In an ideal world a regular shampoo would be sufficient to guarantee a glossy head of hair. Unfortunately very few people are able to wash their hair and let the matter rest at that; most need some sort of help just to overcome the effects of modern living, not to mention the occasional problem that needs treatment. Here is a guide to the vast array of products available to get the hair in excellent condition.
Glossy hair has cuticle scales that lie flat and neatly overlap, thus reflecting the light. Perming and colouring, rough handling, and heat styling all conspire to lift the cuticles, allowing moisture to be lost from the cortex and making hair dry, lack lustre, and prone to tangle. Severely damaged cuticles break off completely, which means that the hair gets thinner and eventually breaks.
To Put the shine back into hair and restore its natural lustre it may be necessary to use a specific conditioner that meets the hair’s requirements. Conditioners, with the exception of hot oils, should be applied to freshly shampooed hair that has been blotted dry with a towel to remove excess moisture.
Today there is a large, and sometimes confusing, number of conditioners on the market. The following list describes those which are widely available.
Basic conditioners coat the hair with a fine film, temporarily smoothing down the cuticle and making hair glossier and easier to manage. Leave for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
Conditioning Sprays are used prior to styling and form a protective barrier against the harmful effects of heat. They are also good for reducing static electricity on flyway hair.
Hot oils give an intensive, deep nourishing treatment. To use, place the unopened tube in a cup of hot tap water and leave to heat for one minute. Next, wet the hair and towel it dry before twisting off the tube top. Massage the hot oil evenly into the scalp and throughout the hair for one to three minutes. For a more intensive treatment cover the head with a shower cap. To finish, rinse the hair and shampoo.
Intensive conditioners help hair to retain its natural moisture balance, replenishing it where necessary. Use this if hair is split, dry, frizzy, or difficult to manage. Distribute the conditioner evenly through the hair and then allow it to penetrate for two to five minutes, or longer if required. Rinse very thoroughly with lots of fresh water, lifting your hair from the scalp to ensure any residue is washed away.
Leave-in conditioners are designed to help retain moisture, reduce static, and add shine. They are especially good for fine hair as they avoid conditioner overload, which can cause lankness. Convenient and easy to use, they also provide a protective barrier against the effects of heat styling. Apply after shampooing but don’t rinse off. These products are ideal for daily use.
Restructurants penetrate the cortex, helping to repair and strengthen the inner part of damaged hair. They are helpful if the hair is lank and limp and has lost its natural elasticity as a result of chemical treatments or physical damage.
Split end treatments/serums condition damaged hair. The best course of action for split ends is to have the ends trimmed, but this does not always solve the whole problem because the hair tends to break off and split at different levels. As an intermediate solution, split ends can be temporarily sealed using these specialist conditioners. They should be worked into the ends of newly washed hair so that they surround the hair with a microscopic film that leaves the hair shaft smoother.
Colour/perm conditioners are designed for chemically treated hair. After-colour products add a protective film around porous areas of the hair, preventing colour loss. After perm products help stabilize the hair, thus keeping the bounce in the curl.