A conditioner mainly consists of a mixture of water and oil with two types of conditioning ingredients:
- Cationic surfactants (behentrominium/centrimonium chloride), and
- Fatty alcohols (cetearly/cetyl/stearyl alcohol).
Why do you need these 2 types of conditioning ingredients?
These two types form a lamellar phase. Lamellar phases lead to a great deposition of ingredients into the hair and the main goal of a conditioner is to deposit the conditioning ingredients into the hair.
Not every lamellar phase gives the same deposition and the optimal performance of a lamellar depends on the exact ratio of the ingredients. Two products can contain the same ingredients but, if the ratio is different, it will not give the conditioning effect.
The other ingredient next to these 2 conditioning ingredients is silicones.
The optimal deposition also depends on the state of your hair, if it is damaged or undamaged. The cationic (positive) ingredients bind to the anionic (negative) hair strands, but the negative charge of the hair is different for each individual. Bleached hair is negatively charged so, if you have bleached hair or damaged hair, do buy a conditioner (this helps in better deposition).
The best conditioner for you will depend on your hair type and the formulation (a conditioner is supposed to detangle and make your hair smooth, if it doesn’t do that then you will have to find a new one).