The Essentials | Deep Conditioners

Ever since I was young teen, embracing the wave that I found in my hair, I have experimented with using masks and deep conditioners in my routine as a standard conditioner. Even more than this, I often even left them in because it encouraged nice curls in my lengths and helped to prevent the dryness and tangles that I’ve always been prone to. However, since re-embracing the curly girl method this winter, I have been committing to deep conditioning for a good half hour or more weekly. This has really helped my porous hair form nice curl clumps, re-encourage curl in my lengths and keep my hair hydrated in this cold Canadian winter. Leaving a mask weekly (or even twice a week) can work wonders on your hair whether you wear it in its natural state, follow the curly girl method or heat-style it. Actually, I believe deep conditioning has been the main reason my high porosity hair has begun to actually hold onto moisture. The current favourites are as follows:

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Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Protein Power Treatment ($15 CDN): I’m pleased to report that while this was once a product that had to be ordered online from Ulta for us Canadians, it’s now starting to pop up in Walmarts and select drugstores. This may be sold as a protein treatment but I like it as a moisturizing deep conditioner with a hint of protein mixed in. I think it would work well for those that are protein-sensitive because it doesn’t contain much in terms of those small molecule hydrolyzed proteins that really work to add elasticity and bounce to the hair, while repairing damage. It has a nice mild scent and a thick texture that doesn’t feel particularly heavy on my fine strands. However, it leaves my hair super hydrated and smoothed.It helps my curls to clump and has lovely slip for even the most tangly hair. I think those who heat style their hair would really like this one because of how it can repair heat damage to an extent. I do note that this does contain a water soluble silicone-protein polymer, which I can only see being a problem for anti-silicone fanatics…

Ingredients: Water, Behentrimonium Chloride, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Stearyl Alcohol, Glycerin (Vegetable), Honey, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Oil, Yogurt Powder, Yogurt Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Butter, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Oil, Trichilia Emetica (Mafura) Seed Oil, Allantoin, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Tocopherol, Triethyl Citrate, Caprylyl Glycol, lnulin, Benzoic Acid, Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend).

Shea Moisture Mongongo and Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Masque ($16.99 CDN): This was my original Shea Moisture deep conditioner love and still remains one that I adore the most. It’s a bit heavier than the former product but never weighs down my fine high-porosity wavy curls. It’s unfortunately only available online in Canada or at specialty beauty supply stores. It’s smoothing and curl-clumping and gives serious bounce. It contains butters, oils, fatty alcohols, slip agents and a moderate dose of protein. It’s incredibly concentrated and has fantastic slip and consistently gives good multiple day hair without dryness seeping in. This is the one that restored my faith in deep conditioners’ ability to restore curls. It doesn’t contain coconut oil, which I only mention because it can be problematic to some and is included in many deep conditioners.

Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Adansonia Digitata Seed Extract, Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend), Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Ricinodendron Rautanenii (Mongongo) Seed Oil, Vinegar, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Panthenol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Sodium Benzoate.

Curl Junkie Repair Me Reconstructive Hair Treatment ($34 CDN): This is unfortunately a harder product to track down, especially in Canada, yet again. It’s only available at select salons that use this line and specialty beauty supply stores/ online retailers- I picked mine up from Honey Fig. It’s actually a unique product, with enough hydrolyzed protein to add definite elasticity and bounce back to the hair, help repair damage and prevent breakage, while also being very conditioning and detangling. I noticed a real bounce brought back to my curls from deep conditioning with this and I found that it left my hair with the most slip out of maybe any product I’ve ever tried and lasting hydration. It’s a traditional thick conditioner texture with the nourishment you would expect from a mask. It doesn’t have any shea butter or coconut oil so I think it would be a lighter weight option for those that have a real sensitivity to those ingredients.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Hydrolyzed Keratin Protein, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Panthenol, Keratin Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Glyceryl Stearate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glycol Stearate, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Tocopherol Acetate, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance/Parfum, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, *Benzyl Benzoate. *Fragrance Component

Garnier Fructis Strengthening Treat 1 Minute Hair Mask ($5.99 CDN): I really like this silicone-free and drying alcohol-free hair mask and was really happy to learn recently that there’s larger sizes available – and accessible, even in Canada – because this 100 mL size would not last forever, especially if you aren’t as much of a product junkie as I am. It works to hold moisture in my hair when I use this as a deep conditioner or rinse out and it’s quite smoothing and nourishing, without adding any sort of weight to the hair. It’s protein-free so I highly question the strengthening claim but it’s a great purely moisturizing deep conditioner. It has enough slip to detangle with without difficulty. It has your usual fatty alcohols, glycerin, shea butter, olive, soybean, sunflower seed, coconut and avocado oils, along with rosemary extract. It also has that nostalgic salon-y banana scent that I enjoy.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter/Shea Butter, Olea Europaea Oil/Olive Fruit Oil, Glycine Soja Oil/Soybean Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil/Sunflower Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract/Rosemary Leaf Extract, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Cocos Nucifera Oil/Coconut Oil, Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyl Trimonium Chloride, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Persea Gratissima Oil/Avocado Oil, Tartaric Acid, Cetyl Esters, Tocopherol, Salicylic Acid, Caramel, Linalool, Eugenol, Limonene, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Parfum/Fragrance.

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Conditioner ($13.99 CDN): I was originally going to end the post before this product but I thought to myself that it would be helpful to include other options for deep conditioning that aren’t as heavy. I know many don’t go for the intensive more butter and oil-heavy masks that I seem to adore as they can be heavy on some hair types – especially wavies that are prone to products building up on their hair. I think that if you are looking for some extra nourishment for your hair but find traditional thick masks heavy, this thick standard conditioner may be worth a shot. It’s not as thick as the deep treatment in this line but it still has a thicker consistency; however, it’s probably among the lighter of Shea Moisture’s offerings. I’ve used it as a deep treatment with nice results but it’s honestly my favourite as a rinse-out conditioner, as it’s nicely moisturizing and curl clumping without weighing down my hair in the slightest. This one doesn’t even contain water soluble silicones, has some slip agents, shea butter and oils. It has a tiny amount of protein in it. It’s available in Walmarts too which I adore.

Ingredients: Water, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Stearyl Alcohol, Glycerin (Vegetable), Honey, Yogurt Powder, Yogurt Extract, lnulin, Trichilia Emetica (Mafura) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Evening Primrose (Oenothera Biennis) Oil, Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Bisabolol, Tocopherol, Triethyl Citrate, Caprylyl Glycol, Benzoic Acid, Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend).

Do you have a favourite deep conditioner?
Maggie, x.

The Essentials| Winter & High Porosity Hair

I’ve been following the Curly Girl Method again for over a month and have to admit that I’ve become happier with my hair. I’ve been able to achieve more consistent results and curls and have noticed an improvement in how my hair is clumping towards the ends and an increase in curl definition all over my head. What’s the most impressive about this is that I’ve had luck with my waves in the winter, when I typically dislike my hair the most during the winter. Much of what I’ve learned for what works in my hair has come from learning about my hair characteristics and not just about my wavy curl pattern. Looking into my porosity and its significance has been particularly helpful. I believe understanding my hair porosity is what has helped me to get better results and improvement this time around.


Porosity, as a reminder, is the measure of how your hair responds to and holds onto moisture. Those with higher porosity hair find that their hair absorbs moisture easily but also does not retain it well. I’ve always had hair that hairdressers commented on as being incredibly porous. However, I was beginning to doubt my porosity because my hair floated in that strand test, which by the way can be incredibly inaccurate. My hair is fine but high density and this heaviness can make it seem like my strands are easily weighed down, which is not the case. My hair absorbs any moisture incredibly quickly, loses moisture quickly, tangles intensely and reacts terribly with humidity. Despite not being damaged, my hair’s cuticles remain open. Here are some of the products that worked well for my higher porosity hair and a brief explanation of why they work on my high porosity hair, especially in the cold Canadian winter.

Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate and Repair Multi-Action Leave In ($14.99 CDN): I’ve loved having this milky spray leave-in around this winter because of its lightweight nature – it never weighs down my finer waves or my roots that tend to fall flat because of their weight – and versatility. I like using it as a leave-in on wet hair for an extra dose of protein, to help clump and smooth my curls and as an extra layer of moisture. It contains a water-soluble silicone which I don’t mind in the slightest because my hair does not tend to easily experience build up and it acts as a heat-protectant – a godsend when I diffuse. It has some nice slip, too, and a light dose of shea butter and oils, which my hair sucks right up. I love using it as a refresher spray after my curls have fallen out on subsequent days, adding hydration without weight, when paired with a styler. It also works well to fix a wayward curl via dampening and pin-curling. I’ve heard that Canadians are starting to see this pop up in drugstores as well, which is exciting.

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Anti-Frizz Max Hold Gel ($16.99 CDN): In my experience, high porosity hair that sucks everything up and has a tendency to get frizzy and dry – especially in the winter – needs a harder hold gel. This one has the strongest hold out of most of the gels I’ve tried without being drying or heavy and I find gives me the best multi-day hair because it reduces the frizz factor from refreshing and actually stays working in my hair overnight and beyond. I find many gels disappear in my thirsty hair overnight and I lose definition and frizz creeps in. It has protein which can be a plus for most high porosity people and contains shea butter and a few plant oils to help nourish the hair and seal it. It does contain a lot of the humectant, glycerin, but it also has lots of anti-humectants as well which prevents moisture from being sucked out of the hair.
Shea Moisture Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Correct Masque ($16.99 CDN): I’m realizing now that I’m talking endlessly about Shea Moisture for my high porosity recommendations but they truly do work on my finer high porosity hair in this cold Canadian winter especially. Unfortunately, this one isn’t readily available here in stores – I’ve had to order it online. It’s a blend of fatty alcohols, butters, a few slip agents, oils and a mild to moderate dose of protein. It’s not heavy but it definitely hydrates thirsty hair, reduces frizz and helps my curls clump nicely. I use it as either a standard conditioner in the shower but it makes an excellent deep conditioner. The butters and oils keep hydration in my hair for longer than a minute and seem to ward off frizz and it offers a dose of protein that higher porosity hair tends to crave, especially if its fine like mine. Doing full weekly deep conditioning treatments have become essential for me during the harsh winter weather and this is my product of choice.
AG Hair Recoil Curl Activator ($22/$38 CDN): While AG isn’t exactly a particularly budget conscious line, the salon brand is super easy to find in Canada, at many salons and is sold at Chatters, the popular chain. This cult favourite curl cream is one of their many sulfate and silicone free products and can easily be purchased. In the cold Canadian winter, adding a lightweight and curl enhancing cream to my routine has really helped my hair to retain moisture and clump nicely. I use it before gel and I find that it keeps my hair defined and help my curls underneath clump more nicely into spirals. It does contain humectants but it also has film-forming ingredients that seem to minimize the hydration loss and frizzing. Adding this curl cream to my routine this winter has really helped with my hair being smoother and in more hydrated, bouncy curls.
Deva Curl One Condition Delight ($26-30 CDN): Including Deva Curl’s most lightweight conditioner might seem like a strange choice in a post about thirsty winter hair but hear me out… In the winter, my hair is much drier, more tangly, frizzy at the crown and lifeless. It needs babying and constant nourishment from the elements, dry air and friction from rubbing against scarves and coats. However, when you have fine hair like I do that can get weighed down in certain sections, a great nourishing but lightweight conditioner can be your best friend. I like this one because it’s curl enhancing for me with the protein and the linseed and my hair drinks it up. I like using it as a leave-in and as a standard conditioner, but not rinsing it out whatsoever. I also alternate my typical gentle shampoo with co-washing and I reach for this one often because it has the slip I want and doesn’t contribute to flat roots, as some can. It does contain glycerin but it also has film-forming humectants which are helpful for reducing moisture loss in colder weather and minimizing frizzing that occurs. It’s an excellent complement to the more butter and oil rich products that I rely on to keep my hair moisturized.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.