Google Header -->
Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

Find Your Perfect Deep Conditioner – The Ultimate Guide

By January 27th, 202192 Comments
Find Your Perfect Deep Conditioner - The Ultimate Guideby Nicole Harmon of Hair Liberty

Do you remember when you were a kid and you had your favorite shirt? I do. It was pink with purple flowers and it could actually glow in the dark-pretty much the coolest thing EVER to a kindergartner. I wore the darn thing every chance I got and I remember being heartbroken when I found it had a hole. I was sure my mother was going to make me throw it away but to my surprise, she patched it right up, good as new and I wore it until the seams were stretched and I just couldn’t fit it anymore.

So let’s pretend you love your hair just as much I loved my tee (okay you probably love it a bit more.) Well there are so many factors that damage our fragile tresses that it’s important that you patch up the holes regularly so you can keep it looking beautiful instead of cutting it off. Deep conditioning does exactly that. You will retain the most length by using a high-quality deep conditioning treatment at least once a month.

The most effective deep conditioning treatments contain:

• Hydrolyzed protein to make your hair less breakage prone
• Conditioners to make your hair easier to comb
• Sealing ingredients that help moisture stay inside your hair between washes

Hydrolyzed Protein

Look at a strand of your hair. 90% of what you’re looking at is keratin protein. Your body uses the protein you eat to create keratin protein for your hair and skin. Once a hair emerges from its follicle, your health and what you eat doesn’t affect its appearance anymore. Your hair’s at your mercy and daily combing and styling chip away tiny pieces of keratin from each strand. It’s up to you to replace those lost pieces with protein from hair products; otherwise your hair will break just as fast as it grows. Using hair products that contain hydrolyzed protein are one of the best ways to improve your length retention.

In cosmetic labs, scientists “hydrolyze” proteins from plants and animals to make them more compatible with your hair’s keratin. The term “hydrolyzed” means the protein has been made small enough to fit in the spaces between your hair’s cuticles and absorb into the cortex. When you read a product’s ingredient list, the ingredients that are used in the highest amounts are listed at the top and the ingredients used in the lowest amounts are at the bottom. Usually, you get the most benefit from an ingredient if it’s at the top of the list, but hydrolyzed protein is a little bit different. Cosmetic chemists often add “helper” ingredients to make low amounts of protein more effective, so don’t rule out a product just because hydrolyzed protein isn’t one of the first 5 ingredients.

Examples of hydrolyzed protein:

• Hydrolyzed Keratin (from wool)
• Hydrolyzed Oat Protein
• Hydrolyzed Silk Protein
• Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
• Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein


Deep conditioning treatments need to perform double duty. You can make your hair stronger, but it will still be vulnerable. Well-formulated treatments also condition your hair leaving it easier to comb so you don’t lose precious strands from trying to break through tangles. In the world of cosmetic chemistry, opposites attract. Our hair has a negative charge and responds well to conditioning ingredients that have a positive charge. The ingredients listed here are called “cationics” and they stay on your hair even after you do your final rinse.

Common conditioning ingredients in deep treatments:

• Amodimethicone
• Behentrimonium Chloride
• Behentrimonium Methosulfate
• Cetrimonium Chloride
• Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
• Stearalkonium Chloride

Sealing ingredients

You don’t want to spend the extra time and money to deep condition your hair if the results aren’t going to last. Even the best conditioning treatments are only semi-permanent, not permanent. A deep conditioner that contains good sealants will help your hair stay strong and moisturized for days at a time. Cosmetic scientists perform tests to see which ingredients do the best job at sealing porous hair like ours. You will get the most value out of your deep conditioning treatment if it contains at least 1 of these very effective sealants:

Ingredients for sealing:

• Petrolatum
• Mineral Oil
• Lanolin
• Dimethicone
• Phenyl Trimethicone
• Shea Butter
• Soybean Oil

Key Tips for Deep Conditioning

• Shampoo your hair before applying a deep conditioner. If you only co-wash or rinse before you apply the product, your hair won’t be able to absorb as much protein.

• Follow the instructions on your product. The best deep conditioning treatments contain a careful blend of ingredients that will give you maximum benefits in 3 to 15 minutes. Don’t put off deep conditioning because you feel like you don’t have time to sit under the dryer. That’s usually unnecessary and you’ll end up deep conditioning your hair less often.

• Only condition the hair you want to keep! Choose a deep conditioning treatment that you can afford to use generously. It won’t matter if your product is filled with great ingredients if you don’t apply it to every inch of your hair.

Have you found a deep conditioner match?

Reading the ingredients list will help you choose which product to buy, but only you can decide if a product is a home run. If you can answer yes to all 3 of these questions, you’ve found a staple.

1) Was the product easy to apply? There’s no reason that a deep conditioning treatment has to be very thick. It’s easier to control the amount you use if the product spreads easily.

2) Could you at least finger comb your hair after rinsing the treatment out? The most efficient products don’t require you to follow-up with a separate conditioner. If you can do your full detangling routine, you’ve really got a winner.

3) After your shower, detangle your most breakage prone (shortest) section with your fingers. Do you see significantly less broken hair than usual? If you’ve found the right product for your hair, breakage should drastically decrease after one use and continue to improve. You’ll have to keep using the product regularly to keep breakage at bay.

Recommended Deep Conditioning Treatments

Your deep conditioning treatment should be the most expensive product in your arsenal. You can keep your beauty budget in check by choosing less expensive shampoos and leave-ins.

BEST BU Y – ApHogee Two-Step Protein Treatment, $9 for 4 oz. (Step 1) and ApHogee Balancing Moisturizer, $6 for 8 oz. (Step 2)
Available at Sally Beauty

ApHogee Two-Step Protein Treatment has been around for years. This is an effective and affordable treatment but it has an unpleasant smell and the protein step can get messy. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s the definitely the best way to go. This product requires 5-10 minutes under a hooded dryer. Make sure to follow the instructions exactly as written or you could end up with unnecessary breakage.

Joico K-PAK RevitaLuxe Bio-Advanced Restorative Treatment, $23 for 5.1 oz.
Available at drugstores and beauty supply stores

This is Joico’s newest product for breakage prone hair. The “bio-advanced” part of the name refers to peptides (similar to proteins) that are used to help decrease inflammation on the scalp and promote hair growth. There is good scientific evidence for the effect of peptides on the skin, so this product is worth a try if you’ve had a history of scalp problems. The other ingredients in the product are similar to Joico K-Pak Deep Penetrating Reconstructor. Both are great choices for a staple deep conditioner.

Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask, $29 for 7 oz.
Available at Sephora and

This product contains all the requisite ingredients for a good deep conditioning treatment. If you enjoy sitting under the dryer as a time to sit back and relax, you’ll enjoy this product because maximum results require 10 to 15 minutes of heat.

Age Beautiful Strengthening Treatment, $10 for 5.1 oz.
Available at Sally Beauty

This treatment won the Good Housekeeping Research Institute’s highest award for deep conditioners. It’s best for color-treated and relaxed hair because it contains a special ingredient that helps repair cuticle damage from chemical treatments. Even if you don’t make it your staple, it’s a good product to keep around for immediately after touch-ups.

Nicole Harmon is a Cosmetic Chemist and the Founder of She has received rave reviews for her seminars on ethnic hair education and science. She’s on a mission to help the Product Junkies of the world save MONEY, sort through marketing HYPE and buy SMARTER!
Hair Liberty (def.): The freedom to rock whatever style you want, whenever you want. Curly, straight, natural, relaxed, whatever! Free yourself!


  • Aliesha Bryan says:

    You may want to try reading Chicoro's books (she has written two on the care of natural hair). Both give a great deal of information on how to choose products, but also how to doctor not-so-good products that you can find at any store.

  • Confusednaturalista says:

    I thought I wasnt suppose to use anything with mineral oils in them? Sigh* so confused with all the does and donts. Someone comment and help me out. Cant find a single good product in the main store in my Caribbean country.

  • SouthernBelle says:

    Awwww man! I searched high and low yesterday trying t find a deep conditioner and I stumbled across Motion's Naturally You Deep Conditioning Masque. It has conditioners and sealants, but seems to be lacking hydrolized proteins. Maybe I'm just missing it or it's under another name…?? I was hoping it was good….I liked using Motions when I was relaxed. I also got Dr. Miracle's Coconut Milk Leave-In Conditioner and it has some stuff from all three categories. Can a leave-in be used for deep conditioning too? I just BCed 3 weeks ago so I'm still learning. Thanks for the article and any tips that you guys can give me. HappyNapping 🙂

  • LauraWolfhart says:

    The best conditioner I have ever used is Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner, the argan oil hydrates and strengthens my hair making it nice and healthy. Plus the extra shine is appreciated! Frizz is gone and hair is made much smoother.

  • potterakku says:

    thanx to u i have a great conditioner…more than 3 ingredients matched as a sealant as well as gud deep conditioner and reconstructer!!
    i just wanted to know one thing…my normal conditioner has those ingredients u mentioner for a deep conditioning treatment…so shall i use my conditioner as a deep conditioner??

  • Anonymous says:

    The best conditioner I have ever used is Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner, the argan oil hydrates and strengthens my hair making it nice and healthy. Plus the extra shine is appreciated! Thanks for the informative article 🙂

  • Karo says:

    thank you for the recommendation, very helpful, I'm using a good product that is helping me to get healthy hair again, it's Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil Hair Conditioner which works really good and keeps my hair smooth, shiny and healthy again. ^_^

  • DecemberPumpkin says:

    this will help in my search for the perfect deep conditioner

  • Moni09 says:

    Thank You for the informtion. I really want to try the Carols Daughter product..but I'm also looking for something more affordable. So I thank you for providing other brands. Have you tried the Carols Daughter DC? If so, How did the product work in your opinion?

  • Elaine D. says:

    So afraid to use any protein treatments…I just feel what I do now works so why fix whats not broken ?lol

  • NappyNita says:

    Is there any way you can DC without using a dryer or does DC have to be with heat?

  • Unknown says:

    Great info lets me know I'm on the correct path this week will be the first to try hydrothermal naturals line that appear to have most of the ingredients.

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Everyone: Thank you so much for all your questions and comments! I really enjoy having discussions like these and I love engaging with the Curly Nikki community! If you have any further questions/comments/concerns or if you just want to say "Hey!" Let's talk on twitter!

    Tweet me @hairliberty and I will promptly respond! Happy DCing! 🙂

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @HollyDayBeauty – Thanks for commenting!

    @Anon 8:11a – Thanks for sharing your experience! If you ever start to have issues with length retention or breakage, please consider choosing a DC with the ingredients mentioned in the post.

    @Melyssa – Carol's Daughter Monoi Repairing Mask probably has the most slip, but it's hard to say if it will be enough for your daughter's hair (everyone's hair is so different). If you end up with a conditioner that doesn't have enough slip, I recommend that you do a pre-shampoo oil treatment on wash day. Even though you'll wash some of the oil off, there will be a small amount left on her hair that will help you detangle with whatever DC you choose. Here's a tutorial: Thanks for posting!

  • Anonymous says:

    I meant SLIP! sorry….

  • Anonymous says:

    Which deep conditioner has the best SLTP? I have a tender headed 8 year old with very thick kinky curly hair. HELP!

  • Anonymous says:

    How about a Do it Yourself deep conditioner. Its all natural, inexpensive, and you can personally tailor it to your hair likes and needs. I use a mixture of honey, olive oil, coconut oil and bananas and a touch of rosemary and lavendar for a delicious fragrance. Leaves my hair soft and shiney and HAPPY!!

  • Unknown says:

    Very informative. Thank you

  • Anonymous says:


  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Camille and Anon 9:38p my response to you guys didn't post. Anon, please search "Hair Steamers" on Using a good deep conditioner regularly is most important. Once you're doing that using a steamer may not make a noticeable difference. Camille, it's hard to say what causes the roughness you're feeling. Sometimes oil build up (especially from coconut oil) can cause that. Please tweet me @hairliberty if you'd like help troubleshooting.

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Annabel and Camille:

    I truly understand your confusion. Here's my take: When you seal or style your hair with oil, it will take longer for it to absorb water and longer for it to dry. That doesn't mean your hair has low porosity it means the oils are helping you control your high porosity. Oils are supposed to sit on top of your hair. Even with "penetrating" oils like coconut, most of the oil stays on the surface. The thicker the oil layer on your hair, the more your drying and wetting time will be affected. Same thing with the porosity test, if the strands you test have been oiled, the hair will float much longer and make it seem that your hair is less porous. Kinks cause high porosity, so if you have type 4 hair and you're looking to improve your routine, it can't hurt to follow the advice I've offered.

    If your style is taking too long to dry, you should try switching to lighter weight products. You could try using soybean oil or silicone based leave-ins because they are effective sealants but they are not as heavy as other options. Also, aloe vera juice causes stickiness and frizz because it is a humectant, not because it has a low pH.

    I really hope that helps. I have definitely covered porosity in my ebook that comes out next month. Please email me at if you think of any other questions.

    Thank you Annabel, Camille, Deliliah Nonar, Kristy Tucker, Flower Princess and everyone else who commented. This was great!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Anon 9:38p: Please check out this post: It's most important to choose a good deep conditioner and use it consistently. Once you are doing that, you may not see much difference from a steamer.

    @Camille: I'm here 🙂 It's hard to say what causes rough hair because everybody's routine is different. Oil build up, especially coconut oil, can cause a rough feeling. Please email me at if you'd like help troubleshooting.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Nicole Harmon,

    Are you still there? There were a couple of good questions still out there.

    You said that if your hair feels rough protein is not the cause. Please offer possible causes.

    Also, Annibel gave her reasons for feeling she has low porosity hair. They sound like all the reasons I have heard too. Can you respond to that as well please?


  • Kristy tucker says:

    I am still searching for the perfect conditioner for my moody curls

  • Flower princess says:

    Thanks for reading Nicole and your thumbs up , i'm happy you found my work great ^_^

  • Annabel says:

    Hi Nicole, Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I think I am lopo for the following reasons: my hair takes forever to wet and dry. Sealing with oils just leads to it sitting on my hair. I took the porosity test and my hair floated for days. Low ph products like aloe typically leave my hair feeling sticky and looking frizzy… From what I've read on CN and seen on youtube (e.g.denimpixie) lopo among type 3 and 4 is not rare.

  • Deliliah Nonar says:

    I have tried so many deep conditioners and I still haven't found my perfect deep conditioner. ihave used expensive brands, all natural, store bought, etc. i'm still on the look out.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is kind of off subject but if I have Type 4 hair that is high porosity, would I benefit from a hair steamer?

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Nicole–it's Anon 11:36. I followed the instructions to the T, and rinsed the protein out before applying the balancing moisturizer.

    I think that it was just too heavy of a protein treatment for my hair. I know naturals that love it and have had great success, but it did not work for me!

    In the future, I will try a the Carol's Daughter Manoi that you mentioned–I love her products! I currently alternate between CJ Curl Rehab, CJ Deep Fix, and Giovanni's Smooth as Silk–all 3 work great for my hair.

    Thanks for the article-very informative!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Anon 11:36a! Did you follow the instructions and rinse the protein out before applying the Balancing Moisturizer? I didn't see that in your recap and that would definitely cause major problems. Thanks for commenting. Let me know if you try one of the other recommended DCs!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Flower Princess! Great work! I fully agree with your findings re: petrolatum. Thanks for commenting!

    @Niccinatural, @Anon 9:18a – Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Anabel! It's always best to follow the instructions on your product. You will get maximum results from using the product for the maximum recommended time. The ingredients in rinse-off products are not meant to be in contact with your scalp for long periods of time. If you prefer to DC overnight, I recommend L'Oreal EverStrong Overnight Repair Treatment or Kinky-Curly Midnight Miracle.

    The cuticles of Type 3 and 4 hair naturally lift at every curl and kink. That's why we have such problems with breakage and moisture retention. These recommendations would only be a no-go for natural Type 1 and 2 hair. Would you mind sharing with me why you believe your hair has low porosity?

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Anon 9:52p – Thanks for sharing your experience! Have you ever tried skipping the honey and EVOO step? If you're using enough of the Balancing Moisturizer that shouldn't be necessary. Just wondering if you could save time there.

    @Anon 1:14a – I completely understand your confusion! All type 3 and 4 hair is porous. Type 4 is the most porous of all hair types because the cuticles are naturally lifted at every kink. Only Type 1 and 2 hair has naturally low porosity. I hope that helps you understand. Thanks for commenting!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Nicole 1:22 – Thanks for commenting! Yes, I agree with Audrey Sivasothy, mineral oil and petrolatum are excellent sealants. In my view, you need to do the absolute best you can to seal in moisture on wash day. Sealing with coconut oil is like filling up a bath tub and then only partially plugging the drain. You may want to add more water later, but that doesn't mean you should let water escape in the meantime. Scientists disagree just like other academic professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc.). We can both be credible hair scientists and have different ideas on how to help you.

    The seal provided by mineral oil, petrolatum, or silicone is not air or water tight. Water can always get through. That's easy to see when you re-wet your hair. The water doesn't slide off, preventing your hair from being moisturized, it sinks in. If you prefer to avoid using excellent sealants, your moisture retention will still be improved by using shea butter or soybean oil. Those oils are plant-based and they also provide a better seal than coconut oil.

  • Anonymous says:

    Aphogee is a 'NO-NO" for me. I tried the 2 step program for the first time this past weekend. My hair is 4a/4b fine to medium strands and very thick. It is healthy and has a nice sheen–people often comment on how healthy it looks. I wanted to try protein simply b/c after doing research, it is something I thought that needed to be part of my regimen. Especially since I haven't done a protein treatment since I first went natural 7 months ago.

    Well the Aphogee treatment was a DISASTER! I pre-pood and shampooed as usual, applied the treatment and my hair was dry as the desert. The balancing moisturizer did absolutely nothing for my hair to re-moisturize it–NOTHING! I followed up with my Curl Rehab conditioner and even that could not help. I went ahead and twisted my hair with a CD butter, and when I took them out the next day for church my normally soft and shiny hair was crispy,hard, and dull looking. I threw it up in a puff and went about my day. The next day I washed with a clarifying shampoo, and conditioned it 3x's and did 2 oil rinses, and finally my moisture level has been restored. It's not quite where it was, but it's almost there.

    I've come to the conclusion that unless your hair is thin, damaged, or fragile, DO NOT do the Aphogee 2 step, it will only dry you hair out. I don't think most naturals need a protein treatment this hardcore.

    I returned my product to the store and will never use it again!

  • Mizz Z says:

    This post has given me great info and left me with some of the same questions others are asking. I hope the dialogue continues until most questions are answered.

  • Anonymous says:

    Nicole thanks for taking the time to share this information with us. However, I really do not agree with the ingredients you listed. I will continue to stay away from products that has cones, mineral oil and petrolum . My hair has never been in better condition since I stop putting those junkie ingredients in it.

  • Niccinatural says:

    I am following the curly girl method. I shampoo once a month w Kinky Curly Come Clean which is sulfate free. I co wash twice a week and deep condition once a week with Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Mask after applying evoo and honey. I cover with a plastic bag and leave it on about a hour and my hair loves it!

  • Flower princess says:

    In the long run i believe petroleum jelly isn't bad for the hair.It's just that people don't understand how it works so they mislabel it.
    Here is my point of view about it:

  • Annabel says:

    Hi Nicole, thanks for this post! I DC once a week while I sleep (6-8) hours. Is this too extreme? Also, you mention that type 3 and 4 hair is over porous/high porosity. However, I have low porosity hair, not due to product buildup as I clarify. I think there are many naturals out there who are low porosity. Would these recommendations be a no-go for us?

  • Nicole says:


    I have read Audrey Sivasothy's The Science of Black Hair and it states that although mineral oil and petroleum jelly are excellent sealants they do not penetrate the hair shaft only coats it and will cause quicker buildup? She goes on to say that coconut oil is the best sealant due to its penetrating properties but you say it doesnt work as well as the heavier oils. You guys both claim to be Health/Hair Scientist…Who do I believe?

  • Anonymous says:

    How do I know if my hair is low porosity or high ,middle ,etc??Lol , a bit lost !!

  • Anonymous says:

    Once a month I use the Aphogee treatment (never w/o the balancing moisturizer) followed by honey & evoo for 15-20 minutes. I rinse with acv and seal with shea butter mixed w/ jojoba & coconut oil. The treatment has really reduced breakage & shedding and the honey/oil makes my hair super soft. For the first time, my curly hair is past my shoulders (I have at least 3 different textures but I guess I fall under 3c. It's also very porous and fine).

  • Anonymous says:

    Once a month I use Aphogee treatment (w/balancing moisturizer) followed by honey & evoo condish for 30 min. I rinse with acv. The treatment has reduced breakage and shedding. The honey makes my hair super soft. I seal it with shea butter mixed w/ coconut & jojoba oil. So far this is what works for me. And for the first time, my curly hair is past my shoulders.

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Mary Jo – No problem! Now you get to try something new when you finish that jar 🙂

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Denni! Yes it is true that your hair becomes hard. As it says on Step 1 of the instructions, Aphogee treatment hardens on your hair as you apply heat. It's really important to follow up with Aphogee Balancing Moisturizer to soften your hair, which many people don't do. I would recommend using Aphogee every 2 shampoos. Once a week could be too much if that's the only time you wash your hair. The Two Minute Keratin Reconstructor doesn't contain great sealants, so I think the other recommended DCS are better alternatives. Thanks for commenting! Let me know if I can help with anything else.

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @KJ – I'm warning you, it stinks! Lol, but it's definitely a good bargain 🙂 Glad to help!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Anon 7:50 – You're very welcome and thanks for commenting! If you have to pick, it's always best to follow the instructions on the product. If a product isn't formulated to be used on dry hair most of it will end up going down the drain as soon as you start rinsing your hair. If DCing on dry hair works better for your schedule, you can try Kinky-Curly Midnight Miracle or L'Oreal EverStrong Overnight Repair Treatment.

  • Mary Jo says:

    Thanks for responding to me. I am using the Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque right now and I love this stuff. I wanted to see if it stacked up against what you recommended. After reading this post I went to my jar to check the ingredients against this post and saw that it was missing the protein and the sealants you suggested. On the upside Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque has Argan, Castor, Tea Tree, Chamomile, and Macadamia oil so I think it is good with the sealant properties and if not I seal with coconut oil simply because I love the smell of coconut in my hair. Thanks for the suggestion of looking for deep conditioners with panthenol.

  • Denni says:

    I've heard many horror stories from using Aphogee's Two Step Protein Treatment. Most say it's for extremely damaged hair & to be cautious in using it because it's really strong and can make your hair really hard. Is this true Nicole? Would you recommend using something this strong every week? Lastly could Aphogee's 2 minute protein treatment be a better option since it's a milder protein? Thanks!


  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Helen, Type 3 & 4 hair has high porosity because of its lifted cuticles. That means we need protein. I hope that helps. Thanks for your comment!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Katrina A – No problem! I know it's super common, but there's no benefit in leaving the product on longer than it says on the bottle. The maximum time recommended will get you the maximum possible results. Let me know if I can answer any other questions you may have 🙂

  • helen says:

    the products on this list are good for highly porous or medium porous hair. however, not for low porosity hair. curl junkie and kinky curly are two good brands for low porosity/protein sensitiv hair

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Spokenheart, @Pettite Diva – Glad you enjoyed the article!

    @Monique D, @Anon 7:40 – I completely understand your confusion and I know our community is getting tired of all the conflicting information out there! That's why I wrote my eBook that debuts next month (and this article is actually a preview excerpt!). I've definitely included more info about mineral oil to help you find the truth. If you prefer plant based sealants try shea butter or soybean oil. They don't seal as well as the other options, but they do help.

  • KJ says:

    I want to definitely try ApHogee. I have heard so many good things about it and it's budget friendly……gotta love that!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the article Nicole. What do you think of deep conditioning on dry hair prior to shampooing (ex. Aubrey Organics)?

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Anon 4:37, thanks for your comment! Healthy type 3 & 4 hair has high porosity because of it's lifted cuticles. Contrary to popular belief, if you feel any roughness, protein is not the culrpit. The conditioning ingredients in a good DC should make your hair smoother and softer. Let me know if I can address your concern any further 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree @monique d…one minute we read an article on here that says mineral oil, petroleum jelly is bad and cones are the worst then the next that all three is what you need! This has to stop it is completely confusing to everyone!

  • Monique D says:

    I thought that mineral oil was bad. Hair can be so confusing, but thanks for the deep conditioner guidelines.

  • Pettite Diva says:

    Thank you for the great information!

  • Katrina A says:

    Thank you for replying to my comment. Now I've thought of a question. Are there added benefits to leaving a DC in your hair for hours on end, or can you get all the benefits there are to get from following the recommended time frames on the packaging, even if it's only 3-5 minutes?

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Miss Jay – Lol, yes, love it up! Congrats on finding a winner! I know how it is when you don't have a good BSS close by. I'm glad I could help you find a winner in your city 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Fifidelic! Yup, all of the recommended DCs except Aphogee and Carol's Daughter are effective without heat. You can tell by reading the instructions. Products that tell you to apply and rinse after a few minutes usually have an ingredient blend that helps the protein penetrate without a dryer. Thanks for asking!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Mary Jo – First of all, you are WAY ahead of the game by reading the ingredients and trying to keep track of what's working! Great job!

    For now, try products that show panthenol at the top of the list because it works similar to hydrolyzed protein, except it doesn't penetrate the hair as much.

    This post is actually an excerpt from the eBook that I'm debuting next month, and because you are already very keen on what goes into your hair products (go you!) I know it has more of the information you're looking for! Happy DCing! Please let me know how it goes 🙂

  • Nicole says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • fifidelic says:

    Will these products be effective if one doesnt use/own a hooded dryer?

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Anon 3:50 – Thanks for your question! Curl Junkie Repair Me is a pretty good product. The main sealant is sunflower oil, which is why it didn't make the Recommendations list. That's not enough sealing power for our hair and I don't think you should have to add anything to a product that costs that much.

  • Miss Jay says:

    Hey, this is great information. I live in a small city with very few 'ethnic' beauty stores. I was in desperate need for a DC and so yesterday purchased Tressemme thermal recovery treatment mask (as I was unable to get my usual ORS replenishing conditioner). I'm very happy to say that it 'passed' the ingredient test. Now I can't wait to have a love affair with my hair….lol

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Jada, @Syd – Thanks for commenting! Gone and get your DC on! 🙂

  • toya says:

    Wow, you have no idea how many products I have passed up because I thought the ingredient meant alcohol and now I see it on the list of things to have this is going to make a difference in how I select my products now

  • Anonymous says:

    healthy virgin hair doesn't really need protein. protein treatments make high porosity hair feel super dry and rough.

  • Syd says:

    I use the Aphogee mentioned above about every 3 weeks or so but I use MISS JESSIE'S RAPID RECOVERY, weekly or every two weeks (if hair is straight). It works wonders!!!

  • Mary Jo says:

    Hi. I have a question I tried using hydrolyzed quinoa protein in a deep conditioner and my hair HATED it. My hair was like straw after using it and since then I avoided protein like the plague. Are there any alternatives for the protein in the deep conditioners? Or should I look for deep conditioners that list the protein further down their ingredient list?

  • Anonymous says:


    What do you think about Curl Junkie Repair Me as a protein/deep treatment?

  • Jada R. says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! I've been debating on a deep conditioner.

  • Spokenheart says:

    ow this is a very educational article! thanks so much for sharing!

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Tiffy! Thanks so much for the retweet! I really appreciate it!

    I understand that if you have had a bad experience in the past you can be apprehensive about some of the ingredients I have suggested. I'd love to know which ones in particular, would you mind sharing?

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Anon 2:44, @Jt: Cones have gotten a bad rep due to internet myths. The closest you can get to repairing damaged strands is to use a product that stays on for a few washes. There are plenty of gentle sulfate-free shampoos that can clean your hair enough to "bring back the bounce" without stripping it. Please read the article I wrote about silicones last year to get a better understanding… I hope that helps!

    If you prefer to avoid silicones, you can look for DCs that use shea butter or soybean oil. They do not seal the hair as well as the other options, but they do help.

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Hi Katrina, thank you for your comment!

    I can see how you can disagree. At the end of the day, it's all about how you feel about your hair. SO if you feel great that's all that matters!

    Old product residue blocks the deep conditioner. More of the product (the protein and the conditioning ingredients) will end up going down the drain if you don't shampoo first.
    I just don't want you to spend money on a good DC and then end up wasting it. Happy DCing! 🙂

  • Tiffy Stacey says:

    Great tips! I retweeted this earlier. I'm still weary of using any of the conditioners that have the "conditioning ingredients" you listed. My hair reacts differently to those and not in a positive way.

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Ayisha B: Your comment makes me so happy! My goal is to help you shop smart no matter what store you're at or what kind of product you're looking for. If I've helped you save money AND see results – I've done my job! Thank you for your comment!

  • Anonymous says:

    What she means by cones is silicones or the like. If you're following a Curly Girl routine – that means no sulfates, no parabens & no cones!

  • Ann says:

    I never know which conditioner is best I just use any and all in my co-washes.

  • Katrina A says:

    The section about what to look for in a DC is especially helpful for me. However, I'm not sure I agree with the comment about shampooing before applying a DC. Although it may have been scientifically proven that the hair will absorb the protein better, I still think it's beneficial to do a DC even if you do not shampoo. I've been DCing twice a week. Once on my wash day, when I do use some time of cleanser, then once again in the middle of the week without having shampooed. My hair feels wonderful after I DC both times, so for me, I still think there are benefits to my hair to DC even if I haven't shampooed first.

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @Trina: Yay! Thanks for posting and congrats! Do you want to share what your DC of choice is??

  • Ayisha B says:

    Thanks for this article. I am always thankful for the updates of information. While I'm not a PJ I am a conditioner junkie. I tend to think its the answer to everything wrong about my hair. This article will help me narrow my selections down 🙂

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    Thanks Anon 🙂

    @Jt: I'm not sure what you mean by "Various cones and ingredients that promote build-up"…would you mind elaborating?

  • TRINA says:

    WOW! Thanks to you Nicole, and you VERY informative article I know now I've truly found a keeper. Awesome Job!!!

  • Jt says:

    Various cones and ingredients that promote build-up are still being advocated………why.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great info, thanks.

  • Nicole Harmon says:

    @DYTG – Thanks for commenting! Glad to help 🙂

  • DYTG says:

    Great info. Thanks.

Leave a Reply