I'll admit it, I didn't know much about men's hair conditioner.
Like many men, I just used a shampoo and if I had a hair conditioner, it was bought by accident rather than out of necessity.
I used conditioner sporadically and I never saw much difference afterwards.
But then again, I didn't know what I was looking for, nor did I pay much attention.
I'm spending a lot of time researching men's grooming products and I'm learning more every day.
In this blog, I'm going to explain what men's hair conditioner is and why it should form part of your grooming routine.
I'll also explain which hair conditioner is right for your hair type.
Let's start from the top.
What is Hair Conditioner?
Shampooing can strip your hair of its natural oils which leaves it dry. Hair conditioner is designed to replenish your hair's moisture after shampooing.
It also reduces friction between the strands of hair which makes it easier to comb, brush or style.
Men's Hair Conditioner - a Brief History
Hair conditioner for men is not a new invention.
Victorian men used an oil called Macassar oil to condition their hair. This Macassar oil was made from a combination of natural oils, such as coconut and palm oil and was popularized by Alexander Rowland, a celebrated London Barber - who trademarked it in 1888.
The man below (looking very pleased with himself) is using Macassar oil.
There was a problem though. This oil was very.... well, oily.
And when the well groomed gentleman sat down, this oil was inevitably transferred from the back of his head to his seat's upholstery.
The solution? The 'anti-macassar' - a small piece of cloth which goes over the back of the chair to protect it.
A less oily solution was invented by French Businessman and Perfumer Édouard Pinaud in the early 1900s. His product was designed to soften men's hair and give it a nice shine.
Since then, hair conditioners have improved significantly and now use less oil and grease. Bad news for anyone in the 'anti-macassar' business.
Why use Hair Conditioner?
As I touched upon earlier, shampooing cleans your hair but also strips it of its natural oils, leaving it feeling dry and rough. This becomes even more noticeable when you try to style your hair and find it won't sit in the way you want it to.
I came across a Men’s Health article which describes it perfectly. “Each hair is covered in tiny cells which look a bit like fish scales. Damage causes these to stand out which makes the hair look dull, rough and out of condition. Conditioners work by smoothing down these scales so your hair looks smooth and shiny again.”
But it's not all about looks. Conditioning your hair locks in nutrients and moisture, strengthening the hair shaft which prevents breakage. This means fewer split ends, healthier hair and it can even prevent hair loss.
How long do you leave Hair Conditioner in for?
That depends on the hair conditioner. Broadly speaking, there are 3 options:
- Rinse out hair conditioner (rinse out after a 2-3 minutes): you're probably familiar with this one because it's found in most stores. Rinse out hair conditioners have a creamy texture. You apply it after shampooing, leave it for a few minutes then rinse out.
- Leave in hair conditioner (do not rinse out - leave in hair): as the name suggests, leave in hair conditioners are designed to be left in the hair after shampooing. They're lighter than rinse out hair conditioners and act as a moisturizer, protecting your hair from drying out.
- Deep Treatment / Repair hair conditioner (leave in hair for 20-30 minutes): this conditioner is thick and creamy and is designed to be left in the hair for 20-30 minutes before you wash it out. It works by penetrating weak or brittle hair to repair and rejuvenate it.
Which Hair Conditioner is best for you?
The hair conditioner you choose depends on your hair type.
- If you have fine hair, you should seek a volumizing hair conditioner. Volumizing hair conditioners work by coating each hair shaft, "pumping it up" and giving the appearance of thicker hair. For the best results, pair with a men's volumizing shampoo.
- If you have dry hair, use a moisturizing conditioner which nourishes your hair with moisturizing ingredients. Pair with a moisturizing shampoo for the best results.
- If you have oily hair, use an oil control conditioner with ingredients like menthol or tea tree oil (these natural ingredients remove oil without damaging your scalp). For the best results, pair with an oil control shampoo).
Should you use Hair Conditioner?
I've been trying it for a week now and my view is that - yes, you should. My hair feels stronger, softer and easier to style.
I'm using VITAMAN's Oil Control Conditioner. It has a cooling "menthol" effect, it smells great and it has also all but eradicated the dry and flaky scalp I was suffering from.