This is quite the controversial issue in the natural hair community, and a lot of women are divided on this one. Whether or not to deep condition on dry hair or on hair that has been cleansed have been on the minds of many. Many women claim that both have worked at one time or the other, and of course they are entitled to use what works for them. I’m going to shed some light on both sides, so you can then experiment to see which works best for you.
Deep conditioning on Dry Hair
The premise behind deep conditioning on dry hair is that the hair strands don’t have any water. Therefore, the hair is free to absorb the product. The hair is like a sponge, so if it already has water in it how is it going to absorb any product? This is the argument, but lets take a closer look on the issue.
Here are the facts!
Trying to deep condition on hair that has product build-up is quite tricky. It would be very difficult for the deep conditioning product to penetrate hair strands that are at maximum capacity. The purpose of the shampoo is to open up the cuticles to allow the hair to be cleansed, so it can be free to accept moisture. Shampoo has a higher pH than the scalp/hair (4.5-5.5). It is important to add your conditioner after cleansing your hair, because a conditioner lowers/returns the pH of the scalp/hair closer to its origin after it’s been raised by the shampoo.
Deep conditioning before you shampoo is simply setting yourself up for dry hair. Like I stated earlier, a shampoo raises the pH of the hair which in turn raises the cuticles. You always want to add the conditioner while the cuticles are open so the hair accepts all the moisture. After the hair accepts the moisture, the pH will be lowered, the cuticles will close, and the hair will hold unto the moisture.
Deep conditioning on Wet (shampooed) hair
The idea behind this is of course quite the opposite of the first. The deep conditioner will have the freedom to enter the hair shaft because there is no product build up on the hair. This will provide the hair with the moisture that it needs to keep breakage at bay. Here’s what you can to help your product to penetrate your hair:
Remove some of the water from your hair by wrapping an old t-shirt around it until it’s about 60% dry, then you can apply your product. This will remove the excess water and allow the hair to absorb the product to give the hair moisture and elasticity.
If you are concerned about adding moisture to your hair before shampooing to lessen dryness then I would suggest a hot oil treatment or pre-poo. A pre-poo is a treatment that you do before you shampoo to reduce or eliminate how much that shampoo strip (remove natural oils) your hair.
- 1oz coconut oil
- 1 oz olive oil
- 1 oz grape seed oil
- 5 drops rosemary essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
Combine these oils in an applicator bottle. Place the bottle in hot water (not in microwave)to get the oils warm, and massage it into your hair and scalp. Cover with a plastic cap/bag and leave in for 30 mins or overnight. This treatment will leave your hair feeling very moisturized and will prevent the shampoo from drying our hair out.
You can use whatever oils you like to do your hot oil treatments, but I would recommend using oils that are able to penetrate the hair (coconut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil).
How long should I deep condition my hair with heat?
How long you deep condition depends on which product you use. If your product says to leave it on for 15-30 minutes, then I would go ahead and follow the directions on the container. The manufacturer has tested the product and most likely after the directed time has expired, the product might not add any more benefits to your hair. Otherwise, you can leave it on for however long you choose. I would aim for about 20-30 minutes if you’re using heat, and about 1 hour if you are not using heat.
I personally deep condition after I cleanse my hair so I can remove all the product build-up. I dry my hair to about 60% with an old t-shirt to remove excess water, then I apply my deep conditioner and leave it on for 45 minutes. This actually works very well for my hair, and will be my method of deep conditioning.
I hope this was helpful and I would love it if you would share it with others who may need this advice. Share your thoughts about how you deep condition and what works for you in the comment section. Share, like, and follow using the links below.