Shampoo gets a whole lot of attention in the wide world of hair, and I really don't know why. It's just soap, really. Sure, a great shampoo is nice to have, but if you have to choose where to save your money and where to spend it, I'd put my cash in a great conditioner every single time.
Conditioner gets skipped by a lot of women in their hair routines. They think their hair is too short, too fine a texture, too greasy, or that it just doesn't tangle enough to need conditioner. Wrong, ladies. Just wrong. Everyone should be using conditioner, and I'm going to tell you why.
It's true that conditioner is used for detangling, and it's also true that the wrong conditioner can weigh your hair down and make it greasy (or greasier), but skipping the conditioner altogether means that you miss out on all the other benefits that it does for your hair's health. Be sure to check out How to Choose the Right Conditioner and my Shampoo 101: Choosing the Right Shampoo.
If you color your hair and aren't using a conditioner, you're probably also a victim of super fast color fade or highlights that get dried out and brassy. The reason? Shampoo is designed to clean your hair of oils, dirt, and other nasty things that build up on your hair. During the cleansing process the cuticle (the outer "shell" of your hair) of your hair is roughed up a bit. Conditioner helps balance the pH levels in your hair and smooths that cuticle down, which helps preserve and lock in your hair color as well as the moisture balance in your hair. A smooth cuticle is healthier looking, shinier, and has better body and bounce.
A roughed up cuticle can also be thanked for tangles in your hair. Imagine that the cuticle of each hair strand is like the shingles on a rooftop; all those shingles are supposed to be smoothed down and pointing in the same direction (down). A roughed up cuticle looks like a tornado ran across those shingles, causing several to curl up or even break off over time. If you put several hundred hairs with curled up cuticles together, those roughed up pieces begin to stick and catch on one another. Using conditioner helps to ensure that the cuticle lays smooth to the surface, preventing tangles and allowing tangles to release easily.
Many conditioners come with extra benefits like UV protection and essential nutrients for keeping your hair and scalp healthy and manageable. Conditioners are really the base to your styling routine; fighting frizz, defining curl, or increasing volume.
There are a lot of women out there skipping the conditioner regardless, because they claim that it's just too heavy and greasy on their hair. Most of the time, the conditioner that you're using isn't appropriate for your hair type. It's essential to find the right conditioner, use it correctly (after shampooing the right way), and rinse it very, very well to get the most benefit out of the product. The number one issue that I've found with conditioner is that it's not being rinsed properly. A solid 30-60 second rinse in warm to cool water is essential to seal the cuticle.
If you feel like your conditioner is too heavy, try a lighter moisture conditioner and be sure to use a clarifying treatment on your hair regularly to prevent conditioner (and other products) from building up on your hair. Talk to your hair stylist about the conditioners that she would recommend for your unique hair type.
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