However, hair can’t hold up against the vagaries of an urban lifestyle, which can leave it looking dull, and feeling rough and brittle. Fortunately, in most cases the damage can be repaired thanks to the breed of conditioners available today. They are our hair’s best line of defence. Here’s more about conditioners.
What they do
Hair is generally conditioned after a cleansing treatment (shampooing). Normally a shampoo is slightly alkaline in nature, which helps it clean the dirt or build up from hair products that settles on the hair. A conditioner is used to restore the hair back to its natural ph balance, which ranges between about 4.5 to 5.5. The cuticle scales of the hair strands open up on application of a shampoo. The conditioner smoothens the hair shaft and helps close the cuticles so that the hair surface appears smooth and shiny. It also helps repair the broken area of the cuticle and/or the cortex if it has sustained some damage.
The types of conditioners
Conditioners that help attract water or moisture are called moisturizers. The ones that retain water or moisture in the cortex are emollients. Some have anti-oxidants that are used specifically used for chemically treated hair (Coloured, highlighted or permed hair). Some conditioners are surface acting. They don’t enter the hair but just coat the hair shaft. They contain fats and waxes, lecithin, vegetable and mineral oils. Some conditioners are deep or penetrating conditioners. They go into the hair shaft to repair the cuticle or cortex of the hair. These conditioners, which contain various amino acids, emollients and moisturisers, also strengthen the hair. Leave-in conditioners are designed to help retain moisture, reduce static, and add shine. They are good for fine hair as they avoid conditioner overload, which can make the hair limp. These easy-to-use products provide a protective barrier against the effects of blow-drying. These don’t need to be rinsed off after you apply them on the hair.
The perfect conditioner for you
Conditioning varies according to the following categories:
- Normal hair
- Naturally dry hair
- Chemically treated hair
Normal, healthy hair also needs conditioning to maintain its quality. Products that have moisturising agents like aloe Vera and synthetic ingredients that help retain moisture and elasticity of the hair are recommended. You also need to be careful about getting a conditioner that’s specially formulated for normal hair. Basic conditioners for normal hair coat the hair – smoothing down the cuticle making the hair glossy and easier to manage.
Naturally dry hair
This type of hair is brittle most of the time due to lack of moisture. Using conditioning treatments for dry, brittle hair helps prevent breakage while combing, brushing, shampooing or even towel drying. They need conditioning products with emollients that retain moisture in the hair.
Chemically treated hair