How Does Hair Conditioner Work?

How Does Hair Conditioner Work?

When it comes to hair care, there are some things that we have grown so accustomed to that we don’t even think about why we do it or how it works.  Take shampoo, for instance.  We’ve been taught to wash and shampoo our hair our entire lives, to the point that shampoo is just accepted as one of those things we use on a frequent basis, like brushing our teeth or washing our face. Similarly, we’ve always been taught to apply conditioner to our hair after washing, and for good reason. Washing naturally strips our hair of oils and moisture, and we need to condition our hair in order to keep it from drying out and becoming damaged.  At least, this is what we’ve always assumed about hair conditioner, right?

Truth be told, we may know that it is extremely important to condition our hair, but it’s likely that many of us don’t truly understand why conditioner is so important, or even how it works on a deeper level when applied to our hair.  Read below to learn more about conditioner and how this essential product is able to be such an indispensable part of our hair care routine.

How shampoo affects our hair
Shampoo is a vital component of anyone’s hair care routine, regardless of how dry or dirty your hair is.  Washing your hair with water alone is not enough to keep your hair properly cleansed of the various oils, dirt, and dead skin cells that accumulate on your hair and scalp on a daily, which is why shampoos are designed with powerful surfactants which help decrease the surface tension between your hair strand and the various bits of grease and grime that need to be removed. However, while shampoo can remove lots of the bad stuff, it also has the unfortunate side effect of removing some of the good stuff on our hair as well, such as our natural lipids, oils, and moisture. Without replenishing these oils and lipids, your hair runs the risk of drying out and becoming damaged.

What conditioner adds to our hair
When applied directly after shampooing, conditioner helps to replenish the hair’s moisture levels by providing the hair with ingredients like humectants, which attract water to the outer cuticle layer and inner hair layer, as well as emollients, which help smoothen the cuticle layer.  Not only do these emollients help make the hair less dry and brittle, but they also help to smoothen the cuticle layer and boost shine and softness. Additionally, many conditioners contain cationic ingredients which help counteract anionic charges from the hair strand, which prevents static electricity and frizz and flyaways.  Some conditioners also contain pH adjusters, which help the hair from reaching an improper pH level, which can lead to damage and dryness.

What conditioner to use?
Overall, you need to find a conditioner that is appropriate for your hair type. For oily or greasy hair types, look for a lightweight conditioner that has less heavy oils and silicones to avoid weighing your hair down. For dry hair, look for rich, heavy conditioners with ingredients like butters and thick oils to boost your hair’s shine and softness.

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