Conditioner is an important element in hair maintenance. In my previous article, I talked about the importance of conditioning hair. But is there such as thing as overconditioning hair? As a matter of fact yes. Let’s discuss the signs of overconditioning hair and what we can do about it.
How can hair get overconditioned?
Overconditioning can happen from several situations. Common ones:
- Using the no-poo regime for too long without shampooing hair occasionally
- Too much conditioning products without rinsing enough. Sometimes, people sleep overnight with their conditioners which can cause more harm than good over time.
- Using silicone or other super charged products without shampooing enough
- Using the wrong product for the wrong hair type.
Signs that you are overconditioning your hair
One obvious sign of product build-up is that your hair feels limp and lifeless all the time. If your hair feels weighed down, too soft and you can’t seem to get volume and body, then you are potentially overconditioning your hair. Note that many products beside conditioners specially those which contain silicones can have the same effects.
Hair gets tangled all the time, and doesn’t feel smooth. Sounds familiar? Conditioners consist primarily of cationic (positively charged) polymers which are attracted to the negative charges of hair. They work best when they form a thin film on hair creating a smooth even coating. [see the mechanism of deposition here.]
Overconditioning deposits the polymers in a disorderly fashion which is no longer governed by charge attraction on hair. The result:
- The charges can stick out causing static repulsion observed as flyaways.
- The tactile property of the hair also changes. The hair doesn’t feel smooth and may even feel tacky.
- The hair looks more dull from the uneven coating on hair.
Additional symptoms include dryness which is an effect observed because the thick coating prevents moisture from entering the hair.
What can be done about overconditioning?
Luckily overconditioning is not a permanent state. First the hair needs to be clarified with either clarifying shampoos or those designed for thin hair. Avoid using creamy shampoos since they will merely deposit more ingredients to the hair.
An example is the free and clear shampoo for sensitive scalp. It is one of the cheap drugstore shampoos but it is well rated and serves its purpose for gentle cleaning only. If your hair is not colored and you feel that you need something more rigorous, then the Bumble and Bumble Sunday shampoo can fit the bill.
Change your conditioner to a lighter conditioner. If you were using conditioners with heavy silicones, you might want to use silicone free products such as the No Frizz conditioner from Living Proof. Those conditioners used for dry damaged hair are also packed with loads of ingredients. Use those targeted for thin hair or normal hair. Bottomline is that you want to reduce the conditioning, but not completely stop conditioning. The last thing we want is to increase damage to hair.
Use styling products that do not weigh hair as well. Avoid heavy oils and silicone rich products. These will add to the overconditioning effects.
There could be other reasons why your hair is suddenly behaving strangely. Check factors such as water hardness, split ends, chlorine, protein sensitivity etc. You can find more in my previous articles.