Do you ever wonder what conditioners do or if they’re really necessary at all? Some people would never dream of skipping conditioner (how else will I get silky, soft hair?!), while others insist conditioning isn’t necessary (hello, oily hair here!). So which is right?
It helps to understand a little more about the function conditioners perform. Here’s how conditioners work on your hair.
They Add Moisture
Your tresses need plenty of moisture to stay healthy, but sometimes, it seems like everything conspires to dry out your strands. Blow dryers, styling tools, wind, sunlight, salt water, shampoo, and heat all pull moisture from your hair. And if you don’t replace it, your hair becomes dry, frizzy, brittle, and easily broken.
That’s where conditioners come in. When you condition your hair, moisturizing ingredients penetrate the hair shaft, replenishing the moisture you’ve lost. Think of conditioner as a lotion for your hair. In fact, you’ll find some of the same ingredients in both lotion and good conditioners. For example, shea butter and cocoa butter are excellent for conditioning your hair.
And just like your skin, your hair will show signs it’s lacking moisture. So if your tresses are feeling parched, it’s definitely time to condition them. Remember, your hair may need some extra TLC from time to time, too. If your hair is super parched, try using a DIY mask once or twice a week to deep condition your hair.
Conditioners Seal Your Cuticles
No matter how much moisture you add to your hair, it won’t do any good if your strands can’t hold onto it. And that’s a big reason you should never skip conditioning your hair after shampooing it. Let’s take a microscopic look at your locks.
Each strand of your hair is composed of several layers. The exterior is called the cuticle, and it’s made up of overlapping scales. Next is the cortex, which is made of twisted proteins. It’s what allows your hair to stretch a bit before breaking. And at the center of your hair, you may have a spongy layer called the medulla. Coarse hair tends to contain a medulla, while finer hair typically does not.
So what does all this have to do with conditioners? We’re glad you asked. When you shampoo your hair, surfactants lift the layers of your cuticle to allow the shampoo to clean your hair. But if you don’t seal your cuticles again, they remain open, exposing the inner layers to damage and making your hair prone to breakage. Fortunately, conditioners do a great job of sealing your cuticles and locking moisture inside your hair.
Conditioners Bring Needed Positivity
No, your conditioner won’t give you a pep talk. But it will bring a much-needed positive charge to your hair. When hair dries out, it tends to have a negative charge. That’s a big part of why you experience frizz and flyaways. Thankfully, conditioners provide an easy fix. They’re positively charged to counteract the negative charge hair tends to accumulate.
You’ve probably noticed that your hair feels smoother after conditioning it. This is why. Your cuticles are sealed, and the negative charge your hair had before conditioning is counteracted. So your strands can lie smooth and flat instead of becoming frizzy.
Conditioners are an essential part of any good hair care routine. So make it a habit to condition every single time you wash.
Need help choosing the right conditioner for your hair? Take our quiz here!