How Often Should You Deep Condition?

By Audrey Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care

Deep conditioning the hair is critical to achieving bouncy, luxurious, healthy hair in any hair care regimen. How often you deep condition is a matter of personal preference. The need to deep condition can also be influenced by a number of things, like whether or not your hair is color-treated, naturally porous, coarse or chemically relaxed. Those considerations must be taken into account, along with your hair’s general condition, when you determine how often you’ll need to deep condition your hair.

My hair is chemically relaxed and color-treated, so deep conditioning has been key to keeping my hair healthy and vibrant. Effective deep conditioning can truly provide essential protection against hair chemical treatments, colors, heat and even just sheer neglect.

In addition to knowing how often you need to deep condition your hair, you should educate yourself on deep-conditioning products. Deep conditioning can take place with either a moisturizing deep conditioner or a protein-based treatment. Each product will require a different deep-conditioning schedule. Moisturizing deep conditioning should occur most often, and protein deep conditioning should occur less frequently. Most, if not all, deep conditioners require heat for maximum cuticle penetration. This process can last from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the conditioner and your hair.

If your hair is:
-Chemically relaxed
-Permanently color-treated
-Extremely damaged and dry

These especially damaged cases benefit from deep conditioning twice weekly until the hair begins to recover. Once the hair has recovered, then a weekly deep-conditioning schedule can be maintained. Cover the hair with a plastic cap and apply heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Hair should be rinsed in cool water to help smooth and close the cuticle.

Protein deep conditioning, or a reconstructor treatment, can take place the same day as moisturizing deep conditioning for those with hair in need of deep repair. Simply mix your protein treatment with your moisturizing deep conditioner and process under heat.

Try to find deep conditioners that are creamy and have a thick consistency. I find that these tend to be the best deep conditioners, since they really leave the hair feeling moisturized. If your hair is fine, you’ll want to find a light, creamy conditioner with fewer heavy oils. Otherwise, you’ll be conditioned, but weighed down as well.

If your hair is:
-Porous (doesn’t hold moisture)
-Limp and weak
-Naturally curly
-Temporarily color-treated

Protein deep conditioning is required biweekly, and moisturizing deep conditioning should be performed weekly. Protein deep conditioning deposits proteins on the hair shaft that can correct porosity issues so that the hair holds moisture better. The protein also reinforces the hair’s structure so that it feels stronger and is more resistant to breakage. Curly hair especially benefits from regular protein deep conditioning, because heat use can negatively affect the hair’s protein structure. This protein structure is responsible for maintaining the hair’s natural curl pattern. When curly hair becomes protein deficient, the curls become stringy, limp and frizzy.

If your hair is:
-Natural (no chemical processes)
-Minimally damaged with only minor signs of trauma

You will require biweekly deep conditioning with a moisturizing deep conditioner. Cover the hair, and apply heat for ten to fifteen minutes. Hair should be rinsed in cool water to seal the cuticle. Protein deep conditioning can take place once a month for hair that is relatively conditioned and healthy. For those with healthy hair, overuse of protein treatments can lead to dry, crispy hair that is prone to breakage.

Ladies, how often do you deep condition? And how do you determine when a deep condition is necessary?

Audrey Sivasothy is a Houston-based freelance writer, health scientist and author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care (available on & Barnes&

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