Conditioning your hair is probably the most important part of a hair regimen. Conditioning forgives many hair sins. Chemically treated hair and hightly textured hair tend to need more conditioning then other hair types. This is simply because these hair types are usually dry or lack protein.
Conditioners serve several different puposes. How you treat your hair will determine what type of conditioner you use. There are rinse out conditioners which help to detangle and soften the hair. There are conditioners that deep condition by adding moisture, protein or both. In order for a conditioner to be a deep conditioner, it must have the ability to penetrate the hair strand. As a general rule, a deep conditioner will say on the packaging to leave on for a period of time. A rinse out conditioner will just say to put on and detangle or rinse.
Aim to deep condition your hair every time you wash your hair with shampoo. In my opinion, the point of washing is to clean the scalp and condition the hair. You only need two or three types of conditioner. If your anything like me, you will have much more. You will want a conditioner that is moisture based. A conditioner that is protein based. Depending on your needs, you may also want a rinse out conditioner for cowashing. Cowashing is simply washing your hair with conditioner. How often you use each type of conditioner will be based on your hair type, heat usage and chemical usage. For example, a person with natural hair will not need as much protein as a person with relaxed hair.
There is no way of setting up a protein/moisture schedule. There may be times when you have scheduled protein, but you only need moisture. So you must pay attention to your hair and test it. One way of telling is to do a strand test. You can pull the strand to test the elasticity. I prefer to do this when my hair is wet. I take the strand and stretch it. If the strand stretches too much and does not break then you may need protein. However, if the strand does not stretch, but just snaps and you can hear a snapping sound, then you need moisture. There are times when your hair is just not behaving and it needs both. When this happens, I clarify my hair. Condition for about 10-15 minutes with a reconstructor, rinse and then condition for about 30 minutes with a moisturizing conditioner.
When you deep condition, it is important to use a heat source. There are some conditioners that do not need heat to penetrate, but most conditioners do. To condition:
Shampoo as usual. I find it is helpful to remove some of the moisture from your hair with a t-shirt like material. It is better to use a t-shirt then a towel because it is gentler on your cuticles. Also, don't rub. Just wrap your hair in the t-shirt and pat it gently. This removes some of the moisture so that the conditioner can penetrate better. Also, this helps you to use less conditioner. Especially if you are heavey handed like me. Make sure you slather on the conditioner. You want to make sure it covers every strand. A good way to do this is to apply your conditioner like relaxer. This especially helps when you are trying to stretch your relaxer. Put on a shower cap. You can then use some sort of heat source, like a hot towel, heating cap or dryer.
Protein Based Conditioners I Like:
Aubrey Organics GPB
MOP C-System Reconstructor
Nexxus Keraphix (Old Formula)
Moisture Based Conditioners I Like:
Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose
MOP Extreme Moisture
Nexxus Humectress (Old Formula)
Hairveda SitriNillah Deep Conditioning Masque (http://www.hairveda.com/)
Rinse Out Conditiners I Like:
VO5 Conditioners (all of them)
Suave Conditioners (the ones with out silicones)
Also, you can read this thread for more ideas for conditioners:
As always, if you have any questions my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If the questions seems to apply to a lot of people, then I may post the question on the blog to answer the question.