Deep Conditioners vs Hair Masks

Being a member of the natural hair community for all my life has led me to embark on many journeys across YouTube for the search of all things “natural hair care” related. I’ve learned several skills through styling tutorials, Hair care tips and even knowledge on understanding individual curl patterns and textures. Most of us who have wandered the depts of YouTube in hope of finding methods to maintain healthy hair, or retain length in the hair, have found a few gems in hair care, like deep conditioning.

Deep conditioning is something I would recommend for all hair types, weather healthy or damaged. Why deep condition? Firstly, deep conditions are designed to penetrate the shaft of the hair, providing moisture to the strands. It works to prevent damage caused by dryness, heat, or chemicals in efforts to strengthen the hair by providing hydration, elasticity, and shine. Done regularly, it can even work to promote and retain length in the hair. Think of deep conditioning as that special trick you pull out to revive and pump power back into your hair. That fuel and power goes by the name of “moisture”. One of the keys that lead to the path of longer and stronger hair. Why is moisture so important? Well because it’s what prevents breakage. When the hair gets too dry it becomes brittle and resides in a state that promotes split ends. The reason a lot of us don’t see our length is due to these spilt ends. (Let me add a caveat, not being a medical professional, but obviously there's many other reasons, be it medical or not, why someone may not be seeing growth. Our bodies tend to reflect externally, things going on internally, but I digress). Back to split ends... they begin to split up the shaft of the hair and break from the ends preventing us from retaining or noticing the growth in length. 

A question I’ve asked myself when I first discovered the treatment of deep conditioning was, how do I know when to deep condition and how often? I’ve seen deep conditioning done as a process between washing and styling of the hair. I’ve also read that one should incorporate deep conditioning into their regular routine as a weekly basis. I personally think that we all have a connection to our own hair and can feel when it is requiring extra TLC. We also can feel when it is dry or damaged so depending on the states of your hair would determine how often you’d apply this treatment. 

However, over moisturizing is a thing and is something to be mindful of when incorporating the treatment into your routines. Using a treatment past its recommended time frame period or too frequently can also lead to over moisturization. Over moisturization causes hygral fatigue, its damage to the hair follicles caused by excessive moisture or protein overload. This causes the hair to look limp, can feel mushy and the curl struggles to hold its shape.  

Along my journey of understanding my hair and what can be beneficial for it, I’ve also come across the treatment of hair masks. What’s the difference between a deep condition and a hair mask? Although on the surface it resembles the same design of a deep condition, it does work a little differently. A hair mask can be considered an intense deep condition, because different from the deep conditioner, its design is meant to hydrate, restore, and restructure the hair. Hair masks usually contain ingredients that nourish and feed the hair. Often made with oils, vitamins, proteins sometimes even nutritious foods that work to boost the overall health of the hair beyond just conditioning and providing moisture. 

I’d say deep conditioners are special for adding moisture to any hair type experiencing dryness or breakage, where it will work to hydrate and condition. Whereas a hair mask can be used to deal with bigger issues like chemical damage, damage of any kind, or any hair with low porosity to revive and restore the hair. 


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