To be honest, some people may never need to use conditioners, especially if you have healthy undamaged hair that you cut short and are using a well formulated shampoo that cleanses and moisturizes your hair effectively. However, if your hair is curly, damaged, long and needs detangling after washing you definitely need a conditioner.
So what is the function of conditioners? Conditioners work on the basis of tribology; the science of friction, wear and lubrication. This means that to get lubrication you need to reduce friction by using a thin or thick film on the surface of your hair. Conditioners are designed to make hair more manageable with a level of boundary lubrication to make hair feel smooth and soft. They are meant to detangle and make easier comb-through on wet hair by providing a coating on the hair. This will seal the moisture and promote shinier and smoother hair as well as protecting the hair from styling techniques that can be damaging to it.
It might be surprising to you, but the main ingredient in hair conditioners is a surfactant (cleansing agent), just as in shampoos! However, we usually use cationic rather than anionic or nonionic surfactants since they have the characteristic of adhering to hair. Hair has a negative charge and cationic surfactants that are positively charged will form a film on the hair surface. Besides lubricating the hair, they are capable of delivering repairing bio actives to the hair cuticle or cortex. So, take your conditioner very seriously as they can be beneficial in repairing damaged hair. In the previous blog we explained how the hair can be in a compromised state when it is wet and how a good conditioner can make a big difference.