It’s essential to include a conditioner in your cleansing regime, whether your hair is natural or relaxed, because shampoo can strip the hair of the natural oils that help keep moisture levels up, leaving the hair brittle and prone to breakage.
Conditioner holds a multitude of benefits for your hair: it restores moisture levels and makes the hair softer, as well as improving its elasticity to make it stronger.
After cleansing the hair with a sulphate-free shampoo, apply conditioner onto your palms and rub your hands together before applying it. Then massage the hair and scalp, before rinsing off.
- Natural oils
Coconut, olive, avocado and tea tree oils are great ingredients. They add moisture to the hair without weighing it down and also nourish it.
“Oils are great because they add ‘slip’, which is essential when detangling natural hair,” says Mummy Mthembu-Fawkes, founder of Earthy haircare. “Rooibos is another great ingredient to look out for, especially in South Africa, because we have it in abundance and it’s packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.”
- Hydrolysed keratin
According to Afrobotanics, hydrolysed keratin is one of the building blocks of hair and any good conditioner should contain it. “This is important if your hair is damaged, relaxed or colour-treated. But even natural hair requires this protein. This ingredient does not have to be in the first four listed for it to have the desired effect – it just has to be listed,” it says.
READ MORE: The fundamental natural hair dictionary
- Aloe vera
Mthembu-Fawkes explains that aloe vera has healing properties and is soothing to the scalp. “Aloe vera is great for retaining moisture. It also has healing agents and is great for the scalp, hair shaft and providing moisture to and repairing the hair,” she says.
- Cetyl or cetearyl alcohol
Mthembu-Fawkes explains that although alcohol is generally perceived negatively, cetyl or cetearyl alcohol is an exception. “It’s good for ‘slip’, and makes conditioner slippery. It’s not alcohol in traditional sense, as it’s derived from natural sources like coconut palms,” she says.