Why is conditioner an essential part of the curly hair care regime?

Naturally textured hair, whether its wavy, curly, kinky, coily or a mix of all of the above is prone to losing moisture quickly and becoming dry faster than naturally straight hair. Dry hair means loss of shape and definition, but worse it means unnecessary friction, roughness, tangles, breakage. Eventually unchecked dryness can result in hair damage.

Mere washing or shampooing the hair even though effective for cleansing is neither sufficient nor effective to hydrate the hair.

Conditioners are products designed to moisturize the hair and help hair in retaining hydration. They contain ingredients that promote required water uptake by the hair, while coating the hair shaft to secure hydration, simultaneously protecting the hair shaft and soothing it to eliminate friction, ease the detangling process, improve the feel and manageability.

How frequently must a Curly condition their hair?

Because each person’s hair and requirements are unique, conditioners for the textured hair exist on a spectrum from their moisturizing capacity, such as light, medium, deep and vary either their ingredients and uses, for example: cleansing conditioners (a.k.a co-washes), reparative treatments, routine rinse-out conditions and leave-in conditioners.

Frequency of use is unique to the person and products that are formulated correctly, with good, clean, hair-friendly, health-friendly, environmentally-friendly ingredients can be used safely as per a person’s individual preference.

For textured hair, combing and brushing the hair dry is not encouraged as it can lead to loss of definition, entanglement and stretching of wave/curl pattern. Wet-detangling is preferred, and the best way to achieve this for textured hair is using conditioner with water.

What is a “CG friendly” conditioner? Why didn’t previous regular conditioner work on my curly/wavy hair?

Not all conditioners are created equal and not all “conditioning” ingredients are suited to care of textured hair care. Several ingredients used in commonly available hair conditioners have a tendency to strip the hair of moisture, whilst others prevent moisture absorption into the hair.

Since textured hair is more susceptible to dryness, such ingredients are avoided in so called “CG-friendly” products.
he list of these drying ingredients is exhaustive and more details shall be shared, however a few salient ingredients to be noted of are:

1. Silicones:
Silicones are a very commonly used ingredient in the cosmetic industry. In cosmetic hair care, they are used for their smoothening, anti-frizzing effect and also for sealing the hair to repel humidity. They are used across all types of hair care products, but the maximum concentration will be in hair conditioners.
They are come under a class of water-insoluble conditioning agents. Which means with each use, these insolubles progressively build up layer over layer on the hair and scalp. Eventually they “suffocate” the hair’s ability to absorb moisture leading to dehydration. They can irritate the scalp and their progressive build up can lead to dandruff or boils. Removing these “water-insolubles” requires use of strong, harsh cleansing agents.

2. Sulfates: e.g. Sodium/Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (SLS/ALS).
These are predominantly used as cleansing agents, however because of their
chemical properties they can occasionally be incorporated in conditioners for specific purposes. While they are extremely effective at cleansing, sulfates have a downside of being too aggressive. They can strip off the hair’s natural barriers, sensitizing both hair and scalp to dryness and irritation.

3. Short-chain Alcohols: SD Alcohol, denatured alcohol, Isopropyl alcohol (also called IPA), Ethanol, Propyl alcohol etc.
Commonly termed as “alcohol” on a label, these are used in cosmetic preparations to preserve the product from denaturing and prevent microbial contamination, however these alcohols are very drying to the hair and scalp and can lead to scalp and skin irritation.