistakes have you made?!