A treatment is a vital part of any healthy hair regimen no matter the hair type. Whether you are recovering from damage, trying to grow your length, or just want your hair to be the healthiest it can possibly be, taking care and time to really treat the hair pays off tenfold. But between deep conditioners, protein treatments and even Olaplex - it can get a bit overwhelming and confusing. I'm here to try and clear that up a bit for you.
The benefits deep conditioners have on the hair are nearly endless. From adding moisture to dry hair, improving texture, fighting frizz, and reducing split ends and breakage, the list can go on. This kind of treatment is ideal for any hair type, as there are so many out there now to cater to different hair sensitivities, porosities and curl types. Deep Conditioners are richer and thicker than rinse-out conditioners. I believe everyone should use a deep conditioner treatment to keep their hair healthy at least one time a week. If your hair is super fine or gets weighed down very easily, every other week might be okay. Personally, my super high, high porosity, frizz prone hair likes them every time I wash, which is about twice per week. My all-time favorite is Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask. This silicone-free jar of magic is the perfect balance of both strength and moisture and every time I use it, I notice more shine and my hair feels more hydrated. I also believe my hair is shedding a lot less since using it consistently. An awesome protein-free deep conditioner is Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment. The Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Mask is another good one and SheaMoisture has a ton of affordable deep conditioning treatment options as well. Deep conditioners on average are meant to be left on the hair anywhere between 20-30 minutes. Some people like to leave them on a little longer, and if you truly are short on time even 10-15 minutes would bring some benefit. To further enhance deep conditioning benefits, adding heat will allow the nutrients inside to penetrate inside the hair shaft to nourish hair from the inside out. An awesome and easy way to add heat that myself and many other curlies like to use is the Thermal Hair Care Hot Head.
Protein treatments are done less often than deep conditioning treatments. Most non-protein sensitive curlies can get away with doing them every month to six weeks. If your hair is truly damaged, twice a month may even be good to start out. Obviously, if your hair is protein sensitive, skip these entirely. Protein treatments can help restore most damaged hair to a healthier condition while minimizing breakage, strengthening the hair strands and enhancing the curl pattern. Please keep in mind protein treatment is a treatment and not a miracle and there are cases of super extreme cases that are past the point of repair and must be cut off. If you do any chemical service (color, relaxer, etc) to your hair at all, I believe protein treatments are ESSENTIAL to protect the integrity of the hair. Just be sure not to do them too soon after, or the color can fade quicker (check with your professional stylist). A true, hard protein treatment requires heat to help the treatment absorb into the hair strands. True protein treatments will leave the hair feeling stiff when done properly - this is normal. But because of this, they MUST be followed up with a super moisturizing conditioner. My two personal favorite hard protein treatments are the Aphogee Two Step Protein Treatment and Ouidad Deep Treatment Curl Restoration Therapy.
If you're not sure which protein treatment your hair needs, check out our guide.
Olaplex is getting so much well-deserved recognition with curlies lately. Olaplex No 1 and 2 are done in the salon, and since I'm not super familar with them, I'm going to leave it be. Olaplex No 3 is the at-home version and one I've been using regularly. I spoke to the people at Olaplex, and they did tell me people will see benefits using No 3 even if they did not get No 1 and 2 done in a salon, but ideally getting the salon treatment done first would be good. Olaplex is NOT a moisturizing deep conditioner or a protein treatment. Olaplex does contain some protein, but not enough to be considered a hard protein treatment. It is a bond builder meant to "relink the broken disulfide bonds caused by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage to the hair.", according to the brand's site, olaplex.com. The main goals of Olaplex No 3 is to strengthen the structure of the hair and improve the overall look and feel. Olaplex No 3 is meant to be left on a minimum of 10 minutes, but the longer the better. Once the hair is dry, Olaplex no longer works so there is no need to add additional heat to the product. Olaplex No 3 is applied to damp hair BEFORE cleansing and conditioning. Almost like a "pre-poo." You should use your favorite shampoo or co-wash and conditioner after using Olaplex. A lot of curlies notice increase curl definition, shine and softness once they do an Olaplex treatment. For my personal results and how I like to use it, check out my review here.
To learn more about Olaplex, here are the pros and cons of Olaplex according to a stylist.
Like anything else when starting your natural curly journey or trying new things, it truly is about trial and error. What I love, you may hate and vice versa. No two heads of hair are alike, even if curl patterns may look similar and not everything works for everyone, so please keep that in mind.
I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be a professional hair stylist. I talk about what I learned myself researching, reading and talking to other curlies as well as industry professionals. Please always remember to be kind.