Module 5 – Conditioning
Welcome to Module 5, clumping and conditioning!
I intentionally designed this course to focus on cleansing and conditioning for 5 full weeks because it tends to take at least that long to start truly understanding your hair and how it looks and feels when it needs to be conditioned or cleansed.
Finding that balance is where you will see the most success in your curly journey.
Now we move into conditioning. Most people think of conditioning as the holy grail of curly hair, and you won’t hear a different story here.
This is the week where you get to make your own set of those curl clumps you see all over our social media!
Curl clumping is such a wonderful tool for gauging what you hair needs on any given day.
Its also where the styling begins.
So without further ado, let’s get is clumpy in here!
(Don’t forget to share your clumps!)
Xoxo – Lo
Once you have water inside the hair shaft, what it’s going to start naturally doing is clumping together in curl clumps. You want to encourage that. The next thing you’re going for is curls that are really smooth to the touch all the way from your roots to your ends.
In the curly hair world we do that with conditioner.
Conditioner is helpful in so many ways because (the good ones – silicone free at the very least) don’t always work.
You read that right. They don’t always work and that is a good thing. Without going full blown science nerd on you, let me explain.
Conditioner works a little something like this: it’s usually a rich and emollient cream like texture that provides slip to the hair, but the good kinds have a hidden benefit…polarity. They work by bonding to water on one end, while the other is attracted to the negative charge of clean hair.
The combined effect is the equivalent of my grabbing your hands and pulling you into the nearest plant store.
There’s no saying no. Except when the store’s closed. Low porosity is the store being closed.
When Your Hair Accepts Hydration
Sticking with the analogy, when the store’s open (the hair accepts hydration and water and conditioner are worked in sufficiently, your curls will look like the smoothest and softest version of themselves.
They should shine.
They should feel wet, soft and smooth to the touch. The water that runs out of them should look milky.
This is the goal of my shower each and every time.
Hair That Accepts Hydration Is Said To Feel/Look:
When Your Hair Fights Hydration
If you hair can’t get as smooth, soft and chunky as you’ve seen in the past, it’s probably because you are working with hair that is lower porosity today.
Remember that build-up is normal and it lowers porosity, so the further you get away from wash day (or clarification, if there are compounds that are not removed by your normal gentle cleanser), the more your hair will fight hydration.
That means that there aren’t as many access points for water (and conditioner) to enter the hair
When conditioner bonds to the water, but can’t get inside of the hair shaft because either the cuticle is too tight, or there is build-up blocking it, the hair will appear to return to it’s dry state even if it just looked like it was soaking wet before conditioner was added.
It’s all of the things we talked about in module 3.
Wet Frizz/Flash Dry
Some people refer to this sudden drying of the hair as Flash Drying.
It’s an indication that the hair was never actually wet (on the inside) in the first place. Instead, the water was beading and gathering on the surface of the hair, being held there by surface tension.
When we see flash drying, or the immediate frizzing of our hair in the absence of water, our first thought is probably to cleanse, in large part due to what we’ve talked about in the past few modules.
Today, I want you to try pushing through and encouraging.
Using strategies like raking, scrunching and pulsing to really work water through and deep into your hair, past the porosity that is trying to block it.
Some say it feels like drag, straw or like your hair is rubber bands. Almost like you can hear the hair as you’re saturating it.
I often feel it on my roots first, the inch or so of hair nearest my scalp, when I’m trying to create perfectly smooth curl clumps.
That’s normal, because the hair that’s closest to your scalp is the healthiest it’s going to be. It’s lower porosity. That means two things when it comes to this hand feel:
1) it is harder for hydration to enter hair that is lower porosity
2) build-up happens faster on hair that is lower porosity (less space for build-up).
As your hair gets longer it becomes exposed to the elements, becomes more damaged and is therefore, higher in porosity.
The hair at your scalp is always a lower porosity than the hair at your ends. This is why we don’t focus on porosity in a box. It’s dynamic.
This is why we focus on creating perfectly smooth curl clumps from root to end and using those clumps, and our knowledge of how our curls normally clump, to gauge what’s happening.
You do this by analyzing how your hair is accepting hydration, and you do THAT by playing with curl clumping.
By forming your hair into large curl clumps, you get a front seat view to what is happening with your hair. When it is clumping well, and is smoother and soft to the touch, even when the shower head has been turned off for some time that is a good indication that water has penetrated the hair shaft and is hydrating from within.
But, before you go reaching for a cleanser (or maybe you already have and you’re still here), I’d like to introduce you to a set of strategies designed to help you encourage hydration.
Encouraging Styling Strategies
When it comes to your hair, think of Encouraging Styling Strategies as that ones you use when you want to deeply hydrate and/or encourage tighter curl pattern.
Using these strategies will result in hair that is curlier, more voluminous and textured in appearance.
The trade off with encouraging styling strategies, especially when you place them closer to the end of your routine, is frizz because they tend to require some ruffling of the feathers.
The first thing that I do when see that my hair is fighting hydration is to rake like a mad woman. Raking is the most encouraging styling strategy of them all, and is the styling strategy that I use more than any other, by far.
Raking is for detangling and even for distributing, but it does so much more than those two things.
Raking is you getting personal with your hair.
Raking is you feeling your hair coming from all different places on your scalp, in all different directions. How that feeling changes from root to tip, too. And it’s about noticing how what your feeling changes based on that location.
Raking from all directions, like you see me do in this video serves several purposes. First of all it allows me to feel my hair, as I mentioned above, from all different directions, so I’m not making assumptions based on just one side of the story. It also stops my hair from getting plastered to my scalp, and ensures that each and every strand gets equal access to water, and also that the water has the opportunity to find ways into the hair shaft that aren’t blocked by porosity.
It’s a patience game that always pays off.
Scrunch vs. Pulse
Routines for Encouraging Hydration
Wet Refreshing is essentially getting you hair fully and completely soaking wet in the shower and re-styling without the use of cleanser (conditioner optional). They are a wonderful tool for hair that is higher porosity or that dries out more easily through out the week and don’t suffer from build-up as easily.
I like wet refreshes because they rehydrate the hair without introducing the harshness and dryness of cleansers that can cause even more drying and damage when overused.
Regularly full saturations of the hair help to soften the cuticle over time helping the hair how to re-learn how to take on hydration and prevent chronic dehydration.
Co-washing is essentially the same as wet refreshing with conditioner, the difference is in the intention of use. When conditioner is worked into the hair and scalp with cleansing motions like deep raking and massaging and then rinsed fully, it is incredibly purifying. It is often used to help extend the number of days between using cleansers/shampoos and works especially well with hair that is higher porosity or more damaged.
Double conditioning is just what is sounds like, using conditioner twice. When a first round of conditioner is fully rinsed, the hair is re-surrounded with water making the second condition much more effective.
A double condition can also be in the for of a Co-Wash followed by a normal condition.
Conditioner plopping, or what some people might call a “wet plop” is essentially the lazy man’s “deep condition”. Rather than use direct heat on the hair in the presence of conditioner, the idea is to clip the hair out of the way, on top of the head, allowing the steam and heat from the shower to help the conditioner to more fully absorb.
Squish To Condish w/ Bowl Method
If raking and saturating your hair isn’t doing the trick your can encourage more deeply with Squish to Condish.
The idea is to start to create those smooth, clumpy curls that we were talking about.
You press hydration in (and use conditioner for the added assist), and then you smooth the cuticle around it to see if it holds.
Using a combination of strategies like Squishing, Pulsing, and Roping.
Then apply conditioner from root to end and work it through as deeply as you can using strategies such as scrunching, pulsing, roping, until your hair falls into the smoothest and softest curl clumps that you can muster and take a photo.
*This photo is your goal for what your want your hair to look like at then end of each and every condition.*
If, on some day in the future, you are unable to achieve curl clumps as soft and smooth as these – try deeper conditioning strategies like more scrunching, the bowl method, rinsing out your conditioner and doing it again, or using a deep conditioner. If you are still not able to achieve smooth and soft curl clumps like these, you may need to cleanse again, try a new cleanser, clarify or chelate to create more space for water and then come back to conditioning.
- closing the cuticle
- smoothing the surface
- breaking surface tension
- dragging water inside
- hold water close
- deep conditioners vs conditioners vs. leave in
- flash drying while conditioning
- leaving conditioner in
- benefits of scalp frizz
- testing hydration
- keeping/raking through clumps
- moving forward vs backward