What Should I Consider When Buying Conditioner for my Hair?

Mary McMahon

When buying conditioner, you should make a choice based on the type of hair that you have. There are a large number of conditioner options designed for dry, oily, splitting, or healthy hair on the market. Plan on inspecting ingredient labels carefully to figure out what the conditioner does, exactly, before buying conditioner. Try to avoid two in one shampoo/conditioner combinations, as they will not benefit your hair or your scalp, and may leave you with greasy, limp hair.

A bottle of conditioner.
A bottle of conditioner.

If you have dry hair, you should be buying conditioner designed specifically to moisturize. Moisturizing conditioner contains humectants which will attract moisture to the hair and trap it. If you also experience split or broken ends, use a reconstructing conditioner to increase the amount of protein in your hair, which will make it stronger. Many people with long hair experience dry, broken hair, and if your hair is especially long, you should also use an intensive conditioner once a week. Intensive conditioners will improve the texture, feel, strength, and moisture level of your hair.

Safflower oil, from the safflower plant, can be used to moisturize dry hair.
Safflower oil, from the safflower plant, can be used to moisturize dry hair.

Extremely dry hair requires the use of a conditioner that contains oils. You can also use oils such as olive, safflower, or camellia directly on your hair to renew the oil content, although you should use them sparingly to avoid making your hair too oily. Oils will renew and soften the hair, and will also reduce the porousness so that your hair does not pick up the scents of the world around you. When buying conditioner for dry hair, check to see whether it uses humectants or oils to improve the condition of your hair: if your hair is only a little bit dry, stick with humectants to moisturize.

If you are buying conditioner for fine, textured hair, consider an acidifying conditioner. Acidifying conditioners compact the hair, leaving it shiny and bouncy. Thin hair tends to be weighed down and listless, and you should take this into account when buying conditioner; fine hair often fairs poorly with thick moisturizing conditioners that leave a layer of material on the hair. Acidifying conditioners will also help to remove oils that are leaving your hair feeling dirty and limp. Fine hair often also benefits from glossers, which are cosmetic products designed to increase the shine of the hair and minimize the frizzy appearance that many fine haired people struggle with.

If you have problems with tangling, many acidifying conditioners combine a detangling feature. By compacting the hair, you reduce the roughness that can cause tangles. Detangling conditioner often coats the outside of the hair in a thin layer of polymers to shield it as well. When buying conditioner for detangling purposes, check to see whether or not it leaves a polymer coat, because this can weigh very fine hair down.

If you use a lot of hot products such as curling irons or straighteners with your hair, you should consider buying conditioner with thermal protection. This type of conditioner uses polymers that distribute the heat throughout the hair, rather than allowing it to concentrate around the area that is being heated, potentially damaging the hair. Thermal protection is often bundled with moisturizing conditioner so that your hair does not dry out and grow brittle.

Some hair professionals recommend buying conditioner of different types periodically, so that your hair does not become accustomed to a particular formula. If you are unsure about the best type of conditioner for your hair type, consult a stylist. Be aware that many stylists depend on product sales in the shop, so try to ask for more general information about your hair type, rather than specific product recommendations.

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Discussion Comments


It is also important to think about buying natural products. Artificial ingredients can damage any hair type, and products that contain them are the most likely to do things like coat and weigh down hair.

I have also heard in the past that people with very thick hair especially should avoid shampoo, and should wash their hair with baking soda. While it sounds a little ridiculous, I started doing this nearly a year ago and really am pleased with the results; less irritation, less weight, and much less expensive. It also means that whatever conditioner I use, I need less than when I used shampoo.


I have curly hair, and the most important thing I have been told repeatedly is to get products with moisturizers. Curly hair is actually structured differently from straight hair, in such a way that curly hairs lose their moisture much more rapidly than straight hairs. It can be a little different depending on if you have fine or coarse hair, but any curly hair will likely need more moisturizing and conditioning than straight.

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