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Do You Deep Condition?

Among the strange and regrettable things that I did to my hair between the ages of, oh, 12 and 30, were semi-regular VO5 Hot Oil Treatments. Who among you remembers this deep-conditioning concoction? Just for laughs, I pulled up the ingredient list (which probably hasn’t changed in 30 years)—and Oof…

Water (Aqua), Cocotrimonium Chloride, Acetamide MEA, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEI 1750, Oleth 20, Propylene Glycol, Methylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Polyquaternium 10, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Vegetable Amino Acids, Lysine Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Phytantriol, Polysorbate 20, Keratin Amino Acid, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, PG Propylsilanetriol, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Panthenol, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Niacinamide, Biotin (Vitamin H), Fragrance (Parfum), Linalool, Benzyl Salicylate, Yellow 6 Aluminum Lake (CI 15985) (CI 15985)

I’m not sure what shocks me more 1) the fact that there’s not really any oil listed, or 2) that there’s actually aloe vera high up on this otherwise unpronounceable list.

Anyways, I used to love warming that little bendy plastic bottle (itself likely filled with BPA and phthalates) in scolding water, and then pour the stuff all over my sopping wet head. From there, on went a plastic bag for minutes (hours?) of sitting, as this stuff seeped into my young and vulnerable brain scalp. Le sigh. While I have no recollection as to whether this treatment had any effects beyond placebo, I did love the idea of deep conditioning my hair—a ritual I’ve lost sight of in my cleaner years.

Unfortunate really, since deep conditioning was made for my type of dry unruly hair. You’d think I’d be soaking up the argan and coconut oil on a nightly basis, and yet as much as I love natural oils everywhere on my face and body—I actually despise the feeling and results of oil in my hair. Note: I’m not talking about a little argan on the tips, which I do like, but a full oil soak like they give you during those otherwise amazing ayurvedic massages I rave about. Anyways, I’m getting to a point here I swear!

See, a little while back a reader asked—nay begged!—that we crowdsource on this very topic. Lindsey, you see, is trying to grow her hair long, and desperate for your tips on how to get beautiful shiny, conditioned hair sans the chems. Which got me thinking: I wouldn’t mind some recommendations myself.

What I do know, Lindsey, is that washing less—or almost not at all—can seriously improve hair luster for some. Though depending on the nature of your hair it can also turn it to a greasy mess for a period. Otherwise I’m a big believer in eating healthy fats for skin and hair.

What about you guys? Are we deep conditioning? Are we using oils, or just leaving in our favorite natural conditioner for a spell—maybe making our own mix with avocados?