In an ideal world a regular shampoo would be sufficient to guarantee a glossy head of hair. Unfortunately very few people are able to wash their hair and let the matter rest at that; most need some sort of help just to overcome the effects of modern living, not to mention the occasional problem that needs treatment.
Glossy hair has cuticle scales that lie flat and neatly overlap, thus reflecting the light. Perming and colouring, rough handling, and heat styling all conspire to lift the cuticles, allowing moisture to be lost from the cortex and making hair dry, lack luster, and prone to tangle. Severely damaged cuticles break off completely, which means that the hair gets thinner and eventually breaks.
To put the shine back into hair and restore its natural lustre it may be necessary to use a specific conditioner that meets the hair’s requirements. Conditioners, with the exception of hot oils, should be applied to freshly shampooed hair that has been blotted dry with a towel to remove excess moisture.
Here is a guide to the vast array of products available to get the hair in excellent condition.
Choosing a conditioner
Today there is a large, and sometimes confusing, number of conditioners on the market. The following list describes those which are widely available.
Basic conditioners coat the hair with a fine film, temporarily smoothing down the cuticle and making hair glossier and easier to manage. Leave for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
Conditioning sprays are used prior to styling and form a protective barrier against the harmful effects of heat. They are also good for reducing static electricity on flyaway hair.
Hot oils (E.F.A.’s) give an intensive, deep nourishing treatment. If you have dry hair (esp. if you have chemicals on your hair color-perm-relaxer} you need to add oil to your hair. The scalp produces a natural oil called sebum. EFA’s are the closest thing to natural sebum (sebum contain EFA’S). EFA’s can take very dry and porous hair and transform it into soft pliable hair. To use, place the unopened tube in a cup of hot tap water and leave to heat for one minute. Next, wet the hair and towel it dry before twisting off the tube top. Massage the hot oil evenly into the scalp and throughout the hair for one to three minutes. For a more intensive treatment cover the head with a shower cap. To finish, rinse the hair and shampoo.
Intensive Conditioners help hair to retain its natural moisture balance, replenishing it where necessary. Use this type if the hair is split, dry, frizzy, or difficult to manage. Distribute the conditioner evenly through the hair and then allow it to penetrate for two to five minutes, or longer if required. Rinse very thoroughly with lots of fresh water, lifting your hair from the scalp to ensure any residue is washed away.
Leave-in conditioners are designed to help retain moisture, reduce static, and add shine. They are especially good for fine hair as they avoid conditioner overload, which can cause lankness. Convenient and easy-to-use, they also provide a protective barrier against the effects of heat styling. Apply after shampooing but don’t rinse off. These products are ideal for daily use. Leave-in conditioners that come in mousse formulations can be applied straight on to the hair from the container. Use a styling comb with widely spaced teeth to distribute the conditioner from the roots to the ends of the hair. Do not rinse out, simply style and dry the hair as desired.
Restructurants penetrate the cortex, helping to repair and strengthen the inner part of damaged hair. They are helpful if the hair is lank and limp and has lost its natural elasticity as a result of chemical treatments or physical damage.
Split end treatments/serums condition damaged hair. The best course of action for split ends is to have the ends trimmed, but this does not always solve the whole problem because the hair tends to break off and split at different levels. As an intermediate solution, split ends can be temporarily sealed using these specialist conditioners. They should be worked into the ends of newly washed hair so that they surround the hair with a microscopic film that leaves the hair shaft smoother.
Colour/perm conditioners are designed for chemically treated hair. After colour products add a protective film around porous areas of the hair, preventing colour loss. After-perm products help stabilize the hair, thus keeping the bounce in the curl.
Long hair needs a regular conditioning regime to keep it healthy and shiny.
- Blot hair to remove excess moisture before applying conditioner.
- Gently massage conditioner into the hair, or use a wide-toothed comb to distribute it evenly.
- Leave the conditioner on the hair for the time specified – check whether it is a “leave in” or “rinse out” variety.
- If necessary, rinse thoroughly.
- Treat wet hair with care; it is much more sensitive and vulnerable than when it is dry.
- Avoid rubbing, pulling, or stretching wet hair.
Natural hair conditioning Recipes
If you’re out of conditioner, or you want to avoid the chemicals in commercial conditioners, try using natural conditioners like mayonnaise or olive oil.
1/2 cup Mayonaisse
Comb the mayonaisse through your damp hair, then wrap your head in a towel, let it penetrate for 20 minutes. Shampoo. Rinse out carefully in cool water. If you use hot, the mayonnaise will set in your hair and will be very difficult to get out.
Special Note: Make sure the mayonaisse is real mayo and NOT salad dressing. It will dry your hair out.
- Olive oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup boiling water
Place olive oil and boiling water into large glass bottle or jar with a lid. You may need to wrap a towel around the bottle to avoid burning yourself. Shake very well until oil is emulsified. Massage into hair, taking care not to burn your head. Put a shower cap or plastic bag over your hair and wrap your head in a hot towel that has been soaked in hot water then wrung out. Leave mixture on your hair for 1/2 hour, then shampoo as usual.