4 Ways You’re Wasting Your Deep Conditioner

4 Ways You Are Wasting Your Deep Conditioner

When signing into a curly girl life, I guess pretty much everyone understands the importance of deep conditioning to achieve healthy, strong natural hair. Among the natural hair community, the frequency of its practice ranges from those who do it religiously to those who claim they don’t have the time or patience to do it.  Wherever your heart may be I wanna make sure you’re not wasting your deep conditioner when you get around to it.


So while last week I shared 5 Reasons Why You’re Deep Conditioning Your Curly Hair The Wrong Way and discussed why your deep conditioning session doesn’t seem to benefit your hair and how you can fix that, this week I wanna talk about different ways you can be wasting your money when deep conditioning.


…and now you’re probably asking yourself, ‘Say what, Monica? You just told us how deep conditioning is important and now I’m wasting my money on it?!’ 😕


If I left you confused, I’m sorry curly sister! I didn’t mean to pull a knot in your brain. I’m actually not talking about the practice of deep conditioning, which in my opinion is mandatory in any curly hair regimen, I’m talking about how you’re willingly throwing money away because of the way you’re using your deep conditioner.  Clear now?! Great.


Anyway, I’m sure nobody here likes to waste money. If anything, we all like to get our money’s worth and even save a little, right?! 😉


Whether you’re deep conditioning regularly every week or once a month, the truth is we all like to get more than four uses out of our deep conditioners (maybe less for high density, long hair girls), especially when they come in small, little containers. And while I recognise that with well-formulated products a little goes a long way, you can be still wasting your money because of the way you’re using your deep conditioner, or any product for that matter.


Did I tell you how heavy-handed I am with products? Yes, it’s something I am still working on but I’m glad to inform I have made significant progress in this area. 😉 🙂


Okay, so let’s talk about how you’re wasting your product and money.


#1| Not Using It As A Deep Conditioner

We all love it when our products multitask and we can use a conditioner as a leave-in or as a co-wash, right? I’ve learned that, for the most part, this is ok when done occasionally or when you forget to refill your product stock and suddenly have nothing to finish your wash day.


However, unless stated on the product label, products should be used for what they were made for. If you like using your deep conditioner as a co-wash or leave-in know that you are in fact ‘attracting’ more buildup onto your hair.


Deep conditioners have cationic (positive) ingredients that adhere (deposit on the surface) to your hair. They help to close the cuticle layers of the hair after it’s shampooed. These ingredients will help to make your hair feel soft and smooth, help with detangling and improve shine and manageability.


So, by using your deep conditioner as a co-wash or leave-in you are in fact creating more buildup since these ingredients buildup to create a strong attraction to the hair and can become even more difficult to remove.  This prevents your hair from getting proper moisture (especially if you don’t clarify your hair) and prevents any deep conditioner from providing moisture, nutrition and/or strength to the hair because of all the build up.


In the end, you end up using more product to feel some sort of effect on your hair. You then have to buy more product because it lasts less time and this is definitely a waste of good product and money!


All you had to do was stick to the product’s purpose and application suggestion. You can read more on co-washing, why surfactants are needed and why clarifying is always good.



#2| Being Heavy-Handed

Are you one of those people who slather hair mask on the hair to the point where there are white blobs dropping in your bathtub and you’re all covered in it? I was guilty of this one! I felt I needed this much product or I wouldn’t able to detangle my hair and it wouldn’t feel soft. I mean, it was product everywhere. I was definitely mirroring my mum doing my hair when products weren’t made to care for ethnic hair.


Luckily, we now have an array of good products to choose from but it all comes down to the way we’re using them. For me, I had to change my perception of ‘more is better’. A deep conditioner didn’t last long for me but this has changed over the last 6 months.


Tip. If you find yourself using a lot of product thinking it will work better you’re probably not using the best deep conditioner. A neat trick I learned from a hair hairstylist is to apply my deep conditioner on almost dripping wet hair (you can remove some excess water). You save product and it actually works better at spreading and detangling. If you feel you need to add more product just add little water and if it still doesn’t work, think about changing your conditioning treatment.


Tresemé Hydrating Coconut Mask


#3| Using The Wrong One

Yes, there is such a thing as using the wrong deep conditioner. Deep conditioners fulfill certain hair needs, some focus on hydrating the hair (increasing water content), some focus on proving the hair with emollients (improving elasticity, moisture retention, and lipid content) and some focus on strengthening the protein bonds in the hair to increase tensile strength and also elasticity.


Using the wrong deep conditioner means that you’re not giving your hair what it needs and for that, you’re also wasting product. At different points in your hair journey your hair will need more water, emollients or protein because it’s structure gets vulnerable to damage by exposure to the environment (sun, wind, cold air, salt and chlorinated water, etc), use of hair tools and/or chemical treatments (relaxing, dyeing, bleaching, keratin).


Because of this, it’s important your deep conditioning treatment is aligned with your hair needs and maintaining a good balance of moisture and protein as you can be giving your hair too much of one thing and consequently, be causing your hair damage. Make sure you know your deep conditioners and discover your hair needs! so you can build a hair regimen that promotes hair health. You can use a hair journal to help you do this if you feel confident or sign up for a Shed & Rescue coaching call to get a custom hair regimen.



#4| Wrong Application

Most of us, if not all, have learned to apply shampoo and conditioner on our hair the same way – product on the hand and hand to the top of the head. Yes, we go straight to the top of the head and work our way down.


However, this is not the most effective way to apply your conditioner as it means you’re wasting product. Why?  For the simple fact that the ends of your hair are the oldest part and need more product than the roots. The ends have ‘lived’ longer and been exposed to the elements for longer, meaning they’re thinner and need all the nutrition a deep conditioner can give them.


The roots should actually get the least amount of product as they’re healthy (if there’s no health issue) and for fine hair, too much can weigh it down. The best way is to apply it on wet hair, start on the ends, work your way up and remember to apply less product on the top there’s no need to end up looking like I did in the past – like I had a white helmet. Save some money and product. 😀


If you’re still trying to find your way around deep conditioning, moisture and protein balance, what role DIY concoction play in all this you’re lucky because I created The Curly Guide To Deep Conditioning to address these questions and more. Just click the image below to have a sneak peek.


The Curly Guide To Deep Conditioning



How are you wasting your deep conditioner (and money)?

Featured Image: by Brian Fraser on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “4 Ways You’re Wasting Your Deep Conditioner

  1. I agree with all the comments you make. Some people put the conditioner on top of their dry hair before washing it I’m not really sure if that’s the way it should be used.

    I plan to use your tip of adding a little water as sometimes applying it takes so long one half of my head is dry and then I realise I don’t have enough conditioner to coat it. I usually mix my conditioners – I have one moisturizing and one strengthening deep conditioner and they work well together. I just adjusted if it feels a bit mushy or too stiff. Thanks for this article. We are always learning when it comes to taking care of our natural hair.

  2. I love your tips. Could you tell me when do I have to apply the deep conditioner?
    Shampoo+deep conditioner+ conditioner?

    Or am I wrong?

    1. Hi Lucy, thank you for your kind words! You can do shampoo+deep conditoner+conditiner if you feel your deep conditioner doesn’t have enough slip to detangle your hair. However, if it has I would save it for when you’re in a rush and don’t have time to deep condition or for a DIY mix or even a mid-week co-wash. However, I do understand that old habits die hard and if you like doing all three steps the way you’re laying it (Shampoo+DC+Conditioner) is the best way to get the active/penetrating ingredients of the deep conditioner inside the hair strand giving you with better results.

  3. Hey Monica. In regards to your last response, I wanted to ask, is it necessary to comb a deep conditioner through, will it penetrate the hair more, or is it better to wait until it’s rinsed out?

    1. I comb my hair with the deep conditioner or conditioner on (I only use deep conditioner no point using both). However, you don’t need to comb your hair for your deep conditioner to work.

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