Kerry Goudas with her version of a copper red hair colour this could be achieved with either permanent or semi-permanent hair color


How to Condition your hair: Conditioners and what they do

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A hair "conditioner" is a general term that is used to categorise four different types of strengthening and moisturising hair treatment products. Some hair conditioners are "surface acting" in that they provide temporary protection and strength to the hair. These are a bit like a sheath in that the product doesn't penetrate the hair, it provides a microscopically thin protective film giving smoothness and combability (a true conditioner). This is different to hair treatments which penetrate the hair, restoring and maintaining internal strength. Hair conditioners are generally used every time you shampoo whilst treatments are applied either by you or your hairdresser when needed.

The 4 hair conditioner product types are:

  • Re constructors to make the hair stronger (treatment)
  • Rinses and acidifiers to close the cuticle and seal the hair (conditioner)
  • Moisturizers balance the moisture content of the cortex (treatment)
  • Thermal Protectors to prevent heat damage before it starts. (conditioner/finishing product).

So how do I apply them properly?

After shampooing (see our shampooing section for more info) and rinsing thoroughly (and towel drying if the instructions say so), apply a teaspoon sized blob to one of your hands, and then rub them together to ensure even distribution of the product. Then work your hands along the length of the hair to the ends, avoiding applying too much to the scalp. The reason for this is because if too much is applied your hair will become floppy. At certain times of the year, you may find that your scalp becomes dry and flaky and it is then a good idea to work the conditioner into the scalp as a moisturizer.

A common complaint about conditioners is that they "weigh the hair down". This can be caused by:

  • Conditioner being incorrectly applied to the scalp rather than the lengths and ends of the hair where it is needed.
  • The use of way too much conditioner (with professional brands this is about 1 to 2 tsp's depending on hair length) or not rinsing it out thoroughly.
  • The use of the wrong type of conditioner for your hair type. Many are now formulated for the texture of hair you have e.g. for coarse hair or for fine hair. If you use the variant for coarse hair on fine hair the result will not be more nourishing but it will be too heavy resulting in lank lifeless hair. If your hair is fine we have more information on this in our fine hair section.


Many of the conditioners you buy are the spray leave-in (don't rinse out) type these are great for hair that becomes overloaded or weighed down if you use a cream (rinse out) type.

Sharon Blain from The Art of Hair gives us this little tip "When conditioning your hair don't forget to towel dry it very well prior to applying any conditioner. If the hair is very wet this will stop the conditioner from being absorbed deep into the hairs shaft. A treatment once a month is recommended to help prevent dehydration and damage."

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How to shampoo your hair properly

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Blow dry and styling

Salon services and chemical treatments

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