Everyday Cheapskate: The best, inexpensive hair conditioners … – Indiana Gazette

There is a huge reader response whenever I mention that the most inexpensive shampoos can actually be good for your hair (but not so much for hair conditioners). Here is a follow-up so many of you requested.

Unfortunately, conditioners are not quite as simple as shampoos.

First, we need to demystify the term “conditioner.” It is a vague term that refers to a wide range of hair products designed to make hair more manageable and treat common hair problems.

According to one book, conditioners fall into four general categories according to what they do and the problems they solve: moisturizers, reconstructors, acidifiers and detanglers.

Using the wrong product for the condition of your hair will produce disappointing results. For example, if your hair is thin and fine, you are not going to be happy with my industrial-strength conditioner for thick, coarse, frizzy color-treated hair!

While the specific products I am about to mention are available readily in supermarkets and drug stores, the prices quoted are from Amazon at the time of writing.

MOISTURIZERS are concentrated with humectants, which are compounds that attract moisture into the hair and hold it there. If your hair is dry, brittle and limp, you should consider a moisturizing conditioner like Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal DreamCare Conditioner (about $7.50, or 30 cents per ounce).

RECONSTRUCTORS typically contain protein. Many hair professionals say that keratin protein is the best source because it contains all 19 amino acids found in the hair and has a low molecular weight. The main purpose of a reconstructor is to strengthen the hair. If your hair is fine and thin, try a reconstructing conditioner like the ApHogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor (about $12.70, 80 cents per ounce).

ACIDIFIERS put acid on your hair, and it’s OK. It’s a good thing for hair. When a product carries a pH of 2.5 to 3.5, it is considered acidic. This pH will close the cuticle layer, resulting in shiny, bouncy hair. Acidifiers do not weigh down hair but rather create shine and add elasticity.

The answer for fine, dry hair that has been damaged by chemicals or harsh environmental factors is a product like Joico Acidifer Chemical Enhancer (about $4.50, or 45 cents per ounce).

DETANGLERS almost always come as a spray-in product that you leave in — no rinsing required. One of the very best has a quirky name, but don’t let that discourage you from giving it a try. It’s Mane N Tail Detangler. You’ll love it (about $8.00 or 66 cents per ounce).

The most cost-effective way to buy good-quality name-brand hair conditioners is to collect hair product coupons from the Sunday newspaper inserts and then wait for the brands you prefer to go on sale, so you can match up coupons with sales.

With all of that said, no article on hair care would be complete without a homemade solution or two.

DIY CONDITIONER: Many readers, including a couple of hair professionals I know, insist that the best way to deeply condition your hair is to put a liberal amount of regular (not low-fat) mayonnaise on it, and then put on a shower cap and spend an hour in the sun. Then wash out completely. I have yet to try this myself.

DIY HAIR RID: While shampoo will not build up on your hair, conditioner and other styling products will. You can purchase pricey clarifying products to remove this build-up, or simply use a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in your palm with your favorite shampoo every few weeks. Shampoo as usual, and rinse thoroughly. The baking soda helps remove the build-up to give you naturally clean hair. Follow with your conditioner of choice. For links to the products mentioned above, visit www.everydaycheapskate.com/inexpensiveconditioner.

This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.