What exactly is deep conditioning?
It is really just letting your hair absorb as much moisture, food and protein most especially, as possible and the goal really, is for the conditioner to deeply penetrate the hair and actually provide the nutrients the hair needs to stay healthy.
The differene between a conditioner and deep conditioner is that a conditioner is rinsed out 1-5 minutes after being applied on the hair, it also works only on the surface of the hair so on the cuticle of the hair shaft. Deep conditioner, on the other hand, is left longer on the hair and it has a longer lasting effect because its aim is to penetrate deeply past the cortex of the hair shaft.
Why does the hair need deep conditioning?
Just like conditioning, deep conditioning smoothens the cuticles and prevents hair breakage and additionally, it provides food required for the hair to grow and stay healthy. Also, having conditioned hair for a longer period of time is a major plus.
How does deep conditioning work?
First of all, when the deep conditioner is applied, there is an opposites-attract relationship going on between the hair and deep conditioner. Hair has a net negative charge (more negative charges than positives) and conditioning ingredients, homemade and ready made products have positive charges. Conditioners contain surfactants (surface active agents) so even after the hair has been rinsed, the opposites-attract relationship causes some of the conditioner ingredients to stay on the hair so they adsorb to the hair to keep the hair smooth and give it that temporary softness.
Deep conditioners have more positive charges than hair so the same rule of opposites attract works . Unlike conditioners, they contain smaller molecules that are able to penetrate the hair shaft in the time it’s left on the hair. This is why it is best to leave deep conditioners for a longer period. During this time, the active ingredients that are to be absorbed by the hair shaft are able to do their work. The smaller protein molecules are absorbed into the cortex and some of the ingredients attract moisture for the hair to absorb. Also, they contain surfactants to provide that shine, smoothness and long lasting softness.
Our hair has a pH range of 4.5 – 5.5 and it’s best to maintain this range. More acidic ingredients will caue the cuticles to contract and close up while more alkali ingredients will cause the cuticles to soften and expand; to open up. Water, for example has a pH of 7, a higher pH than hair, thus, the cuticles are softened and open. This is why it’s best to apply conditioners and deep conditioners to damp/wet hair. Deep conditioners also have a higher pH than hair so the cuticles react by softening and opening up, making it easier for the ingredients to make their way into the cortex of the hair shaft.
What do deep conditioners contain?
They contain cationic ingredients such as:
- Hydrolyzed proteins
- Behentrimonium Methosulfate
- Behentrimonium Chloride
- Cetrimonium Chloride
- Hydrolyzed keratin or soy or wheat protein
- Dicetyldimonium Chloride
Homemade cationic ingredients include:
- Lemon juice
The contain moisturising (attract moisture from the air) ingredients such as:
- Aloe vera
- Shea butter
They also contain penetrating oils such as:
- Coconut oil
- Tea tree oil
- Peppermint oil
- Lemon oil
- Sunflower oil
- Palm kernel oil
- Babbasu oil
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
- Argan oil
The mixture of the ingredients in ready made deep conditioners and homemade deep conditioners should all come to a pH range of 5-7.
Additionally, it is best to keep the temperature of the hair close to internal body temperature; 37.0 °C. This is why it is good to use heat as part of your deep conditioning treatment.
Who should deep condition?
- Really dry hair
- Damaged hair
- Bleached hair
- Dyed hair
- Tight curls
- Thick hair
- Literally anyone that wants healthy hair
Hope this helps you in your journey to healthy hair.
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