Hair Liberty’s Nicole Harmon, our Resident Curl Chemist, is answering your most urgent hair questions. Got one for her? Email me at email@example.com using “Hair Liberty” in the subject line and she may answer your question right here on the blog.
Q: If heat isn’t required for deep conditioning, does that mean hair steamers are a waste of time too?
A: Not necessarily. Steamers are bonnet dryers that produce moist heat instead of dry heat. They basically create a humid environment similar to a hot shower or a hot day in Florida. The warm, moist air from a hair steamer gently lifts the hair’s cuticle layers to help reconstructing conditioners absorb faster than they would on their own. If you’ve invested in a hair steamer, try these tips to get the most out of your treatments:
Tip #1: Always use the steamer before you shampoo, not after. The point of the steamer is to gently lift the cuticle and make it easier for strengthening ingredients to penetrate into the strand. Once you fully wet your hair in the shower, each strand gets flooded with water which causes the hair shaft to swell. You’ll condition your hair at that time too, but the real benefit of the steamer is to allow penetrating ingredients to squeeze under the cuticle layers before water hits your hair directly.
Tip #2: For the best results, apply an overnight or pre-shampoo treatment to your dry hair then use the hair steamer. Just like with a bonnet dryer, it’s important not to sit with conditioner on your hair for long periods of time unless the instructions tell you it’s safe. To get the most out of your steamer use it with a professional pre-shampoo treatment like Kinky-Curly Midnight Miracle, Burt’s Bees Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment, L’Oreal Everstrong Overnight Hair Repair Treatment, or Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme. Pre-shampoo products balance strengthening ingredients with sealants so everything doesn’t get rinsed away when you wash your hair. They’re also usually formulated with non-irritating preservatives since they’re meant to be on your hair for 8 hours or more. You can also try this DIY recipe from British Trichologist, Philip Kingsley:
Pre-Shampoo recipe for Very Curly Hair
1/4 cup full-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream or double cream
1/8 cup castor oil
1/8 cup filtered tap water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
-Juice and pulp from 1/2 of a grapefruit
-Blend ingredients together. Refrigerate overnight and use as required. Massage into hair and scalp for five minutes then leave to penetrate for 20 minutes. Shampoo out and use conditioner for dry hair. Repeat weekly.
Recipe source: http://dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4435/Give-hair-salon-treatment.html
If a hair steamer is out of your budget, don’t worry, you can still do extra things to deep condition and strengthen your hair. What always matters most is the quality of the product you use and how thoroughly you apply it. Try a pre-shampoo product (or the Philip Kingsley recipe), make sure you apply it to every strand from root to tip, and leave it on for the full recommended time before you wash your hair.