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By Audrey Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care

Deep conditioning the hair is critical to achieving bouncy, luxurious, healthy hair in any hair care regimen. How often you deep condition is a matter of personal preference. The need to deep condition can also be influenced by a number of things, like whether or not your hair is color-treated, naturally porous, coarse or chemically relaxed. Those considerations must be taken into account, along with your hair’s general condition, when you determine how often you’ll need to deep condition your hair.
My hair is chemically relaxed and color-treated, so deep conditioning has been key to keeping my hair healthy and vibrant. Effective deep conditioning can truly provide essential protection against hair chemical treatments, colors, heat and even just sheer neglect.

In addition to knowing how often you need to deep condition your hair, you should educate yourself on deep-conditioning products. Deep conditioning can take place with either a moisturizing deep conditioner or a protein-based treatment. Each product will require a different deep-conditioning schedule. Moisturizing deep conditioning should occur most often, and protein deep conditioning should occur less frequently. Most, if not all, deep conditioners require heat for maximum cuticle penetration. This process can last from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the conditioner and your hair.

If your hair is:
-Chemically relaxed
-Permed
-Bleached
-Permanently color-treated
-Extremely damaged and dry

These especially damaged cases benefit from deep conditioning twice weekly until the hair begins to recover. Once the hair has recovered, then a weekly deep-conditioning schedule can be maintained. Cover the hair with a plastic cap and apply heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Hair should be rinsed in cool water to help smooth and close the cuticle.

Protein deep conditioning, or a reconstructor treatment, can take place the same day as moisturizing deep conditioning for those with hair in need of deep repair. Simply mix your protein treatment with your moisturizing deep conditioner and process under heat.

Try to find deep conditioners that are creamy and have a thick consistency. I find that these tend to be the best deep conditioners, since they really leave the hair feeling moisturized. If your hair is fine, you’ll want to find a light, creamy conditioner with fewer heavy oils. Otherwise, you’ll be conditioned, but weighed down as well.

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Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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66 Comments on "How Often Should You Deep Condition?"

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PJR
Hello I was reading this article and I was wondering how I should approach doing protein treatments. I am completely natural no perms, color any of that. I use to use heat on my hair everyday but no longer use heat at all. (probably due to not having a blow dryer, but even if i did id probably rarely use knowing what I know now)Anyways my hair has always been relatively thin and dry/itchy. Id say my hair is between mild to moderately damaged. Should I be doing protein treatments biweekly or monthly? also how should i use these or… Read more »
Jazelin
It seems that nobody has taken the time to answer some of these question. So, let me give it a try. I did some researching and what seems to come up often is your hair type. Depending on your hair type also depends on the amount of conditioning you may need. For example, I am Puerto Rican and my hair is curly. But not the soft curly more like kinky curly which frizzes easily and is always dry. I started doing the deep conditioning every three days starting in May. My hair grew 6 inches.(from the tops of my shoulders… Read more »
Diane

I deep condition at least once a week

Anonymous

Same except i wanna start doing it twice a week i have heatdamaged dyed transitioning curly hair (im mad about that because i had straight hair but i started trasitioning while my straight hair was damaged and dyed)

flowerkinzy

Does anyone know what errors we should avoid when (deep) conditionning?
Even if I keep the conditionner during 2 hours,the moisture seems to have disappeared the next morning, (especially the ends that break easily). The same effect when I apply the LOC method.
I’m really confused since I dont see what I’m doing wrong.

(English is not my mother tongue, thanks for your answers)

Rae

You sound like you have low porosity hair…you arent retaining moisture. Try using heat when moisturising. Watch youtube videos about porosity and how to deep conditioner/moisturise for your porosity type.

Nana

You’re not buying the right conditioner in your hair! Deep conditioner should only be left in your hair for 15-30 minutes.

Nancy

Biweekly may refer to an event that occurs twice weekly or once every two weeks.[1]. Confused!!!

Sasha

I deep condition every week

Cidriana

Is it okay to deep condition every day, or would that be overdoing things a bit?

Tia

I deep condition about once a week in the winter time. It seems to help my hair fight the cold temps.

Mel Stevens

My hair is not bleached, or dyed or damaged but I still use my pro naturals hair mask twice a week. I love it b/c it smells great and it leaves my hair super soft and shiny!

Miss OPM

I ve split ends and my hair is dry. I want know the hair regime I could use to make it moisturizer, strong and healthy. How many times do I need a protein treatment??
How often should I wash my hair??
What hair products will I need to achieve a healthy growing hair?? PLEASE CAN YOU HELP?

Karjiana

I use one egg and about 3 tbsp of mayonnaise in my DIY deep conditioner every week, is that okay or is that considered a protein treatment?

DJ J

I moisturize deep condition once a week, I use a cheap moisturizing conditioner mixed with olive oil and coconut oil and apply to hair and then sit under dryer for 10-15 minutes, then rinse.

I do a protein treatment once a month, as if you look online, it says for normal hair, do it for once a month. I use egg/mayo treatment when I am at home, and if I am living living at my college dorm, then I will use Organic root stimulator Hair Mayonnaise.

Lora

This is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

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Brittany
Hello! I have a question about Protein vs. Moisturizing Deep conditioning. Is it possible to do a treatment once a month that contains both a protein AND a moisturizing component rather than a moisture treatment every two weeks and a separate protein treatment every month? I’m asking this because my hair fits the last category and the homemade recipe I’m thinking of trying has Coconut milk, avocado, banana, and olive oil. I would like to consider this a light protein/moisturizing deep treatment all wrapped up into one, but I’m still not sure. I know my hair doesn’t need much protein… Read more »
Angelica

I deep condition once a week if possible. I usually make my own conditioner, link below. If I do not have time to make my own then I’ll usually use a natural store bought product.

Stephanie

The best leave in conditioner is Mane and Tail Detangler it is awesome for a roller set! I like Melaleuca Herbal Shampoo and for deep conditioning anything with “shea butter” in it. I used the flat iron but when the dominican salons do a roller set it holds for 2 weeks.

Thairine

If he sells them, she will be able to easily sue him and win and plbraboy destroy his financial future in the process. If he posts them all over the web she also likely has a lawsuit. That’s the most likely scenario. She needs to hire a lawyer for a couple hours and have the attorney send a letter for her, on legal letterhead, with intimidating warnings of a lawsuit if those pics are EVER shared publicly. It’s that simple and honestly the ex will likely comply.

No Comment

Ummm what article are you replying to? Doesn’t seem like it’s this one, but sounds juicy.

coley

Hahhahaha

Laura

The best conditioner I have ever used is Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner, the argan oil hydrates and strengthens my hair making it nice and healthy. Plus the extra shine is appreciated! Thanks for the informative article 🙂

eliss

I was just wondering if anybody knows if it would be okay to deep condition hair then apply a leave-in-conditioner that helps repairs split ends?????

Jaune Banane
Deep conditioning is great for the hair but unfortunately split ends cannot be repaired.They can only be covered up temporarily using silicones but no lasting repair. The only way to get rid of them is to snip them off! Split ends can only be prevented but not eradicated all together. However you DO NOT have to trim them depending on how you wear your hair curly or straight and how much it is bothering you. 🙂 A great tip is the baggying method,do a ponytail and apply water to your ends then apply an oil or water based mosituriser and… Read more »
askvivi

Thanks for the post! My hair is thick and curly and the best product I’ve used to take care of dryness is Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner, my hair is hydrated and healthy now, plus it’s shinier than before 🙂

Alicia

I don’t know if this is off topic or not but how do i find the right product when most of the conditioners say they do the same thing to your hair? I dont want to try a bunch of products and m ake my hair fall out so can anyone reccomend a good cronditioner for thick curly hai ?? Som of the comments give me ideas but i dont know where to start since the ladies at the salon just tell me to perm it…

j
Hi Alicia,The two basic types are moisture or protein based condish. So the first thing is to decide which your hair needs most. So for example i use mostly moisture but my hair does need protein evry once in a while so a good start is ORS Rplenishing Pak as it is cheap u can get the sachets or bottle and it has a mixture of both. The second step is to scrutinize ingredients,if they claim mmoisture it better had a mosturising ingredient.-__- Here are two sites that helped me understand ingredients better: http://www.tightlycurly.com/ingredients/ http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2011/12/hair-conditioner-claims-should-you-take.html I hope this helps.Also if… Read more »
jennifer

thanks for the info. I was just asking myself that same question.

flore

I am 100% natural

flore

My hair is stuck at the same length. It’s been over a year any advice for a routine that will create growth and length.

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betty

I just purchased the Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner and was asking myself the same question.
Thanks for the guidance. 🙂

Indira

i really love the tips you gave on deep conditioning and all cos am transitioning and am just not so sure on how often to deep condition. but i’ll appreciate it if you could give those of us busy ladies who hardly have time for themselves tips on how to maintain healthy and beautiful natural curls. thanks

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AfroMohawkable

I deep condition once a week, sometimes with my hooded hair dryer and if I am lazy just body heat. I try not to do too much other things with my hair. It just isn’t that serious for me. My hair still normally breaks and sheds when it is ready. and when that happens, I take care of it as usually. There are benefits to deep conditioning, my hair is bouncy, shiny and easier to manage.

Jen jin
Hi Merry! I’m new to this hair-care thing, usually just shooting the breeze, never periodically washing it or moisterizing it or all that other fancy stuff (because my sister used to do my hair. Now she’s off to college and left Little Miss Careless in charge of her own hair.) Let’s just say I kept doing the same things that I did before: nothing. and my started breaking or shedding or whatever in a matter of months. now I’m down to neck length with veeeerrrrry dry hair that refuses to hold any water/moisture. I am currently transitioning with this month… Read more »
Stephanie Thornton
I can help you. I know how it is to want to take your weave out, but you have no idea what to do with your hair. This is what you do!! Take it out your hair doesn’t need to be in a weave longer then a month, and your hair needs to breath. Save a piece of your weave and use it for a cute bun. Buns are so in messy bun stylish updo, or ponytail, until your get comfortable with your hair and length. A little weave piece is good also to protect your ends, I sometimes if… Read more »
Stephanie Thornton
Moisture is what your hair needs, wash once per week. Deep condition everyweek, so you can get the strength back in your hair. During the week get a good leave in conditioner, wet hair apply conditioner, the use coconut oil or olive oil to seal the moisture in. Do that as many times during the week you feel like the hair is dry and needs it. The weekEND you wash and deep condition. Put the hair in a protective style and your good. That’s is that’s all you need. Moisture, protective style, wash deep condition on weekend!! If you need… Read more »
Sophie Ann

what would be considered a moisturizing deep conditioner vs a protein deep conditioner?

The Natural Haven
Protein conditioners have ingredients like hydrolysed protein (hydrolysed wheat, hydrolysed keratin, hydrolysed silk) or amino acids (glutamic acid, L-Cysteine). Example products include aphogee and komaza protein hair strengthener. Moisturising conditioners largely contain water, oils and surfactants (behentrimonium, stearylalkonium). Most hair conditioners fall into this category and will be distinguished from regular rinse out conditioners by name. They will usually be labelled as deep conditioner, intensive conditioner, conditioning mask or intensive mask. Some moisturising conditioners do contain some protein or amino acids as these tend to transfer well into hair when in a conditioner versus in water alone. Just read the… Read more »
Eboni

I used to only deep condition once or twice per month, but now with cold weather and all, I NEED to deep condition twice per week.

I use Carol’s Daughter Moisturizing (Black Vanilla) Hair Smoothie, and my hair has felt great ever since!

Zyaran
I guess maybe once or twice a month is needed for a deep condition. But I will sometimes just put in some conditioner either v05 peach or strawberry. The newest that I like is Blue magic argan herbal leave-in condish that is really good and smells delicious. I sometimes will put in condish on my ends once or twice a week and spray some oil onto my hair n scalp. Also just brought some African Pride Moisturizing Growth Oil which has so many terrific oils in it and smells delicious.. ************************* I saw this while browsing LHCF site and her… Read more »
EG

thank you for this post. I now added her to my ‘inspiration/motivation’ folder.

Madisonkc

@EG
in my perspective, every hair advice given on this site is optional (excluding the fundamentals. ex: moisturizing, oiling your ends,etc). Everyone’s hair has its own individual characteristics. Pick and choose which methods you would like to experiment with. Whatever way works best for you; keep it. No need to frantically worry over small details aka using heat or not. If you feel too lazy to deep condition your hair with heat, do it. If you feel like a ~3o minute does the right job, do it.

EG

I agree with you. The only reason why I asked the question was because the person who wrote that heat is not needed made those of us who said we would continue to use it feel like we wrong to disagree with her because she was a scientist and we were not (essentially talking down to us). Needless to say it was nice to see another scientist say that it is.
At the end of the day, it is up to the individual, and that is the way it should be.

jeje1718
I tend to pre-poo but I think it is a form of deep conditioning. I do it so that my hair doesnt dry out. I have to wash my hair every 4 days (because of ezcema). So putting a light oil(jojoba/coconut oil) and conditioner on my hair for about an hour before I wash ensures that it still feels soft and moisturized afterwards. Mind you, I dont do this everytime I wash my hair. It varies. It may be once a week, or even once a month. Depending on how busy (or how lazy) I am, but I do get… Read more »
EG

OK, i’m going to say it. If i’m not mistaken, a few weeks earlier we had JC telling us that we don’t need heat to deep condition, she event so far as to write a follow-up post to counter those of us who said we believe we do and that we will continue to use heat. Now we have this post telling us that we do need heat to deep condition. I have always used heat and will continue to do so, but I can definitely see how some newbies get confused. Which is it? heat or no heat?

April

I agree AG. When started my natual journey, I stayed confused. What to use and what not to use. I went back to the basics. As long as my hair felt moisturized and conditioned, I was happy.
I wash and condition once a week. Put a lil oil on my scalp and twist up! All that other jazz it to time consuming. Some people do way to much.

Neesha_Cherie

I agree with you April. As long as my hair feels moisturized and conditioned, I’m happy. I dont use heat to deep condition my hair because I despise leaving the shower and then having to hop back in. When I’m done, I’m done! Over and out!

April

Preach Neesha!

Tyler

According to the author of “The Science of Black Hair” whether you use heat or not depends on how damaged your hair is. She recommends doing heat free (like just using a shower cap or even a warm towel around the shower cap) deep treatments for healthy hair, 10-15 mins under the dryer for slightly damaged hair and 20-30 for very damaged hair. I’m approximating the numbers but that was the general idea.

The Natural Haven
EG- I have repeatedly said, ‘Do what works for you!’, I even wrote a post here which explicitly stated that. I encourage people to try deep conditioning without heat for 5-10 minutes and compare that to deep conditioning with heat for 20-30 minutes. It is called experimentation. April and Neesha clearly have the experience that no heat is necessary , you clearly have the experience that heat is necessary. The final goal is the same ‘moisturised, soft hair’ achieved in some cases with no heat and no long time periods and in the second case with heat and a longer… Read more »
merry
@jc “My question to you EG is why do you want just one rule?” because multiple rules can be confusing. like, the light is red. do i stop or not? yes or no. equivocation can be confusing. i think especially because you often present things from a “scientific” view, it can come across as being gospel and weird when science (and real-world experience) contradicts itself/each other. and often, people turn to scientific explanations for definitive answers. for me, i don’t really pay attention to lots of the so-called science stuff when it comes to my hair. i do what works… Read more »
EG
Thank You!!!! I wrote essentially the same thing, but they did not post it. Black girl long hair since you are reading/moderating these posts, why wasn’t my reply published? Anyhoo back to my reply, YES, JC absolutely has a tendency to post things with the ‘my word is final’ type of attitude. She posted her information, some of us disagreed, and then she wrote a follow-up post to essentially ‘scold’ those of us who disagreed. I understand that you are a scientist, but to write a follow-up post like you can’t be questioned? disagreed with? That’s extra! And no, that… Read more »
The Natural Haven

Honestly EG and Merry, I do not do comment box fights. I give scientific research as an option for those interested in looking at it, but whether you take it or leave it…….I could not care less, it’s your hair, not mine. I am interested in a genuine debate or discussion on ideas/techniques and research and I cannot see one here.

My sincere apologies to Audrey – I hope that the focus can go back to your contribution 🙂

merry
it’s weird. i had a twa for a number of years before i started growing my hair. once i started growing it, it just grew like crazy – to 12 to 13 inches in a matter of a few of years. i never once deep conditioned it. and i never slept with a scarf, although i did braid it up every night. but, in the last year i started watching all these dang youtube videos are started using different tools/products that broke my hair off. it was always dry, but for the first time it was also crazy frizzy. after… Read more »
Jen jin

Hi Merry! I’m new to this hair-care thing, so what do you mean by you started growing your hair out? I mean, do you really have control over that?

merry
well, i’ve been natural a long time. i always kept my hair short; at times i had the amber rose look. so, by grow out, i mean just let it grow without cutting it back all the time. it grew fast but i also never really kept track of length. i was pretty oblivious to it until one day somebody (an asian girl i know) mentioned how much my hair had grown in the short time she knew me. weird how i had scalp length hair and barely noticed shoulder-length growth. lol. i just wasn’t obsessed with my hair. i… Read more »
Jen jin

Oh, I like that “No stress No mess” method!

Ayo

What’s your hair texture like curiously?

Ajay

That was just AWFUL and funny and AWFUL! I just dealt with the same thing – asked for a trim along the bottom and she not only leyraed it all over (I have fine hair), the back is shorter than the sides so it’s weird and this woman was HIGHLY recommended. I may have to cut it all off and wear wigs for awhile – but your story helped me put it in perspective… I don’t have a skunk stripe (hoho).

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