Learn what you need to know to choose the right conditioner for every hair type and length.
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Key facts about comparing conditioner
- A good-quality conditioner can make a huge difference to the health and appearance of your hair, so it's worth taking some time to find haircare products that are right for you.
- The most important factor is choosing a conditioner that matches your hair type, while cost will also be a factor.
- Prices range from 70 cents to more than $10 per 100mL, with a wide range of choices available.
What should I know about conditioner?
We've all heard about the importance of using shampoo and conditioner as part of a regular hair care routine, but what does conditioner actually do?
While shampoo cleanses, it's the conditioner's job to soften and detangle hair and to smoothen hair to protect your strands against damage. The end result is hair that's shiny and healthy, has less static, and is easier to style however you like.
Types of conditioner
Hair conditioner labels, like the labels on a lot of other beauty products, are chock-full of marketing buzzwords and all manner of impressive-sounding claims. So how can you cut through all the lingo to find the best conditioner for your needs?
Well, the most important thing you can do is work out your hair type, and then check the label to find out if a product is designed with your luscious locks in mind. Whether you have hair that is fine or thick, straight or curly, dry or oily, you'll find a product to suit.
For example, if your hair is curly, you might want a moisturising formula designed to tackle frizz. If your hair is thin or fine, a volumising conditioner will help give it more life.
Next, you can also check whether a conditioner is designed to target specific types of hair damage. Some products are designed for coloured hair, for example, while others are made specially for dry and damaged hair.
Once you know what type of hair you have and what you want your conditioner to do, the choice becomes much easier.
How to compare conditioners
The only way to make the right buying decision is to compare conditioners to find a product that's a perfect match for your hair. Be sure to consider the following factors when weighing up your options.
Check the ingredients list to find out what you're putting in your hair. One common ingredient it's recommended you keep an eye out for is a surfactant known as sodium lauryl sulfate (or SLS), which helps haircare products lather. There are claims that SLS may damage your hair if overused and potentially irritate your skin, so you may want to look for a sulfate-free conditioner if you suffer from sensitive skin or eczema.
Next, consider if you have any special needs in terms of improving the look or health of your hair. For example, do you want to repair damaged hair? Do you need your hair to have more shine or volume? Do you want to condition your hair and tackle a dandruff problem at the same time? Check the label to make sure the conditioner you choose will be up to the task.
First and foremost, look for a conditioner that has been specifically designed for your hair type. Whether your hair is curly or straight, oily or dry, check the label to make sure the product suits your tresses.
If you're buying from a supermarket, conditioner prices range from around 70 cents to roughly $10 per 100mL. If you're buying a salon brand, you may pay even more.
As always, remember to compare the price per 100mL to ensure an accurate comparison.
Find a product with a fragrance you like – it will make you a whole lot happier to put the product in your hair.
3 things to consider
There are a few other factors you should consider before buying conditioner:
- Two-in-one shampoo and conditioner. If you're looking to save time on your hair care routine, or just have one fewer bottle crowding up your shower space, you could consider using a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner. These products aren't the right choice for everyone, but it could be worth trying them out on your hair and seeing what results they produce.
- Switching up your conditioner. There's a common misconception that you need to switch up your shampoo and conditioner regularly to ensure that your hair doesn't become "immune" to their effects, but this simply isn't true. Of course, if your conditioner isn't producing the best results for your hair, feel free to change things up.
- Choosing a shampoo. Conditioner is only one part of your haircare routine. If you need help choosing the right shampoo, check out our shampoo buying guide.
How and when to use conditioner?
So you've chosen the right conditioner for your hair and you're ready to put it to work, but when is the best time to use it?
The general rule when conditioning your hair is that you need to use shampoo before you reach for the conditioner. Use the amount recommended on the label, then apply it to the tips and strands of your hair, not to your scalp. Once you've massaged the conditioner in, leave it in place for the time recommended on the label (commonly one to two minutes) and then rinse thoroughly.
However, some people with specific hair types may be able to benefit from what's known as reverse washing: using conditioner before using shampoo. Some hairdressers claim that for people with fine hair, reverse hair washing can nourish and hydrate your locks without leaving them greasy and heavy. So if your current shampoo-then-conditioner routine isn't working, it might be worth a try.
Ask for advice
Of course, whichever approach you choose, it may take some trial and error to find out what works best for you. If in doubt, follow the instructions on the label, or ask your hairdresser for advice on how to get the most out of your hair care routine.
If you're ready to make bad hair days a thing of the past, check out our guide to the best shampoos and conditioners in Australia. And when you're ready to start shopping, take a look at our guide to the best sites to buy haircare products online in Australia.
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