If your strands have been looking scruffy lately, you probably need more than just plain old conditioner to bring your hair back to life. That’s where a weekly or biweekly deep-conditioning treatment comes into play. But it’s important to select a deep conditioner formula that’s suited to your hair type—or else your locks may be weighed down or left insufficiently moisturized.
We asked top New York City hairstylist Mark Garrison, founder of Mark Garrison Salon, to prescribe the perfect solution for every kind of 'do.
Stay away from oil-based deep conditioners that zap volume from fine strands and leave your scalp greasy. Instead, “look for keratin conditioners that are made of proteins to strengthen hair without adding weight,” suggests Garrison. Once a week is the perfect frequency for your hair type—any more actually risks overloading the strand with too much protein that can cause more breakage.
Try: It’s A 10 Miracle Deep Conditioner Plus Keratin ($18, drugstore.com); Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Keratin Intensive Treatment (paulmitchell.com for pricing and availability)
Your thirsty hair is hungering for a deep rescue formula made from a rich cream like shea butter or resuscitative oils like olive, sunflower, and avocado oil. “Coarse hair types can get dry and brittle like dried-out leather—you need to restore moisture with oils or shea butter to bring it back to life,” says Garrison. This hair type can even enjoy deep conditioners two to three times a week.
Try: Giovanni Avocado & Olive Oil Ultra-Moist Deep Moisture Hair Mask ($9, ulta.com); Aveda Color Conserve Strengthening Treatment ($27, aveda.com)
First, ask yourself: Is your curly hair fine or thick? Fine curly hair should steer clear of typically heavy curl conditions and instead opt for a protein-based keratin treatment once a week to revive—not flatten—curls. Meanwhile, coarse curly hair is receptive to much richer shea butter formulas, and fine silicones like dimethicone can instantly soften coarser hair texture and add radiant shine, says Garrison.
Try: L’OrÃƒÂ©al Professionnel Pro-Keratin Refill Correcting Care Conditioner (lorealprofessionnel.com for pricing and availability); Shea Moisture Transitioning Milk if you're transitioning from chemically-treated to natural hair ($11, ulta.com)
In addition to deep-conditioning your chemically-treated hair, you want a formula that helps retain a fresh tone. You should always use acidic treatments that are often found in sulfate-free formulations, as an acidic pH lays the hair cuticle down to keep color sealed in, while the opposite—an alkaline pH—lifts the cuticle up, which leads to color escaping and fading faster, explains Garrison.
Try: Oribe Gold Lust Transformative Masque ($65, birchbox.com); Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment ($42, livingproof.com)
Hair that is lightened with bleach is even more porous and damaged than regular color-treated hair. “Olaplex has been a game-changer for my bleached clients,” says Garrison, of the hot product that is in every celebrity colorist’s back pocket these days. While step one and two of the three-part treatment are added to your color at the salon, the third weekly step is available to purchase for at-home use and rebuilds broken hair by reconnecting the broken disulfide bonds destroyed by bleach.
Try: Olaplex (olaplex.com for pricing and availability)
If you’re a DIY kinda gal, Garrison says straight-up coconut or avocado oil is a perfect treatment—fine hair should just comb through dry hair from mid-shaft to ends, while other textures can comb from scalp to ends. Leave on for at least 20 minutes, and then rinse in the shower. Garrison says old-school recipes with protein-rich raw eggs and mayonnaise do help hair—but that coconut and avocado oils are a far more pleasant and less messy option.
Try: John Masters Organics Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner ($22, johnmasters.com); Kopari Coconut Melt ($32, koparibeauty.com)