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What is a Treatment and when should I use one?

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So your hair is in bad shape, its splitting or breaking off at worse or dry and frizzy, what should you be doing?

Getting a treatment is the answer but which one and why?

First of all know your basic facts on what a treatment is:

Treatments are often confused with conditioners, or the term "conditioner" is used as a generalisation to categorise four different types of strengthening and moisturising products. True conditioners are "surface acting in that they provide temporary protection and strength to the hair. They are a bit like a sheath, in that the product does not penetrate the hair, it provides a microscopically thin protective film giving smoothness and combability. This is different to treatments which penetrate the hair, restoring and maintaining internal strength.

Conditioners are generally used every time you shampoo whilst treatments are applied either by you or your professional hairdresser when needed (no more than once a week normally).

The two types of treatments are:

  • Reconstructors which make the hair stronger and are generally protein based. These are for you if you have chemically damaged hair (i.e. from a perm or colour) or breaking or weak hair. They are often a combination of protein and moisture as pure protein treatments used incorrectly can leave the hair brittle. After using this type of treatment don't expect your hair to feel great as they work internally and you may still need a conditioner to make your hair feel smooth. They are most often found at the salon and used during chemical processes. Don't use protein based treatments within a week either side of a colour as they can cause colour to fade or not 'take' properly in some instances.
  • Moisturisers the most common type of treatment, balance the moisture content of the cortex (middle of your hair). Great for frizzy, dry hair and those of you with curly hair that lacks bounce. Will treat all damage conditions from chemical to physical (i.e. from colouring to over drying or heating your hair to sun damage).

On the other hand, conditioners are:

  • Rinses and acidifiers used to close the cuticle and seal the hair i.e. make it feel smooth and easily combed. If you have coloured hair a conditioner is a must with every shampoo to lock in your colour and make it last longer. Also if your hair is mid to long they are also necessary to nourish those areas that the natural oils just don't get to. Really only those of us with very short non chemically processed hair don't need a conditioner.
  • Thermal protectors (Conditioner/finishing product) are used to prevent heat damage before it starts. If your hair is prone to damage or you use heated appliances on you hair regularly make sure your styling product contains this type of protection.

So how do I apply them properly?

As with most products, treatments should be applied using the instructions on the pack or by your professional hairdresser.

The amount needed also varies greatly depending on the product and how much hair you have.

Do not leave treatments in your hair for longer than instructed, especially if using a protein-based treatment as these will have no extra effect, and may even make your hair brittle.

If your hair is in really bad shape a twice a week treatment may be needed, but generally for fair to poor conditioned hair once a week is recommended. For general maintenance go to once a fortnight or once a month.

Remember your hair can only take in so much extra nourishment, over doing it on the treatment side means you are wasting your money as it is simply rinsing down the plug!

When you need to treat your hair:

Certain times of year and weather conditions or the various stresses and excesses that we put our hair through can lead to damaged/dry hair, and because a treament does not work over night it is a good idea to either do regular

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