Men are long been coming to a reality that women have known for years. This profound reality revolves around the idea that what is placed on the hair really matters. The better and healthier one’s hair is, odds are, the better products one placed on their hair.

No hair product better confirms this than hair conditioner. In fact, a men’s hair conditioner is a customized product that works to change the texture and profile of hair strands.

As you may already be aware of, conditioner is usually placed on following shampoo as shampoo strips the hair of dirt and oil while conditioner infuses the hair with moisture and nutrients.

But what you might not already know is what conditioner does to your hair and how it really works to keep your hair healthy and soft.

History of Hair Conditioner

For many years, various cultures have used oils found in nature to condition their hair. These have come in many different, often odd, forms.

Ancient Egypt women used any cream they could make up for their skin and also applied it to their hair as a layer of protection from the hot, dry weather. Men didn’t really follow suit as they most often just shaved their heads.

In the 1300s, European women boiled dead lizards in olive oil and rubbed it all over their heads (yes, you read that right). Women from farther east cultures like the Philippines went with an approach that is still an additive in many conditioners today and mixed aloe and water.

Modern hair conditioner came from the perfume maker, Edouard Pinaud. He revealed his revolutionary product, Brilliantine, at the Universal Exposition in 1900. Brilliantine was targeted at men and Pinaud felt there was a need to soften men’s hair, mustaches and beard included. Since this date, hair conditioner has seen many tweaks and modifications.

Now, conditioner is as effective and beneficial as it has ever been for both men and women.

Common ingredients found in conditioners

Hair conditioner ingredients

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  • Water – this is the dominant ingredient in conditioner. It can, often, make up 9/10s of the conditioners make up. The reason for this is pretty self explanatory. Conditioners primary function is to moisturize or infuse hair with water.
  • Emollients and Moisturizers – these can also be called fatty alcohols and oils. These work to soft hair that has a tendency to be become stiff and brittle. This is often exhastubated by shampoo striping away moisture. Emollients work as they hold on the hair so that water will penetrate the hair rather than evaporate quickly. Specific ingredients that are included under the emollient label are things like PEG 45 Almond Glyceride and most ingredients with the yl ending like benzyl, cetearyl, butyl, cetyl, isopropyl, etc. Mineral oil, petrolatum, and dimethicone are also in this group. While many emollients are artificially made, natural emollients are available as well. These are plant based and include ingredients such as Avocado, Coconut, and Argan Oil.
  • Surfactants acidifiers – the function of these is to lower the surface tension so that the liquid can penetrate and hold to the hair. These are designed to not wash fully off the hair because of the tightness of their hold to hair’s keratin. From this point on, the change and act like the surface of the hair, changing the texture. The product are, often, emulsifiers, detergents, and foaming agents.
  • Acidifiers – acid regulators keep the conditioner to an optimal level of around 3.5 for strengthened hair. As the hair is infiltrated by an acidic environment, the hair tends to tighten up as hydrogen bonds and keratin strengthen. For this reason it is beneficial for conditioners to be acidic in nature. Any pH level lower than 7 is considered acid and this low level can protonate keratin amino acids. Hair will have a more compact structure as a result.
  • Preservatives – the hair isn’t often thought of as an area for bacterial growth and fungus but if not treated it can become a hotbed for such. These preservatives inhibit and rid the hair of these unwanted, harmful growths.
  • Sunscreen – many good sunscreens nowadays include a form of sunscreen. This protects the hair for protein and color loss. Ingredients like benzophenone-4 and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate are the most often sunscreens used. These sunscreen additives differ from ones used for the skin as they would mess with the texture and place unnecessary weight on the hair.

Forms of conditioners

Conditioners come in more textures, styles and methods than ever before. Examples are as follows:

Standard Conditioner

This the conditioner most men use regularly. These are to be applied directly following shampoo which is why they often have a matching shampoo.

Finally, this type of conditioners function to moisturize, restore, and improve hair texture.

Pack Conditioner

Pack conditioners are much heavier and denser to the touch. They have a higher amount of surfactants to, essentially, glue the surface of hair together. These are intended to be left on the hair for longer than standard conditioner.

The surfactants are slightly different too as they are straight, longer, flatter fatty acid chains like those associated with saturated fatty acids. They harden easier to give the conditioner more viscosity and layer up on hair.

Leave-in Conditioner

Leave-in conditioners have become recently more popular. These are thin and watery feeling and have surfactant that are nearly as pronounced. The surfactants are crooked so that they don’t hardened as much and are lighter and less viscous.

Leave-in conditioner more closely feels like a hair’s natural oil and works more often to simply keep hair smooth just like a beard oil or beard balm does for softening a beard which we previously covered.

Gel or Hold Conditioners

These conditioners function like hair gel. They hold the hair in the wanted style while still conditioning. They are based on cationic polyelectrolyte polymers.

What does conditioner do based on your hair type

Selecting the best conditioner for men's hair

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Buying a good hair conditioner for an individual should be based on their hair type. In a prior article it was stated that when you’re looking to buy a hair shampoo, one of the criteria that you need to take into consideration is your scalp type while conditioner is all about the hair type. For example, it is possible to have a dry scalp and oily hair.

Based on the type of hair, both purchases of shampoos and conditioners should be made accordingly. Conditioner is essential for all hair types but keep in mind that not each conditioner will produce the same, desired results.

Normal Hair

This is for the individual with the perfect texture of hair. This type of hair doesn’t feel necessarily oily, but doesn’t feel dry either.

If one has this hair, they are in luck (-and yes, we obviously hate them). There are multiple conditioner options and for this reason, those men don’t have to look out for the dangers that other hair types have to.

Go into the store and smell for a conditioner and take it home and try it. Make sure it feels good on the hair and it provides the softening and protection results you’re looking for.

Many people with this hair type try many different conditioners over their lifetime. If you want our recommendation, you can take a look at Dr. Squatch Men’s Hair Conditioner.

Speaking of this product, it comes with a really pleasant, natural scent that hydrates hair for a great feel. It stimulates cell growth with ingredients like peppermint oil and gives a thicker look to hair. Sage and other ingredients give the conditioner a nice pH level and it restores the entire head, scalp and hair, to a healthy level. It is safe and made from plant derived ingredients only.

Oily, Flat Looking Hair

If one has this hair type, they know it and it’s frustrating as hell. In fact, I’m among those men with oily hair and I don’t skip any day washing it.

The characteristic of this hair type is that it seems to stay oily and greasy to the touch. The hair sits down on the head and has little body.

Many people with this hair type opt to not use conditioner at all. This may seem like a logical assumption but people with oily hair tend to wash their hair more frequently than the average man. For this reason, the hair is normal stripped of nutrients and requires conditioner to replace them.

When choosing a conditioner, look for ones that are classified as volumizing, light, strengthening, or balanced. Instead of being really moisture rich, these have additional protein added to provide volume while removing the over produced oil on the hair. No matter how good the conditioner looks, try to stay away from buying a conditioner that is hydrating, moisturizing, smoothing, or designed for curly hair.

As for our personal recommendation, we would recommend a product called, Bumble and Bumble Thickening Conditioner, for this hair type. It is infused with silk powder which is known to bind to hair strands to thicken and lift it. It is lightweight and made in the USA. Hair will look much fuller and lively after using this product.

With extreme cases of this hair type, some have had positive results to changing the typical order of shampoo and conditioner and conditioning first.

Dry, Damaged Hair

Another hair that one knows when they have it. The hair looks really brittle, dry, and easily falls out. This is the most important hair type for a good conditioner. If hair isn’t given the attention it needs, it will look bad and the problems will continue to compound from additional neglect. One must use a conditioner every single time they shampoo their hair.

For a conditioner choice, one should always avoid volumizing, strengthening, and fortifying conditioners. These are not intended to moisturize first and will put weight on the hair that the hair is not equipped to handle.

Often hair is just slightly dry, and one should go for moisturizing, hydrating, smoothing, and balancing conditioners. These are intended to add needed moisture to dry hair. When hair is really damaged, seek out one that claims to repair severe damage.

Rugged and Dapper Hydration Remedy Conditioner for Men is our favorite for this hair type. It will bring any damaged hair back to a healthy state. It is built to moisturize and has loads of natural ingredients to nourish needy hair. It contains Aloe Vera and Coconut Oil for layers of hydration and will quickly restore the worst hair types.

How does one properly apply conditioner?

How to use a conditioner properly for men's hair

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First, it is not recommended to wash hair everyday although most of us are guilty of doing that.

The hair actually needs its natural oils to thrive and shampooing purges the hair of those oils when done too often. If one still chooses daily shampooing, never do it without immediately following the shampoo rinsing with conditioner. This will protect the hair from a lack of oil. If one follows the recommendation and only shampoos hair 3-4 times a week, use conditioner with the same frequency. Remember, dry, damaged hair needs more conditioner and oily hair needs less.

  1. When wanting to condition, make sure the hair is very wet and squeeze, roughly, a quarter sized amount of conditioner out and massage into the hair. Be sure not to over condition as it can produce negative results like residue build up and heaviness.
  2. When applying the conditioner, work the liquid from the end of the hair to the scalp. Give extra attention the the tips of hair as they are the quickest to dry out because they are the furthest from the scalp (where natural oils originate). This is why hair that is damaged slips.
  3. Allow the conditioner to sit on the head and hair for roughly a minute to a minute and a half and rinse it out.

Still, is conditioner that important?

In case you are still on the fence, here’s why you should use conditioner.

Shampoo functions to clean the scalp of dirt, bacteria, and excess oil. As it does this, it strips the hair of its much needed oil.

Hair conditioner fixes this problem by actually addressing the needs of the hair. On top of shampoo, hair is constantly under attack all day. From weather, to brushing, to blow-drying, to products placed on the hair, hair gets really affected. Hair contains little small cells all over them. When hair is dried or damaged, these cells stick up to get moisture and nutrition. This makes hair look dull, dry, and neglected. Conditioners flatten down the scales so that it can look like it is intended again.

Conditioning helps every single hair it touches as it floods the hair with hydration and nutrition that has been lost throughout the day.

A few closing thoughts

Do yourself a favor and get the conditioner your hair needs and desires. A healthy head and hair consists of three things: cleaning, moisture, and nutrition. If any of these are neglected, the head and hair will not flourish.

Simply, conditioning your hair will do wonders for it. It will leave your hair feeling nice and, like with most things in life, if you treat it good, it will be good to you.


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