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Benefits of hair conditioner

Healthy hair
Hair conditioner, for most people, is simply a product they use straight after shampooing their hair. Other people may not even use a conditioner at all. Conditioners have a multitude of benefits for your hair though, and it's good to understand why you should use one, as well as which hair conditioner you should use.

Hair conditioner benefits

Hair conditioner has more uses than you may realize. If you're not using one, or you're not using the right conditioner, you're missing out on more than just detangled hair. Some of the many benefits of hair conditioners include:
  • Softer hair
  • Less tangling
  • Less color fading
  • Less frizz
  • Better moisture retention
  • Protection from the environment
  • Protection from breakages

Hair cuticles and conditioner

The cuticles of your hair are like tiny scales that seal the hair's interior against the exterior environment. When the cuticles are closed, your hair feels smooth and soft, and it retains moisture better. If the cuticles remain open however, the hair will feel rough, be more prone to frizz, and will be far more susceptible to both dryness and humidity.

Shampoo cleans your hair, and in order to do this, it needs to open the cuticles so that it can penetrate into the hair shaft and remove dirt, oil, and other debris. This is accomplished by creating a slightly alkaline pH, forcing the cuticles to open and allowing the shampoo to enter the hair shaft and clean the hair thoroughly.

One of the primary reasons you should be using a good quality hair conditioner is that hair conditioner seals the hair cuticles. If you don't use conditioner, the alkaline environment created by the shampoo tends to persist for several hours, leading to problems with moisture and causing your hair to feel terrible and frizzy.

A good quality hair conditioner prevents these problems by shifting the alkaline pH back towards the hair's natural acidity level. The cuticles shut, moisture is retained, and the hair looks and feels better. It is also better protected against the environment.


Hair conditioner prevents color fading

One of the most important benefits of using hair conditioners, for those who color their hair, is that hair conditioners help to prevent color fading and slow the loss of color. This means that your hair color lasts longer and looks better for longer.

This benefit is also related to the hair cuticles. When shampoo is used and the hair cuticles have been opened, this is where color is able to be washed out of the hair shaft. This is why freshly dyed hair will bleed for several washes, yet the color running into the water ceases when conditioner is applied. It is also why many colored hair shampoos slow color loss; because they contain conditioner to decrease the effect of the shampooing agents.

If you don't use a hair conditioner after shampooing colored hair, the cuticles remain open and color will fade significantly faster. For this reason, hair conditioner is the easiest way to slow color fading where it actually occurs.

Fights frizz and dryness

The most obvious benefit of using a hair conditioner, of course, is that hair conditioner fights frizz and dryness in hair. Hair that is adequately conditioned is far less susceptible to both frizz and dryness. This leads to better looking results when you style your hair.

More beneficial still, is the effect this has on the strength of your hair. When your hair doesn't have enough moisture locked in, it loses much of its strength and elasticity. Dry hair is significantly more prone to breakage, and even brushing dry hair can result in damage.

Whilst the dryness is transitory, the damage that occurs as a result of handling dry hair is not, and the best way to prevent this from occurring is to replenish the hair's moisture with hair conditioner after every wash. When your hair has adequate moisture, it is at its strongest and will continue to look its best after styling.


Choosing the best hair conditioner

To get the most benefit from your hair conditioner, you need to be using the best hair conditioner for your own hair. Depending on the condition of your hair, how dry it is, and whether you have colored or lightened it in the past, you may need a better conditioner than the average supermarket product. A quality salon conditioner is always the best hair conditioner for your hair, but which one you choose will depend on your own circumstances.

There are a few different types of hair conditioners available:
  • Hair repair conditioner
  • Hydrating conditioner
  • After-lightening conditioner
  • Color conditioner

Hair repair conditioner

Hair repair conditioner is the best hair conditioner to use on damaged hair because it contains protein to help repair the structural damage and restore damaged hair to its former strength. These hair conditioners strengthen hair and reduce breakage.

If you have colored hair, have bleached your hair in the past, or you style your hair with heated styling tools, your hair will benefit from a hair repair conditioner.

Hydrating conditioner

Hydrating conditioners are best suited to dry, frizzy hair. These hair conditioners inject moisture deep into the hair where it's needed most and help to curb the dryness that promotes breakages and frizz.

They're also great to use as an everyday conditioner even if you don't have overly dry hair, because the added nourishing ingredients are able to keep your hair healthier and help it to look its best.

Color conditioner

Color conditioners are another type of hair conditioner that is well suited to colored or lightened hair. These hair conditioners contain color that can help tone your hair and keep your shade looking vibrant and fresh. Used in conjunction with a toning shampoo, this type of conditioner provides additional toning.

They can also be used on natural hair that needs toning, or where you want a subtle change to the look of your hair that doesn't require too much work to achieve, and no more effort than the application of the conditioner to maintain. A colored conditioner can be used in conjunction with a toning shampoo or color refresher shampoo for this purpose as well.


After-lightening conditioner

After-lightening conditioners have a very specific use, and that is to neutralize the effects of bleach after lightening your hair. Not only does an after-lightening hair conditioner neutralize any leftover bleach that hasn't been thoroughly rinsed out of the hair, but also gives intensive moisturization, relieving the dryness that bleach causes.

The lower pH of these conditioners acts to seal the cuticles and maintain moisture after it is rinsed out, making the effects long lasting. This is important after bleaching hair because otherwise the cuticles remain open for a long time and it can be up to a week before the dryness begins to reverse and the hair starts to feel soft and healthy again. A hair conditioner likes this expedites the process and minimizes subsequent damage.

Hair type Best hair conditioner
Dry Hydrating
Frizzy Hydrating
Colored Hydrating / colored
Damaged Hair repair
After dye or bleach After-lightening

Given the many benefits of hair conditioner, it's startling to think that some people aren't even using one. Because they're so easy to use and can help the hair look and feel its best, hair conditioner should always be a valuable part of your hair care regimen.

All it takes to use one, is to put it through your hair after shampooing, and your hair will reap all the benefits; feeling softer as a result, and looking its best every day.

Do you have a question about hair conditioner? Wondering which conditioner is right for your hair type or whether a particular product is good? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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