Hair conditioner is a hair care product use to enhance the health of hair by adding in moisture after shampoo. Shampoo can strip the hair of its natural oils as it cleanses, leaving it dry and prone to tangles. Conditioners restore health, strength and shine to your newly clean hair.
Depending on the type a hair, various conditioners may be needed. While one may work for one person, it might not be quite right for another.
Conditioners fall into seven categories:
- Thermal Protectors
A moisturizing conditioner’s main role is to hold and maintain moisture in the hair. Most drugstore conditioners are moisturizing conditioners. They often contain humectants and natural oils, and work to add shine back into the hair after washing.
These hair conditioners work to repair the hair and typically contain protein. The best source of protein for a reconstructing conditioner is hydrolyzed keratin protein—the protein that naturally makes up human hair. Keratin also has a low molecular weight, enabling it to penetrate the hair the cortex of the hair. This adds strength back into the hair.
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If your hair is especially dry, you need to add essential fatty acids back in. While the scalp naturally produces sebum, some people do not produce enough, leaving hair dry and porous. An oil conditioner can help return hair into a soft, pliable state.
Glossers are typically cosmetic. They mostly contain light oils that are derived from silicone. These oils are used in small amounts to reflect light off of the hair. The oils also help to tame hair that is prone to frizziness.
Thermal protectors keep hair safe against heat. People who use hot irons, blow dryers, or other heated tools on their hair should consider using thermal protector conditioners. These conditioners contain heat-absorbing polymers to distribute the heat throughout the hair, so the hair is less likely to get burned in one place.
Acidifiers have a pH of 3.0 to 3.5. These work to close the cuticle layer of hair, resulting in a natural shiny surface that reflects light. Acids also have a positive electric charge, which boosts the hair’s elasticity, giving it more body. Acidifiers create shine and elasticity without weighing down the hair. This type of conditioner is especially great for those with fine, thin hair for this reason.
It is important for the health of your hair to not apply any acid on it that has a pH below 3.0. While some natural remedies are out there, it is important to not apply anything too acidic. Cosmetic acidifiers are safer than DIY methods.
Detanglers work to close the cuticle of the hair, which causes tangles. This is done by shielding the hair with polymers. While detanglers are instant, others take up to 5 minutes to work.