It goes without saying that the first step to a stellar deep conditioning session is a great deep conditioning product. Selecting the best deep conditioning product is personal though, as in, it should be specific to your hair and its needs. The one thing we should all have in common regardless of hair type or texture though is a great deep conditioner is going to have good slip. Essentially, products with slip will help your curls/coils to ‘slip’ past each other and untangle themselves easier. Slip is essential for the next tip.
The next tip for deep conditioning is detangling. You should absolutely be taking the time to detangle whenever you condition or deep condition your hair. It is non-negotiable. Seriously, this is the best time to do it, mostly because of all that slip your amazing deep conditioner is providing you. The slip will make detangling easier and less time-consuming so be liberal with your application. Don’t be stingy. The other important part to detangling is how you do it, and there are a few ways to choose from. A lot of naturals love to detangle with a wide-toothed comb. Emphasis on wide. Please don’t make the mistake of attempting to detangle your curly/coily/kinky hair with a rat tail or regular comb. Using a wide-toothed comb, in my opinion, can up speed up the detangling process as well as helping to evenly distribute the product throughout your hair. The latter part of that is important. All strands matter–don’t give some more love (a.k.a moisture) than others. Another option is finger detangling. Finger detangling requires patience because it’s more time consuming and you’ll also need to remember to be gentle as a result to avoid causing damage. There’s really no better or worse (provided again you’re using a wide-toothed comb), it’s all about preference.
In my opinion, a deep condition isn’t a true deep condition without the addition of heat. Some of you may disagree but I said what I said and I mean it! For this reason, I add heat to every single deep condition session I have. It should be no secret that heat helps to open up the pores and prepare them to receive moisture. This is the reason you’re supposed to wash your hair with warm water and rinse conditioner out with cool water. Cool water helps to close the pores which would seal in the moisture imparted by adding conditioner. So if you’re going to deep condition your hair, why wouldn’t you want to want your hair to get as much moisture as possible from the product you’re spending all that time applying? Now you may be wondering how to go about adding that heat. It’s not a stupid question and there are plenty of ways (inexpensive ones too) to go about it:
- Body Heat – Using your own body heat to add heat to your deep conditioning treatment is not only easy but it’s FREE. All you need to do is place a processing/shower cap or a plastic grocery bag over your hair and then put a hat on top of that. One of those cloth winter hats would be perfect. Doing this works for the same reasons why your Mom made you wear a hat when it’s cold outside. The hat traps the heat that would otherwise escape from the top of your head.
- Dryer – This is the tried and true method but if I’m honest, it’s my least favorite. Am I the only one who absolutely HATES sitting under the dryer regardless of why (deep conditioning or actually drying)?
- Steamer – Steamers are somewhat of a newer technology in the hair world but would be great for adding heat to give your treatment a boost. Hair steamers are available in same style as the hair dryers you sit under and there are also handheld steamers.
- Thermal Cap – This is by far my favorite method! Thermal caps are another newer technology in the hair world but I love them because they are right in the middle of using body heat and sitting under a dryer. Pop it in the microwave for 45 seconds on each side and place it on top of your processing/shower cap to add heat to your deep conditioner.
ADD AN OIL
Have you ever felt your hair and decided that it need some serious TLC? I mean, a time you’ve touched it and it was so dry that you wondered if even the best deep conditioner you owned could do anything to save it? I’ve definitely been there more than once. But worry not, there’s a way you can boost any deep conditioner to do even more for your hair. Add an oil. That’s right. Choose your favorite oil, or any you have on hand, like a grapeseed, sweet almond, or even olive oil, and mix it with your deep conditioner to give it a moisture boost. It’s important to remember that you should do your mixing in your palm and not directly in the product’s package.
DON’T OVERDO IT
Last but certainly not least, don’t overdo it. This is an important tip. Remember that golden rule that applies to virtually everything in life? “Everything in moderation.” Including deep conditioning. In my “8 Common Natural Hair Mistakes” post, I talked about how not following the directions on the product can many times be a mistake. To keep us talking on even terms, by mistake, I don’t mean that there are necessarily negative results like all your hair falling out. What I mean is you could be dedicated to doing something that isn’t providing any real benefits. In laymen’s terms sis, you’re wasting your time. There’s this odd trend throughout the natural hair community of deep conditioning overnight. Not only is it not necessary, it can be too much. The concept of over-conditioning is just as real as drinking too much water. Anything porous has a saturation point which is essentially the point at which its pores can no longer accept any more moisture or liquid. The object/pores are full. So if you deep condition your hair and it’s reached its saturation point, there’s no longer any benefit to keeping the product in your hair. I’ve ever seen a conditioner, hair mask, or deep conditioning product that instructs application longer than 45 minutes. I’m willing to bet a pretty penny this is why. So while everyone loves to say “to each his own” and “do what works for you,” if you take nothing else from this post, know that deep conditioning overnight is pointless. That deep conditioner stopped “working” long before you planned to wash it out.