…by Susan Walker of Earthtones Naturals
Nothing is as important as your conditioner in the care of your hair. I find it interesting that many women purchase a cheap inferior quality shampoo and conditioner that does nothing good for their hair, and then wonder why their curls and coils feel dry, why their hair looks dull and why their hair is breaking.
Conditioners are meant to do a lot:
•Restore lost moisture
•Seal the cuticle
•Provide emollients and oils
•Soften the hair
•Make it easier to comb
•Strengthen the hair
How Conditioners Work
This section is a little technical but it’s important. Conditioning agents are typically cationic quaternary compounds. A cation is a positively charged molecule. This is important when it comes to conditioners because it is attracted to the negatively charged hair fiber and adsorbs (not absorbs) to the surface of the hair. Conditioners don’t penetrate into the hair but sit on the surface of the hair. Once the conditioner is on our hair, it’s not going anywhere. It’s resistant to
being rinsed off by just water alone. Natural, unprocessed hair typically has an acidic pH and is negatively charged. The more damaged or chemically treated, the higher the pH and the more negatively charged it is. As a result, conditioners will cling to hair that is more damaged and in need of condition and repair, than healthier strands.
Conditioners play the most important role in maintaining the delicate balance between protein and moisture in the hair.
Textured hair requires adequate conditioning regularly and we need to invest in a high quality (and not necessarily a high cost) conditioner. The main types of conditioner agents used in products for curly hair are cationic surfactants and polymers. They work together to improve hair softness and manageability, enhance shine and seal the cuticle. You may also find silicones (another topic for another day), emollients and oils that may either penetrate into the hair shaft and add “slip” to the hair, proteins, vitamins and botanicals that improve the health of the hair. We’ll examine these ingredients in more detail in subsequent posts.
A great conditioner should leave your hair feeling soft, detangled and moisturized. That feeling should remain well after the conditioner is washed off and while the hair is styled.
How does your hair feel after it’s conditioned?
Susan is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and the Founder and Creative Director of Canadian based haircare and bodycare line Earthtones Naturals.