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If you have natural hair, a deep conditioner is crucial to have in your routine. Yes, a regular conditioner can provide great benefits, but there’s nothing like a deep conditioner to add even more moisture to your dry locks. Not convinced? We asked two hairstylists to share all the benefits of applying a deep conditioner on your natural hair.
Meet the Experts:
What Are the Benefits of Using a Deep Conditioner?
According to our experts, there are so many things that a deep conditioner can do for natural hair. For starters, “Deep conditioners provide an accelerated boost of nourishment to the strands, which is what makes its formula superior to that of a traditional conditioner,” explains James. “Natural hair is drier than straighter textures, so getting intense hydration and keeping moisture retention is a common need.” Regular use of a deep conditioner can also…
- Improve the appearance your hair: Whether you have brittle, dry or frizzy locks, a deep conditioner helps to restore your curls. “They have the ability to hydrate and soften hair and help revive strands that have been damaged from excessive chemical treatments and heat exposure. Deep conditioners also help to improve elasticity, which prevents hair from stretching and further breakage,” says Taylor.
- Restore damaged strands: If you have color-treated hair or use chemical treatments, implementing a deep conditioner into your routine can strengthen and repair fragile strands with ingredients like protein, oils and butters. These rich formulas can help with the overall health of your hair.
How to Find the Best Deep Conditioner for Natural Hair
Now that you’re a part of the deep conditioner club, here are a few tips to finding the best deep conditioner for you. First, both experts we interviewed recommend analyzing your hair type and your needs. Do you have dry or damaged hair? Have color-treated locks? Is your hair on the finer side or is it thick? It’s also important to be mindful of your hair type (2A versus 4C), and consider its porosity and density.
“When shopping for deep conditioners, keep these [concerns] top of mind to help with the process of elimination. The product will have its key benefits and ingredient call outs on the packaging, typically found on the front of the label. If you don’t see your concern called out, that particular product may not give you the best results,” adds James.
What Ingredients Should You Look for in a Deep Conditioner?
As mentioned, the formula is key to getting the most out of your deep conditioner. You’ll want to look for specific ingredients like:
- Hydrolyzed Proteins: If you have high porosity or damaged strands, consider formulas that are packed with protein (like silk, wheat, baobab, etc.) “Protein-based deep conditioners strengthen your hair and help rebuild the bonds that are often broken down with over manipulation from styling your natural texture or after receiving a chemical process,” says James.
- Emollients: Look for natural oils that can penetrate through the hair shaft to give your strands some much-need moisture, as well as soften and smooth strands. Some favorites include shea butter, mango butter, avocado oil and argan oil.
- Humectants: These sealants have been proven to tame frizz, add moisture and promote shine. We look to ingredients like honey, aloe vera and glycerin to get the job done.
Are There Ingredients That You Should Avoid?
“Avoid anything that may cause a reaction if you have any sensitivities or known allergies to certain ingredients. If you do, always skim the ingredient list prior to making a purchase,” explains James. “Ingredients like certain alcohols and sulfates can contribute to drying out the strands when they’re present within the formula.”
How Do You Use a Deep Conditioner for Natural Hair?
You’ll want to apply a deep conditioner right after you finish rinsing out your shampoo. First, divide your hair into equal sections before applying a quarter-sized amount (or more) to each section. Next, use a wide-tooth comb to spread the product evenly throughout your strands. Once you’re finished applying the product throughout your hair, cover it in a shower and let it sit for five to 30 minutes. (Note: Check the instructions on the product to determine exactly how long to keep the deep conditioner on.) If you want to elevate the experience, you can try hair steaming, which helps lift your cuticle and allow the product to penetrate deeper. As soon as time is up, rinse with cold water to close your cuticles and further seal in the moisture.
How Often Should You Use Deep Conditioner for Natural Hair?
James recommends adjusting how often you use a deep conditioner to your hair type. If you have super dry or brittle locks, swap out your regular conditioner for a deep conditioner weekly or bi-weekly. However, if your hair doesn’t need a boost of hydration after every weekly wash, James suggests scaling back to once or twice a month.
Ready to elevate your wash routine? Here are 15 deep conditioners for natural hair, according to reviewers, experts and editors.
The Best Deep Conditioners for Natural Hair At a Glance
Design Art by Dasha Burobina
Best for Damaged Hair
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, creamy texture, pleasant scent
Looking for moisture and repair for damaged locks? This deep conditioner is formulated with blue-green algae (an ingredient packed with vitamins and minerals) that claims to reduce breakage, shedding and hair thinning. You’ll also find cocoa and mango butters that add back and seal in moisture to dry strands. The brand recommends leaving it on for 10 minutes (or 20 minutes if you’re also applying heat) for best results.
“I was a little skeptical of the claims around [this] strengthening [my] hair, but I feel like this conditioner leaves my hair [feeling] fairly balanced, even if I condition [it] overnight. It has a faint minty smell that I personally like, a great slip, and [it] leaves my hair SO soft. Overall, I feel like this is a great all-rounder, especially for those who [maybe] don’t need a full-on strengthening treatment, but just a little protein pick-me-up in between heavier treatments,” says one reviewer.
Best Protein-Based Formula
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, natural ingredients, great for all hair textures
For some naturalistas, protein-based conditioners like this one are a must. Its gentle formula features natural oils and fatty acids that bring moisture to your hair. One key ingredient—babassu oil—aims to strengthen strands, improve elasticity and reduce breakage, while also taming frizz and adding softness to your locks. And let’s not forget the mint extract that leaves a soothing tingle and pleasant scent behind. With over 3,000 5-star reviews, customers are stocking up on this pick.
“I absolutely love this deep conditioner. It truly did give my hair the perfect protein-moisture balance. I used this deep conditioner in conjunction with my hair steamer and my curls came out so moisturized, defined, and beautiful. I only use protein every so often on my 3C hair, so I am very happy that this made my hair feel strong yet soft. Other protein treatments I’ve tried in the past tend to make my hair crunchy and dry if I’m not careful but not this product,” adds one customer.
Best Natural Formula
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, cruelty-free, natural ingredients
Need help finding a deep conditioner filled with natural ingredients? According to the 1,400 5-star reviewers who praise this Eden Bodyworks pick, this is the one to try. Its nourishing blend features jojoba oil for moisture, tea tree oil to encourage hair growth and tiare flower (aka monoi oil) to add shine and tame frizz. “The ingredients are all natural and are just great ingredients in general. The consistency is super thick, which I like because it works so well as a deep conditioner. After deep conditioning with it, my hair is so soft and supple. It’s definitely a must during winter when my hair is extremely dry,” shares one customer.
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, organic ingredients, pleasant scent
This hair mask promises to repair and restore your natural hair. It’s formulated with aloe leaf juice to nourish dry strands and chamomile extract to promote healthy hair growth. Oh, and it’s named ‘blueberry bliss,’ so you can expect the yummy scent (courtesy of the organic blueberry extract) to refresh your curls without being too overpowering.
“This stuff is fantastic! I have thin, fine wavy hair and it works great for me! It’s super thick and I worried it would be too heavy, but it’s perfect. But honestly, my favorite thing about this product is probably the scent! It’s wonderful! I am extremely sensitive to fragrances (mainly artificial fragrances) and frequently get massive migraines because of them, so you can imagine I don’t get to use many wonderful smelling products. When I saw this brand uses natural fragrances, I had to try it. I’m so happy I did. It smells like blueberries but also reminds me a bit of cotton candy. The best part is no headache,” shares one reviewer.
Best for Color-Treated Hair
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, silicone-free, great for all hair textures
Whether you have dry, damaged or color-treated hair, this deep conditioner can help restore your strands. Its rich blend of rosehip oil, algae and B-vitamins adds moisture and controls frizz, while also improving any damage done by chemical treatments. Buyers can’t stop raving about how it’s dramatically turned their hair around after a color appointment. “I just bleached my hair for way too long so that I could dye my red hair violet, and ohhhh wow did I do some major damage. So thankful I planned ahead. I chose this product after tons of research and yes, it most definitely works wonders!! My hair went from feeling like dry, [straw-like] to silky and full again in about ten minutes! Whew! Total life saver!!!,” shares one fan.
A deep conditioner is a great addition to any curly gal’s collection, especially when it comes to replenishing parched strands. According to the brand, the rich blend of their Honey Miracle Mask offers some much-need moisture after every wash. The formula includes honey (a natural humectant, FYI) that adds softness and shine, as well as jojoba and olive oil to repair fragile strands. “I really love this deep moisturizer mask. This is a very thick product, which coats my hair evenly. I love how soft my hair feels after using it. I’ve discovered I have low porosity hair which needs a deep moisturizing treatment about once a week. I wear a cap once I have this on so it adds some heat. My hair always feels so amazing after,” shares one buyer.
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, natural ingredients, great for all hair textures
Whether you have dry, damaged or color-treated hair, this mask should be in your cart. A closer look at the reviews and fans note that its rich blend does wonders for their natural hair. It’s infused with avocado and almond oil that work together to strengthen and soften strands. The formula also includes sunflower oil to add even more moisture and shine, so your curls look good as new. “This mask is SO thick, creamy and moisturizing!! I’m obsessed!! I have 3C/4A curls and I recently bleached my hair. I was looking for something to add much needed moisture into my hair and this exceeded my expectations completely! My new favorite hair mask,” adds one customer.
Best for Split Ends
Coco & Eve
- Why We Love It: Quick results, pleasant scent, tangle brush included
If your locks need a swift recovery, check out this hair mask from Coco & Eve. The brand claims you can see a difference in your natural hair in just 10 minutes—and over 2,000 5-star reviews back this up. Featuring coconut oil, shea butter and argan oil, this 5-in-1 conditioner aims to revive damaged hair.
“My hair after giving birth to my daughter was an absolute mess. The thinning, the frizz, the breakage—everything under the sun. I have been through so many products to get my hair normal again and I finally found it. My hair is soft and manageable for the first time in so long after using this,” shares one reviewer.
Want your curls to stand out? This intense mask delivers on adding softness and definition to your texture. The key ingredient—shea butter—has been known to improve moisture retention, control frizz and condition hair for a healthier appearance. “It left my hair so soft and manageable. The product is not too heavy and thick and it’s easy to rinse out. Definitely worth the money!” shares one happy reviewer.
Best for Coily Hair
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, offers three sizes, great for dry hair
Here’s a conditioner for all those with coily and tight textures. Its thick formula improves dryness, definition and protection with an oil blend (aka safflower seed oil, jojoba oil and shea butter) that offers a boost of hydration, especially for high porosity locks. Use it as a daily conditioner or as a hair mask whenever your coils need a little more attention. “I’m loving this Pattern Beauty heavy conditioner. When my hair feels dry and brittle and is in need of a deep conditioner to nourish my curls back to life, I use this one. It smells good, feels good and defines my 3c/4c curls to the max. I love it and most of all after using this conditioner, I let [my hair] air-dry and it will not look frizzy at all,” notes one fan.
Best for Curly Hair
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, clean ingredients, cruelty-free
It’s time for your curls to get an upgrade and this deep conditioner is just what the doctor ordered. The formula features Australian kakadu plum that adds softness and improves elasticity, and starflower oil to strengthen strands and reduce breakage. Customers note the creamy texture gives it easy slip is gentle on fragile strands and split ends. “This product has been a game changer for my curls. It brought them back to life after many years of trying every hair product available. I was initially curious about it as it has no silicones yet felt extremely soft! A little bit goes a long way as well. It’s worth giving it a shot if you are wanting to revive your curly hair!” says one reviewer.
- Why We Love It: Cruelty-free, natural ingredients, great for all hair types
If you’re just starting your natural hair journey, chances are you’ve already grabbed this classic pick. Its formula features shea butter and honey, which both bring deep moisture and intense conditioning to your strands on wash day. There’s also a mafura and baobab oil blend to help seal in moisture and revive parched strands. As a beauty editor, I’ve tried a ton of hair care products, but I always come back to this one to refresh my curls.
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, pleasant scent, great for all hair textures
Though this deep conditioner is fairly new to the block, it’s already finding its place in the haircare space. Melanin fans are raving about the creamy texture that leaves their curls and coils refreshed and defined. It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid to retain and seal in moisture, plus bamboo extract to add shine and biotin to strengthen and add elasticity.
Not convinced? Look at this positive review: “Listen, when I say I’ve finally found the deep conditioner for my dry hair after almost ten long hard frustrating years of being natural. This is it! Most deep conditioner’s boast about being moisturizing and trust me I’ve tried a lot in ten years but none of them have ever left my hair feeling (moisturized and very well defined) the way Whitney’s plumping deep conditioner has after I rinse it out. I don’t know how she did it but I am so grateful that she did! It’s a great value for the amount that you get and anyone having trouble finding a staple deep conditioner please give this one a try [because] I didn’t think I’d ever find one that could back up what they were saying,” explains one buyer.
The Mane Choice
- Why We Love It: Natural ingredients, sulfate-free, great for color-treated hair
“This treatment mask is the special treat your hair has been craving and needing! This formula is packed with green tea and carrot oil to penetrate and infuse hair with vitamins and nutrients, which helps repair and restore dry, damaged hair, improve elasticity and manageability,” explains James. “The healthy dose of biotin strengthens and encourages length retention. This all-star hair mask is still a cult favorite!”
- Why We Love It: Black-owned, natural ingredients, great for all hair types
Another stylist pick is this treatment from Étae. “It deeply moisturizes and softens the hair, while also adding protection and promoting hair growth,” says Taylor. It’s formulated with real bananas and honey to improve the overall look of your natural hair—whether you have virgin hair or chemically-treated locks.
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