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3 Common Myths About Conditioner

Avatar • Jan 5, 2014

hair-products

In their weekly show the Beauty Brains broke down virtually everything you need to know about conditioner and how it works. Read on to find out how you can cut through the marketing hype to get to the products that you really need.
Rinse off vs Leave on Conditioners
Many natural oils and other simple ingredients can do a good job of conditioning when left on your hair. But rinse off conditioners need special ingredients that are designed to stick to hair after rinsing.
Beware of marketing spin
Deep conditioners, hair masks, 3 minute miracles, Beauty Balms, are all essentially the same thing. BTW rinse off conditioners were originally called “cream rinse” because they were emulsions.
Types of conditioners
Deep conditioners can be better for your hair if they contain coconut oil, one of the few ingredients that actually penetrates hair to protect it from the inside. But the product needs a LOT of coconut oil to make a difference. Beware of regular conditioners with just a drop of coconut oil (if it’s not the first or second ingredient, forget about it.)

Protein conditioners are nothing really special. They are typically “classic” conditioners with a jacked up level of protein. Proteins are not essential ingredients in conditioners. (They can be chemically modified to stick to hair but they are not as effective as quats and silicones.)

Are 2‑in‑1 shampoos the same as conditioners? NO! Essentially, it is 2 ingredients added to a regular shampoo, a silicone and a suspending agent. The silicone is usually an ingredient called Dimethicone and it is what makes the formula conditioning. The suspending agent is Glycol Distearate and it is what keeps the silicone from separating out of the formula. The way it works is this when the bottle of shampoo is sitting on the shelf, the suspending agent is able to hold the silicone in the formula. But when you put the shampoo on your head and mix it with water, the suspending agent does not work so well. The silicone separates out, stays behind on your hair where it can provide conditioning. That’s the theory anyway and it actually works. However when creating 2 in 1 products the formulator is always faced with trade-offs: It won’t clean as good as the best shampoo and it won’t smooth hair as well as the best conditioner. But it does do a little bit of both in a single product which maybe worthwhile.
Myth 1: Conditioner works better the longer you leave it on
False because 90% of the benefit from standard conditioners come from coating the surface of the hair. That’s not a bad thing – in fact, the best thing you can do for hair is to smooth and protect the cuticle (that shingle-like layer that covers your hair.) Yes, you have to take the time to work the product through your hair to make sure it’s evenly distributed (especially if you have a lot of hair.) But once the conditioner has had a chance to spread through your hair, leaving it on longer doesn’t make it do anything better. This part is very important – YOU HAVE TO WORK THE CONDITIONER EVENLY THROUGH YOUR HAIR! That process may take you a few minutes. But once you’ve done that part well, you can rinse.
Myth 2: Conditioner “suffocates” hair
False. Even if you didn’t wash all the silicone out, we’ve never seen any data that indicates that a small amount of silicone residue acts as a “barrier” between hair shaft and moisture. On average, your hair contains about 8 to 14% water by weight but it will equilibrate to the ambient humidity. In other words, it will pick up moisture when it’s very humid and it will lose moisture when it’s very dry. Slight silicone residue won’t substantially change that. Now, if you slather on a heavy layer of a silicone hair treatment product, that’s a different story! But either way remember that hair is not alive and doesn’t need to breathe!
Myth 3: Silicone coats hair with “plastic” or wax

False. Typically the Pantene brand is associated with this claim. In reality, Pantene Shampoos and Conditioners do not contain wax. Although Pantene has unique and proprietary ingredients based on recent technological advances, the classes of ingredients (silicones, fatty alcohols, cationic polymers and cationic surfactants) are used consistently across the hair care industry.Pantene Shampoo and Conditioners do leave behind conditioning ingredients (such as coacervate conditioning complexes, liquid crystals, and terminal amino silicones) for healthy hair benefits such as moisturization, damage protection and shine. Pantene shampoos and conditioners are designed to work together, depositing conditioning ingredients that will wash out of the hair with the next shampoo. When women feel they have build-up from their shampoos and conditioners, it is often a sign that the products they are using are too heavy for their hair, and they may be more satisfied with a lower conditioning version.

Knowledge dropped! Ladies, what are your thoughts on this information? Did it dispel any myths for you?

Visit The Beauty Brains for more scientific breakdowns of cosmetic products.

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Ugonna Wosu
Ugonna Wosu
6 years ago

I’m a just stick with what I know has been working for me for almost two year. M’kay?

silkynaps
silkynaps
6 years ago

It seems that most of the hair information regurgitated all over on the internet is based on studies conducted on and for caucasian hair. Afro hair is very different from caucasian hair as much as cotton is very different from silk. If I worked conditioner into my hair for a few minutes and rinsed it, my hair would not feel good. For me, the longer I leave my conditioner on my hair, the better it feels, the shinier it will be, and the more manageable it will be. Of course, by now, most of us know what works best for our… Read more »

Ugonna Wosu
Ugonna Wosu
6 years ago
Reply to  silkynaps

I wouldn’t say its a race thing. A lot of white women, those with curls especially, do a lot of what we do. Straight haired women are the ones who need less conditioner and moisture in general, cause they tend to have oilier scalps and their sebum travels down the hair shaft easiest. They are looking to have LESS moisture, and need to wash everyday and quick condition.

silkynaps
silkynaps
6 years ago
Reply to  Ugonna Wosu

Curly hair…and I’m assuming you mean loose curls not of the afro hair variation…is a result of miscegenation; so, that’s not exactly caucasian hair.

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  silkynaps

Most Black hair is a result of miscegenation– most Black Americans are at least 10% White (Please see the recent work of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.), and a large portion of the Black American population is 20–30% White. Formerly colonized African countries and the Caribbean also contain large populations of individuals with diverse racial admixtures.

You don’t have to be “mixed” to have loose curled textures, because everyone is a lot more “mixed” than most of us realize. Can we not start this debate? Can we just talk about the role(s) of conditioner in a hair regimen?

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

Sorry, left Euro/Black populations out of my comment…y’all are “mixed” too 😉

lahblooplah
lahblooplah
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

Race just means a group of people, and in ancient times, it usually referred to languages and tribes. I’m no anthropologist, but it’s common knowledge that empires have subdued other nations (in the antique sense not the post french revolution sense) and those empires have also been subdued by other nations/peoples which means different ethnicities (which is really an umbrella term.) Anyway race in the modern sense is a tricky topic espicially when we want to apply it to human attributes/features. But my conclusion concerning the race topic in this category of physical attributes is just it just doesn’t matter… Read more »

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

lahblooplah, the intent of my comment was to point out how arbitrary race actually is. From a social perspective, race has a very significant role in global culture right now. From a general scientific perspective, race in today’s society means diddly.

Jesse
Jesse
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

@Dananana I wouldn’t say black hair is the results of miscegenation. Are you saying kinky hair is the result of genes from Caucasians or just pointing out that African-Americans are generally mixed with Caucasian genes? There are plenty of Africans with very little if any Caucasian genes. If we really go back to theories on the origins of Homo Sapians, current theory suggests that they originated in Africa. I’m guessing kinky hair helped with the environment. Perhaps straight oily hair is better in colder environments.

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

@Jesse: Yes, I’m pointing out that Black Americans (and quite a bit of the rest of diaspora) have White ancestry. What’s interesting in the Americas specifically, is that there are also quite a few White people with Black ancestry. There have been anthropological studies that show evidence of trade between Africa and Europe centuries (and possibly, millennia) before what is taught in our classrooms in the US. My point in saying all of this is that race is, relatively speaking, a new thing.

ac
ac
6 years ago
Reply to  silkynaps

are we also to make the claim that hair with curls and without kinks is not afro hair?

even with miscegenation, there is not just one type of caucasian hair, so maybe what you’re trying to say is naturally straight hair.

Ugonna Wosu
Ugonna Wosu
6 years ago
Reply to  ac

u talking to me? Cause I was basically they’re in the same boat.

silkynaps
silkynaps
6 years ago
Reply to  ac

Nah, I said what I meant. Asian hair is straight, yet very different from caucasian hair.

JENNID
JENNID
6 years ago

Good information. I enjoy these types of ariclescas they can serve as a ” what went wrong” kind of thing if your hair suddenly starts behaving differently. Myth # 1 is true. If a conditioners has to be left on for HOURS to make your soft I believe it to be an inferior product. I can see leaving it on for up to an hour other than the 3–5 min label but over several hours is a bit much. I think many people leave it on that long for convience sake. I mean bag it and put a hat on… Read more »

lahblooplah
lahblooplah
6 years ago
Reply to  JENNID

Honestly, I think the current hair care methods are out of the excitement for the upkeep of natural hair. For once in a very long time we can pamper our hair in the natural state and enjoy it. Secondly, I also think because this second-wave natural hair movement is in it’s infancy which bears the various means of taking care of natural hair, even if these means are based on pseudo science. Third, due to it’s recrudescence, there is a proliferation of natural hair products,which, even though can be blessings, also bring about complications since not every head of hair… Read more »

ADRZ
ADRZ
6 years ago

I don’t see anything abt “race” upon hair product studying. Anyway I disagree abt your Pantene shampoo/co-wash because everywhere I went to ask abt Pantene, a lot ppl says it is only wax that should be on floor washing.

It seems that everytime you update w/ myth stuffs which you think is 100% correct and stable. But ppl will have different opinions. You will too, later on..then you will update more of myth based on your opinions. I really don’t agree any of it. I will just stick with what I know that work for me years…

Ashley
Ashley
6 years ago

Wow! I really appreciate this article. I did put on a light weight conditioner for about 10–15 minutes and rinsed it out. I have 4C, thick, dense and course hair. I blew my hair out and thermally pressed it and it still felt moisturized. Now I’m going to try it again without pressing my hair and see how it feels.

DeeFlowers
6 years ago

I have 4C hair and I leave my conditioner in for a minute if I am rinsing it out, but if I am doing a deep condition, I’ll leave it on for 30 minutes max. Why? I went to a natural hair meet up and the stylist told us that there is no need to DC for hours because its not going to penetrate your hair any more than what it does for what ever the recomended time is on the bottle. Now, I disagree about the silicons, not using cons has been the best thing thing that I did… Read more »

rlw
rlw
6 years ago
Reply to  DeeFlowers

U summed it up in a nutshell. I like your last sentence.…. So true

Ugonna Wosu
Ugonna Wosu
6 years ago
Reply to  DeeFlowers

I dc for only 15–30 minutes.

I disagree with them about protein conditioners. Those DO make a difference.

PMS
PMS
6 years ago

I believe JC did an article to support the time it takes for certain oils, proteins, etc to absorb last the cuticle so yes certain deep conditioners do need to be left on the hair longer to work. Let me see if I can find the article

PMS
PMS
6 years ago
Reply to  PMS

http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2009/03/monday-myths-can-you-really-deep.html link on deep conditioning and the author concurs on adding coconut oil to your conditioner if you dc if it’s not already an ingredient

Overall like all things placed in a book from research there is what happened in a lab & there is what happens in your bathroom on your head please act accordingly.

Jc
Jc
6 years ago
Reply to  PMS

Thanks for sharing my page. I have done many scientific articles on conditioning over the years, everything from what can penetrate hair and whether heat or time can increase the conditioning effect. The summary page with links to the specific articles on the blog is here

http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2012/10/deep-conditioning-everything-you-need.html

PMS
PMS
6 years ago
Reply to  Jc

I love your blog!!! That is all.

Diane
Diane
6 years ago

I leave my conditioner for at least 30 minutes, my hair just feels better. I also pre poo with oil.

Naturalcurlsneedlove
Naturalcurlsneedlove
6 years ago

I do not agree with this article at all. 10 years I have been hairdressing and sorry to say silicone is not in anyway beneficial to natural hair! It does coat it in plastic, which synthetic silicone is… And I promise you once you have finished your bottle of product you will find the coating causes hair strands to matt and tangle. Products will less chemical more natural are best. Love Sulphate free shampoos doesn’t strip the hairs moisture. Your hair will definitely benefit from Conditioner being on an hour vs 5 mins. I bleach my hair and leave conditioner… Read more »

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