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Conditioner on locs and dreadlocks?

I didn't use conditioner on my locs until they were almost 18 months old. With leave in conditioner and glycerin spritz, I assumed my locs were healthy. After coloring my hair, Camille Reed from Noire Design Concepts recommended I use a moisturizing hair conditioner. It took a bit for me to believe her, but my hair ended up healthier after color than before. My locs hold moisture, look vibrant and have a wonderful sheen.

When I say conditioner, I am not talking about oils. Oils can lubricate and soften the hair. They impart sheen, add protection, vitamins and can even be anti-fungal. Moisture comes from water. There are three main types of Moisturizing conditioners. 

Deep conditioner is thick often containing oils and heavier silicones to seal the hair shaft. Deep conditioners are often left on for long periods of time (30-45 mins). 

Conditioner is used after shampoo. It’s usually creamy and contains emollients to soften the hair. Conditioners also contain humectants to bring water from the steamy shower into the hair, lighter silicones and/oils to seal the shaft and proteins to maintain damaged or color treated hair. While traditionally, cream rinses were lighter than conditioner and mainly for detangling, the two words are mostly interchangeable.

Leave in conditioner is the lightest conditioner. It isn't as moisturizing as regular conditioner. Leave in conditioner is used to provide moisture between showers if regular conditioner isn't moisturizing enough. Glycerin spritz and Infusium 23 both fall into this category.

My new baby loc, Stubby, was begun after I began using conditioner. This is the only loc on my head that has been exposed to conditioner from the very beginning. While it took about 2 months longer to loc and I had some unraveling, it is the healthiest loc on my head.

Many stylists recommend starting to use conditioner at a year or not at all. I recommend diluting conditioner and spraying it onto hair after shampooing from the very beginning. Here are some tips to finding and using hair conditioner on locs. 

  • Wash and condition your baby locs through a mesh cap or after banding together to prevent unraveling. If any come undone, redo those specific locs and move on.
  • Consider starting with twists or braids if you know your loose hair gets dry and unhealthy without frequent washing and conditioning.
  • Make sure the conditioner is Ph balanced. A pH between 3.5-5 is normal for conditioner.
  • Check for water solubility. If it takes a lot of shaking or never completely dissolves in water, find a different conditioner.
  • Use the same brand of conditioner as you use shampoo. Shampoo and conditioner are made to work together in order to get the full benefit. 
  • Dilute. Dilute. Dilute. 
  • Rinse from the nape to the front of your head, as well as from the forehead back.
  • Look for words like humectant and moisturizing unless you have color treated or damaged hair. Excess protein can cause damage since healthy hair is a balance between moisture and strength. 

There are many excellent conditioners across price ranges. What is your favorite Conditioner?

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