Conditioner 101

101Have you ever thought about whether or not you’re using the conditioner that’s best for your type of hair? Getting it wrong can make your hair heavy, dry, static, and brittle even. There are many different options on the market, and this guide simply breaks the categories down and explains what each is for.

Define Your Hair Type

You’ll need to understand the purpose of conditioner before you can choose the one that is best for you. Conditioner is intended to replenish moisture that is lost while shampooing, which is why we normally use it immediately after shampooing. Conditioner evens out your hair’s cuticle, and also balances your hair’s pH, reducing tangles, decreasing static and increasing shine. In general, it makes your hair easier to manage. Every type of hair needs conditioner, but they do not all work the same way. Here is an easy rule to follow: you choose your shampoo according to the condition of your scalp, and you choose a conditioner to improve the look and feel of your hair. If you have dry ends and an oily scalp (a common scenario), buy a shampoo that suits your scalp and choose a hydrating conditioner for dry ends. The reason for this is simple: Your skin, whether it is facial skin or your scalp, needs to be cleansed properly. Your hair needs to be moisturized, and this can be done using conditioner without taking your scalp into account. Think about the feel of your hair. Is there much static happening? Is your hair damaged, brittle or dry? Does your hair feel limp or oily, and does it look dull?

Conditioning advice for limp, oily hair

If you are in this category, you may not like the way conditioner feels and skip using it altogether. This seems to work for some people, but there are also conditioners available that work with oily hair. Here’s what you should look for, as well as what you should avoid if your scalp is oily:
  • If you see products that are meant for curly hair, smoothing, moisturizing or hydrating, avoid these. They will moisturize your hair too much and make it look limp.
  • The key words you’re looking for are balancing, strengthening, light, and volumizing. Protein is also good for greasy hair. These conditioners are good for removing excessive oil and will not over-moisturize.
  • Keep the conditioner away from your scalp while you apply it. Apply it starting halfway down your hair and work it to the ends (the hair you would put in a pony tail). Don’t use too much, and make sure you rinse it out thoroughly. People sometimes think their hair is oily when in reality it just hasn’t been completely rinsed. Allow at least 30 seconds for rinsing.
  • Before worrying about conditioners, make sure you know how to shampoo properly.
  • If you have fine oily hair, you can use conditioner before you shampoo instead of after.

Advice for brittle, dull, damaged or dry hair

If this describes your hair a little too well, getting a good conditioner will make a world of difference (and a bad one can make things even worse!) You need a good conditioner that can prevent more damage:
  • Volumaizing, fortifying and strengthening are all words you should avoid.
  • If your hair is only a little dry, the keywords you’re looking for are curls, balancing, smoothing, hydration, and moisturizing. These conditioners will moisturize without weighing down your hair.
  • If the dryness and damage are more severe, you need a stronger conditioner. Your keywords should be frizz control, damage repair, protection from heat damage, and anything that is meant for colored or highlighted hair.
  • Invest in a deep conditioner for damaged and dry hair. Use it up to four times every month, and you can repair a lot of the damage and prevent future problems.
  • For an intense repair treatment, try coconut oil.

A glossary of shampoos

You may not have hair that is especially oily or dry, and you may just be curious about what all these different conditioners are for. In this case, maybe your hair style will determine what conditioner you should choose.
  • Moisturizing/Hydrating Conditioner: This is good for adding shine, smoothness and of course moisture to your hair. If you have coarse, curly or thick hair, this may be the one for you.
  • Volumizing Conditioner: This type of conditioner is the best choice for limp, fine hair. This product will not weigh your hair down when what you need is lift and boost,
  • Fortifying/Strengthening Conditioner: Brittle or weak hair, or hair that is highlighted, processed or otherwise damaged, needs this kind of conditioner.
  • Balancing Conditioners: These are a good in-between option if your hair is not noticeably dry, oily or damaged.
  • Straight/Smoothing Hair Conditioner: This seals your hair’s cuticle with plenty of moisturizer, and is perfect for straight shiny hair.
  • Conditioners for Curly Hair: These are usually extra moisturizing to help you avoid frizzy hair.