Conditioner can make all the difference between dry, rough, dull hair and shiny, healthy, beautiful hair, but many women avoid using it. One reason, which is particularly evident with women who have thin or fine hair, is the concern that it will weigh their hair down and make it look oily. Here’s why it happens and how to avoid it.
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According to Karrie Fonte, vice president of global education for Macadamia Professional, when it comes to conditioners, one size does not fit all. “It’s not about what types of conditioners to avoid to prevent this from happening, but rather what type of hair texture you have,” she says. “Think of conditioners like down comforters—there are different weights based on the season. Too heavy, you are hot; too light, you are cold. If a conditioner is too heavy (full of oils like sweet almond, or butters like shea), it will make fine and normal hair types look greasy, as well as lie flat from the extra weight. The opposite is true if the conditioner is too light (sans rich ingredients) for thick, coarser types. It will feel as if you have put nothing on your hair and result in a frizzy appearance and rough-to-the-touch feel.”
If your hair looks greasy after using conditioner, silicones (look for dimethicone on the ingredient label) may be to blame. They’re used in many formulas because they coat wet hair, giving it the slip it needs to be detangled and combed (they also help repel frizz). However, this coating can attract dust and dirt throughout the day, which can contribute to buildup on the scalp. When you combine the natural oils produced by your scalp with this buildup, it can result in a greasy look and feel, which necessitates washing your hair more frequently.
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Cosmetic chemist Stephen Ko says that because each type of conditioner contains different types and concentrations of ingredients, it changes the residue and effect they leave on the hair. “If you’re using a conditioner with silicones in it and it’s making your hair look or feel greasy, try a lightweight formula instead, such as a leave-in mist, or one that doesn’t contain silicones, to avoid any extra weight and greasiness.”
Looking for a good silicone-free conditioner to try? These are three of our favorites: Living Proof No Frizz Conditioner ($25), VERB Sea Conditioner ($14) and L’Oréal Paris Hair Expert Extraordinary Clay Conditioner ($5).
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