Deep conditioning is something that you may never need to do if you can keep your hair in a good shape through other measures, including regular conditioning. If your hair gets damaged or dry, however, if you tend to bleach and dye it frequently or if it’s just naturally drier, deep conditioning your hair every once in a while can be a great way to breathe new life and freshness into your locks.
How does deep conditioning work, however, and what do you need to do?
In essence, deep conditioning can be done even with a regular conditioner and it can be as simple as leaving it on for a while longer. If your hair definitely needs deep conditioning, however, you’d do well to go through the steps below a bit more meticulously.
Step-by-step guide for deep conditioning your hair
Deep conditioning is also referred to as “hair masks” because it involves leaving the conditioner or other DIY masks on your hair for an extended period of time, often by covering it with a shower cap as well. What type of mask you’re going to need depends a lot on your hair’s needs but there are generally two types of deep conditioning masks:
- Protein-based deep conditioning masks.
- Moisturizing deep conditioning masks.
The goal of the first is to give your hair as much nutrition and strength as possible while the goal of the second is to moisturize dry hair. There are “in-between” masks that do both relatively well too so choosing your mask is the first important step for a successful deep conditioning procedure. Whether you choose a commercial conditioner or you make a mask with some of the ingredients in your kitchen, however, the step-by-step guide for the deep conditioning itself remains relatively similar:
1. Wash your hair
If your hair is in a bad shape, using a strong shampoo can be ill-advised, however, you do need to wash your hair properly so you’ll still want to use a gentle shampoo to get the job done.
2. Apply the conditioner
Apply your mask/conditioner of choice the way you’d apply a general rinse-out conditioner – gently spread it through all your hair with your hands, starting from the middle of your strands and moving to the tips, and then spreading it near the base as well but not on the skin. Use a wide-tooth comb for even better results if you want but even if you just work with your hands, make sure the mask is well-spread over your hair and especially on the tips.
3. Leave the conditioner or mask on for quite some time
How long to deep condition is one of the most common questions people ask but there’s no set-in-stone rule about this. It depends on the mask or conditioner itself, on your hair’s type and needs, as well as on how much conditioner you’ve applied. Commercial conditioners will have the time listed on the packaging or you can consult with your personal hairstylist as well as they should know your hair’s needs best.
Generally, for a good deep conditioning procedure, you’d want to leave the mask on for at least 10 minutes or up to 30 or 40 minutes. The 20-30 minute period is the most cited timeframe by most people but again – it depends on your hair’s needs.
4. Put on a cap if you want
Not really a must-do step but putting on a shower cap can be convenient as it will help keep everything where it’s supposed to be. This way you can spend the 10-40 minutes waiting for the conditioner to set in doing something else around the house.
5. Consider applying heat
This isn’t always necessary and again depends on the type of mask/conditioner and on your hair’s needs. A lot of protein-based deep conditioners do work better if you apply a mild amount of heat through a blow dryer’s low setting while your hair is under the shower cap. The warmth from the blow dryer is useful as it helps your hair’s cuticles to open up a bit more and soak up more from the conditioning treatment. Don’t apply too much heat, however, and keep the dryer at a distance of at least 10-15cm (~5-6 inches) from your hair. Also, skip this step if you’re using a strictly moisturizing conditioner.
6. Rinse it all out
Give your hair a good rinse and let it dry. And that’s about it!
As you can see, the method is fairly simple and straightforward. What’s not so simple, however, is what you’re going to use for your conditioning mask. Below we’ll list some of the main scenarios and types of hair you might want to deep condition. You can find a commercial product for all of them and if it’s of a good enough quality, we’d recommend using it (we’ll refrain from doing ads about particular products here). Alternatively, you can also use DIY masks with basic kitchen ingredients as well and these can and should be quite different for each type of hair.
How to deep condition curly hair?
Curly hair tends to dry up easily and gets frizzy quickly. Deep conditioning helps with both these problems, particularly when it offers good hydration. DIY moisturizing masks can include a whole host of ingredients such as yogurt, olive oil, eggs, coconut milk, honey, avocado, banana milk, lemon juice, Aloe Vera, almond oil, and more. Whichever ingredients you pick for your DIY recipe, remember not to use heat while deep conditioning.
How to deep condition relaxed hair?
Deep conditioning relaxed hair is a good idea if you want to add thickness and shine to your locks and a mix of protein-based and moisturizing ingredients works well in most situations. You can simply use a standard rinse-out conditioner, add some olive oil or eggs to it, or make your own DIY mask with basic ingredients such as coconut oil, avocado, eggs, olive oil, banana, milk, or yogurt.
How to deep condition damaged hair?
Nutritional and protein-based recipes are vital for damaged hair. With either combination of the following ingredients, you can either make your own mask or add to a commercial rinse-out conditioner: shea butter, argan oil, coconut oil, eggs, yogurt, pumpkin, honey, olive oil, avocado, or castor oil. Apply mild and gentle heat as you wait for the mask to set in.
How to deep conditioner low porosity hair?
Heat can also be useful when deep conditioning low porosity hair as it can help the mask get to your hair more effectively. Aside from that, using a good mix of protein-based and moisturizing ingredients is a good idea or you can lean one way or the other based on what your hair needs.