Using conditioner after shampoo seems like a no-brainer. In fact, to me, a person who deep conditions her hair weekly lest I end up with Sahara desert-esque strands, the idea of not using conditioner at all is shocking—like, clutching-your-pearls shocking. But according to Pantene experts, a large portion of Canadians skip this step.
A recent survey conducted by the hair care brand found that 55% of households do not purchase conditioner. “We knew that conditioner usage wasn’t as widespread in Canada,” says Jeni Thomas, principal scientist for Pantene. “But I was really surprised to find out that the number one reason why women here are not using conditioner is they simply think they don’t need it.”
According to the brand, conditioner does more than moisturize, it can also strengthen and protect hair from breakage. “From a scientific point of view, I find there is nothing like conditioner that can really preserve and improve hair health,” says Thomas. “It’s absolutely critical and especially when you [consider] the different stresses your hair faces.” (Think processing, styling, heat, weather, etc.)
Not knowing what type of conditioner to buy may be part of the reason many just skip the step altogether, adds Toronto-based hairstylist Justin German. “I think what happens is you go into the store and you buy the wrong conditioner,” he says. “Maybe it’s too heavy or it’s too rich so you just forget about it all together.”
Once you’ve found “the one,” Thomas recommends you use it from root to tip, which, yes, goes against common beliefs of how conditioners are used (sparingly and at the ends). “If you ask people where their hair is damaged, they’ll say it’s [at the tip] and that’s where they’ll put conditioner,” she says. “Yes, it should be put there for sure but then you’re only getting the repairing benefits. You’re not taking full advantage of the protective benefits, which is where the conditioners are really at their best.”
It seems our conditioner preferences vary widely, so we polled the ELLE Canada team on their favourite conditioners and how often they’re using them.
Pantene Pro-V Sheer Volume 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner ($6), at pantene.com.
Who: Victoria DiPlacido, Beauty Editor
Hair type: Super super fine and flat.
Uses: Against professional advice, I only use conditioner on my ends. My hair is not coloured (anymore) or particularly damaged—I basically never heat-style beyond a quick blowdry with my Dyson—so I find I don’t need the extra hydrating or repairing functions. I keep using it because I find my hair easier to comb through, and it saves me from using styling products beyond the occasional spritz of a volumizing spray post-shower.
SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Conditioner ($12), at walmart.ca.
Who: Kaysey Davis, Editorial Beauty Assistant
Hair Type: Natural, textured curls
Uses: Whether I’m wearing hair natural or in a protective style, like braids, my hair and scalp are always in need of a good moisture boost. I’m loving SheaMoisture’s newest conditioner because it’s infused with Manuka honey, Baobab oil, and SheaMoisture’s signature shea butter to hydrate my dry, curly tendrils. I use it biweekly to keep my hair soft, shiny and moisturized.
Kérastase Chronologiste Crème de Régénération ($70), at kerastase.ca.
Who: Carli Whitwell, managing editor
Hair Type: Curly, coloured hair
Uses: Because I only wash my hair twice a week, I use a deep conditioner every time, focusing only my dry, frizzy, ends.
Dove Advanced Hair Series Quench Absolute Conditioner ($10), at dove.com.
Who: Kiera Spronk, Editorial Assistant
Hair Type: Natural Curls
Uses: I don’t use shampoo every time I wash my hair, but I always use conditioner. My curls can get pretty dry and hard to detangle if I don’t moisturize and condition, so using a healthy amount is a must. Dove Quench Absolute Conditioner is perfect for my hair, as it moisturizes and helps to give curls definition. I brush my hair in the shower while the conditioner is in, rinse and my hair feels great after.
L’Oréal Paris EverCreme Deep Mask ($16), lorealparis.ca.
Who: Liz Guber, Style Editor
Hair Type: Straight/Dry
Uses: My hair is basically indestructible (I know, tough break). Bleach doesn’t dry it out, and heat doesn’t cause breakage. Since dying it though, I’ve noticed it gets tangled a lot more easily. The L’Oréal Paris EverCreme Deep Mask makes my hair slippery and smooth, and untangles as if by magic.
Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner ($3.50), walmart.ca.
Who: Rebecca Mitchell, Editorial Intern
Hair Type: Extremely thick and unruly
Uses: I use conditioner every other day. My hair would be a total mess without it. I’ve tried them all and Aussie’s 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner is my tried and true. I buy it in the biggest size possible because I go through it so quickly.
Pantene Pro-V Repair & Protect Conditioner ($8) at walmart.ca.
Who: Wing Sze Tang, contributing editor
Hair Type: Normal, straight—it’s pretty low-maintenance generally!
Uses: If you’ve ever turned your ponytail into a knotty bird’s nest from a long sweaty run, here’s my fix: instead of attempting to comb out the snarls dry, hop in the shower. Dampen hair and—before you shampoo—apply a generous amount of conditioner (the super silky Pantene Repair & Protect Conditioner will do the trick well), then brush with a Tangle Teezer. Wash and condition like normal. Voila!