Build Your Own Deep Conditioning Routine
Deep Conditioning weekly is so important for all hair types. Typically you would need to choose each wash day between protein, moisture or a balance of both. How often you use each type depends on your hair texture, porosity, damage level and current condition.
Note how I will keep using the word "Experiment" below instead of pointing out what to do exactly, as these won't work 100% on everyone since all hair behaves different. Experimenting and understanding what your hair needs and likes is what's important. This guide is a good starting point for beginners!
Find the category that suits your hair type and then continue below:
Category A: Finer hair texture, high porosity or damaged hair need more protein.
Category B: Coarse hair texture, low porosity or dry hair need more moisture.
Category C: Medium hair texture, medium porosity or healthy hair, need a balance of both.
Don't be scared of protein, hair is mainly made up from a protein called keratin. The more damaged the hair is from heat, color, bleach, or environmental stresses, the more protein it needs. Damaged hair has gaps in the hair cuticles, protein fills those gaps to repair the hair.
What does protein do to the hair?
- Strengthens, repairs and thickness hair
- Improves curl definition & hair elasticity
- Adds bounce & volume
- Adds softness & shine
- Smoothes hair cuticle
- Helps with moisture retention
When do you need protein treatment?
- Curls just won’t hold definition or structure even with your favorite products
- Hair feels overly soft, gummy, mushy when wet
- Frizzy, limp and stringy curls
- Flat, lifeless hair with low elasticity
- Excess hair breakage & split ends
Everyone needs protein, some more than others.
Category A: Fine hair naturally has less protein in their hair. High Porosity or damaged hair break down protein in the hair, making the hair crave protein to fill in the gaps in the hair. If you are using protein heavy stylers, experiment with applying a protein treatment every 2 - 3 weeks. If you are using moisture heavy stylers, experiment with applying a protein treatment once a week.
Category B: Your hair has enough protein, it is considered strong and doesn't need more strengthening. You can experiment with applying a protein treatment every 4 to 6 weeks.
Category C: Balance! Your hair need protein, but not a lot of it. Experiment with applying a protein treatment every 2 - 3 weeks. This will really differ from person to person and differs by protein ingredients used in your wash day products.
*Be careful with how long you keep the protein treatment on your hair. Excess protein can result in protein overload, making hair dry and brittle. Always read the instructions on the products. Typically, do not exceed 30 minutes.
Moisture Deep Conditioners
Moisture deep conditioners are important for textured hair (wavy, curly, kinky) and is especially important for tighter curl patterns. The tighter the curl pattern, the drier the hair as it gets harder for sebum to travel down the hair strands to moisturize.
What does a moisture deep conditioners do to the hair?
- Penetrates deeply into the hair strands to add moisture
- Reduces dryness and brittleness
- Adds smoothness and shine
- Maintains healthy hair
- Nourishes the hair
When do you need a moisture deep conditioner?
- Hair feels dry and frizzy
- Hair has excess tangles and knots
- Hair texture feels rough, stiff, brittle and straw like
- Hair breaks and snaps easily while wet or dry
- Hair is dull and has no shine
Category A: This really depends on how often you apply a protein treatment and how your hair feels. You can experiment with alternating with a protein treatment, meaning every 2 weeks or you can apply a moisture deep conditioner more often if you have been using protein heavy stylers. Keep an eye out on the signs you need moisture above.
Category B: You will be using moisture deep conditioners as your regular weekly deep conditioner as your hair is prone to dryness. Low porosity hair, use a hot head when deep conditioning to ensure hair absorbs the product well.
Category C: Balance! Your hair needs both protein and moisture. Experiment by alternating weekly, or applying a moisture deep conditioner biweekly and following with a protein treatment.
Balanced (Moisture & low protein)
These products are mostly moisture deep conditioners, yet they do contain some / low amounts of protein.
Category A: You can experiment with using this and alternate weekly with a protein treatment.
Category B: If you experience dryness from using this weekly, then reduce the amount of usage and focus on protein free, moisture deep conditioners.
Category C: You can use this weekly for a good balance.
How to apply a Deep Conditioner
For fine hair, low density, or those wanting more volume:
1. Apply the deep conditioner on dry hair, this is called "dirty deep conditioning." (If hair has too much buildup, it would be best to clarify first.)
For low porosity hair:
1. Apply on damp hair and use a hot head to add heat and open hair cuticles. (If hair has too much buildup, it would be best to clarify first.)
For all other hair types:
1. Wash your hair with warm water & a cleanser first to remove any buildup.
2. Apply the deep conditioner in sections.
3. Stay away from your roots & scalp.
4. You can mix in your favorite oil with the deep conditioner at the ends of your hair for a more intense treatment.
5. Let the deep conditioner sit for 3 minutes then start detangling your hair starting from your ends and working your way up.
6. Keep rewetting your hair with a spray bottle filled with water while applying the deep conditioner to keep your hair soaking wet.
7. Twist or finger coil the sections of your hair that have the deep conditioner in them to train your curls.
8. Put your hair up in a shower cap, use a hot head if you want a deeper treatment.
9. Follow the product label on how long to leave in the deep conditioner, don’t overdo it. Sleeping in a deep conditioner is not recommended.
10. Rinse out the deep conditioner really well with cold water and style your hair as normal. There’s no need to apply a conditioner after you deep conditioner, unless you used protein and your hair needs some more moisture.