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Recommended Combing Conditioners
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COMBING AND SETTING CONDITIONERS

These are the conditioners to comb your hair with and leave in.

Before I recommend any conditioner here, it goes through several tests. The first is that I check out all the ingredients, and research any unfamiliar ones with the most objective sources I've been able to find to date. Then I use it for at least a week. If it combs well, keeps my curls clumped, smooth and moisturized, even at the end of the week, then I recommend the conditioner for combing and leaving in.

I don’t often use the same shampoo and conditioner of a particular product line. Sometimes a company makes a great shampoo, but has a bad conditioner, or makes a wonderful conditioner yet has a harsh, drying shampoo. So I tend to mix and match to get the best products.

*Please note that though I try to be as careful as possible on these recommendations, many times the same products overseas have different ingredients than those in the states (for some reason it's often sodium chloride that's added). Also know that the ingredients in a product can change without any warning or indication on the package that it's happened. Therefore, it's always a great practice to be paranoid like me when it comes to your pretty curls, and to always check the lables of any product before purchasing.



Alaffia Coconut & Shea Daily Hydrating Conditioner (For All Hair Types)

This conditioner has great moisturizing ingredients and a nice lemon verbena scent. It combed really well, and I was done combing sooner than usual, so that was exciting. When it dried in my hair, it clumped well, and my hair was really glossy (if you normally add a bit of oil to conditioners, use a bit less for this one because it was already pretty emollient). For those of you who don't like silicones, this product is silicone free. It also makes a great rinsing conditioner.

Alaffia says it uses sustainable ingredients, and is donating 10% of it's profits to humanitarian projects in West Africa, so you can feel good about buying this, too. (Oh! I should mention that I didn't feel as comfortable about the ingredients in their shampoos. If memory serves me correctly, I think they are using saponified oils, which usually means the oil has been mixed with lye (or something very alkaline like lye), so it can often be too drying.)





Aveeno Nourish+Shine Conditioner

This is a very nice, basic combing conditioner that might turn into my new go-to comber. It combs very well, clumped nicely and left a nice shine, and I found it quite moisturizing, but it's not super heavy. It has a simple, sort of generic sweet scent, lots of silicones (for those of you who like silicones), as well as a bit of glycerin.






Aveeno Nourish+Moisturize Conditioner

This is a bit lighter than the Nourish + Shine Conditioner, above. This will also do as a basic combing conditioner that might turn into my new go-to comber. It also combs well, clumped nicely and left a nice shine, but it's a bit on the light side. It also has a simple, sort of generic sweet scent, and even more silicones (for those of you who like silicones), as well as a few natural oils for moisture.






L'Occitane Verbena Daily Use Conditioner

This conditioner would be best if you want a very light conditioner that's main function is for making combing your hair easier. There are almost no weight ingredients in it, and most of it is slippery ingredients (like several types of silicones as well as glycerin). It has a wonderful, strong lemon verbena scent. When it dried in my hair, it clumped surprisingly well, all things considered—but again, it's very light, and may not be enough.





Shikai Natural Everyday Conditioner

Available in most health food stores. This has hardly any scent at all. I needed to use much more of this product, but it didn't build up, and it was a very smooth comb. I wasn't expecting it to be, but it is quite effective. My curls stayed clumped and moisturized, but not greasy or heavy.






Paula's Choice Smooth Finish Conditioner (All Hair Types)

Works surprisingly well. It makes the comb just glide through (well, relatively for my hair). This has no fragrances or dyes. It dries a bit lighter than other conditioners, so you may need to use more of it. This would be perfect if you needed to comb out mats. This would also be perfect for a child or someone with a sensitive scalp, since no sensitizing essential oils are in this. Her products are also offered in many other countries. If you follow the link, and go to her homepage, click the "International" button on the top right of the page, it will show you where else it's available.

 





Naturelle Hypo-Allergenic Fragrance Free Conditioner .

This says it's a fragrance free conditioner, but it actually has fragrance oils in it, such as Geranium oil and Ylang ylang oil. These fragrance oils can be irritating to sensitive skin. However, it doesn't seem to have much of a scent (that I could tell), so there probably isn't much of them in there. This conditioner combed and clumped really well. So, my only concern is the essential oils which may be too much for very sensitive skin. Other than that concern, this conditioner worked really well. It didn't seem to be really moisturizing (but just slightly, and that could be just in my mind), so if you wanted you could put about a teaspoon of natural oil like olive oil in a full bottle and shake it really hard to make it more moisturizing. That, or you could wait for your hair to dry after using it, and smooth a bit of olive oil (or another oil of your choice) over the ends before braiding it up at night. ( I found this shampoo at a Sally's Beauty Supply store.)



Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Conditioner (or Smoothing Shea Butter Conditioner) :

Has a nice sweet coconut scent. It's a bit light, so you might want to add a bit extra to your ends when they dry.

 





Aussie Moist Conditioner

I used to use this a long time ago, but had gotten away from it. And for a while I was worried it might not be slippery enough for combing (it has Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, as the third ingredient, so I wasn't sure if there was enough of this present to be slippery), so I must admit I wasn't quick to try it. There are few things more annoying than to step out of the shower after washing and conditioning, and then find the conditioner I just put in my hair won't let the Denman through my hair, so I have to get back in the shower and rinse it off and put in something else. But many kind people recommended it highly, so I finally broke down and tried it. To my surprise, it combed nicely, and clumped very well. Ingredient's wise, it's very similar to the relatively newly reformulated Hello Hydration. Thank you to everyone who suggested I try this.

 



Giovanni 50:50 Balanced Hydrating-Calming Condtioner

It's no secret that I tend to be kind of stubborn, so although I had many people recommend it, it took me a while to try out this conditioner. It was mainly because one of the ingredients, Brassicamidopropyl dimethylamine, made me wary. However, a very similar ingredient, Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, is in many of my favorite conditioners, and my hair has been really happy with them, even up until day seven. This conditioner combed well, clumped my curls well, and kept my hair feeling soft and moisturized until it was time to wash and comb again (thank you to all the people who mentioned this one conditioner to me). And for those of you who don't like using silicones, this conditioner is silicone free.

 





Frizz-Ease Care Curl Around Style-Starting Daily Conditioner: Curly

This has a light, powdery scent, and did a good job of clumping my curls. It's a bit light, so you may need to smooth some more on your ends after your hair dries.






TreSemme Smooth and Silky Conditioner

I found this TreSemme product to comb a bit better than some of the other ones I've tried in the past. It clumps really well.  

TRESemme Smooth & Silky for dry or damaged hair: This conditioner is a bit thicker than the others, so it doesn’t glide as easily when combing. The slight stickiness helps keep your curls clumped, but they aren’t sticky when they dry. You could also try: TRESemme's Curl Moisturizing for curly or wavy hair, Anti-Breakage Vitamin b-12 & gelatin, Moisture Rich for dry or damaged hair, or Thermal Recovery Replenishing conditioners. (I'm still checking out their shampoos).





Blended Beauty Curl Styling Butter: If you are very gentle, especially when you comb the ends, this works great at clumping curls. It's a bit sticky, so if your hair is matted, you wouldn't want to try to comb with it. It's also greasier than the other products, but it clumps well. For those of you who don't like silicones, this product is silicone free.

 






Freeman PureColorFresh Curl Conditioner (jasmine & violet smooth and moisture)

This conditioner combed well and clumped well. It dries a bit light, so I used more when combing, and smoothed more on my ends once they dried.

 






Nature's Gate Organics Fruit Blend Fortifying Conditioner (Grapefruit & Wild Ginger)

I was nervous about this one because of the "grapefruit" in it, but it did fine. It was much lighter than other conditioners, so I used lots more of it. This would be great if you didn't need as much clumping as I do. However, it didn't get gunky when I added more to the ends of my curls once they dried. In a pinch, I sometimes use this as a rinsing conditioner because of how light it is (though I never use it as both a rinser and combing conditioner at the same time).

 





Nexxus Hydra Sleek Silken Smoothing Conditioner

This seemed to dry with a lighter fragrance than other conditioners. It also dries a bit light, so you may need to use more of it.

 









Wen Fig Cleansing Conditioner

*Please read this entire entry before trying a Wen product*

Okay, this is a long one...Wen conditioner is one of the conditioners I get asked about all the time. And for most of that time I didn't recommend it because I felt it was expensive, the essential oils were irritating, and there were tons of other products out there that could do the same thing. But I guess if Wen's a product a person really wants to try, there isn't anything harmful for the hair in it, and it does its job with combing and keeping our hair moisturized. Because of it's essential oils, it would work well as a rinsing conditioner or a no-po conditioner. However, I must confess, I have ulterior motives for putting it here besides it simply working fine: I wanted to include a conditioner with nearly identical ingredients as all the others I recommend, but this one actually says on the bottle that it's okay to leave in your hair.

Wen is basically a simple conditioner. It has nearly identical ingredients to all the other conditioners I recommend. The two main differences it has over other conditioners are 1) Marketing and 2) Irritation:

Marketing: Wen is basically a regular conditioner, ingredients-wise (using the same ingredients that are in many lotions and leave-in hair products as well). It's just that it says on the bottle you can use it for conditioner-washing, and you can use it as a leave in (which is something this site talks about already for these ingredients), whereas most other conditioners don't say this about their products. Those other products want you to spend the money on buying as many different redundant items in their product line as possible. Wen's slant is that they market their conditioner as being able to do all these things in one product, but then they charge you a bunch for it (about $20-30 a bottle). But again, it's just marketing. These are still all the same ingredients that are in regular conditioners, but Wen is saying you can leave them in, and use them to wash with as well. Because it markets itself as being natural, people often don't question what's really in it.

Irritation: Wen contains very very strong and irritating essential oils, including menthol, and fig extract, among others. This is a very strong product. These strong essential oils are put in the product to make your scalp "tingle" so it feels like it's being cleansed. But in reality it's just irritation. When I was looking up ingredients that were in the Wen product, I was fussing to Jon about how surprised I was at some of the highly irritating ingredients it had. So he became curious, and wanted to try Wen for himself. He has really sensitive skin, and we both felt it would be a good test to see how this product would affect someone with skin like his.

When he came back from the shower, he shook his head and handed me back the bottle. He said he ended up having to shampoo the Wen conditioner out because it was hurting his scalp, and it was still hurting a bit. Days later you could still see it red and blotchy through his hair. So do be careful with this product. When I used the Wen conditioner, it was really strong on my scalp, but it didn't hurt when I combed it and left it in. So I was totally fine, but Jon wasn't.

In summary: This product combs well, and clumps the hair well. The essential oils may be way too strong for anyone with sensitive skin, so please, please don't use Wen products on any one (such as a baby or a pet), who isn't able to let you know it's hurting their skin. Use this product with extreme caution:

  • Don't use this product if you have sensitive skin
  • Don't use on any creature that can't let you know it's too strong
  • This might be best to use as a rinsing conditioner, or for no-po routines
  • I suggest rotating this product with other (preferably unscented) conditioners every week so your scalp doesn't develop sensitivities to some of the ingredients.
P.S. I know it says to use it also as a shampoo, but I'd say that's a waste. Since it's so expensive (and potentially sensitizing), I suggest using it for only one thing, either as a rinser, a no-po conditioner, or as a combing conditioner. If you use it as a combing conditioner, use a more mild conditioner (if you co-wash) or shampoo (if you like to shampoo), but this product is too expensive to use as a shampoo and a conditioner. It doesn't do anything special that a regular light conditioner or mild shampoo can't do as far as cleansing. And the essential oils are too irritating to use as both a shampoo and a conditioner. It's good to give your scalp a break.

Pantene truly RELAXED hair Moisturizing Conditioner
It’s back! Well…sort of. I know it looks weird that I have a conditioner for relaxed hair on an all-natural hair site, but it’s like this: I was in the store, saw the brown Pantene-shaped bottle, and decided to check out the ingredients to see if maybe Pantene had come to their senses and taken the salt out of their conditioner. And they had on this one. So right on the spot I bought the bottle without looking at the front (honestly, I rarely look at the front anyway. I always look at the ingredients first to tell me what the product actually does – the front is just advertising anyway). I didn’t realize I’d actually purchased a bottle of the Relaxed version of the conditioner until I got home. You see, Pantene has split what once was my beloved Relaxed & Natural into two separate conditioners, one for Relaxed hair and one for Natural hair. The only difference I’ve noticed (on a quick glance between the two later) is that two ingredients are switched between the two versions. I haven’t gotten the bottle for Natural yet, but I have been using the Relaxed version (which is basically identical ingredients-wise to the Natural version), so I can recommend the Relaxed version of the conditioner now. I’m hoping soon to get the Natural version so I can add it here as well. The Relaxed conditioner combs well and clumps firmly just as I remembered the old Relaxed & Natural conditioner doing, even with a few ingredient changes (and even though it says it’s for Relaxed hair, the ingredients are the same as for the Natural, so they are essentially the same product).




If you are curious about the ingredients in your products, check out the Ingredients Dictionary. Remember, the only place a product has to tell the truth is on the ingredients list.

If you're curious why a product didn't make it onto a recommended list, you can look for it in the Answer Bank. Just type in part of the name of the product into the search box to see if I've already checked it out.

 

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