I had never deep conditioned my hair with heat until last year. In fact, I wasn’t very keen on deep conditioning regularly until I discovered it was the solution to my perpetual hair dryness. When I learned the benefits of deep conditioning with heat, I started a new hair wash day routine that focused on adding moisture to my strands.
What is deep conditioning?
Deep conditioning is a hair care procedure that helps to keep your hair in good condition.
The process of deep conditioning involves treating your hair by adding moisture or protein to it.
A deep conditioner can be either a moisturizing conditioner or a protein-based conditioner.
Our hair porosity determines the type of deep conditioner we should go for.
For instance, I have low porosity hair which is quite difficult to absorb moisture.
This means that my hair’s cuticle layer is tightly packed and this makes it difficult for water to pass through.
Therefore, a moisturizing deep conditioner is recommended for people with low porosity hair which is usually dry and lacks luster.
Lack of enough moisture in the hair causes this dry look. A moisturizing deep conditioner will penetrate the hair and thoroughly moisturize the strands.
A protein-based conditioner can be used for hair with excessive porosity.
Unlike the case with low porosity hair, high porosity hair will easily allow moisture to pass in and out.
The hair cuticle of people with high porosity hair is highly raised and therefore absorbs and loses moisture easily.
Most high porosity hair is a result of heat damage or chemical damage and has holes in the hair shaft.
This type of hair needs protein to strengthen it by filling in the holes in the hair shaft.
This is where the protein-based deep conditioner comes in.
How to deep condition your hair
To effectively deep condition your hair, you will have to follow the steps carefully.
It is very important to be meticulous so that every part of your hair benefits from the deep conditioning.
When you want to deep condition your hair, it is advisable to use conditioners with natural ingredients.
Some people prefer DIY deep conditioners. Personally, I love to use home-made deep conditioners because I’m sure of what I’m using on my precious hair.
Always wash your hair before deep conditioning it. Your hair should be free from dirt, product build-up, minerals and environmental pollutants.
Apart from shampoo washing, some people use regular conditioners to wash their hair before deep conditioning.
The conditioner washing (popularly referred to as co-washing in the natural hair community) is done by people who are avoiding the drying effect that most of the shampoos have.
After thoroughly cleansing your hair, make sure that it’s detangled.
This makes the application of the deep conditioner easy and stress-free.
You can, therefore, work the deep conditioner easily into all parts of your hair.
It’s always advisable to section the hair. This will make it easy to apply the deep conditioner evenly on the hair.
Another important thing to remember when applying your deep conditioner is to focus on the ends.
This is because the ends are the oldest part of your hair, the driest and the ones most likely to breakage.
After applying the deep conditioner, cover your hair with a shower cap and stay with it for the period of time that the manufacturer has stipulated.
When rinsing out the deep conditioner, ensure you use cool water.
This will close the hair cuticle and seal in the moisture in your hair.
Benefits of deep conditioning
Dry hair is associated with brittleness; an unfortunate state where your hair starts breaking off easily.
When this starts to happen, it shows that your hair lacks elasticity and you need to deep condition it.
The benefits of deep conditioning cannot be overemphasized. It is a hair routine that should be done very regularly to deal with moisture deficiency and prevent hair damage
Some major benefits of deep conditioning your hair include:
- It moisturizes your hair, thus prevents dryness
- Prevents hair damage
- It helps to revitalize your hair and make it stretchy again
- Brings back your natural hair shine
- It makes your hair smooth, softer and silkier
- Protects color-treated hair
Benefits of deep conditioning with heat
Deep conditioning with heat helps your hair absorb all the good stuff from the conditioner.
For people with low porosity hair like mine, it’s important to deep condition with heat which helps to open and lift the cuticle layers so that the interior of hair strands are moisturized.
If your deep conditioner is oil-based, the heat will allow the oils to be broken down so it is easily absorbed by your hair.
The benefits of deep conditioning with heat can be summed up as follows:
- Ensure deep moisture penetration
- Prevents hair damage
- Improves moisture retention
- Leaves hair soft and smooth
- Improves hair elasticity
- Makes hair able to retain length
Direct and Indirect Heat
Deep conditioning with heat can be done in two ways – using indirect heat and using direct heat.
Using indirect heat involves using a hooded dryer.
After applying deep conditioner and covering it with a shower cap that can withstand heat, sit under a hooded dryer for about 30-45 minutes then rinse with cold water.
The direct heat method involves sitting under a steamer after applying the deep conditioner to your hair. The steam comes into direct contact with your hair.
This is the method I usually go for and I usually sit under the steamer for between 20-30 minutes.
Alternatively, you can choose to use a thermal cap for the deep conditioning process.
If this is not available, use a damp, hot towel and wrap it around a vinyl cap.
I’ve seen some people claiming that warming up your deep conditioner before you apply it has the same effect on your hair’s elasticity as a steaming session.
I don’t know whether that’s correct or not, but I’ll stick to steaming!
Honestly, I think any method will be beneficial to your hair; just use whatever is available to you.
How long should a deep conditioning session be?
Deep conditioners are formulated to impart their moisture, nutrients, and strengtheners within the time-frame indicated by the manufacturer.
After that time has passed, you are at risk of overloading your hair with moisture.
Deep conditioners are made to have smaller molecules that can penetrate the hair. Heat can help to speed up the process esp for low porosity hair.
However, overstaying with the deep conditioner or having it overnight does not make it work any better.
In fact, this practice can lead to hygral fatigue where the hair cuticle gets damaged as a result of excess moisture.
The surface of your hair strands can only take on so much at any given time.
Overstaying with deep conditioner will cause the hair to expand and contract too frequently due to too much moisture.
This means that the cuticle experiences excessive swelling from moisture overload and then has to contract as the hair dries. This is hygral fatigue.
When this happens, you’ll start to notice that your hair doesn’t go back to its original structure after rinsing out the deep conditioner.
The hygral fatigue eventually leads to weakness, breakage and a loss of the hair’s elasticity.
Once you suffer from hygral fatigue, you’ll need to do several protein treatments to rebalance your hair.
After how long should you deep condition your hair?
It is important to note that to reap the benefits of deep conditioning, you need to do it consistently.
You should deep condition on a regular basis but not too regular. It’s recommended to deep condition natural hair once per week, or biweekly.
The frequency of deep conditioning depends on your hair porosity, which determines how much moisture it can absorb.
You can test for the porosity of your hair by immersing a clean strand of hair in a glass of water. Hair with high porosity will sink, hair with low porosity will float, while hair with medium porosity with settle somewhere in the middle.
Hair with low porosity should be deep conditioned once a week, or two times a week. On the other hand, high porosity hair should be deep conditioned once a week or after two to three weeks.
Naturally Curly recommends that someone can start deep conditioning weekly; if your hair begins feeling weak and limp, lessen to every two or three weeks. If it still feels dry, pump it up to twice a week.
Can you deep condition dreadlocks?
You might be wondering if dreadlocks can also be deep conditioned. The answer is yes, dreadlocks can be deep conditioned. Dreadlocks require deep conditioning to look good and stay soft.
This practice will help dreadlocks to retain moisture, keeping it soft and beautiful.
All the instructions for deep conditioning open hair also apply to dreadlocks.
Deep conditioning is one of the best ways to ensure that your hair is adequately moisturized. It promotes the overall health of your hair by preventing hair damage.
Protein-based deep conditioners also promote the optimal health of your hair by strengthening the strands.
It’s a good procedure to incorporate into your regular hair routine.