Do you have dry hair? Deep conditioning hair masks might be just what you need for a softer, more manageable mane. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right one.
Let’s start with what causes your hair to be dry. One of the main reason hair gets dry is because it lacks internal sebum, an oil that lubricates your skin, scalp, and hair. Thus, your level of dryness depends on how much of it your sebaceous glands produce. Another factor is the amount of moisture your hair gets from external sources.
The production of sebum varies from person to person and changes throughout your life depending on your age, overall health, stress, and environment. Of course, your hair will also be drier if you dye it, bleach it, or heat style it. Some of these processes are more damaging than others. For example, the bleaching process consists of opening your hair strands to destroy your melanin – the natural pigment of your hair. You already know what heat does to anything it touches so we won’t bore you with details.
What Are Deep Conditioners?
The key hair care ingredients in most conditioners are humectants. Humectrants work much like magnets. They help your hair draw in moisture, such as water and emollients — also known as moisturizers. Both substances soften your hair and create a protective film around your strands, retaining moisture.
The best deep conditioner should contain higher concentrations of humectants and emollients than a regular one. You will want to keep this type of hair conditioner in your hair longer, about 20 to 30 minutes as it has a thicker, heavier concentration. The effects may actually continue to work for days as most are specifically formulated to penetrate your hair strands deeper than a daily conditioner that only smooths the surface.
The Benefits of Deep Conditioning
Hair products like daily and deep conditioners can improve the appearance of your hair; although, the impact of deep ones is more noticeable. Not only will it decrease frizz and help you detangle hair but it also boosts shine and smoothness.
How often you deep condition depends on the texture of your hair and how often you wash and heat style. For one, shampooing removes sebum so you should always follow up with a quick rinse-out conditioner.
Most hair can benefit from deep conditioning and you should do it about once per week. No, more isn’t better, and using it too frequently will only lead to product buildup. However, people with tight curls may need to deep condition more often because sebum travels down the hair and sort of gets caught up in loose curled strands. Which reminds us, don’t apply conditioner to your scalp, only to the hair strands, the tips in particular.
Furthermore, be sure to deep condition your hair before undergoing any chemical treatment such as dyeing, bleaching, straightening, or getting a perm.
Deep Conditioning at Home
Okay, so you’re here because you’ve already selected the most appropriate deep conditioner for you, one based on your hair type. (If you haven’t chosen one yet, see the list below for help.) Now, follow the instructions as they vary from product to product.
In general, your hair must be wet when applying a deep conditioner. Shampoo first if needed, but you may skip shampooing if your scalp isn’t dirty or oily.
Do you have extremely dry hair or tight curls? You’ll benefit most from applying deep conditioner close to the root of your hair. In turn, use a deep conditioner from the mid-shaft to the ends of your hair if it’s oilier, and a regular conditioner closer to your scalp.
Keep a wide-tooth comb in the shower to spread the product on your hair or use your fingers. As we said above, pay special attention to the ends. Keep it on for 20 to 30 minutes and then rinse it with tepid water to help it seal the hair.
Commercial Deep Conditioners
1. Biolage Ultra Hydra Source Conditioning Balm
This is an anti-frizz deep conditioner designed to replenish hair moisture in extremely dry hair. It’s silicone-free and suitable for vegans. The product is available in 13.5 and 33.8 fluid ounces and currently holds 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon, where it sells for $21 and $34 USD respectively.
Inspired by the refreshing aloe plant, this conditioning balm helps optimize moisture balance by conditioning thick, coarse, dry hair for lasting moisture. It’s perfect for dry, damaged, chemically-treated hair.
A happy reviewer says this is the first product that performs the way they need it and leaves their hair soft and smooth and not sticky at all like other leave-ins. It didn’t weigh their hair down and had a wonderful scent. They add that a small amount does a nice job of detangling and conditioning the hair ends without leaving them greasy so they use it every hair washing day – about 3 times a week. Most people also love the smell of the product.
- STUNNING SOFT SHINY SILKY HAIR IN MINUTES - Professional Renewing Silk Softener With Keratin Collagen Moroccan Argan & Coconut Oils for Sleek Smooth Natural Beauty & Shine & Luxury Salon Perfect Hair
2. Vitamins Keratin Hair Mask Deep Conditioner
This is a creamy deep conditioning treatment for curly or straight thin fine hair. It contains biotin protein with castor oil for repairing damaged, color-treated hair. The product currently holds 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon and comes in an 8.45 fluid ounce container. BTW, Vitamins, the company, has been manufacturing premium products since 1943.
The product can help you strengthen, hydrate, soften, and add shine to your wavy hair as well as keep frizz at bay by repairing breakage. The manufacturer promises stunningly soft, shiny, and silky hair in a matter of minutes. This is because it contains keratin collagen, and Moroccan argan and coconut oils, that smooth and soften hair, adding natural beauty and shine. The kind of results that you usually only get at a beauty parlor.
It’s safe, weightless formula won’t weigh down thin fine hair. In fact, its light, non-oily, formula also makes it a good volumizing product for wavy and normal textures. The formula is free of sulfate parabens, alcohol, and strong chemicals. It isn’t tested on animals so it’s cruelty-free.
A happy reviewer who had severely damaged hair due to a few years of bleaching and highlights, as well as early menopause and stress, was concerned when her long thick hair began to break off and fall out. She had been struggling with dryness and trying to grow it back for at least a couple of years when she came across this product and is thrilled with the results.
Her hair now feels lighter and cleaner as the product leaves no residues. Thus, it’s soft and looks much healthier. Not only that, the results were immediate. This particular reviewer loves the smell, but others highly dislike it.
3. Artnaturals Argan Hair Mask Conditioner
This 8-ounce deep conditioning hair mask is a powerful blend of Moroccan Argan oil and botanical extracts like sea buckthorn, kelp, and land plants like marigold to smooth frizz and flyaways. The botanical formula is carefully crafted from the unique blend of marine weeds mentioned above. It can immediately transform dull, dry hair into smooth shiny, silky hair and rejuvenate distressed tresses.
According to the manufacturer, the properties of Argan oil counteract hair loss by stimulating your scalp. Its rich nutrient content promotes hair growth, repairs split ends and prevents frizz. It’s particularly good for counteracting damage from sun-exposure, blow-drying, and flat ironing as well.
Artnaturals products are sulfate- and paraben-free and contain only natural ingredients like the aforementioned argan oil and also aloe vera, coconut oil, keratin, botanical extracts, and vitamins. The product currently holds 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon and is suitable for all types of hair.
Happy reviewers report that this product has done wonders for their scalp and psoriasis as it moisturizes it without overloading it with chemicals. They add that their hair smells and looks great and so it’s overall a fantastic product for anyone with scalp issues and needing some extra hair love overall.
Some reviewers report that the product smells really good but, others don’t like it as much as the scent is neither feminine nor masculine. It usually lasts all the way to the next wash though.
4. Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner by Arvazallia
This is an 8.45-ounce professional salon treatment that can instantly transform the texture of your hair leaving it soft, silky, and easier to manage. The product currently holds 4.5 out of 5 stars and is best for dry or damaged hair but also good for any type of hair.
It contains the highest quality cosmetic-grade Argan oil rich in essential vitamins and nutrients and is sulfate and paraben-free. Intended for repairing, restoring, and strengthening weak, damaged, and overprocessed hair, it also promotes natural hair growth.
Not only that, it can help you moisturize hair for easier detangling so it revives the look of dull and dry hair by adding shine and improving its manageability and elasticity.
A happy reviewer with curly hair thinks it’s the best product they’ve used on their hair. They noticed the product is not as good for those with fine and straight hair but it really softens and conditions curls and the effects last several days — even after bleaching.
In turn, a rather unhappy reviewer, who’s also a hairdresser, says this conditioner worsened her curly hair. She was actually surprised to find out the product contains silicones and their derivatives, which aren’t good for naturally wavy or curly hair. In general, there was no improvement in her hair, and she thinks it was a waste of money.
- Aussie, deep conditioner, with avocado; paraben free, 3 minute miracle (Pack of 3), for dry hair, 16 fluid ounces
5. Aussie Deep Conditioner with Avocado
This is a triple pack of paraben-free, three-minute deep conditioning treatments for dry hair — each container holds 16 fluid ounces. The product currently holds 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon, where it sells for $22.00. It’s suitable for all hair types and its formulation contains avocado and Australian jojoba oil with citrus, florals, and musky scents.
A reviewer isn’t sure how he feels about this product though. The smell is amazing but doesn’t last. Similarly, the softness only lasts while his hair is wet. He has really curly hair and washing it with a simple shampoo and conditioner with cold water automatically leads to frizz. He bought the product hoping it could counteract it and it definitely helped. However, his curls aren’t as defined now. So, he’s kind of torn because he likes some of it but dislikes the rest. Not only that, he actually got a slight headache after using it.
- Deep conditioning formula that reconstructs, strengthens and smooths the hair by coating each strand
6. Brazilian Blowout Deep Conditioning Masque
The formula of this 8 fluid ounce creamy lotion is designed for deep conditioning to reconstruct, strengthen and smooth each strand of hair with exclusive protein nutrients. The product holds 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon and is paraben-free.
A happy reviewer says this mask is really good and repaired her hair after a double bleaching process. She had already tried many other brands but none worked and reports having been delighted from the moment she started using this deep conditioner because the hydration, protection, softness, and shine were immediate. She’s been using all the Brazilian Blow-Out products for 6 months and highly recommends them. In addition, most people praise the scent.
Can You Actually Reverse Heat Damage in Hair?
If you’ve been hot styling your hair on a regular basis you may have already noticed that your hair isn’t as shiny, soft, and full as it used to be. You may have more split ends and notice an excess of hair going down the drain when you shower. These are signs of heat-damaged hair.
This kind of damage occurs every time you use blowers, flat irons, curlers, and even chemicals to style your hair over an extended period of time. While most hot tools can reach a temperature above 400°F, your hair cannot really handle this kind of heat, regardless of whether it’s thin or thick and curly or straight.
Heat Damage Test
In order to find out if your hair is heat damaged, pull a wet strand straight from your head right after showering and then, carefully pull it from both ends. Does it stretch about a third and bounces back to its normal length? Your hair might be dry but isn’t too damaged. However, if you can only stretch it a little before it breaks or doesn’t stretch at all, your hair is definitely damaged.
Degrees of Heat Damage
There are three levels of damaged hair, the first includes lifted cuticles that make it seem jagged but the cortex isn’t exposed. Your hair is basically a bit duller and the ends thinner. Level two hair damage has abrasions in the cuticles and the cortex is exposed and thus, unprotected and more vulnerable to damage. Not only that, your hair color may fade and will feel rough as you have split ends.
Level three is the most extreme kind of hair damage, especially the cuticles. The cortex is unshielded and becomes weaker and the hair feels rough and coarse. It’s also dull, tangles and knots easily, and basically breaks off.
Is Hair Heat Damage Irreversible?
High temperatures can permanently alter the structure of the protein bonds in your hair strands. Each one of them is made up of keratin, a protein with a natural curve called the alpha helix. It’s present in both curly and straight hair.
So, the alpha helix of the keratin begins to melt when you heat it at temperatures higher than 400°F. The damage is permanent at this point and your hair will retain the shape of the melted keratin bonds. Any future hair that grows past the follicle is already made up of dead cells because these can’t adapt. Also, there are no active cells left to repair the damage.
As you can see, heat damage is irreversible once the protein bonds break and the hair cuticles crack and expose your inner cortex. Thus, it’s susceptible to further damage as is now weaker and not as pliable.
Furthermore, the hair strands start to split at the ends as it’s the oldest growth and the most damaged. If not corrected, these splits will move up the hair shaft and accentuate the damage. Not only that, the hair is no longer as elastic and so the strands are more susceptible to breakage. The ends will snap off and lead to flyaways.
So, the best way to deal with this kind of damage is to either prevent it or trim it often. In turn, extremely damaged hair requires extreme measures.
Did you know the damage done to your hair is cumulative? Indeed, the chances of heat-damaged hair after a single blow-dry or straightening session are slim. However, using hot tools at high temperatures on a regular basis changes the protein bonds and moisture levels of each strand. Eventually, those bonds break, and the hair hydrates again but you can no longer fix it. Of course, the damage will progress if you continue to use hot tools.
How Damaged Is Your Hair
Well, this one depends on what you’ve done to your mane in the past. Have you undergone chemical treatments like perms or relaxers? Do you towel dry it after you shower? Do you bleach or color it often? Do you moisturize after showering? Do you spend a lot of time under the hot sun? Do you brush aggressively to detangle?
A “yes” answer to any of the above questions indicates your hair might be damaged by environmental and mechanical factors besides heat.
The best mode of prevention is to get regular trims to manage and remove split ends. This gets rid of the most damaged parts of your hair, and it helps prevent the splits from moving further up the strands. Also, let your hair air dry whenever possible as the continued use of hot tools can exacerbate the damage.
Figuring out if and why your hair is damaged and to what extent is the first step to repairing it. Finally, picking the right deep conditioner or treatment from above may be the answer to fixing it!