The Ultimate Hair Conditioner Shopping Guide

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Young positive girl buying shampoo in shopping mall

You don’t need hair conditioner just for long, thick hair.  Every type, color, and length of hair benefits from the use of conditioner. Conditioners help to protect the hair from external damage, as well as lock in moisture and essential oils to keep your hair strong and healthy from within.  The daily washings, styling, and environmental exposures leave hair dry and brittle. This happens to everyone.  This is why everybody needs conditioner.

How To Find the Best Conditioner

There are two main types of conditioners to choose from; those you leave in and those you rinse out.  Depending on your hair type, personal preferences, and the extent of damage to your hair, you will find one of these to be better than the other.  As with all products, there are pros and cons to each type of conditioner.

 

  • Rinse-out conditioners: Pretty much every shampoo you buy will have a rinse-out conditioning partner on the shelf next to it. These typically contain fatty alcohols, which make the conditioner thick and creamy. This is what coats your hair, making it smooth and manageable.  In addition, these contain high molecular-weight silicones, which also coat the hair and add to a shiny appearance.   These conditioners work really well to create manageable hair after washing and are ideal for normal to thick hair.  The silicones and fatty alcohols tend to feel thick and heavy so many prefer not to use them.  If you have thin or fine hair, you can still use rinse-out conditioners but use the ones without silicones and apply only to the bottom third of your hair.
  • Leave-in conditioners: It might seem that leave-in conditioners would weigh your hair down even more but the truth is these products are actually lighter. These products rely on low molecular weight silicones and humectants.  The humectants provide moisture to the hair without leaving it heavy and the silicones add shine and smoothness.  These silicones, however, are more volatile meaning they evaporate quickly, which is what prevents your hair from looking weighed down. It is important to use best leave-in conditioner recommended for your hair type. An ingredient known as quats in these conditioners help to keep hair looking healthy because they stick to the damaged areas.  Leave-in conditioners are best when there is a lot of styling done on hair, as they double as a natural protector from heat.

 

 

Making The Right Choice

Conditioners are not able to reverse the damage already done but they can restore shine and mask split ends.  Additional treatments and methods will be required to repair damage but conditioners help to keep the hair healthy during the repair process.  There are a few important ingredients you should look for in a conditioner including:

  • silicones for smoothness
  • amino acids for strength
  • provitamins for moisture
  • mineral oils for protection
  • Sulfate-free for shine

Most conditioners will contain these essential ingredients, but you definitely want to make sure you are looking for them.  Outside of the ingredients, the choice of conditioner comes down to your hair type.  When it comes to volume, texture, color, and treatment there are certain products that work better according to your specific hair.

  • Volume: If you have thicker hair, it will benefit more from a nourishing conditioner that is also lightweight. Thinner hair is healthier when conditioned with moisturizing products and those containing fatty alcohols.  These heavier molecules stick around longer to help moisturize the hair.
  • Texture: If your hair is naturally straight or curly, your choice of conditioner will not impact the level of straightness or curliness. Permed hair required thicker conditioners to help protect from the drying damage of the applied chemicals.  Those with curly hair tend to get more scalp build up since the oils ‘get stuck in the curls’ as they make their way through the hair, resulting in dry ends.  Moisturizing conditioners are, therefore, ideal for curly hair.
  • Color: Artificial coloring exposes your hair to chemicals that natural colors do not see. You want to choose a moisturizing conditioner that will invigorate the scalp, as well as nourish the ends.  The more natural ingredients in the conditioner, the better your dyed hair will look.
  • Treatment: Similar to perming, the act of straightening or relaxing exposes your hair to harsh treatments. To repair damage from this and to keep your hair looking healthy, use a moisturizing conditioner with natural oils to reduce the friction when combing it out.   Pair this with a densifying shampoo to get even healthier results.

 

The most important part of hair health resides in overall health. The more nutrients and vitamins you have, the more nourished your hair will be.  Conditioners cannot repair damaged hair alone because the repair starts from within.  Changes in diet and lifestyle, as well as hair regimens, are what will keep hair healthy from the inside.  The right conditioner will definitely enhance your hair’s appearance and support healthy growth from the outside. Here is a great reference to get a full review of the top hair conditioners for your mane.

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