As I’m often asked questions regarding my hair and questions in general about hair care etc, I thought I would do a Q & A section to address these specific questions rather than limiting my response to the emails exclusively. That way we can all learn together and I can get feedback.
The question I was asked below, is in response to my Ten Commandment post where I said that I do not use regular conditioner as a leave-in. The reasons ‘I’ do not use a regular conditioner as a leave-in are as follows:
‘WHY NOT USE CONDITIONER AS A LEAVE IN?’
Firstly we need to look at what a conditioner is and what role it plays. The basic answer is a conditioner is formulated to restore moisture and improve the hairs manageability. They tend to work on the ‘surface’ of the hair by adsorption, not to be confused with absorption.
Adsorption means the molecules accumulate on the surface of your hair, It’s different from absorption in that it doesn’t penetrate, but rather sits on top of the hair fibre. A conditioning agent (i.e. BTMS-Behentrimonium Methosulfate ) is a cationic quaternary compound that i’s positively charged. It is attracted to your negatively charged hair fibre and clings on to the surface. A cationic quatenary is also what’s known as hydrophobic (scared of water) which means It’s resistant to removal by water alone. Doesn’t mean it won’t come clean and cause build up, but rather It won’t rinse off when you rinse your hair after applying the conditioner. It will rinse off once you wash your hair with shampoo.
This is my case in point: Regular conditioners are formulated with ingredients in larger percentages that would not be used in a leave-in conditioners. For instance, if I’m making a regular conditioner, I will add something like Panthenol in a larger percentage then I would in a leave-in conditioner. If I was to add the same percentage in my leave-in that I do in the regular conditioner, it would dry my hair out!! Also most commercial conditioners contain a small amount of detergent. The fact that detergent along with things like silicones, protein, cosmetic fragrances etc will remain on the hair (until it’s shampooed out) in larger doses then would have been used in a leave-in product, doesn’t excite me to be leaving it on my hair for upwards of 2 wks before I wash my hair again. Also, If you have sensitive skin, the ingredients used in a regular conditioner may cause irritation if left on too long as a leave-in. This may be conveyed as drier hair. As I always say, these are just my views, many people use regular conditioner as a leave-in without any obvious detrimental effect. I feel if the same product was suppose to be used for 2 purposes then there would be just that 1 product for those 2 purposes….
Additionally, although our hair is drier in nature, we have to be careful not to over moisturise. Regular conditioners contain a considerable amount of cationic ingredients whereas leave-ins contains more water and less conditioning agent. Using regular conditioner as intended, will deposit enough conditioning agent to support our hair until the next wash/conditioning session.
I hope this answered your questioned. It’s not as concise as I would’ve liked, but it’s hard to explain everything in a small sentence.