How to Deep Condition Curly Hair (2023)

If your curly hair feels dry, brittle, dull or unmanageable, you might be at a loss as to what to do to achieve healthy hair. Just like skin, curly hair needs moisture and hydration to thrive and oftentimes, that comes in the form of a deep conditioning mask or treatment.

Read on to learn more about deep conditioning curly hair — plus, find out about the best products for adding hydration and moisture to your hair naturally.

Why Curly Hair Needs Deep Conditioning

First off, it's important to know the porosity of your hair to understand why deep conditioning is necessary. Curly hair is usually high-porosity hair (the opposite of low-porosity hair) because it has the ability to lose and gain moisture quickly.

But porosity isn't the only reason curly hair needs deep conditioning.

"Curly hair is more prone to dryness, frizziness and breakage due to its shape," said dermatologist Dr. Anju Methil. Methil also explained that curls are not as efficient at retaining moisture as easily as straight hair, so it tends to be dryer. "The coils make it difficult for natural oils from the scalp to travel down the length of hair strand, leading to drier ends that need extra hydration."

Deep conditioning is more intense than a regular conditioner and seals moisture back in, which prevents dehydration of the hair. "[Deep conditioning] can help reduce frizz and make curls look more vibrant and healthy," Dr. Methil said. "[It] also helps to strengthen the hair strands by delivering much-needed hydration and nourishment to them. This can result in less breakage and overall improved texture of curly hair."

Applying your favorite deep conditioner once or twice a week can help your curls to have a lovely bounce and an overall healthy look to them. Dr. Methil explained that it also makes them softer and more manageable. "It is important to use a deep conditioner specifically formulated for curly hair," Dr. Methil said. "These deep conditioning treatments are designed to penetrate the cuticle layer of the hair, infusing moisture and nourishment into the strands, reducing frizz and promoting smoothness."

When choosing a deep conditioning treatment, it's important to choose one with ingredients that can tame curls and also impart moisture. Beneficial ingredients can include marula oil, shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, honey, argan oil, avocado oil and vitamins A & E.

Shop: HYDR-8 Collection

How to Deep Condition Your Curls

If you have dry, brittle hair or damaged hair, deep conditioning can help reverse some of the stress and damage your hair has undergone. It also helps to restore moisture to your hair strands, improve hair texture, add softness, reduce breakage and add shine.

"Deep conditioning can be done in several ways — using a deep conditioner, using an at-home treatment such as a hot oil treatment, using a mask and serum or going to the salon for a professional deep conditioning treatment," said Dr. Methil. "If you are using a blow dryer or an at-home treatment or mask, it should be left on the hair for 15-30 minutes."

Once you've finished applying a hair mask, put on a plastic shower cap, wrap your head in plastic wrap, or envelop your strands in a hot towel. The warmer the hair is, the more moisture you'll retain. "Steaming your hair with a hot towel will open up your hair cuticles, allowing the conditioner to penetrate deeper," said Methil. Once the treatment is complete and rinsed off, there's no need to fuss over your hair further. "Rinse off the conditioner thoroughly and style as usual," she said.

If your hair is in need of a bit more TLC than you feel you can accomplish at home, or if you just aren't sure where to begin, your salon and stylist can help. "For a professional deep conditioning treatment, the conditioners are tailored to your individual needs," Dr. Methil explained. This process takes a bit longer as these professional-grade treatments will be left on for about 30 minutes before rinsing.

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How Often Should You Deep Condition Curly Hair?

So now that you know the benefits of deep conditioning, it brings up the question of timing. How often do you swap out your normal conditioner to deep condition your hair? Dr. Methil explained, "Deep conditioning is best done one to two times per month, depending on your hair type," she said. "If you have curly or coily hair, you may need to deep condition more often."

"Deep conditioning will strengthen and nourish strands, prevent split ends, improve elasticity and manageability, restore shine and make your hair softer," Dr. Methil said.

One way to ensure your hair is deep conditioned and receiving extra moisture is to use an all-natural option that promotes hydration and moisture, like VEGAMOUR's HYDR-8 Deep Moisture Repair Mask, which was shown in a controlled hair swatch study to deliver 15x the hydration and 3x stronger strands. This luscious mask contains the following helpful ingredients:

  • Karmatin™(our proprietary vegan silk alternative to keratin) to reduce the appearance of damage
  • Marula oil and marunga seed oil to reduce frizz and promote shine
  • Milk thistle to moisturize and soften

VEGAMOUR recommends that you swap out your conditioner for this hydrating mask once or twice each week. You simply apply it to damp hair from roots to ends and leave on for just three to five minutes. Then, rinse thoroughly and style as usual.

(Video) here's how to deep condition ✨curly hair✨

See: How to Use a Hair Mask

Consider Your Shampoo

Unfortunately, not all shampoos are good for your hair. In fact, many of them contain harsh ingredients, like sulfates, which can lead to dry hair. Lorraine Massey, the author of "The Curly Girl Method" and inventor of the co-wash, discourages the frequent use of shampoos that contain sulfates because they are too harsh for curly hair.

If you feel your hair is drying out or struggling from your regular wash routine, consider washing your hair with an all-natural shampoo and conditioner specifically engineered to impart moisture and promote hydration, like our HYDR-8 Shampoo and Conditioner Kit. This all-natural, vegan, color-safe duo is perfect for all hair types and formulated without sulfates. The shampoo and conditioner will cleanse and hydrate hair without stripping it of its protective oils or drying it out.

This duo contains the following ingredients:

  • Karmatin™ to reduce the appearance of damaged hair
  • Aloe vera and murumuru seed butter to condition and hydrate hair
  • Marula oil and marunga seed oil help lessen frizz and enhance shine
  • Magnolia bark extract to calm and soothes the scalp

But don't worry — even with all this moisturizing goodness, you won't have to deal with buildup on your hair follicles.

Also: The No-Poo Method of Washing Hair: Does It Work?

Results You Can Expect From Deep Conditioning

The best result you can hope for is hair that is softer to the touch and looks visibly healthier. That also means more bounce and shine in your curls and hair that is easily managed.

Still, it's important not to impart too much moisture to the hair as it can have adverse effects. You want to alternate between using deep conditioning treatment and regular conditioner. "It's important to pay attention to how often you deep condition," Dr. Methil said. "Doing so too frequently can leave your hair weighed down and greasy. Instead, aim for conditioning every one to two weeks."

Other Care Tips for Curly Hair

If your natural hair is curly, it needs TLC to look and feel its best. Besides avoiding hair products with harsh chemicals, follow these tips:

  • Avoid using hot or warm water when rinsing your hair. Instead, use cool water to help seal in moisture.
  • Avoid roughing up each hair cuticle by rubbing it with a towel to dry it.
  • Avoid using a blow dryer on your curls — even on medium heat. If you have to use a blow dryer, add a protective layer to the hair shaft by applying a heat protectant and using a low-heat setting with a diffuser.
  • Try drying your curls using the plopping method, which will give you more defined curls.

Revive Lifeless Hair With Deep Conditioning

No matter what treatment you choose to moisturize your curls, make sure you're choosing quality, all-natural products that are geared toward both hydrating hair and providing nourishment. Add that to your curly hair routine, and you can't go wrong. Your reward will be bouncy, shiny, healthy-looking curls!


  • How to Sleep With Curly Hair
  • How the "Squish to Condish" Technique Can Benefit Your Hair
  • 5 Simple Hairstyles for Curly Hair

Photo credit: Vlada Karpovich/Pexels

How to Deep Condition Curly Hair (9)


Erin Shaw


(Video) I STOPPED deep conditioning my hair for MORE moisture & hair growth!! | AbbieCurls

Erin Shaw

Erin Shaw is a Los Angeles-based writer and author. She has been writing about beauty, health, food, travel and lifestyle for more than a decade. Previously, her work has been featured in publications such as LA Confidential, Daily Candy, Fathom, and HelloGiggles! Erin released her debut novel, "Party Girl: A Modern Fairytale" in 2014 and her second, "Have Baggage, Will Travel" in 2020. Her third novel, "My Sister's Passport" is in production and expected for a 2024 release. When Erin is not writing or blogging you might find her hiking with her dog Lulu.

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How to Deep Condition Curly Hair (10)

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Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.


How much should I deep condition my curly hair? ›

Curls need essential moisture to maintain their bounce and structure, as well as to help control frizz and unwanted flyaways. Those with curly hair should start by deep conditioning once a week, and increase the frequency to twice a week if you're still not getting the nourishment you need.

How long should you leave deep conditioner in curly hair? ›

Deep conditioning works best when left on for at least an hour with the minimum being 15 mins. Some curlies do leave it for longer, so experiment to see what gives you the best results! So catch up on that book you've been meaning to, put on a face mask or simply curl up and take a nap while DC-ing!

What is the proper way to deep condition your hair? ›

Deep conditioners have more concentrated emollient and humectant ingredients and are left on the hair longer than daily conditioners. Most people can use a deep conditioner once per week. Comb through from the mid-shaft to the ends, leave on for 20 minutes, and rinse with cool water.

Why is my hair so frizzy after deep conditioning? ›

If you notice your hair is frizzy after you apply conditioner, this may be because you haven't applied it on soaking wet hair. Your hair may also feel frizzy due to a lack of moisture, so you want to apply a deep conditioning masque that will help to prevent dryness.

Is it better to put deep conditioner on wet or dry hair? ›

Depending on your deep conditioner, you might apply the deep conditioner before you shampoo, or after you shampoo. But regardless, you should only apply a deep conditioner to wet or damp hair. This is the best way to ensure the product penetrates your hair strands and delivers all the rich moisture and nutrients.

Can too much conditioner ruin curls? ›

If you use a lot of conditioner in an effort to make your curls look better, then you are leaving your curls in that weakened state which makes your hair limp and leads to more breakage and frizziness.

What happens if you put too much conditioner on curly hair? ›

Dry, weak, overly soft, limp and/or flat curls, no matter how much conditioner you add to it, are usually the first signs that your hair is over conditioned. Over time, hair that is excessively conditioned with moisture-based conditioners becomes porous and starts to develop dryness as a result.

What happens if you use too much deep conditioner? ›

Over-conditioning can lead to an affliction known as hygral fatigue. This problem is brought on by continuous follicle expansion and contraction from excessive moisture retention. Overusing deep conditioners can put you at risk of developing hygral fatigue, especially if your hair is naturally porous.

Should deep conditioner touch scalp? ›

Do not apply deep conditioner to your scalp

Just like regular conditioner, deep conditioners are also meant for your hair strands and not the scalp. Your scalp generates sebum to keep your hair roots moisturised and can make your hair a bit greasy.

Do you deep condition on wet hair? ›

Applying a deep condition after you shampoo will help the hair shaft release the barriers of buildup, sebum, and debris and in turn, help the hair shaft absorb the ingredients from your conditioner. So which option is best? For optimal results, deep conditioning on freshly shampooed, wet hair will be best.

Can I deep condition my hair everytime I wash it? ›

You should deep condition after every wash but for some that is a huge time commitment and it may not be necessary. Washing your hair more than once or twice a week may be too often. Too much conditioning can create over-moisturized hair and disrupt the proper balance of moisture and protein that hair needs.

How do you know if your curly hair has too much moisture? ›

Signs that you may be suffering from moisture overload are if your hair feels excessively soft and mushy, if you're noticing that your curl pattern is looser, or if your hair strands stretch but don't revert or bounce back. It can also lead to excessive split ends, limp or dull hair, a lack of volume, and more.

Am I putting too much product in my curly hair? ›

The most obvious signs are dullness and a sticky feel." If you feel like you've used too much product in your styling routine and can't get the extra product out of your hair by using a spray bottle or light scrunching with a towel, Lemonds suggests rinsing your hair and starting over.

Should I let my hair air dry after deep conditioning? ›

Wet hair is in a weakened state. Excessive moisture leads to something called hygral fatigue which causes damage to your hair, making it limp. That's why I don't recommend leaving a deep conditioner in your hair for longer than 30 minutes or air drying.

Why does my hair feel like straw after deep conditioning? ›

If your hair feels like straw, it's most likely a problem with moisture. This can typically be repaired by changing your usual hair products and your hair care routine. If product and lifestyle changes don't fix the problem, see your doctor or dermatologist.

Why is my curly hair still dry after products? ›

Using The Wrong Products: Curly hair often needs styling products that hold the curls in place. However, overuse of styling products can leave behind product residue, leading to scalp build-up and dry hair. If your shampoo contains sulfates and alcohol, it can strip away your hairs moisture, leading to dry curls.

How do I make my deep conditioner more moisturizing? ›

If you want to soothe your scalp and hydrate your hair, try adding aloe vera gel or juice to your treatment. Containing fatty acids, mashed avocados or avocado oil may increase the moisturizing properties of your mask. Adding an egg to your mask is claimed to nourish your hair, promote shine, and increase softness.

Should I deep condition my hair before or after washing it? ›

Deep conditioners are to be used after cleansing, not before. Shampoos usually have a pH balance of 8, which is slightly alkaline, enabling the hair shaft to swell and raise the cuticle layers for thorough cleansing. Deep conditioners have a pH balance of 3.5-6 to close the cuticle and seal in moisture.

Do you rinse out conditioner before or after deep conditioner? ›

Follow these step-by-step instructions for how to deep condition hair:
  1. Wash your hair with a quality shampoo before applying your mask.
  2. Apply your regular conditioner before your deep conditioner if your hair is very damaged.
  3. Rinse out the products thoroughly and gently pat your hair so it's not dripping.

What does over moisturized hair look like? ›

Limp, gummy, or mushy hair — If your hair feels limp, gummy, or mushy when wet, then that is a strong indication that your hair is over-moisturized.

What does over moisturized hair feel like? ›

The hair will feel mushy, limp and excessively soft. Your curls will struggle to hold their shape, they will have little definition and tend to fall flatter than normal. You will have more frizz than normal, a fluffy, soft type of frizz. Your hair will feel weighed down, as if you applied too much product.

What does over conditioned hair look like? ›

Your hair feels limp when you put too much conditioner on your hair. As over-conditioning adds too much moisture to the locks, your hair becomes very soft, looks sticky, and loses its natural volume. Also, it will look thin and feel heavy due to a lack of volume.

Why are my curls flat and frizzy? ›

Curls tend to be naturally dry, even when you take care of them. Due to their spiraled shape, it's harder for the natural oils produced from your scalp to travel down and coat the strands, which is why they can get so frizzy.

How many times a week should you use leave in conditioner curly hair? ›

As a general rule, try applying a leave-in conditioner once a week. If your hair is curly, dry, or damaged, you might want to apply it more frequently.

What is bad for curly hair in conditioner? ›

A Curly Girl-friendly hair care product must not contain sulfates, silicone, drying alcohol, parabens, and certain waxes and mineral oils.

How long do you let deep conditioner sit? ›

Most deep conditioners should be left on your hair between 20-30 minutes. Anything above this timeframe isn't providing any additional benefits. By 30 minutes, your hair should have absorbed as much as possible and be moisturized enough to continue with your wash day.

How long does it take for deep conditioner to work? ›

Deep conditioning is the process of using a deep conditioner activated by heat for approximately 30-45 minutes to allow for the product to penetrate deeper within the hair shaft.

How long to leave conditioner in hair for deep conditioning? ›

How Long Should You Leave Your Product On For? It is recommended that you leave your deep-conditioner on for not more than 30 minutes. Over-conditioning your hair can result in product build-up that can weigh it down. This also makes it difficult for other products to penetrate through the hair shaft.

What should conditioned hair feel like? ›

"Your hair will automatically feel thick and bouncy, more manageable, and shinier!" says Philip. “Then apply conditioner to wet hair and let it sink in for a minute before you shampoo. Or, simply shampoo your hair and then apply conditioner from the mid-shaft down to the ends," suggests Philip.

What is Hygral fatigue? ›

In short form, hygral fatigue is when you've given your hair too much moisture. It is the result of the constant and excessive swelling of your hair cuticle and is often associated with hair porosity. When your hair is constantly swelling, your strands can become weaker, causing your hair to stretch beyond normal.

Should I use heat when I deep condition my hair? ›

Using heat to deep condition can actually help open your cuticle even more, allowing the product to penetrate deeper and really moisturize your hair. This is especially great if you're someone with low porosity hair.

Do you rinse out deep conditioner with cold water? ›

Cold water should be used when rinsing out the conditioner from your hair at the end of wash day. This is because cold water closes the hair cuticles and pores in the scalp. This process adds luster and shine to the hair as the cuticles have been closed.

Do you need heat to deep condition hair? ›

There is no need to use heat when deep conditioning. Apply the deep conditioner to wet, shampooed hair and leave it. How Long For? Leave the treatment on for 15 minutes to penetrate through the cuticle and reach the cortex.

What happens if you don't wash out deep conditioner? ›

The natural oils and the chemicals you leave behind by leaving your conditioner in for too long can weigh down your hair, making it look limp, unruly, and unhealthy. And last but not least, not rinsing out the conditioner can also attract dirt and dust, causing your locks to lose their luster.

How often should you shampoo curly hair? ›

Curly hair requires some special considerations, since it's so prone to dryness. Experts recommend washing your hair no more than every other day if you can, and as little as once per week if your hair is particularly parched.

Is deep conditioning necessary for curly hair? ›

Deep conditioning is essential to the hair care routine for people with curly hair. Curly hair is prone to dryness, tangles, and breakage, so deep conditioning treatment helps to hydrate and nourish the hair shaft. Moreover, it makes them super softer, smoother, and more manageable.

Does curly hair need deep conditioner? ›

Deep conditioning is a process where you use a nourishing mask or treatment on your hair to restore moisture, repair damage, and add shine. It's an essential step in any curly girl's hair care routine as it can help to tame frizz, improve manageability, and give your curls a healthy boost.

Is deep conditioning good for curls? ›

Moisture and protein both play a vital role for defined curls depending on the porosity of your hair. A good deep conditioner will not only add back the moisture to your hair but also strengthen the hair with some added protein, helping your curls bounce back into shape.

Do you deep condition before or after shampooing? ›

Deep conditioners are to be used after cleansing, not before. Shampoos usually have a pH balance of 8, which is slightly alkaline, enabling the hair shaft to swell and raise the cuticle layers for thorough cleansing. Deep conditioners have a pH balance of 3.5-6 to close the cuticle and seal in moisture.

How do you know if you need a deep conditioner? ›

If you're noticing your hair is more frizzy than usual or lacking shine, it may be time to consider a deep conditioning treatment. Some people have hair that allows moisture to escape easier, giving it a duller look.

Is Deep conditioner the same as leave in conditioner? ›

The difference between a leave-in and a deep conditioner is that the latter takes things to the next level. Deep conditioning for hair allows you to improve your locks' elasticity, helping prevent further breakage and damage.

How do you know if your hair is over moisturized? ›

Limp, gummy, or mushy hair — If your hair feels limp, gummy, or mushy when wet, then that is a strong indication that your hair is over-moisturized. If you think you may be experiencing hygral fatigue, it's always best to immediately seek help from a hair care professional.

Is curly hair better with or without layers? ›

What Kind Of Layers Are Best For Curly Hair? To reiterate, layering is key for curly hair. Many times, the weight of curly hair pulls the curls down and forces it out of shape. When layered, however, curls and coils are more liberated and appear longer and fuller.

How do you condition your curls? ›

Curly hair is drier than other hair types. To keep it moisturized, condition all your hair, not just the ends. Apply a thick conditioner after washing your hair. Then, apply oil or leave-in conditioner after you have finished washing and conditioning your hair to assist with moisturization.

Does deep conditioning get rid of frizz? ›

Not only are deep conditioning treatments really great at eliminating frizz and strengthening hair, but they also help in making your hair appear super soft and smooth in no time.

How long do you leave deep conditioner in? ›

Most deep conditioners should be left on your hair between 20-30 minutes. Anything above this timeframe isn't providing any additional benefits. By 30 minutes, your hair should have absorbed as much as possible and be moisturized enough to continue with your wash day.

What to do after rinsing deep conditioner? ›

After deep conditioning, rinse hair with cold water to close the hair cuticle. Then, proceed with styling. Final verdict? Your hair will be shiny, softer, and feel like heaven.

Do I need to moisturize my hair after deep conditioning? ›

After washing and conditioning your hair, using a leave-in — like our Quench — Moisture Intensive Leave-In Conditioner — or a moisturizer is pivotal to maintain moisture. Applying the leave-in or moisturizer while your hair is wet or damp will help lock in the moisture that your hair craves.


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