Guide: What to Do After Deep Conditioning Your Natural Hair

As much as it’s been shouted from the rooftops by naturals everywhere, the importance of deep conditioning natural hair, there are still those who skip this crucial part of the natural hair routine. Then, there are those who do prioritize deep conditioning but they question, “After deep conditioning natural hair, what next?

after deep conditioning natural hair what next

If that’s you, in this guide you’ll not only find the answer to the question of what to do after deep conditioning your natural hair, you’ll also discover:

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Summary of 5 Things To Do After Deep Conditioning Natural Hair

Just in case you want quick answers to what to do after deep conditioning natural hair, below is a summary:

  1. Make sure hair is fully detangled
  2. Absorb excess water
  3. Apply a water-based leave-in conditioner
  4. Run your hair quickly under cool, not cold water OR apply a chilled hair tea/rinse
  5. Apply an oil based barrier over the moisture that’s just been infused into your hair

This is the quick and dirty (no pun intended) list of the recommended things you should do after deep conditioning if you have natural hair.

In the section below on “After Deep Conditioning Natural Hair What Next?” You’ll find all the details.

5 Benefits of Deep Conditioning Your Natural Hair Regularly

benefits of deep conditioning natural hair

Five is the magic number for this guide. There’s 5 things to do after deep conditioning your natural hair and there’s 5 benefits of deep conditioning your natural hair in the first place. There’s actually more (like nourishing the hair follicles) but those benefits are an extension of these.

Starting with those reasons you should deep condition your natural hair regularly, the first one is pretty obvious.

1. To hydrate dry hair.

There’s moisturizing the hair and there’s hydrating it. To moisturize your hair is to apply moisture to the surface area of the hair. Hydration occurs on a deeper level where the hair cuticles are lifted and moisture gets INTO the hair shaft.

Some will use a regular conditioner to do this. However, I submit to you that the best deep conditioner for your natural hair is the one that is designed with natural ingredients (and necessary water content in it) to penetrate the hair shaft to get the job done.

2. Improve elasticity.

Using a deep conditioning treatment in your hair along with protein treatments at specific intervals of time is the best way to improve your hair’s elasticity.

You can’t be all protein treatment on wash day and neglect deep conditioning just like you can’t just deep condition your hair hair every wash day without giving it some form of protein for maintenance.

Your hair needs balance (ah such as everything in life right? God created us to be balanced people. That includes our hair.)

When you deep condition your hair, it becomes more flexible so that it does not result in hair breakage from being too dry.

3. Improves manageability.

When you regularly deep condition your natural hair, you “train” it to be more manageable. The way you do that is training it to receive moisture.

Hair that stays moisturized regularly will automatically be more manageable.

4. Smoothes out your hair’s cuticle layer.

To combat frizzy hair and for your hair to shine, reflecting light you need to deep condition. After shampooing your hair, whatever hair mask you use to deep condition with should help to start the process of closing down your cuticle.

5. Restores hair’s pH balance.

When you deep condition your hair with the right product (one that’s already pH balanced), along with closing the cuticle layer back down, your hair will become more pH balanced.

How Often Should You Deep Condition Natural Hair?

guide to deep conditioning natural hair

For those of us with natural hair, deep conditioning should be done every time we wash our hair. 

How often you wash your hair will definitely play a role. Some naturals only wash once a month. That’s a pretty long time to go without hydrating your hair.

However, I understand it does happen when you have your hair in a long term protective style or when you choose to do a silk press.

Deep conditioning becomes even more critical in those scenarios.

However, for best results you should wash your hair followed by deep conditioning it at least once a week.

More often isn’t typically necessary unless you are highly active and sweat a lot in your head. In this instance, using a product that can clean excess dirt and oil off of your scalp is an option. You still shouldn’t require washing your hair more than once in a week.

Excess washing will strip your hair of its natural oils. So, once a week followed by using a deep conditioning treatment is usually a good guideline.

Every two weeks is also OK but this is typically for those who don’t apply a lot of heavy oils, butters or other hair care products throughout the week.

To reiterate, when you wash your hair cleansing it of dirt and debris, you want to always follow with deep conditioning. It doesn’t have to take all day either. 30 minutes is sufficient. 

You’ve likely read or seen people share on putting on a shower cap and deep conditioning over night. Not only is it unnecessary, it can throw off your hair’s protein/moisture balance and even cause your hair to get hygral fatigue.

Before Deep Conditioning

what to do before deep conditioning natural hair

There are several steps to take before you get to the process of conditioning your hair. Cleansing is obvious but what about before the cleanse and right after the cleanse but before the deep condition?

​First, you want to make sure you gather all of your hair tools because deep conditioning can get messy. Especially if you have long hair.

This beauty cape from Monii is just the tool you need to make your deep conditioning session more pleasant.

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Speaking as someone with low porosity fine natural hair that’s of medium density, the steps I take that have been most beneficial in helping me to maintain the strength and flexibility of my hair are as follows:

1. Pre-poo with either coconut oil or an herbal hair mask.

The pre-poo helps protect the hair from moisture overload among other things. Check out the benefits of pre-pooing here.

2. Shampoo.

I rarely co-wash because it’s like washing your body in lotion. There’s debate about the benefits of co-washing over shampooing and I won’t get into them. A co-wash product is a good option for a quick cleanse but shouldn’t be the only way you cleanse your hair.

3. Detangle in sections.

I usually detangle my fine natural hair right after the shampoo and the only product I use to do it (because it’s absolutely amazing) is Ominira Naturals Tangle Slayer.

The exception to when I detangle is if I’ve had in a protective style or have gone a long time without washing my hair (also rare). In this case, I’ll detangle before shampooing. Alternatively, you can use a regular conditioner or rinse-out conditioner.

When detangling, I start with my fingers and end with a flexible detangling brush. You can use a wide-toothed comb as well.

These are the three steps to take before you move on to deep conditioning. Of course, there are other things that you can do.

For example, steaming is something that I usually do with my deep conditioner in OR while working my pre-poo throughout my hair.

The next step is the application process where you would put on a plastic cap after applying your deep conditioner. There’s an article linked below with all you need to know about the application process.

When it comes to deep conditioners, there’s no shortage of them, truly. In fact, it can be a bit overwhelming deciding between all the different products to choose from.

When looking for a good deep conditioner, the ingredients you want to see on the label include water and humectants like honey or glycerin. Additional ingredients include (but are not limited to) fatty acids, essential oils like peppermint and emollients like mango butter.

These are some of the ingredients that will transform brittle hair, and prevent split ends.

Here are some recommended deep conditioners for natural hair:

ominira naturals honey and watermelon deep conditioner

Ominira Naturals Honey and Watermelon Infused Ultimate Moisture Deep Conditioner

Curls Dynasty Pumpkin Mint Deep Treatment Mask

curls dynasty deep treatment mask
TGIN honey miracle hair mask

TGIN Honey Miracle Hair Mask

Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioning Mask

camille rose naturals algae renew deep conditioning mask

After Deep Conditioning Natural Hair, What Next?

what to do after deep conditioning natural hair

Now, to go a bit deeper into what to do after deep conditioning natural hair, let’s look at each of the points in more depth.

Make sure your hair is fully detangled

While detangling is usually done earlier in the wash day routine, you may find that your hair re-tangles slightly after the deep conditioning process. This usually occurs after rinsing the conditioner out.

While your hair shouldn’t be nearly as tangled as before you washed it, you want to make sure it’s 100% tangle free and smooth after deep conditioning. Usually you can run your hair under the water while using a large shower brush or shower comb to smooth it all out.

Absorb excess water

After washing and detangling your hair, towel blot out excess water. This is important and you’ll discover why in the next couple of steps.

Apply a water-based leave in conditioner

Leave in conditioners help to provide your hair with the sustained moisture it needs. it works in conjunction with your deep conditioner by adding a layer of protection to your hair. It’s especially useful for color-treated hair and hair that is extremely dry or has incurred heat damage.

An alternative to a leave-in conditioner is a hair milk. Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curl is one of my favorites.

Run your hair quickly under cool, not cold water

You’re probably used to applying your leaving conditioner and then your oil to seal in moisture or vice versa. This is part of what’s either the LCO or LOC method.

The liquid is water. Cream is your leave in conditioner or cream based styler. The oil is, well an oil like olive oil, argan oil etc.

However, think about this….

When you wash your hair (regardless of porosity), your hair cuticles are then raised. This is what you want so that hydration from the water and deep conditioner can enter the hair shaft.

Then, after you finish deep conditioning and rinse your hair out, if you do your cold water rinse right after this step, you will essentially close down your cuticle.

How then are the nutrients from your leave in conditioner going to get into the hair strand?

So, try it this way…

When you are wrapping up your next day wash day routine directly after rinsing out your deep conditioner, apply a water-based leave-in conditioner. Then, quickly run your hair under cool water.

You are not fully rinsing out the leave in.

You’re simply giving your hair a cool shot of water to close down the cuticles AFTER it receives all the nourishment from your hair products.

The other option is to hop out of the shower, apply your leave in and then spritz your hair with a hair tea or rinse that’s been chilled. This is a good option if you’re concerned about washing away too much of your leave in conditioner.

Lastly, an option for those with high porosity hair is to use what’s called an ACV rinse. ACV standing for apple cider vinegar. You’d mix it with 2 parts water and make it your final rinse.

Apply an oil based barrier over the moisture that’s just been infused into your hair

Oils and butters will help to keep moisture within the hair strand for a longer period of time than if not used.

The only exception is if you use an oil-based leave-in conditioner. These, are not however recommended for those with fine hair or oily hair (although rare for those with natural hair).

When you apply your own oil, you can control the type of oil you use in your hair. For example, those of us with fine hair need lighter weight oils that won’t wear our hair down. 

You’ll find a list of light weight oils here. These work great for those with fine hair.

If done correctly, you shouldn’t need to moisturize your hair every day. Depending on your hair’s porosity level, the hydration and moisture you added to your hair on wash day can last 3-5 days. This is typical for someone with low porosity hair.

If you have high porosity hair, applying a barrier of a hair butter like shea butter or a heavier oil is even more important since your hair cuticles tend to be raised, allowing for moisture to escape.

Applying a heavier oil like castor oil to the ends of your hair will not only help with moisture retention for the oldest hair on your head. It will help with preventing split ends. 

Because oils are hydrophobic, they repel water allowing your hair strands to retain the moisture for a bit longer.

Of course, moisture doesn’t stay in your hair indefinitely. Natural hair is inherently dry so that’s why it’s important to wash and deep condition your hair regularly.

Once you are done with all the after deep conditioning steps, it’s time to style. Protective styles and low manipulations styles work best for when you are working to maintain healthy hair growth.

all about deep conditioning

I’ve written exhaustively about deep conditioning natural hair over the years. That’s because it’s super important to hydrating our natural hair type which leans more toward being extremely dry.

Below you’ll find just a sampling of articles on deep conditioning. I highly recommend reading each one. Heck, even if you scan them you’ll get something out of each. 

I do write with the fine hair natural in mind but one thing each of us naturals has in common is the need to deep condition. So, if anything you’ll discover the deep conditioning tips shared include the importance of simply being more gentle and careful.

Applying Deep Conditioner to Natural Hair: The Z to Z Guide –  Everything you need to know about applying deep conditioner to natural hair. How to effectively deep condition and transform dry hair.

Deep Conditioning Fine Naturally Curly Hair – Here are the best conditioning tips for those with naturally curly hair. Discover how to deep condition curly hair with ease.

5 Secrets to Stress Free Deep Conditioning – Reduce the stress of deep conditioning your natural hair on wash day with these helpful deep conditioning tips.

Deep Conditioning is Not a SCAM – All the ways deep conditioning regularly benefits your hair. Discover the true importance of deep conditioning on a regular basis.

Here’s a Quick Way to Improve Your Deep Conditioner – Tip to improve your deep conditioner and give it more slip. A deep conditioning hack for the wash day experience healthy hair link up.

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after deep conditioning natural hair what next

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