conditioner for dry hair
October 2, 2012 12:17 PM   Subscribe

I need a good deep conditioning treatment for my dry, brittle hair.

My hair is so dry I can't stand it. I need recs for a good weekly deep conditioning treatment and/or daily conditioner for extremely dry/brittle hair (I've had my thyroid tested and everything is fine). I'm 34 and my hair is short, brown and not color treated. I'm willing to spend up to $35 for the good stuff.

I've tried Aveda, Pureology, Redken, Paul Mitchell, Kevin Murphy, the Curly Girl stuff (my partner has curly hair), rosemary oil, the no poo method, etc; I'd like to try something new.

complication: I'm allergic to shea butter and cocoa butter.
posted by hotelechozulu to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Try Aqua Oleum. Some salons offer Aqua Oleum treatments, or you can do it yourself in the shower. If you do it yourself, make sure to spray one section of hair at a time and really squeeze the stuff into the section after spraying by pinching the hair between two fingers and running the strands through to the end. If your hair is super short, you can also try spraying it evenly all over and then rubbing your head like crazy. Scalp massage! Then rinse.

Basis for recommendation: I used to work in a hair salon and got to try out lots of different products. I also saw dozens of people come in with hair A and leave with hair B. Aqua Oleum worked best for the highest number of people based on my unscientific but at least somewhat repeated observations. It also lasts at least a week or two. I still use it for special occasions.

If you want to try one more new conditioner instead of a special treatment, try the Fekkai brand.
posted by prefpara at 12:23 PM on October 2, 2012

I'm currently loving John Frieda's Frizz-Ease for my untended, dry, over-colored and over-long hair. You use it right after washing your hair while it's still soaking wet and just leave it in. No conditioner, nothing else. Usually I still need some kind of leave-in conditioner to brush my hair every day once it's dry, but with this stuff it stays brushable and soft. Really worth a try!
It comes in little bottles but a little goes a very long way, I got six treatments on waist-length hair from a sample bottle. Go easy near your face and lay it on near the ends; if it feels a little greasy near your face just brush it through to the ends and it's fine.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:28 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, when you say you've tried Redken, does that mean you've also tried the All Soft Heavy Cream? I am speaking as someone for whom conditioner is not enough. I use conditioner + another softening/silkening product with every wash.
posted by prefpara at 12:28 PM on October 2, 2012

Best answer: A hot oil treatment could work well; I enjoy the Queen Helene brand.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:28 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hair Bootcamp from The Beauty Department
posted by granted at 12:29 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The thing that's worked best for my dry hair has been the absolute cheapest. Olive oil. I towel dry my hair, rub some olive oil on my palms, and run it thru my hair. Then I let it air dry, and it ends up as soft as it used to be when I was a little kid.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:43 PM on October 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: This stuff: K-PAK reconstructor has been around forever, but it works! A friend of mine who has hair like you describe swears by it.
posted by quince at 12:45 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The thing that's worked best for my dry hair has been the absolute cheapest. Olive oil.

I also use olive oil for a "hot" oil treatment. I keep a small bottle of olive oil (with a few drops of essential oil for scent) in the bathroom. When I want to deep condition, I put the bottle in a cup of hot hot hot water until it's warmed through, then comb a good dollop of oil through my hair, wrap it in a shower cap (or even a plastic bag) and a towel and let it soak in for at least 30 minutes.

I wash the oil out by putting a small amount of shampoo on my not wet hair and lathering it as much as possible. Only when the shampoo is worked through do I add some water, then lather some more and rinse well. My hair is silky soft after a warm olive oil treatment.

Like self-medicating, I occasionally use olive oil on damp or dry hair; I rub just a few drops on my hands, then smooth it over my hair. For me, it adds shine and reduces frizz.
posted by Elsa at 12:57 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Coconut oil. Rub it in on a day when you're just hanging out at home. Leave on as long as you can. Wash out whenever. It made even my super-fried ultra bleached-out hair soft & shiny again. Seems to absorb much better than other oils I've tried.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:06 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: According to research cited by the Beauty Brains, olive, avocado, and coconut oils all penetrate the hair shaft easily.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 1:14 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I like jojoba oil - it's light, odorless, and doesn't stain if you drop some on your shirt. I rub a dime-sized amount on wet hair every morning, along with my other styling products.
posted by dreamphone at 1:40 PM on October 2, 2012

I used to be into growing my hair as long as possible. I did a decent amount of reading about it. The essence of almost all the advice was that "hair is dead". You can't really "heal" it once it is damaged. To grow extremely long hair you have to avoid damage and protect your hair as much as possible.

Lots of things could be damaging your hair:
  • Heat/Sun
    • high heat blow-drying
    • curling irons
    • sun exposure
  • Chemicals
    • silicone shampoos/conditioner
    • shampooing too often
    • coloring/perms/...
    • sulfated shampoos
    • swimming pools
  • mechanical damage
    • brushing while wet
    • wrong type of brush (boar hair bristles are gentlest)
Using a natural bristled brush, you can brush oils from the scalp through the length of your hair, which helps protect it. Brush some jojoba oil through the ends if your hair is longer.

If you minimize damage to your hair, over time, it might not be as damaged/dry/brittle. Hair typically grows about 6 inches a year, so it might take a while.
posted by sarah_pdx at 2:25 PM on October 2, 2012

Acid can help remove mineral residue buildup from tap water. I pour straight vinegar into my hair and let it sit for about 5 minutes, rinse, no need to wash. Makes it pretty shiny and soft. I also had this effect after a long run in the rain; I think our rain is a bit acidic. My hair felt amazing after I showered later.

There have been many long periods where I have had dry dull hair and no deep conditioning product or oil worked. I switched to Redken color and have much better hair now. I realize you don't color your hair, but just saying if anyone cares. Over the counter hair color is terrible, even L'Oreal, which is supposed to be the best one. You can buy Redken color online, don't need to go to the salon.
posted by waving at 2:38 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You need to ditch the chemicals! Olive oil, coconut oil (if you aren't allergic to it). I have tried the vinegar/baking soda solution as an alternative to conditioner, and I didn't love it, but now I do a vinegar rinse about twice a week and it makes my hair super soft and shiny. In addition to that, I follow the (horribly-named) no-poo regiment but I prefer commercial cleansers.

I have somewhat frizzy/wavy hair, very thick but also very fine texture-wise, and I'm growing it out. I started the Curly Girl method about two years ago and my hair has gotten progressively better since then. The Curly Girl-brand shampoo, Deva Curl is pretty good, smells great, and doesn't cost too much if you buy in bulk at a place like ULTA. Though I prefer Living Proof's No Frizz line, even though it's a bit more pricy.

Basically, most commercial shampoos contain frothing elements that are actually quite damaging to your hair, and most commercial conditioners contain silicone which makes your hair feel slipper but also creates a barrier to moisture, so it eventually dries your strands out. The two brands I linked above are Paraben/Sulfate/Silicone free, but I've noticed even places like Target are carrying brands now with these labels on the front. Look for them.

Believe me, there are entire evangelical communities dedicated to this lifestyle online, so you have a lot of resources for research. I am not so evangelical, I just know it has worked really well for my naturally dry hair.
posted by Brittanie at 3:32 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I use silicone-based shine serum on my hair. It makes it shiny, feels much softer, easier to comb, less frizzy, and adds 45 points to my IQ. (As with most beauty products,) doesn't seem to be appreciable difference between expensive or cheap brands. 1st ingredient will be -icone. I recommend it.
posted by theora55 at 4:19 PM on October 2, 2012

Best answer: Nthing coconut oil, olive oil, and also castor oil, also known as "our grandmothers' secret to lovely hair and eyelashes". You can try each separately and see which works best for your hair, or you can mix them together. You can make your own hot-oil treatment by placing the bottle in a pot of hot water for a while; or just put the oil straight in your hair and leave for as long as you can (one to several hours), then wash out. Do it once or twice a week; or everyday, if the fancy strikes you.

Jojoba oil might be really good as a leave-in conditioner, on the other hand. It feels lighter than the other oils.
posted by Ender's Friend at 7:53 PM on October 2, 2012

You'll get two kinds of advice on this one: one is to go sulphate and silicone free, the other is to dive right into the world of conventional products.

I've tried all the non-chemical, non-shampoo routes, and I noticed a dramatic increase in hair shedding, especially when I stopped using shampoo. Some of us just have the type of hair conventional products were designed for.

The four things that have helped my long, coloured, incredibly dry hair are: (1) finally buying a Mason Pearson boar bristle brush and using it every night without fail, (2) applying conditioner to the lengths of my hair below my ears before I shampoo, (3) regularly soaking my dry, unwashed hair in a mix of olive, castor and tea tree oil (coconut oil makes my hair feel crunchy), (4) and regularly clarifying with a chelating shampoo (I use Garnier Pure Shine) before using a heavy-duty deep conditioner (something from Alterna - it's in an orange tub).

I think clarifying made the most difference, because I live in a hard water area.
posted by nerdfish at 12:10 AM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: On preview, everything nerdfish said, especially about going sulphate free! I've been sulphate free for a few years now and the difference is amazing.

Also seconding coconut oil. Leave it on in a plastic hair baggie overnight if you want and wash it out int he morning.

Clarifying with vinegar helps a lot too. Using a clarifying shampoo works but it's a little drying.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:19 AM on October 3, 2012

Best answer: Really like the Monoi hair mask from Carol's Daughter (it is not color-safe, to anyone else who might want to try it). I also like Coconut Oil as part of a regular regimen. Slap it on the hair (not that much), throw it in a bun, go to sleep.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:20 AM on October 3, 2012

Best answer: I don't know about anyone else, but Aussie 3-Minute Miracle is just that for me...
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:18 AM on October 4, 2012

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