Monday, June 7, 2010

Conditioner: Defining our conditioners

As I mentioned yesterday, there are three types of conditioners - rinse off, leave in, and intense or treatment conditioners. What are the differences?

Rinse off conditioners: Rinse off conditioners tend to have between 3% to 10% cationic quaternary compounds with the rest of the ingredients being water, water soluble ingredients (like hydrolyzed proteins, panthenol, extracts, and hydrosols), oil soluble ingredients (oils, silicones, butters), and preservatives. Some may contain cetyl alcohol as a booster for the cationic compound. They can be used daily and are intended to be left on for a few minutes, then rinsed off.

Creme rinses are similar to conditioners, but they tend to be thinner and the main goal is to detangle and offer anti-static properties.

Intense or treatment conditioners: These tend to have 5% to 10% cationic compounds and may include a few different cationic conditioners to increase the conditioning benefits. Many will include oils or butters for extra conditioning, and generally include all the lovely ingredients included in the rinse off conditioners. They tend to be thicker thanks to the increase in cationic compounds and butters, and may be packaged in jars. They are not intended to be used daily because they can leave your hair limp due to the increase in cationic conditioning agents, oils, and other ingredients. (Although really dry or damaged hair types could use these as a regular conditioner, these hair types shouldn't be washing every day anyway!)

Leave-in conditioners: These tend to have between 1% and 3% cationic compounds and are intended to be left on the hair after washing. These are much lighter in consistency - they can usually be sprayed out of a spritzer bottle - and may contain styling agents. These may have greater benefits for hair because the active ingredients aren't rinsed out. You may also find leave-in detanglers: These tend to contain very light conditioning agents like cetrimonium chloride, intended to detangle hair.

There are variations on conditioners like the solid conditioner (rinse-off) or the conditioning shampoo, but in general these three categories should cover every conditioner you'll encounter.

How to choose which one is right for your hair type? Try them! A rinse off conditioner is probably suitable for every hair type. Most hair types will enjoy the leave in conditioner - except, perhaps, those with fine hair. Intense conditioners are generally saved for people with dry or curly hair, although those of us with frizz can enjoy them, too. Oily haired girls really shouldn't be adding oil to their hair, except below the scalp, so the intense conditioners might be a bad idea for that hair type.

A note on conditioning - I have below my waist, coarse, frizzy, unprocessed by chemical or mechanical means hair. For years, I used intense conditioners and tons of them thinking my hair was damaged. (Okay, the ends are trashed because I don't cut it often, but I'm talking about the rest of it). I read somewhere - sorry, can't find the reference - that over-conditioning can be a bad thing and decided to condition less. That's when I started using conditioner bars without oils. What a difference! I also stopped towel drying my hair and only wring out the water now before putting on my leave in conditioner and anti-frizz spray. So if you're using tons of conditioner, try using less and see how your hair reacts.

Join me tomorrow for some basic starting recipes for making conditioner!

3 comments:

Danielle said...

Hi Susan,

I've been looking all over for this information but thought it would be best to ask you. Being a sulfate, is Incroquat BMTS-50 linked into the bad rap of sulfates such as SLS, etc?

You seem to rave about how great it is and I was just wondering if you've ever heard of people having bad reactions to it: drying out hair, damaging hair follicles, etc.

I could be asking a very stupid question but cannot find the answer anywhere!

THANK YOU.

Danielle said...

Hi Susan,

I've been looking all over for this information but thought it would be best to ask you. Being a sulfate, is Incroquat BMTS-50 linked into the bad rap of sulfates such as SLS, etc?

You seem to rave about how great it is and I was just wondering if you've ever heard of people having bad reactions to it: drying out hair, damaging hair follicles, etc.

I could be asking a very stupid question but cannot find the answer anywhere!

THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

Are the intense conditioners formulated for being a rinse-off or leave-in? Could one with an African hair type use the intense conditioner as a leave in?
Penny