Afro Curly hair and other curly hair types are more prone to dryness because of the structure and curvature of the hair. Deep conditioning curly hair offers a temporary remedy for hair dryness and improves hair strength and luster. 

What is  Deep Conditioning?

Deep conditioning is an intense form of hair conditioning. It is the process of using a specially formulated conditioning product that is left on the hair for 15 – 30 minutes and after rinsing, the hair is easier to style, shinier and reduces frizzing. 

How Do Deep Conditioners Work?

Deep conditioners work by depositing on the hair shaft, coating it with whatever conditioning substances are used, for eg, oils, butters, cationic ingredients or silicones.

Some deep conditioners will contain ingredients that penetrate the hair strand, nourishing from the inside as well as locking in the water retained after washing. 

I mentioned above that deep conditioners are a temporary fix. They are temporary because life happens, and that seal that was created on day one of deep conditioning, will eventually wear away. 

By day seven, there will be little to no conditioning effect left. For some, it will be even less than a week, which is why I encourage using a leave-in conditioner in between washes, or at the very least, regularly misting your hair. 

Regular deep conditioning can have great benefits to the hair strands, including:

  • less breakage
  • stronger strands
  • less tangling 
  • and in time, less frequent moisturizing

Having a good deep conditioner as part of your haircare routine can eventually reduce the amount of products you use, so it saves money too!

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Types of Deep Conditioners

Not all deep conditioners are created equally, and whilst I will always lean to more plant-based products, it isn’t always possible to find deep conditioners that work really well and are plant-based, especially as this transition is still in its infancy. 

Silicone Based

Silicones have had a bad rap, they’re not all bad, but as with anything, it’s how you use it. Silicones in haircare can be of benefit to curly hair because they coat the hair shaft which helps reduce tangling. 

However, because they adsorb to the hair shaft very well, they are difficult to remove, thus need to be washed out with a clarifying shampoo. 

Here’s the issue for us, we know clarifying shampoos are not the friend of Afro curly hair so they are to be used sparingly. Also, we use a lot of product in our hair in one session, (especially if you have a lot of hair like me) so in this aspect, we can’t adhere to ‘sparingly’.

Additionally, most natural shampoos tend to be more mild and may not be very effective at removing silicones. This is my main reason for advising, stay away from products that contain silicone. 

If you want to stay away from silicones, check the product label for anything ending in ‘cone’. Also, check out this post I wrote about the damage that can be caused by some hair conditioners.


Another type of deep conditioner are the ones high in protein. Some hair types thrive on protein whilst it dries out others. 

Curly hair tends to not do so well with protein, overuse can make the hair dry and brittle, leading to damage and breakage. Again, these types of deep conditioners have their place, they can be used once every three months or on a need basis when the hair is incredibly damaged, but not regularly. 

Sometimes conditioners will have a small amount of protein, the label will have something like hydrolysed wheat protein almost at the end of the list of ingredients; these are ok because they are added in small quantities.

If you want to stay away from protein deep conditioners, look out for products labeled ‘protein treatments’. They will have a more concentrated amount of protein.


I will be honest here, deep conditioners made from more natural ingredients may not have the same efficacy as, say, a silicone based version, however, they don’t come with the negatives that follow after using silicone-based deep conditioners. 

Natural deep conditioners are made with a blend of oils and butters and sometimes natural cationic ingredients known to work in a similar manner of coating and softening the hair strands. 

We are seeing a rise in better, more natural conditioners as the manufacturers listen to the needs and desires of the consumer. 

To help the deep conditioner better penetrate the hair, use a heat cap or wear a plastic cap wrapped with a towel or some t-shirts. 

As you move about the heat generated in the body will be captured and it will open the hair cuticle, allowing for better penetration. 

If you have a hooded dryer or hair steamer, great, it will make the process of opening the hair cuticles even faster. This is a great option for low porosity hair. 

As you create or recreate your hair routine, consider including deep conditioning.

Until next time, 

Be Great x

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