By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom

Should you really leave conditioner in your hair?

This is a question that I have been asked several times. I must clarify first and say that when you wash your hair, you should rinse out all the conditioner thoroughly (for reasons known as potential itchiness, personal experience here, some science to follow). The question posed here is whether you can then use a little bit of conditioner afterwards as a moisturiser or on a daily basis. The answer to this question is yes you can use conditioner as a moisturiser but with caution.

So there are two main types of conditioner
1. Rinse out conditioners (heavier type that is used after shampooing to add softness – typical ingredients include fatty acids, surfactants and oils)
2. Leave in conditioners (much thinner and lighter, typically contain humectants such as glycerine to help moisturise hair )

Now, leave in conditioners are a no brainer, they are designed to be left in. The heavier rinse out conditioners are a little more tricky. They can be used but be aware

1. Using a silicone heavy conditioner (silicone in one of the first 5 ingredients) is not ideal unless you shampoo your hair. Co-washing your hair will simply not do.
2. Conditioners which contain protein (hydrolysed protein or amino acids) have been shown to cause irritation and itchiness in some people (contact urticaria is the medical term). (Allergy. 53(11):1078-1082, 1998).
3. Hair conditioner can contribute to build up. This was explained in a very intricate study (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, pg 205-214,1989). The science behind this is that the hair conditioner has positive charges and the shampoo has negative charges. Depending on the amount and type of shampoo, the hair conditioner can either be removed or the shampoo can simply attach to the hair conditioner and cause build up. Naturally if you have been applying hair conditioner to your hair on a daily basis, then you will have much more of the positive charge.

So what precautions can you take if you want to use heavier conditioner as a daily moisturiser?

1. Don’t put the conditioner on your scalp, try as much as possible to target the ends of your hair (leave the scalp and the first 1-2 inches alone).
2. Read the ingredient list and if you are a no shampoo person, avoid silicones in the top 5 list of your conditioner. If you shampoo, then no worries here.
3. Pick a conditioner without proteins.
4. Rinse your hair thoroughly on your wash day.
5. Use a conditioning shampoo on your wash day if you are not anti-poo.

What is your experience with leaving conditioner in hair? Have you got the itchies or have you had a pleasant experience?

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102 Comments on "3 Dangers of Leaving Conditioner in Your Hair"

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Areille
Obviously this isn’t true for everyone because everyone’s hair is different. I cowash only and if I am twisting my hair right after I don’t rinse out all of my conditioner. Also, before I untwist them in the morning I moisturize with my conditioner. Leave in conditioner is glorified water to me so I use a heavy conditioner. My hair is super dry and sucks up anything I put on it so I never have an issue with buildup even when I place it on my scalp. The only time my head itches is when I straighten it for some… Read more »
Char

I agree! I always leave in my heavy conditioner. And it’s a Protein conditioner. I don’t have the itchies and my hair feels very soft and looks alive! My hair is normally super-DRY so it loves the conditioner. I tried the “Leave-Ins” and all they do is well – nothing. A waste of money. Both my shampoo and conditioners are free from all sulfates and cones and mostly protein. After washing I either use coconut oil or argan oil (sometimes both) for moisture. My hair loves them. Everyone’s hair is different.

Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty

Well said

Desiree

This is my primary go-to hair style.. I rinse, condition, and de-tangle my hair every morning with Organix Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner. The difference is that my curls dry with more definition, I even vary the amount of product used depending on how much volume I want. I do not get the itchies from build up. On a positive note over time I reap the benefits of deep conditioning so on the rare occasion that I straighten my hair it is much softer than it was before I started doing this.
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Bridget

Love your hair!

Rhonea

Gorgeous!

Desiree

Thanks

Desiree

This is my primary go-to hair style.. I rinse, condition, and de-tangle my hair every morning with Organix Moroccan Argan Oil Conditioner. The difference is that my curls dry with more definition. I do not get the itchies from build up. On a positive note over time I reap the benefits of deep conditioning so on the rare occasion that I straighten my hair it is much softer than it was before I started doing this. I included a link to my fb page in case anyone wanted to see my hair type.

BeckyT

Does anyone know if Terresentials remove Silicones? My hair is too thick and curly, so I have to use a silicone based conditioner in order to detangle it. I had to leave the curly girl method alone, too much buildup. But I use Terresentials not shampoo. I wash every two weeks now.

Tyler

With Teressentials you’re supposed to do an initial detox and then not use any commercial products except for theirs or natural homemade products. The website literally says in bold ” Do not use any other shampoos, conditioners or styling products as they are not compatible with the mud cleanser and will add plastics back to your hair, taking you right back where you started.” I found that to be too demanding which is why I never bought it. You may just want to keep it around as a clarifier and find a gentle shampoo to use.

fluffy-in-flight

Just read the instructions that comes with the terressentials. From what I do remember they give you specific instructions as to how to remove whatever buildup you may have from your hair. In fact to be on the safe side go on their website and it should let you know. I remember that when I did my hair, i had to leave it in for a while and whatever buildup was on my hair, it left my hair feeling gooey and waxy, so the terressentials was gradually removing whatever it was, then after a while I had no problems.

Stephanie O

What if you are using the Curly Girl Method? Does this apply since you are washing your hair so often?

Candice

If you’re doing the curly girl method you shouldn’t be using a condition with silicone period. If you are, switch to tresemme naturals or something like that.

Lauren

I’ve been using Herbal Essences Totally Twisted as a leave-in conditioner, and have seen a huge improvement in texture and moisture retention. No itchy scalp for me! The curl activating formula has worked wonders as well. My curls are always intact (and not frizzy!) at the end of the day 🙂

LBell

Co-sign…HE TT worked much better for me as a leave-in than as a co-wash conditioner.

I used to make a leave-in consisting of HE HH plus some other ingredients (water, olive oil, a drop of honey, some others I forgot). Best leave-in ever…in fact I should try it again with AVJ and sunflower oil instead of water and olive oil.

Jamzie

I have to agree Lauren. I use the HE Herbal Hydration as a leave in tho (blue bottle) and my hair loves it! But, as they said, i put it on my ends, not my scalp n i’ve had no problems, n I use shampoo…

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