Most people with natural hair follow a strict deep conditioner regimen. I did too when I first started out with my natural hair journey because all I heard was noise about how difficult my texture is to deal with and its unrelenting proneness to drying out. But once I opted for the Ayurveda-based system of hair care, I find it unnecessary to deep condition after each mud. Taking my time to prep the muds to mitigate some of the inevitable drying effects and using my herbal tea leave-in along with the home-made hair cream as moisturizer has all but almost eliminated my need to deep condition. Midweek co-washes also help a lot.
With my current regimen, I try not to go more than a month without a thorough deep conditioner. Making sure as much of my hair as possible is in contact with the deep conditioner is vital (otherwise I feel like it’s really not a deep condition) so I will usually allocate a Saturday afternoon to this process to make sure I have plenty of time. I also try to do this process when in the right mindset (not a bad mood or tired) because it requires a lot of patience especially since it includes detangling, which is sometimes very frustrating.
Since I have spent so much money to have most ingredients I hardly buy a commercial deep conditioner. With simple modifications to rinse out conditioners I can convert them into pretty good deep conditioners. The whole point of a deep conditioner is to coat the hair shaft for a while and allow the hair to absorb as much ingredients as it needs into the hair shaft. At the same time ingredients that do not penetrate the hair shaft coat the strand to repair wear and tear and protect it from the elements. Our hair has natural lipids but unfortunately unlike other textures, its not enough to sustain the strand hence the need to supplement externally (deep condition). Also, the winding bends of the curl pattern (I have thousands of closely knit curls along individual strands) create another obstacle for movement of natural lipids from the hair root to the strand length.
For my light density hair , mid-light conditioners are ideal. Heavy conditioners encourage my strands to cling together even more making detangling really difficult. I have been using V05 Shea Cashmere and have a good stock of it but it was discontinued so I am in search of a new moisturizing conditioner. I helped myself to my boyfriend’s Pantene Pro-v Nature Fusion Moisturizing conditioner and I like it. I have to lower its viscosity (thickness) to thin it out for my hair. I have heard raving reviews of Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture conditioner. I’ll try both and do an in-depth review later. So your conditioner of choice for this or any other recipe should be whatever you feel works best for your hair. You can take a gurus advise but always experiment and trust your instincts.
The herbal hair conditioning powder (see video here) was exceptionally drying to my hair. Even after using my herbal water-based leave-in conditioner followed by the herbal cream, it was evident I needed a deep conditioner. So instead of the midweek co-wash, I decided to deep condition.
- Conditioner of choice (I mixed V05 Shea Cashmere and Pantente Nature Fusion). The amount will depend on your hair length and thickness
- Your favorite oil. There are no rules here use any oil you like or one that works for your hair. I love the herbal oil because it’s got multiple oils (see video here) and also a lot of herbal goodness. Usually I alternate between the herbal oil and Jamaican black castor oil (JBCO). I can’t stand JBCO but it’s a very beneficial oil for hair care so I mask in a deep conditioner.
- Essential oils of your choice. My regular faithfuls are always my first choice (lavender, peppermint, sweet orange) but sometimes I will tweak depending on my hair needs. Like I might add tea-tree if my scalp is a little itchy or something more citrus like tangerine/grapefruit/lemon when my hair feels oily (which usually happens if I prepped with an oil the previous night)
- A moisturizing medium – In this recipe I used aloe vera but I have used coconut milk and yogurt as well. It just depends on what I have at hand and also my mood.
- Mix the ingredients and you are ready to go. I find adding ingredients one at a time very effective because there’s time to catch an error and also the ingredients incorporate into the deep conditioner much better.
- I don’t have a rule about indirect heat (sitting under the dryer with a plastic cap on my hair). It just depends on how I feel. I used heat for 25 minutes this time but most of the time I just wrap my hair and let it marinate over night. I am yet to try the infamous hair steamer; I’m not certain it’s a necessary investment. Perhaps in the future I’ll change my mind. I don’t use direct heat though.
IMPORTANT: Because my conditioner is very thin, I can use it directly on dry hair. If you are using a thicker consistency, mist your hair first so you can manipulate it safely. Thicker conditioners do not have as much water (or aloe) so even though they attach to the hair, they make lousy detanglers if applied on totally dry hair.
PS: The demarcation line on my forehead was caused by a new deep conditioning cap. It went away after a few hours. Make sure your cap is not too tight that it cuts off blood flow. All photos were taken post the heat deep conditioning.