What is Moisture part 2

We are continuing to part 2 of ‘What is Moisture’ series and in this blog post we will discuss selecting conditioners. If you want to understand why certain conditioners, deep conditioners, or reconstructors work for low porosity hair versus high porosity hair or damaged hair versus healthy hair...read on. I’ll help clear up the confusion about which type should be used and when.

Our hair needs sufficient conditioning on a regular basis. It is very important that we invest in quality conditioners. While conditioners cannot undo the years of damage a single hair will experience in its lifetime, a solid conditioner can however slow the deterioration process.

There are several types of conditioners on the market that address our hair’s moisture needs. On our quest to achieving healthier hair, the wide variety of hair conditioners can lead to some confusion about which type should be used and when. Some conditioners are intended for daily use and others for weekly use. Some specialized formulas may be design for monthly use.

Many conditioner products give very little information about how long they should be left on the hair and the time spent with conditioner generally varies from user to user depending on their goals. As a baseline, the best advice is to leave conditioner on hair for up to 10 minutes or until you begin to feel your hair soften a bit.

For some curlies, leaving conditioner on the hair without rinsing until the next wash improves manageability and brings out the best curls. But beware, all conditioners are not created equal. Leaving a heavy conditioner without rinsing may lead to scalp itchiness or hair matting.

Note: Leaving conditioners on the hair for long periods of time does not increase a product’s actual conditioning power but rather supports detangling, manageability and post wash frizz.

Here are a few variety of conditioners:

Instant Conditioners

These are thin, watery, lotion-like products and are generally best suited for those with fine or oily hair, who require a conditioner formula that does not deposit cationic substances too heavily on the hair fiber. Because of their high water content and the large molecular size of their ingredients, these conditioners only coat the outer part of the hair shaft. Bargain conditioners, like those found in Dollar stores, are common examples of water-rich, light instant conditioners.

Cream Rinse Conditioners

These are generally used as a final rinse, and like instant conditioners, they are often left on the hair shaft for less than 3 to 5 minutes. They contain a considerable amount of cationic and shaft-smoothing ingredients such as oils and emollients, all of which support hair detangling. These conditioners also work well for protecting the hair against the damage from heat styling.

These Conditioners work to increase the moisture content of the hair and improve its elasticity. They also smooth the cuticles and soften the hair, improving its manageability and eliminating frizz. They contain a high percentage of cationic surfactants and polymers, which boost the moisture content of the hair shaft and reduce and neutralize the negative charge along the strand.

Deep Conditioners

These contain a concentrated mixture of cationic, moisture-boosting elements and sometimes proteins to both reinforce the hair cuticle and impart moisture. The proteins in the formula ensure that the hair retains the moisture it receives and secures it deep within their fiber to support hair until the next deep conditioning treatment.

Heat is often used with deep conditioners to ensure the best penetration of moisture, and cuticle adhesion of protein molecules and other cationic substances. Deep conditioners should be use weekly on damaged hair and hair that is just beginning a new healthy hair regimen. Once hair regains its strength, deep conditioning frequency then becomes a matter of personal choice. Those with relatively healthy hair may choose to deep condition weekly or every 2 to 4 weeks as needed.

Protein Conditioners/Reconstructors

Protein-based conditioners range in protein content from extremely light to much heavier protein concentrations. These conditioners temporarily rebuild the cuticle layer of the hair shaft by filling in areas of weakness along the strand and often contain very few additional conditioning agents.

The molecules in basic protein conditioners are too large to fully penetrate the hair shaft; therefore, the hair retains the strengthening properties of these protein conditioners for about 7 to 10 days (or roughly 1 to 3 shampooing’s).

The strengthening effect of protein conditioners depends on the level of hair shaft damage and the frequency of use. Because these proteins are superficially deposited (on the surface), the introduction of water with each shampooing loosens the protein’s hold on the hair shaft.

Protein rich conditioners with high degree of protein concentration are called protein reconstructors. The main difference between basic protein conditioners and protein reconstructor formula lies in the size, type, and concentration of protein molecules in the product.

Unlike protein reconstructors, regular protein conditioners tend to have a greater moisturizing element to complement their protein characteristics. In fact, many formulas actually add to the moisture levels in your hair by binding with the moisture already present and repairing weak spots in the hair’s cuticles.

!These basic protein conditioning formulas generally do not require a secondary deep conditioning moisture treatment to replenish the moisture within hair strands. Furthermore, at the lowest protein concentration, these conditioners typically do not create wild swings in our hair’s moisture/protein balance unless they are the only conditioning products used. Ex. Curl Junkie Repair Me or Aphogee 2 minute reconstructor

Protein Treatments

These are often more concentrated levels of protein than regular protein-based conditioners. These treatments are often more intensive and tend to require heat during the application for maximum penetration or adherence of the protein molecules. Since these treatments work deeply to penetrate and rebuild the hair shaft from within, their results are more dramatic and last longer than protein-based conditioners.

The effects of the most highly potent protein treatments are so dramatic that they continue to work on the hair for 4-6 weeks. The strengthening effect of protein reconstructors always depends on the level of hair damage and the frequency of shampooing.

Much of the protein in these products is hydrolyzed, meaning it has been broken down into smaller components and is the correct molecular size to be absorbed into the cuticle. Since these types of protein products need to penetrate the hair shaft in order to be effective, they work better on hair that is already extremely porous and damaged.

Hair with its own sound cuticle and protein structure will not readily accept the extra protein molecules (hence the issue with some low porosity hair), but will instead allow the protein molecules to build up on the outside of the hair shaft. The frequent use of these proteins on hair that has already satisfied its protein requirements results in over-rigid, dry hair that breaks easily at the slightest touch.

Because the sole purpose of protein reconstructors is to increase tensile strength and add additional structure to the hair strand, the conditioning properties of these products are minimal. Reconstructors must be followed up with additional moisturizing deep- conditioning treatment to restore the hair’s proper elasticity and prevent hair breakage. Ex. Aphogee two step protein treatment.

Leave in Conditioners

Come in the form of both creams and liquids and some are dually formulated as detangling products. Creamy leave ins are best for those with thick, coarse hair while sprays often best for those with finer hair types. Most leave ins with a creamy consistency are also great as water-based moisturizers. They are also excellent for those with fine hair who cannot use heavier water base moisturizers and want to work with a lighter product. Leave in sprays and mists are great for touching up and revitalizing curls throughout the day or between wash days. Spray-based products are also superior moisture boosters for braids, locs, sewn-ins, or twisted hair.

When selecting a leave in conditioner for your hair always choose one that addresses your hair’s moisture a protein needs at the time of use. If your hair is in need of more protein, opt for a protein-based leave in conditioner. If you hair needs moisture, choose a moisturizing leave in conditioner. Having two dedicated products for this purpose one for moisture and one for protein is a good idea.


Source: Hair and Hair Care.