Published on July 13th, 2015 | by Yashodhara Ghosh
GET PREACHY: How ‘deep’ is your love?
For your mane that is, though Bee Gees crooned to another thought! If you’re looking for some TLC for your hair, we have two magic words: deep conditioning.
The appearance of your mane depends largely on the condition of the outer layer of each hair shaft, also known as the cuticle. Cuticles are arranged like fish scales along the shaft. When your cuticles are routinely nourished, they are at rest, lying prone along the length of the hair shaft, each overlapping the other. But when your hair is dry and un-cared for – think winds, pollutants, colouring, perms, straightening, blow-drying, even hats – the shafts are in a constant state of agitation, chafing each other, or standing up on their ends, at ninety degrees to the shaft. That’s when the hair starts looking frizzy, disheveled and generally malnourished. And that’s when your hair is screaming out for some deep conditioning. Deep conditioners and loaded with ingredients that provide oodles of moisture and comfort to your ruffled cuticles, coaxing them into subservience, so they fall into a uniform line, restoring shine, gloss and uniformity to your mane.
So how is it different from regular conditioning? Instead of simply coating your hair as regular conditioners do, deep conditioners, at least the good ones, penetrate inside the shaft. This is why they have a more lasting effect on your hair than regular conditioners. It logically follows that this treatment takes longer than a simple shampoo and rinse.
- There are different kinds of deep conditioners, the most common ones being those that you can apply, leave on for 15 minutes and rinse out. These products are usually identified with labels like ‘intensive care’ or ‘restorative treatment’. These products are enriched with extra fatty alcohols, which is why they work for several days. But the presence of large doses of the lipids in these products means that they tend to weigh your hair down. So daily use is not a option.
- Then there are the leave-in deep conditioners or overnight serums, which contain silicones. These tend to leave behind residue and cause build up, so beware.
- The best kind of deep conditioners, in fact, are oils. Coconut oil and avocado oil have the miraculous power to not just penetrate the shaft, but reach deep into the innermost layer, that is the cortex, of the hair strand. No wonder they’ve been around for years and still show no sign of fading from our beauty baskets. Hair masks, which you use before you shampoo, are also a great option.
- If you get confused while choosing, simply go by your needs. Deep conditioners are usually custom-made for different kinds of hair which need different levels of moisture – look out for words like ‘damaged’ ‘frizzy’ ‘coloured’ ‘permed’ ‘straight’ on the bottles and pick what seems apt for you.
‘Wrap’ping it up
- Brush your hair to remove any obvious tangles, shampoo and rinse with the usual, and pat dry.
- Apply a generous amount of the deep conditioner and comb through gently with a wide-toothed comb so that each strand gets its bit of nourishment.
- Now cover your head with a shower cap to keep all your hair in place. Application of heat is an absolute must for deep conditioning. You could simply iron a towel and immediately wrap it in a turban around your shower cap. You could also dip a towel in hot water, wring out the water and wrap it around your head.
- Allow your hair to face the heat for about 15 minutes.
- Rinsing with cold water is very important: The cold water helps to seal the cuticles, locking in the moisture that you have just fed your hair. Preferably, avoid washing your hair the next day.
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