Everything You Need To Know About Deep Conditioning

This guide focuses on everything you ever wanted to know about deep conditioning. You’ll find out the answers to the following questions:

  • How often you should deep condition your curls?
  • Why deep conditioning is important?
  • What happens when you deep condition?
  • What to look out for in a conditioner ingredient list?

When Do You Know You Need A Deep Condition?

Deep conditioning should be as often as needed e.g. 2-3 times per week, in the absence of any other moisturizing routine for your hair.

The Signs That Your Hair May Be In Need Of Deep Conditioning?

  • Hair breakage 
  • Dull lacklustre curls  
  • Dry hair
  • Split ends
  • Frizzy curls
  • Low porosity curls
  • High porosity curls
  • Flyway hair
  • Coloured hair
  • Overly moisturized curls
  • Chemically processed curls

If the look and feel of your curls do not fall into any of the categories above, deep conditioning could still be a beneficial part of your regular hair care routine to maintain healthy curls.

What Happens To Your Curls When You Deep Condition? 

Deep conditioning can be an essential part of any curly girls hair care routine. It’ll provide much-needed moisture to the hair shaft, lift the cuticle layer and allow conditioning properties into the hair shaft. 

The importance of finding products with quality ingredients and formulations cannot be overstated, the product ingredients will:

  • Temporarily repair split ends
  • Fill in keratin gaps 
  • Reinforce a weakened hair shaft
  • Strengthen the hair follicle
  • Decrease friction
  • Detangle the hair
  • Minimize frizz
  • Improve combability 

The Science

Luxju Hair Structure - Hair Shaft

What Does A Conditioner Do?

1. Dependent on the ingredients in the conditioner will be the determinant of how the conditioner performs on the hair. It’s important to use products with ingredients that cater to the needs of your curls.

2. Some oils are able to enter the hair shaft into the cortex through the cuticle layers.

3. If the conditioner contains keratin or protein it will fill in any gaps in the cuticle layer strengthening the hair follicle.

4. A deep conditioner theoretically is a more potent conditioner. To deep condition, the conditioner should be placed on the hair for 30 – 45 mins.

5. As an alternative when the conditioner is on the hair, placing a warm towel, heated dryer or steamer will open the cuticle layer. It encourages blood flow to the scalp and allows the oils and proteins through to the hair shaft the objective being greater absorption of quality ingredients.

6. The ultimate goal for deep conditioning is that hair is frizz-free, soft, has sheen, is moisturized and strengthened.

7. Some conditioning properties coat the hair follicle. flatten cuticle layers and thereby reduce flyaways. 

All conditioners are not created equal, each formulation has a different purpose consequently outcomes will vary. 

The number of hair conditioners on the market place are numerous this makes sense because no one conditioner meets every need. Hair is unique albeit there may be similarities the availability of conditioners should meet specific needs. 

How Do You Know Which Conditioner To Choose?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is NOT a simple equation.  


Assessing the condition of your curls will determine the best conditioning product required for your hair at a given time.

What Are The Ingredients In Conditioners?

As stated above the key to a great deep condition is a quality conditioner that meets the needs of your curls. The active ingredients in conditioners are listed below:

Cationic surfactants E.g. Cetyltrimethylammonium chloride, behentrimonium or propyltrimonium, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine. They are considered the backbone of a conditioner a mild cleanser will adhere to hair shaft and are not effectively removed from rinsing positive charge attracts to wet hair negative charge forms a film-forming lubricant
Polymers Mono and polypeptides like hydrolyzed proteins (amino acids), polypeptides derived from collagen and polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) adhere and absorb into the hair cuticle
Bodying agents and thickeners Fatty alcohols (e.g. cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol), waxes (e.g. carnauba wax and paraffin wax), or gums (e.g. guar gum) and salt (sodium chloride) thicken conditioner also soften provide slip to support detangling
Emollients/oily compounds These include natural or synthetic oils, but also esters and waxes. Natural oils used in conditioners are, for example, jojoba oil, olive oil, or grape seed oil. The most frequently used synthetic oils are silicone (e.g. dimethicone, dimethiconol, amodimethicone and cyclomethicone) which are even superior to natural oils in terms of film formation, shine and luster. Asian countries have large hair diameters, therefore a higher concentration of silicone is used as compared to that for Caucasian hair (3-5% vs 0.5%)[1] soften and moisturise dry hair
Auxiliary emulsifiers Ethoxylated fatty alcohols (e.g. polysorbate-80 or ceteareth-20) which are non-ionic agents seem to be particularly effective at providing emulsion stability if it cannot be achieved by cationic agents alone in a conditioner.prevents the ingredients from separating
Humectants Glycerin, honey, aloe vera, propylene glycol, panthenol vitamin b5 hold and attract moisture in the conditioner binding it to hair
Source: Shampoos and conditioners what a dermatologist should know https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4458934/

The information in the table should be used to determine the best conditioner that have the right ingredients for an optimal deep condition.

Can Your Hair Become Over-Conditioned?

Yes, your hair can be over-conditioned, mushy and lose its curl pattern. Conditioners that have major moisturizing properties and if placed on curls for several hours at a time repeatedly can be the cause of over-conditioned curls and hygral fatigue.

Final Note

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of having conditioning products that have quality ingredients this will make the difference between success and failure of your deep condition.

The information contained in this guide should be used in conjunction with other best practices for curly haircare. You can get great curly hair care products here.

At Luxju we’re strong proponents and advocates for hair products that have quality natural ingredients. Conditioners are one of the founding elements in any hair care routine it’s important that they effectively do what they say on the tin.

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