With the effects of color treatments, styling, heat, sun, and more, shampoo is often not enough for the best hair care: a suitable conditioner is needed to properly treat hair and keep it healthy and beautiful.
What Is Conditioner?
Conditioner is one of many available hair products designed to keep hair healthy, vibrant, and strong. Different formulas are available in sprays, mousses, gels, and both rinse-out and leave-in creams. There are many types of conditioning products available, each one formulated to address a specific need. Before selecting one brand or category, however, you should examine your own hair to determine whether you need conditioning treatments.
Who Needs It?
Not every hair needs conditioning, and using a product you don't need will result in heavy, lifeless hair as the extra chemicals accumulate. Most people, however, can benefit from at least occasional treatments. Certain hair types need regular conditioning:
- Colored hair, including highlighted or dyed hair
- Straightened hair, particularly if chemicals or heat irons are used
- Heavily styled hair that frequently uses gels, sprays, or other chemical products
- Hair that uses accessories such as clips, ponytail holders, or other items that may break strands
- Hair that is excessively dry due to the use of chemicals or exposure to the sun
- Naturally unmanageable hair such as curly locks or brittle hair with multiple split ends or other damage
Types of Conditioning Products
There are several different conditioning products available depending on the specific type and level of damage and what is necessary to correct it. If you are uncertain about which product would work best to make your hair shine, you should visit a salon to consult a professional stylist. While they may recommend particular brand-name products, they can also give you an idea of the type of damage you need to correct. Most well-known product lines include several types of conditioners, including Suave, Pantene, Redken, Paul Mitchell, L'Oreal, White Rain, and VO5. Prices vary, though generally more expensive products are stronger and longer-lasting. If your hair only needs mild rejuvenating, however, a more affordable product may be suitable.
Different types of conditioners include:
- Strengthening formulas
- Color-specific formulas for shades of color (blondes, brunettes, etc.) or highlights
- Extra volume and uplifting formulas for limp hair
- Formulas to promote manageability and limit split ends and breakage
- Kid-friendly brands with tear-free detanglers and fun, fruity smells
- Health-enhancing formulas with proteins, vitamins, aloe, and UV protection
- Deep conditioning treatments to compensate for heavy damage
- Formulas specific for color-treated hair that will promote longer-lasting color
- Heat-activated treatments for individuals who regularly use hair dryers or irons
Conditioning agents are also found as a component of many other hair care products, including:
- Two-in-one shampoo and conditioner combinations
- Styling products such as gels, mousses, and hair spray
- Hot-oil treatments for intense conditioning
These additional products are perfect for daily use, while intense treatments are valuable for heavily-damaged hair or as regular treatments (once per week or once per month).
How to Use Conditioner
Generally, usage recommendations are printed on the package. For standard formulas (those that are rinsed out), it is important to apply the conditioner to clean, wet hair unless stated otherwise. Massage the product in well, paying particular attention to the ends of longer strands and the scalp. The product should be left on at least a full minute, though leaving it on longer may produce better results for heavily-damaged hair, or if the treatment is not used daily. Rinse thoroughly to remove the product and avoid any excessive chemical accumulation.
Leave-in products may usually be applied to wet or dry hair. It is wise to use a spray on dry hair before going outside to help protect from UV damage, or as a touch up before an evening out. As with a rinse product, be sure to apply the conditioner thoroughly to all the hair, especially areas that regularly sustain greater damage.
By regularly using conditioner, you not only repair incidental damage but also protect your hair from unintentional abuse. Conditioning treatments bring out the full shine and manageability of healthy hair and are particularly valuable for heavily treated hair. With proper use, you can achieve gorgeous locks no matter what contortions your hair must go through to find the perfect style.