Deep Conditioning Fine Naturally Curly Hair

Continuing the detailed series of posts sharing how to have an effective wash day, today we discuss how to deep condition curly hair.

deep conditioning natural hair

We’ve already established that fine naturally curly hair is delicate and needy. In the case of deep conditioning however, it doesn’t matter if your hair is fine or super thick stranded.

Why Deep Condition Curly Hair?

If you have naturally curly hair (which is by nature also, naturally dry hair), deep conditioning is not an optional activity on wash day. Deep conditioning is a vital step in imparting much needed moisture and nourishment to your tresses.

This is especially necessary if you use heat styling tools like a curling iron or flat iron. These heat stylers will suck moisture right out of your curls and turn your once beautiful hair into lack luster, brittle hair.

When you give your curls the adequate moisture via deep conditioning regularly, you help increase your rate of hair growth. You also reduce the instances of split ends.

The moisture infusion received from deep conditioning also helps combat frizzy hair.

how to deep condition curly hair

What Deep Conditioning is Not

To be clear before we continue, deep conditioning is not the same as using a protein treatment. It’s a separate process altogether. Your deep conditioner shouldn’t actually contain protein if all you are looking for is impartation of moisture.

Protein and moisture need to be delicately balanced.

RelatedWhy Fine Hair Needs Protein

The Curly Girl Method and Deep Conditioning

If you follow the curly girl method or would like to, there is something you should know about deep conditioning.

It’s basically non-existent.

At least, I don’t recall anything about deep conditioning in the Curly Girl Handbook.

Following this method to care for your curly hair, you don’t even use a deep conditioning product, just a normal conditioner. You certainly don’t apply any heat while using a deep treatment.

In fact, all you use is a regular conditioner to “wash” and you just leave some of it in your wet hair afterward.

It’s sort of like putting a leave-in conditioner in your hair and skipping deep conditioning altogether.

This method is supposed to promote extra moisture in your hair. The founder of this method, Lorraine Massey fosters the belief that all curl types can benefit from this method of hair care.

I tried the Curly Girl Method for several months. While I do see some benefits, the lack of adequate conditioning is just not sufficient for those with a more coily hair type.

How to Deep Condition Curly Hair Properly

If you’re still with me, then let’s look at the best way to deep condition for healthy hair. Especially if you have coily natural hair. There are relative points to take into consideration.

How you deep condition can vary slightly based on your hair’s porosity. Without going to deep into porosity, below is the most important information to know.

Deep Conditioning Low Porosity Hair

Low porosity (low-po) hair has tight cuticles, making it difficult to receive moisture into the hair shaft. Conversely, low-po hair holds onto moisture quite well.

The key is getting moisture into the hair. This is where proper deep conditioning comes into play – applying a heat source under a plastic cap.

Deep Conditioning High Porosity Hair

High porosity hair is just the opposite. The cuticles are raised and while moisture is easily imparted, it’s also easily lost.

Deep conditioning is done in a similar manner as low-po hair but high porosity hair needs extra effort to close the cuticle once done. More on this below.

Applying Deep Conditioner to Curly Hair

The most important step in how to deep condition curly hair is the application process.

To ensure adequate coverage when applying your deep conditioner, the first thing you want to do is apply product in small sections. Carefully work the product through your hair while smoothing the curls in a downward fashion.

Last off, when it comes to deep conditioning fine natural curly hair, it’s important not to manipulate the hair too much when applying or rinsing out your deep conditioner. Work the product in gently from tips to root.

honey and watermelon deep conditioner

What’s The Best Deep Conditioner to Use?

With so many products on the market, it can be confusing to pick out a good deep conditioner because there are many.

Keep these in mind to help guide your purchasing decision:

  1. Does the conditioner contain natural oils like olive, oil, jojoba oil, coconut or babassu oil?
  2. Can you pronounce most of the ingredients?
  3. Does the conditioner contain essential fatty acids like lauric, linoleic, or stearic?
  4. Does it contain amino acids (proteins which you may not want for the intended treatment)
  5. Are there humectants in the conditioner ? (honey, glycerin etc)

These are all important things to make note of to choose the right product for your hair.


There’s not only some confusion surrounding how you should deep condition curly hair but also for how long.

Some say you need to sit with a plastic cap on under a dryer or heated cap that generates heat.

Others say you can just sit with a cap and let your head generate the heat. “30 minutes is optimal.” No. “3 hours…..Over night.” Wait. Hold your horses.

Since the purpose of deep conditioning is to nourish, soften and impart deep moisture to the hair, the conditioner must go deep. For that to happen, you need a little time. Wouldn’t you agree? So, how much time?

Enough time for your hair shaft to swell open and receive the product that’s being used to deep condition it.

That, my dear Watson does not take 3 hours or an entire evening. As a matter of fact, when you deep condition your hair for such a long period of time, you are over-moisturizing it and putting it at risk for becoming “mush.”

I like to call it the no bounce-back factor. It’s just limp, blah and now needs some protein to bring it back to life.

Depending on your hair’s condition and porosity level, you can adequately deep condition in 15-60 minutes. Anything longer isn’t even beneficial.

deep conditioning motto

Use Heat

First off, in order to deep condition thoroughly, you need to apply heat to the entirety of your hair strands (root to tip). That pretty much nixes the idea of just wearing a non-heated cap that only causes you to generate heat at the scalp.

That can only be accomplished by using a hair dryer or heating cap over a plastic cap. Alternatively, you can use a hair steamer. In this case, you don’t need the plastic cap.

You need heat to be moving all up and down your hair shaft so the hair cuticle can swell open. This will give you the best results from your deep conditioning treatment. Especially if you have low porosity hair.

This may seem counterintuitive for high porosity hair but works the same. What differs slightly is when it comes time to wash out the deep conditioner.

Tips for Rinsing Out Your Deep Conditioner

To complete your deep conditioning session, it’s recommended that your final rinse be done with cold water if you have high porosity hair. Warm water is sufficient for low porosity hair.

This will seal in all the goodness you just imparted to your hair by deep conditioning it.

If you’re like me, cold water is not about to happen. Tepid or cool water works just fine. You can also do a cool ACV (apple cider vinegar) or AVJ (aloe vera juice) rinse.

My personal experiences

Side bar: While I have low porosity hair, I still rinse with cool water. Here’s why…

Although low porosity hair has tightly closed cuticles, when you wash it with warm/hot water, the cuticles raise. Before you dry your hair, you want the cuticles to close back after your hair dries.

Some ladies with low-po hair will seal the hair with oil and then do a quick cool water rinse afterwards. This works well but I’ve found my hair stays equally moisturized by rinsing with cool water before sealing with the oil.

Sealing after rinsing

What works best is what you test out and find work best for you.

That may be rinsing and then trying one of these sealing methods:

  • LOC (apply an oil followed by a cream based product to wet hair)
  • LCO (apply a cream based product followed by an oil to wet hair

There are other variations but let’s keep it simple.

Regarding ACV rinses, they shouldn’t be done more than 1-2x a month. AVJ rinses on the other hand, can be done as a final rinse every wash day. Of course, plain water is the most cost effective.

Aloe Vera juice

Heat Damage Conditioning with Heat?

In case you are wondering about potential heat damage, this does not occur when using heat to deep condition when done properly.

Your deep conditioner will impart the moisture your hair so desperately needs from your hair follicles all the way down to your ends.

There’s also no such thing as a “quick” or “express” deep conditioning which is rinsed out after 2 minutes.

Last off, when it comes to deep conditioning fine natural curly hair, it’s important not to manipulate the hair too much when applying or rinsing out your deep conditioner. Work the product in gently from tips to root.

Recommended Deep Conditioners

What you deep condition with is just as important as how you get the job done. I don’t profess to know lots of products because as much as I can be a product junky, I never really embrace that.

However, my fine natural hair loves a few commercial products. Here are some (not all) I recommend:

  1. Ominira Naturals Honey & Watermelon Infusion – Ultimate Moisture Deep Conditioner
  2. Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Conditioner (this one contains protein but its low on the ingredient list)
  3. Camille Rose Naturals Coconut Water Penetrating Hair Treatment
  4. As I Am Hydration Elation Intensive Conditioner
  5. Eden Bodyworks Jojoba Deep Conditioner
  6. Shea Moisture Superfruit Complex 10 in 1 Renewal System

If I had to choose just one, it would be the Ominira Naturals brand. In fact, that is now my go to deep conditioner for the unforeeen future.

Making Your Own Deep Conditioner

If you’re more of a DIY gal (or guy) looking to save a few coins, below are a couple of easy DIY recipes you can try:

Banana Deep Conditioning Mask:

  • 1 Overripe Banana or jar of Banana Baby Food
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Almond Oil
  • 4 tablespoons of Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Organic Honey

Avocado Deep Conditioner:

  • 1 Overripe Avocado
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Unrefined Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter or Mango Butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar

There’s no need to melt or heat any of the ingredients. Simply blend to your desired consistency. I like to use this Ninja food processor:

Once done, apply and don’t forget to use heat!

When making your own deep conditioning hair mask, it’s a good idea to add natural ingredients that compliment each other. This can include essential oils, and other natural oils like castor oil or Argan oil. These kinds of oils are known for promoting moisture retention within the hair shaft.

Quick Points to Remember:

  • Deep condition every wash day (at least weekly)
  • Use a product sans-protein
  • Use a heat source over a plastic cap
  • 15-60 minutes is sufficient
  • Rinse with cool or tepid water to close your hair’s cuticle.
  • Rinse with an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse if you have high porosity hair
  • Use Aloe Vera juice as a final rinse in place of cool water
  • No over-manipulating or detangling while deep conditioning
how to deep condition curly hair

The goal of a good deep conditioning session is to protect your tresses from hair breakage by giving it the deep moisture needed to make your curls pliable.

Deep conditioning curly hair or just hair in general is a necessary step to soften and impart necessary nourishment. It should never be considered optional.

Do it every wash day with store bought products that contain the right ingredients or a DIY recipe of your own. Just do it.

Oh, and as a final tip…Your deep conditioner should not typically contain protein. Protein has an entirely different purpose – one that fine natural hair loves and appreciates. Strengthening.

But, I talk about that here: Why Fine Hair Needs Protein

Here are the previous posts on how to have an effective wash day:

Why & How to Pre-Poo Fine Natural Hair | Cleansing Fine Natural Hair for Length Retention

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. So should you purchase any of the items, I will receive a small commission. Thank you in advance for trusting my advice.

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  1. Brandy D Robnett says:

    I love that you not only share the how to, but you also give a list of products! Thank you for your posts and helping me find a one stop place to do my research, that you did for me and shared! I know you do not bleach but if you ever need more to do I would love your advice on the best weekly and longer care to keep hair in good shape. I too have very fine hair very straight and fine hair. Good job the best I have found thank you again
    Brandy Robnett

    1. Hi Brandy, thank you so much for your kind words. Are you asking for advice on maintaining long hair that’s been bleached? I wasn’t sure I understood.

  2. I would like to receive your newsletter

  3. Nsae_nsae says:

    This is the third time I try your DIY Banana deep conditioner,and I just love it!♡ it makes my curl pattern pop! mkaes my edges softer ! I can almost- alllllmost – say I have baby hair! Hhhh!

    **bonus tip: I sifted the blend so nothing sticks to hair after rinse.

    I love it .

  4. Hi!
    Thanks for your great advice. However, on checking out the ingredients of the Shea Butter Honey & Manuka deep conditioner on their site I saw it contains hydrolized rice protein.

    1. Right. I said your DC shouldn’t contain protein. I’ll make a notation next to the product because I find it doesn’t bother my hair at all. It’s a great deep conditioner. If you are looking to deep condition without protein, then obviously don’t use it. I should have elaborated that I will often protein treat and deep condition in one step because fine hair so desperately needs a regular dose of protein. I never have issues with this deep conditioner making my hair hard either.

      Also, note the first 7 ingredients of a product is what’s in the product in abundance. Rice protein is 11th on the list meaning there’s not much of it.

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