Happy Hump Day../Almost Hump Day..! (Depending on where in the world you are!)
Isn’t it the greatest day to talk about the greatest topic: HAIR?! You know I could talk hair, all day, errday!? Haha! Let’s get to it, shall we?!
Deep Conditioning, Deep Conditioning…where to begin? By basic definitions, I presume.
What is Deep Conditioning?
Deep Conditioning refers to the process of treating (healing/restoring) your hair with a moisturizing or protein-based conditioner. The conditioning product that is applied to your hair might be specially formulated for deep treatment or it might even be simply a “boosted” regular conditioner or even a DIY concoction!
Deep Conditioning adds extra moisture or protein to our strands so as to ensure that they are strong and healthy! Yuuummm! 🙂
(Doncha worry! I’ll be expounding on all these different options over the course of this Deep Conditioning Series! Whoop!!)
When should I Deep Condition?
I prefer to deep condition weekly. This is the maximum period that I can go without washing my hair.
Wash Day Routine – Products I use and in what steps.
I wash my hair once a week on Mondays.
Best 4C Deep Condition Regime
1. I pre-poo (prepare my hair for shampooing) using coconut oil.
I apply the microwave-heated coconut oil to my dry matutas (three strand twists), put on a plastic cap and leave on overnight. Remember, water repels oil. So to ensure you get the most out of your prepoo, your hair needs to be dry. Also, coconut oil is absorbed into your hair strand and as such strengthens your hair shaft by preventing hygral fatigue (the weakening of the strand due to swelling during the uptake of water).
(Watch this YouTube Video on how I prepoo my hair!)
2. I shampoo my hair using a Shea Moisture Shampoo.
3. I then condition my hair with a Shea Moisture Conditioner.
3. I deep condition my hair using Shea Moisture Manuka Honey OR Obia Naturals Deep Conditioning Treatment. I add 1 tspn of honey and 1 tspn of olive oil to my mix. Hydration galore! I then go to my local salon for a 45 minute steaming session.
Check out this series for detailed tips on how to maximize your Deep Conditioning Sessions.
4. I then rinse off the DC with warm water and do an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse to restore my hair’s pH to 4.5. I put it on for 4-5 mins.
5. I then rinse off my hair with cool water. Cool water keeps your cuticles flat while hot water lifts them and let’s all the moisture we’ve worked so hard to capture, escape!!
6. My last and final rinse is done with ice cold water!! Yep! I’m a brave heart! Hahaha!
7. I then wrap my hair in an old cotton t-shirt or leso. Cotton t-shirts prevent mechanical damage caused by rubbing your hair with a towel.
7. I then let my hair air dry till it is 70% dry.
8. I apply my leave-in conditioning mix: 1 tspn of Aloe Vera Juice, followed by a coin size amount of Kinky Curly Knot Today, Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Hold and Shine Moisture Mist, and Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Style Mix (I didn’t know it had such a long name till I had to type it out! Smmmh!), and some olive oil.
9. Seal with olive oil/coconut oil on my ends and castor oil on roots the of my hair.
10. Lock it all in Apply Shea Butter and Karen’s Body Beautiful to the ends of my hair.
The process takes me 5 or so hours from start to finish, as my hair is always in three strand braids/two strand twists to prevent breakage from matting and over manipulation.
I wear my satin bonnet over my two strand twists or moisturize my hair using the Green House Method. Click here to find out more.
Once a month
I apply Henna once a month as a strengthening treatment.
Types of Deep Conditioning Products for 4c hair
When I first returned to natural haircare, I was super duper confused about the whole moisture/protein balance thingy!
Simply put, this is what moisture/protein balance means: for our hair to thrive, it must receive both moisture and protein, but not necessarily in equal measure. Type 4 hair requires more moisture due to its lifted cuticles.
However, it is also one of the weakest hairtypes due to the kinks and coils along the hair shaft. These kinks and coils can be potential points of breakage, and therefore need to be enforced with protein.
Moisturizing Deep Conditioners
Moisturizing Deep Conditioners infuse our strands… (Infuse, what a pretty word!).. with water. Yes, water. The only moisturizing element on the planet is WATER. Oils cannot be moisturizing, Butters cannot be moisturizing.
Only water is moisturizing. Moisturizing Deep Conditioners contain water/aqua as their first ingredient. They may also have Aloe Vera Juice as another prominent ingredient.
Typically, a great moisturizing deep conditioner will have these ingredients: Aqua/Deionized Water/Water, Aloe Vera Juice, Behentrimonium Chloride, Argan Oil, Tocopherol, Pathenol…etc etc. If you see one with Red 33 Cl 17200, run! These are preservatives and stabilizers that do absolutely zilch for your hair!!!!
This is a great website on which you can compare hair products based on ingredients. It only ships within the US, from what I know. But loads of resellers are shipping internationally from Facebook “markets”, ebay.com, amazon.com and even etsy.com. So check ’em out if you’re keen.
Protein-based Deep Conditioners
Protein Deep Conditioners infuse (there’s that pretty word again!) our strands with PROTEIN. At its most basic level, a hair strand is made of protein. However, wear and tear caused from the elements chips away at the integrity of our hair strands. When proteins are applied to our hair, they fill in the sections of the strands underneath the follicles and in so doing, fortify the structure of the strand.
Protein Deep Conditioners contain ingredients such as Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Silk Amino Acids…etc.
Not all protein deep conditioners are of equal strength! Some Protein DC’s are realllly strong! The old school ( ie when-we-were-addicted-to-creamy-crack) products such as Motions Deep Penetrating Treatment have a high concentration of protein. This can actually be really harmful to your hair’s health. In order to find a protein deep conditioner that works for you, invest some time in reading product reviews and watching Youtube reviews. (Check out this YouTube product review I did a while back on Hello Curlies Products.)
Note Better 1: Hydrolyzed Protein has been altered such that it is small enough to actually penetrate the hair strand. Some protein molecules are too big and therefore simply sit on top of the strand. This means, that in actuality, they aren’t strengthening at all. Hydrolyzed protein molecules are small enough to fit under our hair’s cuticle. This means that they strengthen the hair strand.
Note Better 2: I’ve found that in order to achieve a protein/moisture balance, I use my moisturizing deep conditioner every week. I use my protein conditioner only once a month.
Note Better 3: Some deep conditioners are moisturizing but contain lots of protein. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you’d have to watch your hair’s progress. If your hair likes it, well, you’ve killed two birds with one stone!
General pointers on selecting 4c deep conditioners:
There’s lots of really great marketers out there. They label their products as “moisturizing” and “hydrating”. They claim that their product will “add shine”, “restore bounce”, “get rid of embarrassing flakes”…etc, etc. That’s all nice and dandy. But a product, at the end of the day, is the sum of its ingredients. The formulation of a product is what allows it to do its job.
Typically, the first 5 ingredients are the most important. An ingredients lists for a really great deep conditioner may read something like this: “Water, Aloe Vera Juice, Centromonium Bromide, Behentrimonium Chloride, Coconut Oil…”. This set of ingredients have been scientifically proven to penetrate the hair strand.
A marketing gimmick might read something like this: “Aqua, Paraffinium Liquidium, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Citronellol…”. Ugh! These ingredients not only do little, if anything, for the health of your hair, they may be carcinogenic and therefore harmful to your health.
Generally, these are ingredients you need to be wary of:
1. Silicones – should be applied sparingly. Can cause heavy coating on hair.
2. Sulphates – not all are bad, but most strip the strand of good oils, leaving your hair dry.
3. Mineral Oil/Petrolatum/Petroleum – may clog your hair follicles and stunt your hair growth.
4. Parabens – most are carcinogens and are therefore harmful to your health.
5. Alcohols – this is a highly fraught ingredient in the natural hair community. There’s tens if not hundreds of alcohols, so do your research on each alcohol listed before you purchase your product.
How do I ensure that I get the maximum benefits from Deep Conditioning?
Well, firstly, to have healthy long hair, we must be on a consistent hair regimen. We can’t deep condition weekly for one month then fall off the bandwagon for three months! Consistency is key when it comes to growing your best head of hair! This means coming up with a deep conditioning cycle/hair regimen and sticking to it!
How do I maximize my product use when Deep Conditioning?
Great question! I’ll fully address this question in Part 3 (Arrgghh! I can’t help but be such a tease, now can I? Haha!)
There’s several ways to maximize your product use when Deep Conditioning. You can use your body’s natural heat, a hooded dryer or even a hair steamer! But not for all deep conditioning products! I’ll be sure to expound on how and why you must maximize product use when Deep Conditioning in Part 3 (There goes that teaser again! 🙂 )
Maintenance and Styling
Call me a lazy natural if you will, but two strand twists are my go-to style! In my first year of haircare I had lots of fun with buns and marley braids, yarn locs and all that shazam. Now that my hair is longer, I stick to very simple styles. Check out a styling series here.
I also take a Daily Women’s multivitamin with Biotin and Zinc.
When, in my weekly hair regimen, should I Deep Condition?
I deep condition my hair after pre-pooing/co-washing my hair. (I expound on pre-pooing in this YouTube video here. Co-washing is the process of using a conditioner rather than a shampoo to wash your hair. Many naturalistas claim that this is less drying to their tresses.) I apply my deep conditioner to my wet, freshly washed hair. After deep conditioning, I rinse and air dry my hair.
What products should I use for Deep Conditioning?
This is an entire post of its own, so look out for part 2! (Such a tease, ain’t I?!)
How should I apply my Deep Conditioner?
With natural hair, it’s best to apply all your products from tip to root/scalp. This is because the hair that is brushing on our shoulders is the oldest, and the most prone to damage. When applying your Deep Conditioner, begin by sectioning off your hair. (Watch this YouTube video here on how I section and detangle my hair.) Then, on each section, use the smoothing method (Watch this YouTube video here on how I use the smoothing method to apply my pre-poo.) Don’t forget to saturate your hair with your products! Also, remember to lather some of that good stuff on your scalp!
DIY Deep Conditioning Recipes for 4c hair
1. More Moisture Mix
Generally, the following ingredients have lots of moisture – coconut milk, aloe vera juice, honey, glycerin and banana.
1. 1 cup of coconut cream
2. 1 tablespoon of honey
3. 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Mix these ingredients into a thick paste and apply onto your freshly washed hair, then don your plastic cap. You’ll looooveee the results!
2. Protein Mix
Generally, the following ingredients have lots of protein – egg, mayonnaise, greek yoghurt, gelatin, avocado.
1. 1 cup of Greek Yoghurt
2. 1 tablespoon of Mayo
3. 2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil
I absolutely loove this mix. My hair feels really loved after this – like literally. My kinks and coils are bouncy and shiny. Trust me this recipe is swank!