Learn the process of a good deep conditioning treatment
Deep conditioning* relaxed or natural black hair is the most important aspect of hair care. A good deep conditioning treatment should leave the hair feeling soft and very moisturized. Also, depending on the styling afterwards, the hair should remain like this throughout the day.
How often to deep condition your hair depends a lot on the current state of your hair and your goals. As black hair is in constant need of moisture replenishment, a deep conditioning* treatment twice a week is ideal to stop the hair drying out and stop breakage. At the very minimum, you may deep condition once per week but if you notice increased breakage, then you will have to step it up.
Here’s how to deep-condition your hair:
1. Shampoo your hair thoroughly with a sulphate free shampoo. If your hair is long, then it might be easier to shampoo the hair in loose braids or twists. Two on either side of the head for long relaxed hair and 4-6 for natural hair depending on the thickness. This stops the hair from getting tangled during the wash. Rinse out the shampoo thoroughly.
2. Proceed to apply a generous amount of conditioner on each section of the hair. If the hair is relaxed, you may choose this stage to detangle with a wide tooth comb*. If your hair is natural and has recently been in a style that would cause tangles (braids or twists) then don’t detangle just yet. Once the hair has been saturated with conditioner, cover with a plastic cap and sit under a hooded dryer for 15-20 minutes to allow the conditioner to penetrate. Alternatively, warm a wet facecloth in the microwave for about 30 seconds then apply this on top of your plastic cap. Let this heat and your own body heat help the conditioner penetrate for about 30 minutes.
3. If you are using a good conditioner, the hair at this stage should be very soft with a lot of slip. Detangle each section at a time with a wide tooth comb* starting from the ends of the hair and working your way to the roots.
4. Rinse the conditioner out thoroughly with warm water ending with a final cold water rinse to help the hair cuticles to close and trap the moisture inside the hair.
You may opt to deep condition your hair without shampooing on one of your wash days to avoid excessive drying especially if you use a sulphate containing shampoo. This is called a ‘co-wash’. Simply wet the hair thoroughly and work conditioner in as you would a shampoo, it won’t lather though! Rinse out thoroughly then apply more conditioner to the hair as outlined above to deep condition as normal. See the article on how to clean hair without a shampoo.