Conditioner Basics

For centuries, people have been applying oils to their hair to seal in moisture and prevent dryness. Today, the benefits of these oils are bottled and sold as hair conditioners to optimize the hair’s texture.

There are many different kinds of hair conditioners, and each offers a different role and result to the user.

Moisturizers

Moisturizing conditioners contain humectants, which form bonds with water to lock moisture in. In addition to being used in conditioners, humectants also are used in lotions. Moisturizing conditioners are used to trap moisture and hold it in the hair.

Reconstructors

True to its name, reconstructors contain proteins that penetrate the hair to boost its structure. Reconstructors have the highest levels of protein, meaning they penetrate the hair shaft most deeply, providing longer-lasting effects than other protein-based conditioners that only smooth the hair shaft.

Acidifiers

These conditioners attempt to restore balance to the hair’s surface. If a person’s hair is exposed to continuous pollution, sunlight or other environmental effects, the amount of acid on the hair can raise, causing the hair shaft to tighten. The acidifier regulate the pH content (acidity) to a more normal level of 2.5 to 3.5.

Detangling conditioners have a similar effect, but also contain polymers that add shine and gloss to the hair.

As evidenced by the many types of conditioners, it is best to choose the conditioner based on the effect desired. The amount of time left in the hair also can determine the conditioner’s effectiveness, making it important for the user to follow directions.