The Ingredients Of A Healthy Hair Conditioner

Conditioners are an important part of a healthy hair care regimen. They are also, in my opinion, one of the more confusing hair products. The reason is they have different names, different benefits, and even different types. 

Making sure you're using the right conditioner on your hair can impact how your hair turns out after you shampoo it. Not only is choosing the right conditioner important but also making sure that conditioner has the ingredients your hair needs.
The Ingredients Of A Healthy Hair Conditioner | A Relaxed Gal

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Types of hair conditioners

As I previously mentioned there are several different types of hair conditioners. For a long time, I didn't realize that. I just thought there were ones you rinsed out and ones you didn't. What I didn't know is that hair conditioners are a little more complicated. To help uncomplicate hair conditioners, let's quickly go over the types of conditioners that are out there and when in a hair regimen they are best used

Rinse out conditioners

These are the conditioners we all probably grew up using. Rinse-out conditioners sometimes called instant conditioners are meant to be left on the hair for just a few minutes. The reason is the ingredients in it aren't meant to get absorbed into the hair but coat the hair to smooth the cuticle to detangle and help tame frizz.

These types of hair conditioners can be used daily or every wash day as a pre-poo or after shampooing. They are also sometimes used for co-washing though many hair professionals don't recommend that.

Deep conditioners

These conditioners are to be left on the hair for several minutes before they are rinsed out. The main purpose of using a deep conditioner is to maintain the hair focusing on adding moisture and improving hair manageability, luster, and shine. 

Deep conditioners can be used weekly or a couple of times a month. They don't need to be used daily so if you wash your hair multiple times a week, using a deep conditioner for one of those washes and a rinse-out conditioner for the others would suffice.

Hair masques / masks

Hair masques are a type of deep conditioner, but they have a higher, richer concentration of ingredients so they don't need to stay on as long as a deep conditioner. They can also cost more than a traditional deep conditioner because of the better ingredients.

Hair masques really focus on improving the hair, strengthening the hair, and repairing hair damage.

You can use a hair masque weekly, especially if you have damaged hair, or a couple of times a month. Like deep conditioners, they don't need to be used daily. 

Leave-in conditioners

Per their name, leave-in conditioners aren't meant to be rinsed out. Unlike rinse-out and deep conditioners, they have a lighter blend of penetrating ingredients to help keep strands soft and moisturized between shampoos. 

Typically leave-in conditioners are used in two ways. The first is on freshly washed, damp hair. The second is daily or weekly between washes as part of a moisture and seal routine.

For some Leave-in Conditioner recommendations check out my post Top 7 Leave-in Conditioners For Relaxed Hair.

Moisture vs. protein

Within all four of those conditioner types, you'll find some are moisture based and some are protein based. I share more about that in my post Protein vs. Moisturizing Conditioners 101.

Ingredients of good conditioners

While the best type of conditioner for relaxed hair will vary from head to head, typically the best conditioner is one that moisturizes and strengthens without leaving any residue or weighing down the hair. It should also help with the detangling process.

The specific ingredients used will depend on whether the conditioner is meant to be rinsed out, a deep conditioner, or a leave-in. With that in mind, what are the key ingredients to look for in a good conditioner?


This is the best natural moisturizer.


They help reduce frizz and help with detangling though they will vary based on the type of conditioner. For deep conditioners look for ingredients like behentrimonium chloride or behentrimonium methosulfate. 


Such as glycerin or honey to help draw water and moisture into the hair shaft. 

Fatty alcohols

They are good alcohols and another source of moisture. Some of the better moisturizing alcohols are cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol.

Natural oils 

Such as avocado oil or olive oil that can penetrate the hair shaft. The oils provide lubrication, softness, and shine. In deep conditioners look for sealing oils such as shea butter or soybean oil. 

Proteins or hydrolyzed proteins

These proteins are created to be small in size so they are easily absorbed and reach the second layer/cortex of the hair strand. Once absorbed they provide some protection to the hair helping to increase body and shine. They also help reduce brittleness and breakage. Some common hydrolyzed proteins are hydrolyzed keratin, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and hydrolyzed silk protein.
Hair care tip: The healthy ingredients in a good hair conditioner |

Examples of good conditioners

Here are some examples of conditioners that I found online with really good reviews or are ones that I have used myself and like.

Rinse out conditioner examples

Deep conditioner examples

Leave-in conditioner examples

What's your favorite conditioner?