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Conditioner vs Deep Conditioner, Which Do You Need?

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We all know by now that moisture is the key to keeping your natural kinks and curls in good shape.

Most of us don’t even give conditioning a second thought. We pick up a bottle and use it.  Some of us even get a little confused when it comes to conditioning our hair because there are so many different variations of conditioner out there that do different things.

Let’s take conditioner vs deep conditioner as an example.

Have you ever gone and got in the shower to wash your hair only to find that you have completely run out of regular wash out conditioner?

I know I’ve been there before.  So what do you do? Can you use a deep conditioner in replacement of a regular wash out conditioner?

Can it be done the other way round? Can you use a regular wash out conditioner as a deep conditioner?

It can get seriously confusing!

All these different conditioners that do slightly different things.

Let’s take a look at the difference between regular conditioner vs deep conditioner.


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Conditioner vs deep conditioner


What is a regular wash out conditioner?

A regular conditioner is one where you typically use it after using a shampooing your hair.

These are sometimes referred to as surface conditioners. You would usually apply it to your hair and leave it on for 3-5 minutes (well at least I hope you do)

As it is a surface conditioner it will only really only hydrate the outer layer of your hair strand.

Leaving regular conditioner on for the 3-5 minutes gives the conditioner a chance to work its magic and make sure that all the ingredients are fully working and incorporated into your hair.

Conditioner is there to make sure that each strand of hair is smooth and that frizz is reduced by making sure the cuticle is laying down flat.

If you have been washing out your conditioner before the allocated timeframe then the likelihood will be that you are not giving your conditioner a chance to work effectively.

The consistency of a regular wash out conditioner is similar in consistency to a shampoo.

Conditioners can be used daily if you like to wash your hair every day but in most cases, the effectiveness of a conditioner will last a few days at a time so daily washing is not necessary.


What is a deep conditioner?

Deep conditioners are made to last much longer than a regular rinse-out conditioner.

Deep conditioners are usually made to keep on your hair for roughly 15 – 30 minutes at a time but it varies from product to product so you must be sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

You will immediately notice that a deep conditioner is much thicker in appearance compared to a regular conditioner.  This is because deep conditioners are made to be much stronger and get deeper into the core of your strands of hair.

The results of using a deep conditioner are much more noticeable as it is made to keep your hair conditioned for a much longer duration of time than a regular conditioner.

If you have low porosity hair then adding heat can help the effectiveness of your deep conditioner.

You can add heat by using a conditioning cap like this one or use the baggy method to help your hair soak up the deep conditioner


What is the difference between a regular conditioner vs deep conditioner

The main differences between regular conditioner and deep conditioners are that deep conditioners are there to be much more penetrating into the cuticle of your hair.

The effects of a regular conditioner are much more fleeting meaning that its benefits don’t last as long as a deep conditioner.

Regular conditioners can be used every day whereas you don’t need to use a deep conditioner every day.  I would suggest only using a deep conditioner once a week maximum as its benefits are much longer lasting.

Deep conditioners are also very thick and almost paste-like in consistency whereas conditioner is a lot runnier.

Regular conditioners are only made to be surface conditioners so will only nourish your hair at surface level.  If you want something that goes deeper than that then you need to use a deep conditioner.


Can you turn regular conditioner into a deep conditioner?

Yes, you can!

Surprised? I was too when I found out but I guess it actually makes sense when you really think about it.

If you can make your own DIY conditioner at home with ingredients from your kitchen then it would make sense that you can also add some of these same ingredients to your regular wash out conditioner in order to turn it into a deep conditioner.

If you want to make a deep conditioner then you need to add ingredients such as:

  • Honey
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Olive oil

You may need to play around with these ingredients to see what your hair does and does like.  For example, you could be protein sensitive so may not want to use egg. On the other hand, you may need to add extra protein treatments if your hair needs it.


Should you condition your hair after deep conditioning?

Conditioning your hair after using a deep conditioner is not necessary.  The purpose of using a deep conditioner is to have much more lasting deeper effects over a conditioner so apply a conditioner after a deep conditioner would be a waste of both time and money.


Deep conditioner vs hair mask – Is there a difference?

Deep conditioners and hair masks are very similar in nature but also different.

Deep conditioners as we have already discussed are there to keep moisture retained in your hair and to leave it looking soft and shiny.

Hair masks are predominately used to help restore hair that has been damaged, suffering from colour treatment or is dry. Hair masks are there to add strength where your hair may now be weak.

A deep conditioner may not be able to fulfil all of these needs.

Depending on what your hair specifically needs you may need a hair mask or a deep conditioner interchangeably.


So what is a leave-in conditioner all about?

Leave-in conditioners are the lightest of all the conditioners.  They can be used daily during styling and help you to retain moisture in your hair but it is not necessary to use it every day.

You may find that if you use a leave-in conditioner every day you will end up having lots of build-up in your hair and on your scalp.

Too much product is especially not great if you have very fine hair as it can cause your hair to be too heavily weighted down.


My favourite deep conditioners




Final thoughts on conditioner vs regular conditioner

Always look at the needs of your hair.  As you begin to develop your natural hair regimen you will be able to see what your hair needs more or less of.

Regular conditioner is great for after shampooing but if you need something more intense then leave the wash out conditioner behind and use a deep conditioner instead.


Related posts:

Do you know the difference between hair shedding and breakage?

Natural hair shrinkage, why it happens and why you need to embrace it

Aloe vera juice and the huge benefits for your hair


Conditioner vs deep conditioner

Black woman with healthy natural hair


Saturday 21st of May 2022

Great article. Very helpful