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What Is Hair Conditioner And Why Do You Need It?


What Is Hair Conditioner And Why Do You Need It?

Have you ever wondered what is conditioner and where it came from? Who invented it and why do we need it?

Most of us just switch off and go into auto pilot, grab the bottle marked conditioner, squeeze out far too much and plonk it on our hair.

Not much to think about here, except to just keep rinsing it out.

For me as an apprentice hairdresser back in the 80’s, conditioner was a much more complex thing with a variety of smells, formulas, PH levels, and reasons for using it.

I found out rather quickly that a conditioner has the opposite effect to shampoo or reversing some of the things that shampoo naturally does to your hair like swelling of the cuticle that leaves your hair exposed to all the elements and hairstyling. Conditioner also closes the cuticle leaving it flat and not raised without gaps. So when hair is conditioned, it is ready for styling and has a greater chance of making it through the day without serious damage.

I also understood that for chemically treated hair, conditioner had an even more important reason to be used, and that was to return the hair back to a stable PH level again always to reverse and protect the hair.

And of coarse I realised pretty quickly that if I wanted to comb hair or remove knots I could not do it without using conditioner.

Still I wondered where did this second step in the hair-washing regime start?

Where Did Conditioner Come From?

For many centuries natural oils have been used to condition and control human hair. However, it seems that modern hair conditioner was invented at the turn of the 20 th century when perfumer Ed Pinaud presented a product he called brilliantine in Paris. His product was aimed at men’s hair, beards, and moustaches.

Since then modern science has improved the hair conditioner industry using new products and compounds (some good and some not so good) such as silicone, and fatty alcohols, that allow the hair to get benefits without feeling greasy or heavy.

How Does Conditioner Work?

Without getting into heavy chemical science, it’s interesting to note that the conditioner molecule has a positive charge that binds to the negative charge of a hair strand. The attraction is so strong that the conditioner (surfactants) completely surround the strand and cover the cuticle like a customized hair envelope. The small amount of acid in the conditioner makes the cuticle tighten up against each other and the hair feels smooth again, even after you rinse the conditioner out. Pretty neat yeah?

What Conditioner Do I need For My Hair Type?

Although there are many to choose from finding the right conditioner for you is usually as easy as purchasing the same matching one to your shampoo. So if your shampoo is for fine hair, coloured hair, oily hair, or dry hair, your conditioner will compliment what your shampoo is designed to do and generally this is what you should purchase.

The exceptions to this rule is where

  • You have oily roots with long hair that requires a heavier or stronger moisturising effect from about the mid-lengths and down to the ends. In this case keep your dry hair conditioner off the root area.
  • You are using a scalp relief shampoo for dandruff or flaky scalp but your hair is coloured, long and dry. Once again here you would select the apprpriate shampoo for your scalp and conditioner for your hair.


See Conditioner types here; find the one for your hair type.

NFUZION Body Energising Conditioner for people with fine hair and oily scalps. Retail price $18.95

NFUZION Blonde Revitalising Conditioner will neutralise and tone brassy and yellow tones on blonde hair. Retail price $18.95

NFUZION Replenish Moisturising Conditioner for coloured, stressed, or damaged hair. Retail price $18.95

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  • Liz Karbowiak
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