Ingredients to Look for in a Conditioner

When it’s not easy to get your hands on the best curly hair brands, we make do with what’s available near us. And in the quest to find a good conditioner, an ingredients list is your best friend! Read the Ingredients List, Not the Product Claims

Water should be the first ingredient

After water, the 3 ingredients that your conditioner must have as the majority are: –

Emollients (Fatty Good Alcohols) They soften hair. These are the most popular ones –

  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Stearyl Alcohol
  • Cetearyl Alcohol
  • Lauryl Alcohol
  • Myristyl Alcohol

Cationic Surfactants – They smooth the cuticle and soften hair. Cationic Surfactants have a positive charge which attach to our hair which has an overall negative charge thus forming a film so that cuticles lay flat and don’t snag on to each other a.k.a frizz reduction and easy detangling!  These are the most popular ones –

  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate
  • Behentrimonium Chloride
  • Cetrimonium Chloride
  • Cetrimonium Bromide
  • Stearalkonium Chloride
  • Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine
  • Brassicamidopropyl Dimethylamine

You want more of the above 2 ingredients. Then comes oil.

Oils – They add slip and soften hair

  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Shea Butter
  • Avocado oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Palm Oil
  • Argan Oil
  • Jojoba Oil

And to a lesser degree, Humectants – They attract and hold moisture

  • Glycerin
  • Propylene glycol
  • Honey
  • Panthenol

Note: Some of you have told me how some great conditioners have oils as the first ingredients whereas conditioners in India have “chemicals”. Such conditioners with more oils than emollient alcohols or surfactants will make your hair very greasy and will have poor slip. Or it means that the list is not in the right order. Take for e.g. the list of SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner –

Deionized Water, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut ) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Sorbitol Esters, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter*, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive ) Fuit Oil*, Cetyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B-5), Proprietary Essential Oil Blend, Silk Protein, Aloe Barbedenis Leaf Extract, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Seed Oil, Rosemary Extract, Caprylyl Glycol *Certified Organic Ingredients.

Almost 7 oils before the emollient (Cetyl Alcohol) and surfactant (Behentrimonium Chloride); which would make it a very oily conditioner. But it is one of the best conditioners I’ve used! So the ingredients have not been listed in the right order! I urge you to read this. Such a brilliant article by The Natural Haven Bloom – The Myth of Natural Hair Products


  1. Thank you so much Anjana sis for such a beautiful article. you are the best.. 😍😍such a great article for me to make my things really simple now😍😍😘u make our things super easy😘😘 u r amazing 😘😋

  2. I checked my conditioner, most of the ingredients mentioned above are present. To my surprise not even one oil is present since my hair is dry i should now find an other one with oils at affordable price.

  3. Hi, I just wanna ask that palmer’s cocoa butter conditioner is good? I wanna use it as leave in conditioner but it is a rinse out conditioner but I can apply it on my scalp.So I’m not sure either I can use it as leave in conditioner? Hope to hear from u soon. Thank you 😊

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