Myth vs. Fact: Deep Conditioning

Myth vs. Fact: Deep Conditioning

by Nicole of Hair Liberty

If you are like most African American women, you’ve been told that “deep conditioning” is one of the keys to healthy hair. Usually, that means applying a deep conditioner, putting on a plastic cap, and sitting under a bonnet dryer. Some women sit for 20 minutes…or 30 minutes…or even 40 minutes and longer. But if sitting under the dryer to “deep condition” is so important, why isn’t that step listed in the directions? Take a look at the directions on these popular conditioners from Sally Beauty Supply…

Mane N Tail Deep Moisturizing Conditioner
For best results begin with deep moisturizing shampoo. After rinsing remove excess water. The amount of product to use will vary with hair volume and length. Massage Mane ‘n Tail Deep Moisturizing Conditioner into scalp and hair, leave on for 1 to 2 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Style as usual.

Lustrasilk Olive Oil Mayonnaise Deep Conditioning Treatment
Rub a small amount in palms and apply evenly from scalp to ends. Give extra attention to overly damaged areas. Leave in for 3-5 mintues, rinse with warm water and style as usual.

Silk Elements Megasilk Moisture Treatment
Apply to wet hair. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes then rinse. Style as usual.

Biotera Color Care Intensive Reconstructor
Apply to wet hair. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes then rinse. Style as usual.

A few products tell you to apply heat, but not for long…

Motions CPR Critical Protection and Repair Treatment Conditioner
Saturate hair from root to end; for extreme conditioning, cover hair with plastic cap and place client under warm dryer for 5 minutes. This is a professional product for use by cosmetologists only. This product should be used by every professional stylist for the treatment of breakage or when breakage is anticipated.

L’Oreal Nature’s Therapy Mega Moisture Nurturing Creme
Apply to shampooed, towel dried hair. For deeper conditioning, leave on for 2 to 5 minutes. For even more intense conditioning, apply moderate dryer heat for 5 minutes. Rinse.

Here’s the truth: Most conditioners, even those labeled as “deep conditioners”, only condition the outside of your hair. They coat your hair so it will feel soft. Using heat for extended periods of time does not help the conditioner coat your hair, nor does it help the conditioner penetrate into your hair. That’s why sitting under the dryer isn’t usually in the instructions – because it won’t help!

When the instructions do say to apply heat, that means there’s no benefit in sitting under the bonnet dryer for more than the time listed. Hair products are tested by scientists and hair stylists multiple times. The instructions on the bottle tell you exactly what to do for the maximum benefit. Follow the directions as written, making sure to saturate your hair with conditioner from root to tip. If you’re not happy with the way your hair feels after following the package directions, then it’s time to find a better conditioner. Shop the Hair Liberty Boutique to find hand-picked conditioners that are truly effective for African American hair.

So, the next question is, why does your hairdresser deep condition with heat when you go to the salon? Only she can answer that, but here are some possible reasons:

    She is using a conditioner with instructions that say “apply heat”.
    She charges for deep conditioning.
    She uses the time that you are under the dryer to work on other clients.
    She uses the time that you are under the dryer to rest or eat.

As you read the wealth of information available from Hair Liberty, you will find other things that seem directly opposite of what your hairdresser says and does. It’s time to base your hair decisions on facts and not old habits. That time wasted under the bonnet dryer is better spent during the styling process, which, as you know, is where the real work comes in! If your hair is not as healthy as you want it to be, it’s time to change your routine.

So, in summary, arbitrarily applying heat to your conditioner is probably not damaging to your hair, but it does not provide any real benefit. To give your hair extra softness, do a pre-wash oil treatment each week before you shampoo.