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How to choose the perfect hair conditioner

Heads up! Keeping your hair in dazzling condition doesn’t have to be high maintenance. Alongside a variety of treatments, masks and the option of shampoo bars or liquids, a menu of effective conditioners are armed with the right tools and ready to help you get to the root of your hair dilemmas. Banish bad hair days and get ready to be a bigwig.

Soft, shiny, smooth or sleek? Turning up the volume or taking it down a notch? However you like to style your hair, the following will help you to choose the right conditioner bar or bottle for you.

What does conditioner do?

Have you ever wondered how a conditioner actually works? Understanding how they work and why we use them could just help you find ‘the one’ amongst the many.

Put simply, our hair naturally has a negative chemical charge which sits all the way down the hair shaft. When coated in oil, this charge is masked. Shampoo uses surfactant to create an emulsion with the oil on the hair, which then pushes the oil down each strand, making it feel squeaky clean. Imagine swinging down a fireman’s pole and you get the idea. The negative charge of the hair is revealed and the hair cuticles become raised from pushing the shampoo away, like two magnets with the same charge.

Conditioners contain anti-static ingredients which are positively charged. This means they are attracted to the negatively charged hair strands of freshly shampooed hair. When applied, they sit on top of the hair shaft and push down the raised cuticles to create a smooth, sleek effect.

As well as ensuring sleekness after a shampoo, conditioners work to protect and prevent damage from environmental factors, friction and heat styling. When it comes to oil, the scalp is the source of the river, therefore conditioners are best used through the ends of the hair where oil is less likely to reach. They act as guardians of your hair, helping to prevent dryness and split ends.

Narrowing it down

When it comes to creating different styles, playing around with different products is all part of the fun. But a number of factors actually influence how your hair looks and feels, including how it naturally falls, whether you are using hard or soft water and even how you use the product. When you have a very specific style in mind, this knowledge is power.

Cosmetic scientist and product inventor Daniel Campbell puts it into basic terms: "If you have finer hair but you still want volume you need a conditioner which doesn’t have too much of an affinity with your hair cuticles so it doesn’t push them all the way down. However, if you want a very smooth, sleek look and have thicker hair you need a conditioner which has a stronger affinity for the hair cuticles, so it pushes them all the way down."

Get some bottle

Finding the right conditioner is key to ensuring that whatever style you’re after works, as it sits just before the styling stage of your routine. Thankfully, a spectrum of different liquid conditioners awaits you, itching to hydrate your locks with moisturising butters and strengthening essential oils.

Aside from smelling delicious, American Cream contains honey water and vanilla pod infusion which are humectants that help to lock in moisture, strawberries and oranges for serious shine and protective and highly moisturising lanolin. For those who strive for serious condition and Hollywood sleekness this is both the most conditioning and moisturising of the menu, hugging the hair cuticles tight for an ultra polished, million dollar style. This strawberry and vanilla milkshake scented conditioner is full of glamour and great for those with thick, luscious locks.

The new kind on the block, Candy Rain is the one to go for if you’re craving sumptuous sleekness. This tonka and cocoa scented conditioner contains hydrating coconut, cashew and macadamia milk, and a plentiful helping of Dorset rainwater. Yes, you heard right. Although you might spend your days avoiding a downpour, rainwater collected from the Lush Greenhub helps to smooth hair because it doesn’t contain volumising minerals that cause locks to lift. Added to a conditioning mix of macadamia and Brazil nut oils, this sweet treat offers a glossy finish for silky smooth styles.

Packed with lemon oil and fresh organic lemon juice, Veganese is a light, oil-free conditioner with a stimulating, sherbet-like fragrance, ideal for those with fine hair or who desire volume and lots of shine. Agar agar gel from seaweed coats the hair without weighing it down, whilst lemon encourages the hair cuticles to lie flat, smoothing down the hair for gloss and softness. A beautifully botanical blend of rosemary and lavender are a soothing tonic for the scalp, helping to balance the amount of sebum produced and keeping hair oil-free. This stunning citrus conditioner will also help hair to retain moisture for a super soft mane.

Does the scent of a conditioner normally sell it for you? Thankfully there’s plenty of substance beneath the fine fragrance. Originally formulated as a conditioning hair perfume, Happy Happy Joy Joy leaves the hair with a delightful orange blossom, rose and neroli scent which lasts for days. Almond milk is beautifully delicate, soothing and smoothing the scalp and hair, and this light, milky conditioner also contains jojoba oil: the lightest of cosmetic oils which has a low affinity for the hair so adds moisture without adding weight. These ingredients work wonders on finer or quite processed hair, with anti-statics to keep hair smooth and stop flyaways.

Rich in vitamin E, protective olive oil helps to retain moisture in the hair, increase tensile strength to prevent breakage and soften in Retread. Pry open the pot to uncover a midweight, creamy concoction packed with strengthening and shine enhancing avocado oil and jojoba oil which lightly coats the hair shaft for silky, more manageable locks. Like a pit stop in a pot, Retread is formula #1 for quenching hair’s thirst while maintaining body. Combine this reparatory blend of avocado, olive and jojoba with different shampoos to find your perfect finish. Sea salt-packed Big will play up the volume, while cleansing Rehab will help to smooth down strands and seal in moisture.

Naked ambition

Conditioners just got nude! These solid conditioners are a naked, space-saving, practical alternative to the bottle when travelling abroad and a solid solution to waste at the same time. Jam packed with essential oils for long-lasting washes, you can hydrate and enrich your hair with wonderful ingredients over and over again.

Let your tresses get tipsy on The Golden Cap volumising and shine-enhancing solid conditioner! Stout strengthens the surface of the hair and swells the cuticle to add body, whilst lemon balm decoction enhances shine, leaving you with a bouncy but smooth finish. Get your bounce, body and shine back whilst cutting down on the packaging.

Deliver film star shine with American Cream pressed conditioner. Scent your tresses with scrumptious sweet vanilla and strawberry, this solid conditioner evokes 50s’ diner milkshakes. Fresh strawberry juice brightens each strand, encourage the cuticle to lie flat so that your hair reflects more light whilst hydrolysed wheat protein rebuilds your locks from within, repairing past damage by coating the hair and binding split ends together.

Let them stare at your big, beautiful hair. Sea salt brings softness and body in Big solid conditioner, a twist of fresh organic lemon and lime juice helps to flatten out hair cuticles so that they reflect the light for divine shine and protein-rich toothed wrack seaweed helps detangle tresses and leave them more manageable. Restorative vetivert relaxes with an earthy, smoky aroma, whilst glycerine locks in moisture to leave hair volumized yet super soft. Comforting vanilla, sultry jasmine, zesty bergamot and fresh vetivert blanket each hair strand to leave your hair smelling utterly enchanting.

Found your perfect match? Now that you know exactly which conditioner will tick all your boxes, you can find them here

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