True or false: Curly hair can never be over conditioned.
If you’re new to the naturally curly world, you were probably taught that “conditioner is a curl’s best friend”, and “you could never have too much moisture”. Those back-to-back conditioning washes, overnight deep conditioning sessions, and daily wash and go’s became the saviour of your curls. But what they may not have informed you is you can actually have too much of a good thing.
Simply put, over conditioning or over moisturizing occurs when there is more moisture than protein in the hair. In order for curly hair to achieve healthy growth a balance between moisture and protein must be maintained.
Dry, weak, overly soft, limp and/or flat curls, no matter how much conditioner you add to it, are usually the first signs that your hair is over conditioned. Over time, hair that is excessively conditioned with moisture-based conditioners becomes porous and starts to develop dryness as a result. You can test whether your curls are over conditioned by carefully stretching a strand of hair. If the strand continues to stretch without breakage, it is a sign that your curls may be in need of a protein treatment, such as Pure Silk Protein. Protein treatments that contain high quality proteins such as Silk Amino Acids help to strengthen hair, and improve its porosity. Improved porosity increases the odds that moisture will be absorbed into the hair cuticles and remain where it needs to be. But just like over conditioning, there is such a thing as protein overload, and this causes hair to feel brittle and dry.
The amount of curly hair conditioner, and other moisture-based products, that should be applied to hair varies by curl type. As a general rule, the tighter the curl, the more product is needed, while loose wavier curls can get away with using much less product. The curlier the hair, the longer it takes for natural oils to travel from the scalp to the ends, which is why more product is needed. Loose curls can get away with using little to no conditioner. If those with looser curls find that wash-out conditioners make their hair overly soft or weigh down their hair, they can skip using conditioner and use a lightweight leave-in conditioner such as Slip Detangler. Those with medium curls can use wash out conditioners such as Curly Hair Solutions Conditioner and a leave-in conditioner such as Silk Leave-In Conditioner. Tighter, kinkier curls need heavier, more concentrated conditioners more often. Alongside a wash-out conditioner or deep treatment conditioner, it is recommended that those with tight curls use denser styling creams such as Curl Keeper Styling Cream to help maintain moisture.
It is a rare cure problem but it is true that there is such a thing as over conditioning your curls. Creating a balance between moisture and protein is essential to the health of your natural curls. What may be too much for one’s curls may be too little for another’s, so it is important to identify your hair’s needs as results vary per person. Knowing the right amount of moisture or protein needed for your hair comes with time and experience.