Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How to Get the Best Out of Intensive Hair Treatments (tutorial)

Hair Conditioning © 2013 Shanthipriyachatti
No matter what kind of hair you have you should consider using a hair treatment at least once a week; yes even oily hair benefits from a nourishing conditioner! To get the best out of intensive hair conditioners there are a few simple rules you should abide by, despite what the packaging says. It's all very well applying some cream and leaving it on for five minutes – which is what they usually say – but you can enhance the nourishing effects of your treatment by following a few simple steps.

There are different types of intensive conditioners; most people will be familiar with the creams you slather on after shampooing and leave to work. These are by far the most common hair treatments, but there are other options. Here's a quick summary of the types of products available...

The big three are creams - to be used BEFORE shampooing, creams to be used instead of your normal conditioner and hot oils.

Creams (use before shampoo)

These often have a similar consistency to regular conditioners, or are a bit thicker (and called 'butter'), and are designed to be applied to dry hair before shampooing and conditioning as normal. In my experience they don't work as well as conditioner-replacement treatments, but if you have one of these, to get the most out of it follow these steps:

  1. Remove knots and tangles from your hair by thoroughly combing and brushing it before applying the cream.
  2. Starting at the ends of your hair massage in a generous amount of product, taking care to cover every single strand.
  3. Work your way up to the roots, taking the time to massage in carefully, but don't massage into your scalp unless it's a dual hair/scalp treatment.
  4. If your hair's long, clip it up carefully and wait for the allotted time. This can vary between 5 and 15 minutes; the longer the better!
  5. For extra nourishment wrap your hair in a warm towel (you'll have to wash it afterwards) while you sit in the bath or read a magazine.
  6. If you wrap your hair in cling film (or put on a shower cap) then a warm towel you'll increase the nourishment even further, but I find the benefits aren't enough to make me bother with it.
  7. Now wet your hair, rinse out the treatment and shampoo and condition as normal.

Creams (use after shampoo)

Like the similar pre-shampoo version, these creams look, smell and feel like normal conditioners, but usually contain extra caring ingredients to add moisture and a super soft feel to your hair. These are my favourite treatments as they're easy, effective and mess-free.

  1. Shampoo your hair as normal – and by 'normal' I mean gently, yet thoroughly without overloading hair with shampoo.  (Using too much shampoo can leave it flat.)
  2. Squeeze out excess water from your hair and – this is important – lightly pat dry with a towel. Too much water in hair will simply dilute your conditioner.
  3. Apply the conditioner from the roots, working your way up but this time stop about one inch from your roots if you have oily hair. If you have normal to dry hair carry on until every inch is covered.
  4. Very gently comb your hair through. This is not something I do with normal conditioners, but with extra-caring treatments it helps to make sure your hair is separated and evenly coated without causing any damage.
  5. Leave on for the desired length of time – again five to fifteen minutes seems to be the norm, but you can leave it on for longer if your hair needs it. Oily haired people probably won't need more than a quarter of an hour.
  6. Rinse the conditioner out, then squeeze out any water and dry as detailed below. Do not follow with your normal conditioner! This is a conditioner replacement treatment.

Hot Oils

I find some of these a bit fiddly, but they can be very effective if used properly and the effects seem to last a long time as they seep into hair so deeply. The best thing about hair oils? You can make your own easily enough, and make it as natural – even organic – as you please.

  1. Put the container of oil in hot tap water (not boiled kettle water) for the specified time, this varies from 1 – 5 minutes, but read the packet to make sure.
  2. Comb your hair through to remove knots then wet it, but don't wash it, that comes later!
  3. After squeezing out excess water apply the oil from ends to roots, making sure your hair is absolutely covered, but not dripping.
  4. Take the time to massage it in to your scalp, but only if you're using natural/homemade oils – I wouldn't risk that with anything artificial.
  5. Put a shower cap on – or wrap your head in cling film, avoiding the nose and mouth obviously – then wrap a warm towel on top and wait.
  6. You can leave pure oils on for ages, anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes or even longer if you have the time; this can only be beneficial. With shop-bought oils I'd follow the directions on the packet.
  7. Now it's time to rinse in hot water followed by shampoo. You won't get a great lather after your hair has soaked in oil, so you might need to lather up twice.
  8. You might not need conditioner – feel your hair, is it soft and smooth? If you think your hair could do with an extra boost of nourishment then follow with your everyday conditioner (not an intensive, that's overkill).

Now you know how to get the most out of your intensive hair treatments you'll get better value out of them.  Buying expensive conditioners and not using them properly is rather a waste of money.  To see our reviews of intensive conditioners search for or click on: hair treatment.

One other thing... drying your hair

Sounds simple enough, but lots of people get this wrong. If you rub your hair dry with a towel, give yourself a smack. And not in a 50 Shades of Grey way, either, you're not being rewarded for rubbing. This can damage your hair's cuticles by roughing them up which can lead to dull hair that lacks shine. You need to protect your hair's outer layer, so dry it by patting and squeezing with a towel then wrap in a towel turban. Some people use another clean, dry towel for wrapping their hair up; I don't bother. When it's at least 75% dry – I can't specify a time for this because it varies wildly for different hair types – you can add your styling products and use heated appliances if you so wish. Remember to protect your hair with the appropriate oils or sprays if you are using heat styling.

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