When I first started learning to take care of my natural curls, deep conditioning was one of the processes I didn’t really understand. There were so many ways to get it wrong and for a long time into my natural hair journey, I did.
Deep conditioning is the application of a thick and restorative formula to your hair, using heat to encourage the penetration of the formula into your hair. The goal is to repair dry, damaged hair by rebuilding the hair’s molecular layer and replenishing moisture, encouraging thicker, softer and revitalised hair.
Do you want to reach your hair goal by the end of the year? If you don’t add deep conditioning to your regimen on a regular basis, then you probably won’t, unless you’re one of the luckies* who can do just about anything to their hair and it still grows. So here’s five things to consider for effective deep conditioning.
Application of a Deep Conditioner
Section your hair so that you can concentrate on a batch at a time. Your washed hair should be damp and ready for the deep conditioning formula. First, apply the treatment formula from ends and then to the roots. The ends of your hair are much more in need of reconstructive conditioning so that’s why we start with them. Tie up each section once application is complete. When your whole head is done, ensure your ends are exposed to the steam, putting on a plastic cap which is the only thing that should come between the ends and the steam.
You want to ensure the formula you apply for the deep conditioning process is a restorative one. I used to think carrier oils could be substituted for deep conditioning but this is an Oil Treatment which plays a totally different but essential job to your hair care - another blog post coming up. A deep conditioner should have moisturising low molecular fatty acids and hydrolysed protein ingredients that will treat damaged cuticles, improve the condition of your hair and provide nutrients. The richness of the deep treatment usually means it can be used no more than once a week. Homemade recipes include very ripe avocados, blended with honey and castor oil - I found this quite effective.
The condition of your hair
Determining how thirsty your hair is before you deep condition is an absolute must. I’ve been known to ignore my hair and dive into the process which led to mistakes. If your hair is extra dry and weak, you should use a complex formula and spend more time under the steamer.
Duration of a deep conditioning treatment
A deep treatment is advisable from as low as five minutes to about thirty minutes. If your hair isn’t too dry, you need not stay under the steamer for as long as say forty minutes - fifteen to twenty minutes will do. Some naturally curly ladies who like very soft hair opt for a longer period of deep conditioning. Your hair should be washed clean before applying the deep conditioner so that nothing gets in the way of the nutrients.
Steam or Heat
You may think all heat is damaging to your natural curls but steam is required in your natural hair care regimen. Steam can be obtained from a store-bought hair steamer. They usually need topping up with water. When the steamer is plugged into electricity, the water boils and produces the steam for your hair. Alternatively, you can cover your hair with a plastic cap - the flimsy light ones - and then tie it up with a towel. This will usually produce some body heat which in turn, steams your hair.
Ever since I made deep conditioning a regular part of my regimen, my hair has become shiny, less prone to breakage and bouncy.
Hope this helps.
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