A highlight from S2 Ep. 2 | Conditioner


This season we're focusing on hair and today we're talking all things conditioner. So Jenny, we're gonna have a little therapy session here. When did conditioner first sort of come into your consciousness? I was about probably 6 ish I was in the shower with my mom. I'd had a bowl cut for the first few years of my life because my parents didn't want to subject me to gender norms. So like I was only an overalls and had a bowl cut and then as soon as I could speak and express myself, I was like, this isn't going to work. And so from then on, I just never cut my hair. So by 6 or 7, my hair was down to my waist. And so the easiest thing for my mom was just for us to get in the shower together. She would shampoo my hair, and then she would condition it, although she called conditioner cream rinse. So she would always be like, and we have to do the cream rinse, or we're not going to be able to comb through your hair. So then she would do the cream rinse and we usually use a brand. I think this was the shampoo in the shower, too, a brand called flecks. Do you remember flecks? You need the cream that can take it flex balsam and protein shampoo, revlon unique shampoo, clears dirt and grease. I remember having my hair combed through after the shower using that L'oreal detangling spray that looked like a little fish. Tangle tamer. Yes. One, two, three, detangling. That leaves an additional can smell it now if I close my eyes. It was very distinct, very fruity and tropical. But I guess that was my first exposure to a leave in conditioner. I don't know if leaving conditioner was even a thing yet during that flex era of the early 80s. But now I and my mom so I have two boys with the younger one is 7, and he has not cut his hair since before the pandemic. And so in my older son is always had short hair, so I'd never experienced being the mother of a human with hair. So now we have to have a routine. But I think he kind of likes the whole routine. As he said to me the other day, mom, you used to be the most vain person in the family. But now you're not vain at all, which I kind of took as an insult. I think because I haven't been wearing makeup and going to work every day in the same way, but he said, but now, with my hair, I think I'm the vaness person in the family. And I do catch him sometimes tossing, tossing that conditioned hair. I mean, who wouldn't in the mirror? Who wouldn't? Well, you correct me if I'm wrong, have traveled the world in the name of hair? No. I have, I have. Where did you go that you got to experience what I heard was a transformational conditioner experience. Not that long before COVID, it was fall 2019, I got to go to India to Jaipur to experience the Indian hair oiling technique, which was amazing. So first I learned hair oiling in India is really it's often used as a verb. And it's kind of a national pastime. And a family affair. It's very talking to people there. They were saying a lot of their earliest memories are sitting at the feet of their grandmother of their mothers, they were having these oils, massaged into their hair and that it was really, you know, it was kind of a little bit of a therapy session, you would open up about things. It was also just it's always so relaxing, obviously to have someone massage. Oh yeah. But yes, so I was lucky enough to get to experience the ritual with a professional hairstylist. It was an evening appointment, I remember. And the stylist took a mixture of castor oil, coconut oil and olive oil. She said that mixture works well because castor oil alone can be too heavy to spread evenly. So she throws in some of the other two. And she warmed them all up so she could really get that mixture through my hair. And then it was just like a full 15 minutes of massaging them into my scalp and then really pressing those oils into every inch of my hair through the ends. Wow. I'm jealous. It was amazing. It was definitely what to do right before you go to sleep. So relaxing. And so then she braided my hair and the next morning washed all of those oils out. It did take a couple of shampoos, but my God, my hair was so soft. So silky, it was like it had never seen a drop of bleach before it was incredible. Wow, that sounds just heavenly. It was heavenly and I actually have today's guest to thank for that experience. Doctor Jenny Thomas is a global principal scientist for pantene. She was in India exploring traditional techniques like these that could inspire new modern pantene formulas and I got to tag along. So I'm very excited to have doctor Thomas here today. Hi. I'm Jenny Thomas. I have been studying the science behind hair and scalp and all of the products that we use to take care of them for more than 15 years now. Amazing. Well, we're here to chat about one hair product in particular, and that's conditioner. So I guess we'd love to start by asking, what is conditioner? Yeah, often people think that conditioner is quite a basic product, but I think of it as something that is incredibly important. It just doesn't always get a lot of credit for the workhorse that it really is. So when you think about washing your hair, typically start with a shampoo, and that's mainly about removing the stuff that you don't want on your hair, you know, excess oil, styling residue. And the conditioner is really about restoration. Shine or hydration, it's also about restoring strength and this can happen by giving back some of the nutrients that hair loses just by normal weathering. Take, for example, lipids, you know, much like you have lipids in your skin that are so important to keeping your skin moisturized. The same is true for hair. And when we're exposed to a lot of UV, in addition to everything that we do to style our hair, that lipid structure gets depleted. And so conditioners, you know, one of the things that they do so well is to restore those lost lipids. So that you can get back that flexibility, the strength, the softness, the water resistance that hair was naturally meant to have. So the conditioner is kind of replenishing both what the shampoo is taking away and the cleansing process and just what the environment is is doing to the hair. So definitely what the environment is doing to the hair. The shampoo formulated well. And if it's working as its intended to, it should really be working only on the surface of the fiber. So it shouldn't be taking with it stuff that is bound to that internal structure. What happens though, like as you go through the exposure and your hair, it'll break down some of the proteins, some of the lipid structure and make it so that, you know, it becomes more water soluble, which means it will wash out with your wash because it's broken down and it's lost the links to that natural structure. So it will come out in the wash, but only because it's already degraded. And that's what those lipids that have been broken down a conditioner can help to go back in and

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