Let’s set the scene: You’re wandering through the hair care aisle when you stop in front of its barrage of conditioners for natural hair. There stand endless products doing their best to convince you that they’re the one with their brightly colored packaging & hydration-filled promises.
But have you ever stopped to think—what is hair conditioner, really? & what does conditioner do for hair, especially when you’re the proud owner of curly or coily hair?
From the many different types of conditioner to how to properly apply them, we’re unpacking everything you need to know about conditioners to help you choose (& use) the conditioner that’s perfect for your natural curl pattern.
The Importance of Conditioner for Curls & Coils
Being the owner of luscious curls comes with plenty of perks. They’re the ultimate accessory to any outfit, they boast volume & texture unlike other hair type—even humidity can work in your favor to enhance your curls & coils!
That all sounds marvelous, right? So if your curls look so lovely, you might be wondering—is conditioner necessary for hair, & while we’re on the subject, what does conditioner do?
Put simply, conditioners are absolutely necessary. As wonderful as those stunning spirals are, they can sometimes lack moisture. That’s because the coiled shape of your ringlets can make it more challenging for the scalp’s natural oils to make their way down the entire hair shaft. Without adequate hydration from root to tip, they run the risk of drying out, especially at the ends.
That’s where the importance of conditioner comes in. A conditioner is a moisturizing agent formulated with emollients like plant oils & shea butter meant to hydrate & strengthen your hair. With the moisturizing abilities of curly-approved conditioners, you can hydrate & nourish your natural curls (& expect the following benefits):
- Softer & more lustrous hair
- Curls that maintain their natural shape
Understanding Different Types of Conditioners for Curly Hair (& Which Type Is Right For You)
Conditioning your hair is not a one-size-fits-all affair. Your curls are unique to you, & so is the conditioner that’s right for your coils. One wrong move & you could deny them of the moisture they crave. On the flip side, you might over hydrate & lose out on your natural volume.
Let’s review the different types of conditioners for curly hair & address the types of hair they work wonders on:
- Light – A lightweight option like PATTERN’s Lightweight Conditioner is ideal when you’re looking for a reliable daily co-wash product that provides lightweight hydration without weighing down your curls. & while any type of curls, coils or tightly textured hair will appreciate having this hair care secret in their shower lineup, a lightweight formula is ideal for those with looser curls.
- Medium – If you have curly or coily hair & you’re looking for a conditioner that offers ample hydration & curl definition while also providing slippage (aka the lubrication that smooths out your hair), consider a formula like our Medium Conditioner. It’s more hydrating than a lightweight conditioner but light enough that you can still use it as a co-wash multiple times a week.
- Heavy – If you’ve noticed natural hair breakage or split ends in your strands, opt for a product like PATTERN’s Heavy Conditioner on each wash day. It offers serious hydration & the ultimate slip for easy detangling & optimum curl clumping. & with ingredients like Avocado Oil & Safflower Oil, you’ll be well on your way to taking your coils or tightly textured hair to the next level of glam.
- Intensive – Calling all tight-textured queens & kings! Treat your hair to the most luxurious level of moisture it can find with our Intensive Conditioner. Use once a week to restore your curls to their natural curl pattern while simultaneously protecting your hair against dryness & breakage. It’s a win-win!
- Leave-In – No matter where you fall on the curly hair type scale, your tresses will spiral in gratitude with a Leave-In Conditioner. Not only does our Leave-In Conditioner lock in moisture, but it also prevents unwanted frizz from joining your invite-only hair party.
Step-by-Step Guide: Proper Application Techniques for Conditioner
Applying conditioner to curls & coils isn’t rocket science, but it is a labor of love that—when done correctly—can make you & your strands feel as fabulous as you both look.
Below, we highlight how to apply your moisturizing conditioner of choice so that you can take your wash days from a must-do mission to a must-have moment of relaxation & self-care:
- Step 1 – Choose the right conditioner. As we mentioned above, there’s no universal fit for conditioners. You might even keep multiple conditioners in stock depending on your hair’s ever-changing needs—& that’s okay. Determine whether your hair would benefit most from light conditioning or something more robust, & grab the appropriate product.
- Step 2 – Start with wet hair. While hot water might be your go-to temperature choice, consider opting for cold instead when saturating your hair with water. It can help preserve the natural oil in your hair & add much-needed moisture.1
- Step 3 – Dispense your conditioner. If it’s a full-out wash day, you’ll shampoo first. If not, now’s your chance to get greedy with your conditioner. Gone are the days of pouring out a dime-sized amount. In fact, if you have dense or hair that is longer in length, gone, too, are the times you squeeze only a quarter-sized dollop into your palm. Instead, give your hair the gift of moisture by using enough conditioner to coat all 100,000 hairs on your head.2 We want to make sure each hair strand gets the attention they deserve.
- Step 4 – Apply it to your hair. Although you may be tempted to start at the scalp & work your way down, it’s the mids to ends of your hair that need the most hydration. So, focus on applying the conditioner to the middle & ends of your strands. For more dense curls or hair longer in length, you can section your hair with clips as you apply to ensure no strand is left behind.
- Step 5 – Let it soak. For extra hydration (& relaxation), leave your conditioner on for five to 10 minutes—this allows for better absorption. While you’re waiting, go ahead & turn the heat back up on your shower & listen to your favorite tunes or podcast.
- Step 6 – Rinse your hair. Time to turn that cool water back on to help seal the moisture into your hair. As you rinse out the conditioner, glide your fingers or our handy dandy Shower Brush through your strands to detangle any knots & help form your natural curls.
Deep Conditioning: Hydration & Repair for Healthy Curls
While regular conditioners are an excellent choice for co-wash days, sometimes, your hair needs a little extra lovin’. This is where a deep conditioner, such as our Intensive Conditioner, comes into play. Deep conditioners are typically thicker in consistency & penetrate more deeply into each hair shaft to protect against breakage.
When shopping for a deep conditioner, search for moisturizing ingredients on the label, such as
- Shea butter
- Avocado oil
- Safflower oil
Detangling with Conditioner: Tips for Smooth & Tangle-Free Hair
Living without tangles is the curly-haired dream, & with the right tips, you’ll be able to maintain that knot-free bliss:
- Use a quality conditioner – Search for conditioners that are free of silicones, parabens & phthalates. In addition, look for moisturizing ingredients like Shea Butter, Beeswax & plant-based oils.
- Use a wide-toothed comb – After you’ve applied your conditioner, use a tool like our Wide Tooth Comb to help detangle any knots from your tresses without causing breakage.
- Incorporate deep conditioning – On days you feel like your hair needs a little pick-me-up, apply a deep conditioner while in the shower to maintain optimum moisture, leave your curls softer & make them less prone to tangles.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Conditioner on Curls
Whether you’ve been using the wrong type of conditioner for your hair or not conditioning often enough, all is not lost. Here are a few whoopsies to avoid next time you’re conditioning your curls:
- Applying it to the scalp – While you might not want to give preferential treatment to only the ends of your hair, trust when we say—your scalp doesn’t need conditioner. You have natural oils on your scalp, so applying excess moisturizers means you’re more likely to end up with an overly oiled scalp.
- Rinsing it off immediately – Even if you’re using a lightweight or regular conditioner, give it a few minutes to fully penetrate your hair shafts before rinsing it off. Your hair will be eternally grateful.
- Relying on one conditioner – It’s easy to fall in love with one particularly praiseworthy product. But you can have more than one capable contender in the conditioning department. Even if you regularly rely on a medium conditioner, you may have a week that you want to give your curls a little extra love due to drier weather conditions or extra time spent in the sun. It’s moments like these that you’ll be glad you also have a deep conditioner on hand to help fight against hair breakage and maintain the overall sheen of your natural curls.
Condition Your Hair to Curly Perfection with PATTERN
For juicy & joyful hair you’ll want to show off day after day, make sure to use conditioner in your hair. It’s 100% necessary for maintaining those beautiful, healthy, voluminous curls.
At PATTERN, we believe in creating products that empower you to embrace your natural curls. From loose curls to tight textures, we aim to nourish your strands with shampoos, conditioners & curly hair styling products made with safe ingredients that keep your hair healthy & hydrated.
Condition to your heart’s content with PATTERN.
- Salle, Kelle. "Water Temperature Can Majorly Impact Your Hair Health—This Is How." Byrdie. Updated 15 November, 2022. https://www.byrdie.com/does-hot-water-damage-your-hair-6827296
- "Number of Hairs on Human Head." Bio Numbers. https://bionumbers.hms.harvard.edu/bionumber.aspx?id=101509