Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tightly Curly: How I Choose Conditioner to define curls and condition hair

One of the major components in using the Tightly Curly method or 'any' method for that matter...even if you don't use anybody's method-you just want to define/style your curls using conditioner...is the conditioner you use.  I know this may not suit everyone's hair type or desired styling choices but for me I want a conditioner that will add some weight to my many fine-stranded curls and help my hair to stay clumped and become as frizz-free as possible.   I also want/need it to have great slip.  I desire it to soften my hair and give moisture and shine by conditioning my strands and one that has staying power; one that doesn't evaporate into 'nothingness', leaving my hair bare and naked.  Because of all these 'demands' I place on the products(not just conditioner) I've become a label-reader.  The more labels I read and the more research I do on these ingredients the more I become familiar with these ingredients and what they do and I'm better able to determine if a product would work for me.  I've heard some naturals say that to stand in the aisle and read labels for 20 minutes is not a desirable thing for them but I feel that it is a worthwhile endeavor, for me, that is.  So as I examine the properties of what makes a good conditioner for my needs I come up with these attributes.  These attributes are based on Teri Laflesh's recommendations in her book, Curly Like Me,  and also what I've found that works for my hair.  She enumerates the following in this order of importance.

  • Weight(and Conditioning/Softening Power) - Weight ingredients keep curls clumped together and give curls some 'hangage'(instead of shrinkage).  The main ones I look for are Cetyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol(Cetyl + Stearyl).  These are fatty alcohols that condition the hair.  They also function as lubricants, emollients and thickeners and keeps the product from separating.     ** Other examples are Behentrimonium Chloride, Quaternium 18, stearalkonium chloride, and cetrimonium chloride.  These are weighty thickeners and lubricants that give slip without oiliness.**    I look for these ingredients near the top of the ingredient list(after water, of course); definitely within the top 3 ingredients.

** LaFlesh, Teri (2010-04-15). Curly Like Me: How to Grow Your Hair Healthy, Long, and Strong (Kindle Locations 2962-2963). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition.

  • Slip - Slip allows for (curly) hair to be able to be combed, or detangled with the likes of a denman brush or with just fingers.  Based on Teri's book, she recommends that the slip ingredient be listed right after the weight ingredients.  I don't have a need to go that deep right now because I have found my staple product that gives the slip I need and the slip ingredient in my product is listed 2 ingredients after the weight yet this product works for me.  Some examples of slip ingredients are silicones, glycerin, and stearamidopropyl dimethylamineBased on Teri's recommendations the slip ingredients do well if listed as the 2nd or 3rd ingredient(not counting water).  Personally, I do not use silicones.  My hair does not seem to like them so I make sure they are not in any products that I use.

  • Emolliency/MoistureEmollient ingredients help retain moisture and give hair shine.  These are best effective after the weight and slip ingredients.  If they are before the weight and slip ingredients the product can tend to be too greasy.  ** Examples are oils or butters, such as olive oil, avocado oil, meadowfoam seed oil, coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, palm oil, and sunflower oil.**    
 ** LaFlesh, Teri (2010-04-15). Curly Like Me: How to Grow Your Hair Healthy, Long, and Strong (Kindle Locations 2985-2986). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition.

These product ingredients should make up the first 4 or 5 ingredients on the product list, if it is to be considered to be a good conditioning, weighty conditioner.  Some naturals have the type of hair that gets easily weighed down by heavy products.  Mine is not that type at all(at least for right now).  My hair can take some weighing down to keep it in 'control'.   

My Products and What I Use

While I do have my holy grail conditioner-one that I cannot live without(Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture) I find it to be on the thin side.  Although this conditioner has great slip and softens my hair like "none other" and my curls happily pop into existence with this conditioner I am not willing to switch to another conditioner in place of my Tresemme.  So I decided to see if I could mix something with my Tresemme to give it some weight and to meet some of these criteria that I've just outlined.


I mainly use Tresemme Naturals and water as my detangler.

Leave-In (used to define curls)
I uses a "concoction" for my leave-in conditioner to try to have the "best of  both worlds" type-of-conditioner.  I came up with the following:

  • weight - Tigi Bedhead(weighty fatty alcohols and conditioning power)

  • slip - Tresemme Naturals(slip, great conditioning/softening power)

  • emollients/sealers -  a few drops of castor oil(sealer and shine).   I have at times added Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner for the additional weight and emolliency in the shea butter.

  • additional product(s) - aloe vera juice(ph adjuster, also gives added moisture and softness to hair) 

What ingredients do you look for in your hair products?


  1. Quite helpful information.Thank you for sharing. I gotta get this book

    1. Puddincake, I'm glad you found this info. helpful to you. Thanks for stopping by and reading!


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