Picking a Good Conditioner

by Charlotte Wood
(last updated May 27, 2016)

Hair conditioner is one of those products that isn't exactly necessary, but usually a good idea to improve the health and look of your hair. However, like toothpaste, deodorant, and pain relievers, the options are limitless and varied and oh so confusing. There are different brands and smells and objectives with every kind of hair conditioner. It's overwhelming to stand in front of the shampoo aisle and decide on what product to buy. Many times I just go off of which commercial I liked best or what my hair stylist recommends. While picking a good conditioner is an overwhelming quest, you can narrow down the possibilities after you figure out exactly what your hair needs.

The term conditioner makes it easy to determine the product's purpose—to condition or improve your hair. Shampoo cleans it and while the shampoos out there are now targeted toward specific hair types or styles, it doesn't quite do what conditioner does. Your needs or wants will determine what conditioner you buy; it's not just a blanket product that only comes in one variation. Here's a short list of various kinds of conditioners and what they do to your hair.

  • Moisturizers: hold moisture in your hair, good for dry hair
  • Reconstructors: penetrate hair and strengthens it from the inside
  • Acidifier: strengthens hair by tightening surface
  • Detangler: keeps hair smooth, glossy, and tangle free
  • Thermal protectors: protects hair from intense heat (like that caused from a blow dryer)
  • Glosser: uses chemicals that bond to the hair surface to increase shininess
  • Oil: adds certain oils similar to hair's natural oils to soften up dry hair

These types of conditioners are the most commonly seen conditioners that have the most direct effects. Other types of conditioner include surfactants (protects the surface of your hair), lubricants (makes your hair more smooth), sequestrants (protects your hair in hard water), antistatic agents, and preservatives.

Like many other hygiene products, conditioner ultimately comes down to personal preference once you already know what your objective is for using conditioner (smoother hair, moisturized hair, etc.). You can be like me and base your decision off the commercials you like, listen to what your stylist has to say, buy the cheapest, go off of a friend's recommendation, or just grab one if you're in a hurry.

The key to picking a good conditioner is just knowing your hair type and pinpointing the effect you want out of your conditioner. After that it's all up to you and your personal tastes regarding hair care. Here's to stellar hair!

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