If you’re a natural, you know this fact very well: learning how to deep condition natural hair is an absolute must. A non-negotiable.
Period, point blank, full stop.
There are many benefits to deep conditioning. From deeper product penetration and intense hydration, to general self-care, deep conditioning natural hair is essential to any natural hair routine.
Often we hear of people using a regular conditioner in place of a deep conditioner.
Some naturals will simply conduct their wash day routine and skip deep conditioner altogether, moving right into the styling stage.
Although we’re not here to shame anyone, your natural hair NEEDS deep conditioner. We can’t stress that enough.
And, despite what some people say, there is a right and wrong way to deep condition.
We’re here to show you what that looks like.
Ready to find out the best way to deep condition natural hair? Let’s get into it!
What Is Deep Conditioning?
A deep conditioner is a product formulated to deeply condition the hair from the inside out.
The ingredients used in a deep conditioner differ from those of a regular conditioner such that regular conditioners only soften the outside of the hair shaft, but does nothing to treat all hair layers.
Because of this, regular conditioner should NOT replace a deep conditioner. Regular conditioners weren’t made that way!
With that in mind…
What Are The Benefits of Deep Conditioning?
→ Benefit 1: Elasticity
Pull one of your curls downwards. Does it bounce back into its original position? If it doesn’t, it means that your hair has lost its elasticity.
Elasticity is one of the most amazing features of natural hair. The keratin (otherwise known as protein) is responsible for keeping your curls bouncy and coily.
There exists a fine balance in your hair – moisture/protein. If one is off balance, your hair will be dry, dull and possibly brittle.
In this case, adequate deep conditioning is the best way to balance a protein overload.
→ Benefit 2: Prevents Breakage
Deep conditioners also have a restorative aspect too. Although you can’t necessarily repair split ends (don’t believe any brand that tries to sell you on this), you can definitely treat damaged, dry ends – the precursor to split ends.
In other words, the answer to stop breakage: moisture.
Any solid deep conditioner should be able to hydrate the hair (i.e. have water as the first ingredient) and should also contain moisturizing ingredients (think aloe vera, glycerin, honey) in its ingredient list.
If it doesn’t, it may not be the best deep conditioner.
→ Benefit 3: Provides Deeper Penetration
The ingredients in deep conditioners are very different from other natural hair products.
Deep conditioners, as the name suggests, deeply condition the hair relative to other products.
Leave-in conditioners and regular, in-shower conditioners are there to soften the exterior of the hair shaft, giving us that soft, butter-like texture we love.
Deep conditioners also do that, but they have an additional layer: they aim at softening the interior of our hair shaft, too.
Delivery agents in their formulas bring the deep conditioner all up in our hair shaft, something that regular conditioners simply can’t do.
When Should I Deep Condition?
Deep conditioning should occur on freshly clean and slightly damp hair. Never deep condition on dry hair.
A deep conditioning session should always be included in your wash day routine. Your wash day routine for natural hair will make or break your natural hair journey – and a deep conditioner is a key component of that.
If you don’t have time to deep condition, do not wash your natural hair (i.e. do not shampoo).
Shampoo can be intensely drying on the hair, and a good deep conditioner is needed to replenish the moisture once the shampoo has been washed off.
If you’re pressed for time, either delay your wash day (at least another day or two) or co-wash your hair instead.
Co-washing is a less harsh cleansing method – conditioners have the ability to adequately cleanse the hair, but note that they should not be used in place of a shampoo.
This is especially true for low porosity natural hair, as low-po hair tends to develop product buildup more readily.
If you have low porosity natural hair, we suggest shampooing your hair every 7-10 days, depending on your curl type. Try not to delay using a shampoo any longer than this!
How To Deep Condition Natural Hair
Now, to the fun part 🙂
There is no “one size fits all” policy when it comes to natural hair. In fact, what may work for your coils may not work for another, even if you both share the same curl type!
Generally speaking, Type 4 natural hair experience more dryness than other natural hair types. Look for hydrating deep conditioners that contain ingredients such as aloe vera, honey, glycerin, panthenol and cetyl alcohol.
How To Deep Condition Low Porosity Natural Hair
If you have low porosity natural hair, your cuticles are flat SHUT. Your coils are structured like a fortness: nothing goes in, and nothing goes out.
The bad news about this is that your deep conditioner will just sit on top of your head, and doesn’t penetrate into your hair shaft.
This is the total opposite of what we want. Thankfully, there’s a way we can bypass this!
The good news about this is that once the deep conditioner enters, the moisture it delivers will stay put, unlike our high porosity friends (more on this below).
So, how should one who is low porosity deep condition? One word: HEAT.
As a low porosity natural, heat will be your very best friend. Heat will allow your cuticles to loosen (almost like making space), resulting in product penetration.
There are two methods to getting heat into your low porosity natural strands. The first is using a hair steamer (which is quite expensive), but our favourite method is using this nifty must have natural hair tool below:
Hot Head Thermal Cap
Best for LOW-PO
Once the heat has been applied and the deep conditioner has penetrated into your hair (which normally takes around 25-30 mins), you want to LOCK THAT MOISTURE IN by washing off with cold water and following the LCO method.
How To Deep Condition High Porosity Natural Hair
High porosity natural hair has the opposite problem than their low porosity counterparts.
Unlike low porosity natural hair, high porosity natural hair has moisture-retention issues. The cuticles are raised to the point where moisture enters and leaves just as quickly.
To truly reap the benefits of deep conditioning as a high porosity natural, do the following:
❤ Deep condition for no longer than 25-30 minutes to reduce the risk of hydral fatigue;
❤ Wash out the deep conditioner for cold to lukewarm water to encourage cuticles to flatten;
❤ Immediately lock in moisture by following the LOC method;
❤ Every month, do an apple cider rinse down the length of your hair to assist in flattening your cuticles
The Bottom Line
Learning how to deep condition natural hair shouldn’t be a struggle!
Understanding that 1) you need a good deep conditioner with great, hydrating ingredients and 2) learning your porosity so you know how to optimize your deep conditioning session, your deep conditioning session will be perfect!