We are often told that one of the most important things to do to keep our hair in perfect condition is to use a deep conditioning treatment twice a week and leave it on for at least 20 minutes. But as we’ve seen in a previous post, most conditioning ingredients can’t penetrate into the hair shaft, and so all they do is coat the strands, making hair appear nice and healthy, but don’t actually repair it.
So I started wondering, is it the same with deep conditioners? Is it wishful thinking to believe that deep conditioning hair is more beneficial than using a plain old conditioner or is this treatment really effective? To answer that question, we need to know how conditioners work.
How conditioners work
Washing hair, heat from blow dryer and other styling tools, sun exposure and harsh weather are all factors that can strip hair of the natural oils that keep it moisturized, causing it to become dry, brittle and prone to breakage. So we apply conditioners and deep conditioning treatments to restore lost moisture to hair.
But how is this possible considering that you can’t open and close cuticles at will? Hair cuticles, in fact, don’t open (well some chemical process such as hair relaxing can open them but these are harsh treatments not done at home) and you really wouldn’t want them to anyway because their function is to protect the inner hair cortex by keeping things out of it.
The cuticles perform their functions so well that only very few natural oils, such as Coconut Oil and Olive Oil, and water can actually penetrate inside the hair shaft. All other ingredients remain on the surface and smooth cuticles by filling in gaps, make them lie flat so that they reflect light and look shiny, and just generally improve the feeling and appearance of hair. But they can’t repair hair or make it stronger.
So, is deep conditioning just wishful thinking?
In my opinion, yes and no. I believe that deep conditioning hair by applying olive oil or coconut oil on your locks and leave it there for 20-30 minutes can actually benefit hair, making it soft, stronger and more flexible. But if you’re using a deep conditioner that doesn’t contain these natural oils, then they’re not gonna perform any better than any regular conditioner regardless of how long you keep it on your locks.
But don’t throw them away. You can turn them into effective deep conditioners by pouring the amount of product you need to cover your entire hair into a small bowl or cup and add a teaspoon of either olive oil or coconut oil to it. Mix well and then apply it evenly throughout your hair.
Do you deep condition your hair?