To condition or to deep condition – that is the question. But it’s not quite that simple. The when and how of choosing between a daily conditioner and a masque can be confusing. This handy overview will clear up any questions and get you on the path to the shiny, silky tresses of your dreams.
Defining the Differences
Conditioner, at its most basic, is designed to: deposit extra moisture to your hair and scalp; detangle in order to prevent damage and breakage; and diminish frizz. Light enough to be used on a daily basis without weighing fine hair down, conditioner can replenish nutrients and also protect against environmental and sun damage.
Masques - or deep conditioners – feature luxurious, concentrated formulas containing more nutrient-rich, active ingredients to treat damage and achieve intense hydration. They are designed to be used on a weekly basis, or more frequently as a spot treatment for certain areas – like dry ends – that need more TLC.
You can tell the difference by sight and by feel. Conditioners are more liquid and usually come in bottles. Masques most frequently come in tubs or tubes, are thick and dense, and feel highly emollient. For any dairy lovers out there the analogy that comes to mind is that conditioners are to milk as masques are to full fat Greek yogurt. They each have their place, but look, taste and nourish you differently.
Better Natured™ conditioners come in three formulations – Moisturizing, Damage Repair and Color Care. In addition, the line features two deep conditioners – Moisture Replenishing Masque and Color Care Deep Conditioning Treatment. Each contains a high percentage (93% or more!) of naturally-derived* ingredients, including the line’s signature Triple Plant Milk blend of Coconut, Tahitian Palm and White Orchid. In addition, all formulas are color-safe, vegan and free of phthalates, parabens, silicones, gluten and mineral oil!
According to Better Natured™ R&D Senior Manager Aida Karagic, these fundamental, highly-nutritive, sustainably-sourced ingredients are “custom blended in each formula to treat specific hair concerns and optimize the healthy look and feel of the hair.” In addition, the conditioners are meant to be used in conjunction with the shampoos for a complete regimen with cumulative benefits. “For example,” she says, “when used together the Color Care Shampoo and Conditioning Balm keep your shade vibrant for up to nine weeks.”
Karagic points out that formulating silicone-free conditioners is no easy task since silicones have been used as a base softening and shine ingredient for decades. The silicone-replacement chosen, isoamyl laureate, is derived and harvested from sugar beets and coconuts. It prevents dryness by creating a lightweight, non-greasy barrier around the cuticle.
Caesalpinia spinosa is another stand-out ingredient cited by Karagic. This natural tree gum sourced from Peru “coats every hair fiber with softness and slip.” Because it’s one of the few oil molecules small enough to actively penetrate hair fibers, coconut oil was added “for excellent hydration, softness and shine,” she says. While glycerin, a vegetable-sourced humectant, “pulls moisture from the air to keep hair hydrated.”
When To Use What
The roles conditioners and masques play in your hair care regimen can be a bit confusing. Some women who use conditioner daily assume they can do without masques altogether. And some masque users mistakenly think they’re only for special occasions or the occasional #selfcareSunday. It mostly depends on your hair texture and type, whether or not it’s colored, and paying attention to how your hair is feeling and behaving.
Ladies with fine hair should use conditioner every time they shampoo but apply a little at a time, avoiding the crown of the head and the roots. The last thing you want is ‘clean’ hair that feels greasy and looks droopy. For this hair type, unless you’re experiencing a lot of damage or breakage, limit masque use to your ends only and not more than a few times per month.
Those with thick or coarse hair can use conditioner all over to aid comb through and control frizz. Masques can be applied regularly on the ends, particularly if you’re a hot tools user. A full masque treatment 2-3 times a month at minimum will keep hair looking and feeling its best. And for those with colored hair, the Color Care Deep Conditioning Balm is great for helping to lock in your shade for vibrant color full of healthy-looking shine.
For long-hair lasses who suffer from dry hair like celebrity stylist and #betternaturedpartner Amanda Lee, here’s the deep conditioning regimen she follows regularly at home and swears by.
Shampoo with Better Natured Moisturizing Shampoo and then towel-dry hair. “I find it’s neater to apply the Moisture Replenishing Masque outside the shower, working it into my hair up from the ends, where I apply the most product,” Lee instructs. She then emulsifies a dollop in her hands and applies to the rest of her head, avoiding the roots and dabbing a little extra onto fragile front pieces. As a final step, she combs it through to distribute, and the puts her hair up into a bun – for a few hours or even all day.
Once she rinses the masque out and towel dries, Lee follows with Better Natured™ Heat Styling Lotion before blowdrying. The result is hair so soft, sleek and shiny she can’t stop touching it. As she says: “This masque has saved my dry hair.”
*We use the Global ISO Standard 16128 which defines naturally-derived as a plant or mineral derived material and water which is found in nature and has undergone limited processing. In the Better Natured™, the percent naturally-derived varies from product to product and ranges from 86% to 99%.