Deep conditioning is a vital component of healthy hair. Straight-haired women may be able to get away with omitting this step, but we curlies know it is equally as important as cleansing. Curly hair is fragile because it is susceptible to being dry, so imparting moisture is essential. Conditioner is only half the story when it comes to properly conditioning our hair. Don’t forget about the products. They are essential, but how they are used can affect how you moisturize your curls.

What is deep conditioning?

Deep conditioning is the act of conditioning one’s hair on a deeper level with longer-lasting effects than just using a daily conditioner that conditions the hair on a superficial level. Deep conditioning actually penetrates the hair, nourishing the cuticle layer and penetrating to the cortex. However, as curly girls we know how important conditioning is, so most of us deep condition after every wash.

Deep conditioning usually involves a product called a deep conditioner or a masque. This conditioner has the ingredients penetrate into the hair shaft, because of their low molecular weight. Many contain natural penetrating oils, proteins, amino acids, and other ingredients that temporarily repair damaged strands. They can be used on the hair in varying time lengths as one factor and with the application of heat. According to JC from The Natural Haven, both help in increasing the absorption rate of the conditioner from 5% up to 10%. That is double the absorption rate! The length of time for letting a deep conditioner sit varies from 15 minutes to overnight, depending on the product instructions and personal preference. The heat application can be as simple as covering your hair with a plastic processing cap and wrapping a hot towel around your head to trap the heat.

Applying heat and leaving the products in for a period of time help in increasing the absorption rate of the conditioner from 5% up to 10%.

Read more: Top 20 Deep Conditioners

What happens if you don't?

The foundation of all fabulous hairstyles is healthy hair, technique and products follow. If you are struggling to achieve polished styles, it may be because your hair needs more or better moisture reinforcements from regular deep conditioning treatments. This will help your hair to restore moisture and remedy a myriad of problems like maintaining (not creating) curl definition, unruly ends, split ends, and lackluster strands. When struggling to achieve certain styles, it is most beneficial to first address your hair care regimen.

6 tools to make deep conditioning work better

If you are ready to take the next step in deep conditioning, here are popular tools that women love for at-home salon quality treatment.

Hot Head Deep Conditioning Thermal Heat Cap, $24

This microwavable deep conditioning cap was created by a professional hairstylist. Handmade and created to enhance deep conditioners, it is filled with flaxseeds, which generate heat when warmed in for a minute in the microwave. This cap will produce up to 30-45 min. of gentle steam. Place over your hair covered in a plastic cap. I have one and love it as an easy way to get optimal deep conditioning benefits without cords and bulky equipment.

Hair Therapy Wrap, $29

A popular deep treatment enhancer, this fast and easy system uses gel packs to help it stay warm for up to 20 min. after heating up for 45 sec. in the microwave. Placed over hair and a shower cap, this portable heat cap does not use wires or require electricity. I have had one of these as well and it has worked well. It was my first introduction to non-electric heating.

Hooded Dryer

Hooded dryer, bonnet dryer, and soft bonnet are all terms for diffusing hairdryers that encase the head, with the hooded dryer often used at salons to deep condition and set the hair by expediting drying time. They are popular for relaxed women and many naturals and curlies are also using them for rollers sets and deep conditioning treatments. They are still quite effective for increasing the absorption for deep conditioning treatments, so if you already have one no need to find a new way to deep treat your tresses. I honestly do not know one woman who has never owned one. They are popular and inexpensive, and since we have learned that intensive heat is not necessary there is no need to purchase an expensive one.

RELATED: Hooded Dryers, Worth the Investment?

Huetiful Steamer, $117

Naturals and curlies love hair steamers and there has been one on the market that has been on everyone’s wish list for years! The Huetiful steamer (which looks like a traditional hooded dryer) boasts of restoring moisture to hair 5x better than a deep conditioning product. It was designed specifically for coily, curly, and wavy hair and will amp your deep conditioner to give optimal results. It also couples as a facial steamer so this product has dual benefits.

Q-Redew, $70

As I said above, curlies and naturals loves steamers because they are natural ways to revive our curls, waves and coils without products and harm. If portability is your game, then you will love the Q-Redew. This hand-held hair steamer uses steam as a mist to enhance your hair’s moisture and revives it but it is also great for adding heat to your deep conditioner. You can easily just apply to sections of your hair allowing the steam to naturally warm your conditioner before either rinsing or adding a plastic cap to trap the heat even longer.

Thermal Spa Professional Conditioning Heat Cap

The heat cap is a great alternative to the hooded dryer. It is soft, portable, and provides a solid dosage of heat without worry of losing the heat like ones that require warming in a microwave. The cap preheats in less than 2 min. and it has three heat settings and reasonably priced.

Do you use tools to intensify your deep conditioning treatment?