Deep Conditioning Hair for Gorgeous Curls

Deep conditioning hair is so important for beautiful, frizz-free curls! Curly hair by nature lacks moisture because of how it curls and coils around – the oils from the scalp have a hard time making it down the strands of hair. So we need very gentle washing, water-soluable hair products (no sulfates), and lots of moisture! Here's a quick rundown of my deep-conditioning routine.

Deep Conditioning Hair headshot

Before Deep Conditioning Hair

First, if my hair is super dry, which it pretty much always is, I start with a scalp massage using oils. My favorite combo is one I buy from Young Living Essential Oils – it's called V-6 oil. I add essential oils to it that are great for hair and hair growth – cedarwood, lavender, geranium, frankincense, Joy essential oil blend – any of these will do!

To do the scalp massage, I put the oil on my fingertips and massage my scalp. I take about 3-5 minutes to do this part. It's so relaxing!

Then, I put a tiny amount of this oil in my hands and smooth over my hair (this is called pre-pooing!).

Clarify or Wash

Then, depending on what state my hair is in, I either use a clarifying wash, a sulfate-free shampoo wash, or a cowash. How do I know which one to use?

If your hair feels limp and heavy, it probably needs clarifying. Or if it's been several weeks since you've clarified, this might be a good choice.

If your hair is feeling dirty, or you've been outside, or sweating and want it to be clean but aren't worried about needing to remove product buildup, then just wash it with your favorite sulfate and silicone free shampoo.

If your hair has been dry and you've been using silicone free styling products, a cowash might be in order. My favorite cowash right now is the As I Am Naturally Coconut Cleansing Conditioner.

How to Apply the Deep Conditioner

When deep conditioning hair, I suggest separating your hair into four sections. Apply the conditioner evenly to each section. Then, twist the strands together. This encourages the curl pattern and helps the conditioner to penetrate the hair follicle even more.

My favorite deep conditioners right now are:


Use Heat

The cheap way – put on a shower cap and go about your business for 15-30 minutes. The heat from your hair will help the hair cuticle to open up so the conditioner can penetrate more effectively.

Ways to Use Heat:

  • Thermal heat cap – throw it in the microwave to warm it up and leave on for about 30 minutes
  • Portable hood dryer – this is cheap and folds down to the size of a wallet. Use low heat for 10 mins or so.
  • Q-Redew hair steamer – I love this gadget! It also works to detangle the hair and to refresh it in between wash days.

I do not suggest deep conditioning hair for more than an hour. Otherwise, your hair can get too much water (like an over-watered plant, or how your skin gets pruny in the bathtub) and you get hygral fatigue. I slept with my hair wet with deep conditioner for several months in and my hair got in VERY bad shape! Mushy, dry, frizzy and wouldn't hold a curl at all! It was awful and it took me 3 protein treatments and several OlaPlex treatments to fix it (and more than a month!). There needs to be a balance between protein and moisture when deep conditioning hair.

Rinse and Apply Conditioner

If your hair has been dry, apply your favorite conditioner after completely rinsing out the deep conditioner. If your hair gets weighed down easily (high porosity, wavy hair tends to), then skip the extra conditioner. But ultimately, feel your hair and determine what it needs. If it's slippery and completely detangled, or looks like seaweed, then your hair is super hydrated!

Squish to Condish Method

I like to do the “squish to condish” method with my conditioner because it helps the moisture penetrate the hair follicle and leaves some conditioner on your hair to act as a leave in.

Instead of putting your head under the spout and letting water run over it, hang your head upside down, cup your hands, and and let the water pour into your hands. Then scrunch it up over your hair in sections and pulse as you scrunch. Do this until you feel like most of the conditioner is out or to your liking. All of us have different hair and different climates, so experiment with this and use your own intuition!

That's it! Now all you have to do is style and either air dry or diffuse, your choice!

Check out my curly hair page to see more articles on caring for your curls!

My Deep Conditioning Routine for Hydrated Curls






    1. Somewhat – not perfectly CG approved. I’ve used them for a while and don’t have problems with them but I do clarify often. They do contain a wax that can build up on the hair if you don’t clarify.

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