Many times I have used a conditioner and it has left me puzzled as to how something so great could feel so horrible on my hair. This left me with the notion to pay close attention to what is happening with and to my hair, and what conditioners and other products I have used beforehand that has helps or hindered their performance. Here is what I found:
Shampooing before a co wash
If I shampooed and then cowashed, my hair would never feel that moisturized and I'd feel like the conditioner failed me. I now pre poo with coconut oil or an oil blend of whatever oils I have on hand, so as to retain some of the oils on my hair and scalp that can be stripped away by the shampooing process, and I now deep conditioning. I also use sulfate-free shampoo and can be damaging and also stripping. With an exception, there are some products that I can shampoo and cowash ( condition) with without needed to deep condition, as well as some great sulfate shampoos that I turn to to clarify and chealate the hair and scalp.
Products before a cowash
If I've slacked on moisturizing and sealing throughout the week, then there isn't that much product in my hair. SO when I cowash, the conditioner may not feel as moisturizing. If I did an ayurvedic treatment, then the conditioner may not seem as moisturizing. Sometimes I can use a conditioner that did not work too great in the past, but once I add in an ACV, the conditioner is now awesome!
Moisture/protein balance in check
If I've done a hard protein treatment and then cowashed, this is sometimes not enough moisture and once again my conditioner has 'failed.' Or if a protein is needed and I cowash, my hair can have a moisture overload and begin to shed, leading me to believe my condish has 'faild' again!
Season for product
Some conditioners work better in the warmer months, others work better in the colder months. For example, coconut oil makes my hair feel a bit harder in the winter months.
Condition of your hair
I found that some products that I have used on freshly relaxed hair did not work as good as on 8 week post relaxed hair or on natural hair. I also found that some products that did not work for me when my hair was not healthy are working wonders for me now that I have revisited them with healthier hair.
If you're anything like me you can easily be snatched up into purchasing a condish because it's packaged nicely and smells wonderful! Well I've come to realize the hard way that not everything that looks and smells nice actually works great. I am very big on scents but if it doesn't work then it has to go.
Additive a boost!
I like to try a product before and after I have added my oils and honey and glycerin to it just to see what I am getting into. This way I can better judge if a deep conditioner will be just okay or ultra moisturizing. Some products that have never worked for me in the past are great with a bit of aloe juice and glycerin added to them.
Comb that thang!
There were a few times that I felt like a condish left my tresses a bit rough, when in actuality I never smoothed down my hair that had been all over the place. When I used it again on detangled hair, like something so simple as runny a wide toothed come through it at the end of the process under running water, what a huge difference this makes.
You Learn and you Live
I know that may sound a little backwards to some, but I don't want to live and keep learning the same mistakes, I want to learn from my mistakes so that I can live life out the correct way!
What I've learned is not to judge a product ( not just conditioner but any product for that matter) before I have examined the ways in which I have used it and if I was consistent before making a call on whether to keep it or chuck it. There are sometimes that you just know when something will not work without needed further assessment.
To help my hair at all costs, I pretty much prepoo with coconut oil almost every time I cowash ( and shampoo!- and sometimes deep condition!). Again, there are exceptions where you just have a really great conditioner you can deep condition with, or co wash with right after a shampoo, or just cowash with without having to prepoo with oils. I know it may seem like a lot to take into account, but change is necessary. You probably wont find someone with waist length hair that has not assessed their products and has been doing the same exact thing from day one. These are things that will come natural with time, kinda like stretching a relaxer!