Conditioners come in three general varieties – deep conditioners, rinse-through
conditioners, and leave-in conditioners. Each of these varieties is designed to serve a specific purpose. Deep conditioners are
formulated to replenish moisture, restore strength, and soothe roughened cuticles. They are generally used as often as needed to
give the benefit desired. In the case of heavily damaged hair, the deep conditioning treatments may be used as often as every
two-to-three days, while maintenance of healthy hair can usually be achieved by monthly deep conditioning.
In this case, the term “deep conditioner” refers to a specially-formulated conditioning
agent that is designed to provide intense treatment and repair. This should not be confused with the term deep conditioning treatment
which I’ve used several times before, and can refer to a treatment that uses regular hair conditioner in such a way as to
make the conditioner penetrate more deeply. Deep conditioners include such products as hair masques, and protein packs.
Rinse-through conditioners are the standard partner products to shampoo. They are applied
to the newly shampooed hair and left in place for 2-3 minutes before being rinsed away. Their purpose is to replace any moisture lost
by the hair and to smooth the cuticle layer of the hair to leave the hair looking and feeling soft, silky and shiny. Conditioners are
generally more acidic than shampoos are although they are much more alkaline than hair. It is the alkalinity that makes the
conditioner a suitable substitute for shampoo for some people who don’t subject their hair to excessive soil and dirt.
Leave-in conditioners are exactly that – conditioners that are left on the hair and are NOT
rinsed away. These conditioners are designed to be absorbed by the hair and are formulated as lightweight creams or lotions, or as
liquids which can be sprayed onto the hair. These spray-on conditioners offer the benefit of being able to target the portions of
the hair that need the most extra conditioning/protection – the ends of the hair, the top of the head only, etc.
Another product mentioned in the header but not described until now is detanglers.
De-tangling sprays and serums are generally leave-in conditioners or light oils that smooth the cuticle layer of the hair and allow
it to be more easily combed free of tangles and snags. These products are typically used on damp hair after the hair is towel-dried
to protect it from breakage while being combed. They are especially useful when dealing with very curly or coarse, wavy hair.
Some anti-frizz serums have secondary uses as detanglers, as do some shine enhancers. This
is important to note, because with the similarity of the content of these various products, you can overload the hair with
conditioner/anti-frizz serum, and shine enhancer and end up with flat, limp hair. Remember that you can always add more hair
products when needed, but it is much more difficult to deal with an overload of product on the hair.
Anti-Frizz Serums / Shine Enhancers
These products are made to smooth the cuticle layer, add weight to the hair and
reduce the appearance of frizz and fly-away strands leaving the hair looking sleek, smooth and shiny. Anti-frizz serums consist of viscous
ingredients such as mineral oils and silicone in some cases and are designed to coat the hair shaft and smooth the cuticle layer of
the hair. This causes the hair to appear smoother, and in some cases healthier. The serums are excellent for masking the appearance of damaged hair.