“This may seem like a silly question, but when do you apply deep conditioner and do you apply deep conditioner to your roots only? I just want to make sure I’m using my products correctly so that I get the benefits they claim.”
Actually, Sabrina, your question is not silly at all. Knowing when and how to use a product correctly is part of a healthy hair regimen. You may have heard the saying that shampoo is for your scalp and conditioner is for your hair and this is mostly true. Shampoo (in this specific instance we’re talking traditional moisturizing and clarifying shampoos not cleansing creams and the like) is designed to clean your hair while stripping it of dirt and build up but shampoo has no “brain” to know to distinguish dirt and oily product buildup from healthy scalp oil so it takes everything with it down the drain. This is why applying it to your scalp and using the pads of your fingers to clean your roots and the length of your hair with the suds is ideal because it cuts down on overly stripping your hair by not applying the concentrated squeeze of shampoo directly to the length of your hair. The conditioner step is added after shampoo to add back in the moisture that you just stripped out along with dirt and product build up.
Now on to when to apply your deep conditioner–it would be right after you shampoo. If you did it before, you’d be essentially undoing your deep conditioner and washing it right back out. Once your hair is clean apply your deep conditioner starting with your ends (which is weakest part of everyone’s hair and need the most attention) moving up the length of your hair being sure to avoid your scalp. Even though deep conditioner helps to seal in moisture (water) and adds some healthy oils to your hair (depending on the brand you’re using) it can cause product build up on your scalp. Just keep in mind that our scalps should be product free as much as possible. Unless you have a medically diagnosed scalp condition that calls for putting medication on your scalp, then there is absolutely no reason to put products on your scalp. Unlike your hair that’s essentially dead, your scalp is not and if it’s healthy, it needs no products to do its job–which is to keep your scalp and hair moisturized with it’s own internal oil production (sebum).
After you deep condition (check for the time recommendation on the package but you should need no more than 30 minutes) you should rinse it out and then follow up with a traditional, moisturizing wash out conditioner if you a: just used a protein deep conditioner or you can skip it if b: you’re using a healthy replacement on your hair once you get out of the shower. Find out more about skipping “wash out conditioner” the right way by checking out Do You Have To Use A Leave-In Conditioner To Have Healthy Hair? and How To Skip Conditioner The Right Way.
Oh and while you’re at it, be sure to also check out Luxurious Hair Hair Masks For Very Dry Or Damaged Hair To Splurge On This Winter if you’re looking for a new deep conditioner.