Oiling and Shampooing. Something which most people do as part of their regular hair cleansing and hair care routine. But not all condition their hair after a shampoo. “Is there a need for it?”, “Conditioner is a luxury item, don’t need it!”, “I have cleaned my hair and it’s looking fine. Why do I need a Hair Conditioner?!”… very common questions we have heard during our consultations.
It may be true that conditioner is mainly looked at for detangling. And yes, using the wrong conditioner for your hair-type may end up weighing your hair down, making it greasy. But skipping the step altogether in your hair care routine would mean that you are missing out on all the benefits that it has to offer for your hair and it’s health!
This week we are going to address this often-spoken but least-actioned topic from our clinic discussions. These are the questions that we have heard from many of you and discussed during your visits.
We are hence back today, for the benefit of all our readers, with our Ask the Hair Expert series, to address questions on the need for hair conditioners and its right usage.
You asked: “Why do I need to use a Conditioner? Isn’t shampooing enough to care for my hair? How does a hair conditioner impact my already clean hair?!”
Here’s the answer from the Hair Experts.
Hair Conditioner DOES have an impact on your hair, and in a good way at that.
You just need to ensure that you have picked the right one for yourself and that it’s used right. Your Trichologist will help you nail this one.
And no, this is not just for women with long hair. Conditioning is most recommended for all genders, with hair short or long!
So, let’s first understand what happens to your hair when you condition it and how the process helps. We will also dish out some handy tips on how to use this wonder product right!
Let us first explain how conditioning works. This process has to do with hair anatomy. (do read our blog on the topic to understand your hair inside and out!). Conditioning works on your hair’s outer most layer, the cuticle.
The cuticle is supposed to be flat and smooth for it to be healthy, look healthy, shiny and overall have a better body. Your hair looks alive and bouncy when your cuticle is smooth & healthy.
When you shampoo your hair, you clean the hair and scalp of dirt, grease, product build-up and excess oil. During this process, while the scalp is scrubbed clean, as is your hair, your hair’s cuticle is lifted up, perhaps a tad roughed up and left as such at the end of the wash. The shampoo doesn’t close your cuticle back.
Your hair conditioner does the job of smoothing these lifted cuticles and also helps balance the pH levels in your hair strands. This helps preserve and lock up the much-needed moisture levels, nutrients in your hair. If you are someone who colours your hair, then this process will also lock in the colour longer. You will notice that your colour doesn’t fade out too soon when you regularly condition your hair. As a result, your hair will not look dull or lifeless.
Cuticles are meant to be down smooth, and pointing down in the same direction like roof tiles! When they are lifted up at random, it will lead to tangling, breakage and overall hair damage. When you use a conditioner after your shampoo wash, you ensure that the cuticles are closed, smoothed down to the surface and thereby avoid tangling or breakage.
Choosing the right kind of conditioner for your hair type is the key to making the process effective and useful. The right kind of conditioner becomes the foundation for your hair styling. It helps fight frizziness, dryness, helps define those curls better, can add volume and bounce to your hair.
Conditioners come in a multitude of varieties these days. Many also come with added benefits like UV protection, some essential nutrients, hair repair elements, ingredients for hair strengthening, help with the reduction of split-ends etc. with a promise to keep your hair healthy and manageable.
Given this vast choice, you will need to use a conditioner that suits your hair type.
While we will brief you on this theoretically, it is recommended that you discuss this with your trichologist and take forward.
Coming to the types of conditioners, there are at large four kinds. Each of it has its benefits, especially for each hair type.
Each conditioner type carries its own benefits and will suit different hair types better, but regular conditioning is needed for everyone.
Oiling. Shampooing. Conditioning. Deep-conditioning. Your mantra to waving bye to bad hair days!
To put it simply, conditioner does to your hair what a moisturizer does to your skin. As discussed above, conditioning helps you keep your hair hydrated and protected from potential damage. If you skip this step in your wash process, especially if it’s habitual, you are exposing your hair to damar, making it parched, fragile and prone to breakage in the long run.
Using a conditioner (the rinse-out kind) is very simple while being most productive. Here’s a break-down of the process, with some tips, that you can follow quite easily. Something that everyone SHOULD do, whatever your hair type, gender or hair length!
Step 1 – Completely rinse out all the shampoo from your hair and scalp.
Do remember, using back and forth strokes or circular actions to wash your scalp can cause tangles, breakage and even weaken the follicles. And never ever scrape with nails as it can cause abrasions and lead to infections!
Step 2 – Squeeze the excess water out of your hair and then apply conditioner.
Use the same amount of conditioner as you did for shampoo. If your hair is longer and thicker, you may use a little more conditioner accordingly. Focus from the middle to the lower sections. The ends of the hair require moisturizing. Therefore, apply more conditioner towards the tips and leave it on for longer.
Step 3 – Rinse off the conditioner gently
Rinse your hair under cool running water to wash off the conditioner. Cold water will shut the cuticle tight, sealing the outer layer and holding the moisture within.
Again, do be gentle with your hair. No back and forth rough motions while rinsing. Don’t scrub or rub too hard as putting pressure on hair at this point of time could roughen up the cuticles and result in tangles. Rinse your hair in one direction to keep it smooth and aligned.
Remember never to apply conditioner on your scalp, as that’ll make the roots oilier than they are supposed to be or naturally are. Make it your golden ‘Hair wash’ rule – Shampoo is for Scalp and Conditioner is for Hair! And avoid hot water for your hair wash routine. Do read our blog on the right way to wash your hair.
To re-emphasise and summarise, conditioners give your hair the TLC it needs, locks-in moisture and nutrients, making it more manageable, and healthy overall! While shampoo does its job of cleansing, it doesn’t lock-in the good stuff your hair needs. It’s the conditioner that does it for you.
If you are unsure about how to check whether a certain hair product is suitable for you or not, be it your conditioner, repair serum or oils, hair masks or packs, you can have it checked with your trichologist. No one understands your hair better than your hair doctor!
Remember, each individual’s hair & scalp condition is different from the other. One solution doesn’t fit all! While a certain hair conditioner suits you, it may not quite suit your friend. The way each individual’s hair reacts to internal and external factors, products, treatments, varies from person to person. A trichologist is someone who understands this, is an expert on hair and scalp concerns, and hence the right person to guide you on this subject.
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