By Shel­li of

Yes­ter­day, I told you that I was up late at night set­ting my hair. Well, what I left out was the rea­son I was doing this. You see, I washed my hair around 6 pm or so and applied my deep con­di­tion­er at about 7. After eat­ing din­ner, watch­ing Beyonce’s half-time per­for­mance dur­ing the Super Bowl, and wait­ing a few min­utes for them to get the lights back on in the sta­di­um, I fell asleep on the couch. Wei woke me up around 11 pm and I was like, “Uggh­h­hh. Got­ta wash this deep con­di­tion­er out and set this hair.”

Now, in the past, I would deep con­di­tion overnight in a min­ute … shoot, in a mil­lisec­ond. But, over the course of 2011–2012, I learned about the impor­tance of pro­tein,  protein/moisture bal­ance and that I could, in fact, over-con­di­tion my hair. I real­ized that the very soft feel­ing that my hair had for most of 2011 was because my hair was over-con­di­tioned and that the crazy shed­ding that I was expe­ri­enc­ing in fall 2011 was like­ly my hair break­ing, because it didn’t have enough ten­sile strength.

How­ev­er, though I began to incor­po­rate pro­tein into my reg­i­men and felt a great improve­ment in the strength of my hair and saw my curl pat­tern return, I still slept in deep con­di­tion­ers often. Now, the thing is, I didn’t do this to get any addi­tion­al ben­e­fits, rather, I would sleep in my con­di­tion­er out of sheer lazi­ness. Some­times, I’m tired and I just don’t feel like wash­ing it out.

But then, this fall, I read two very inter­est­ing and infor­ma­tive arti­cles:

via The Nat­u­ral Haven

Deep Con­di­tion­ing: Effect of Time and Temperature/Heat*

1. Increas­ing the time you leave con­di­tion­er on hair allows more of it to adsorb with a max­i­mum adsorp­tion at 20- 30 min­utes.

The key ingre­di­ents that can stick to hair (sur­fac­tants, hydrol­ysed pro­tein, sil­i­cones, polyquats etc) will do so with­in sec­onds of apply­ing the con­di­tion­er. If left on hair for longer, the amount will in gen­er­al dou­ble with­in 10 min­utes. If left on for anoth­er 10–20 min­utes, the amount will increase by anoth­er 60–100% of the mark set at 10 min­utes.

How­ev­er after 30 min­utes from ini­tial appli­ca­tion, there are no more increas­es in con­di­tion­er adsorbing to hair. The rea­son for this is that the hair con­di­tion­er sim­ply has no more places on the hair where it can stick to…….all gaps which it can plug and all sur­faces where it can attach are occu­pied. …

[W]hen con­di­tion­er is heat­ed to 35°C, at 10 min­utes there is slight­ly more than 5% on hair and at 30 min­utes there is slight­ly more than 10%. There­fore tem­per­a­ture increas­es adsorp­tion. The rule how­ev­er remains the same in terms of no fur­ther con­di­tion­er stick­ing to the sur­face after 30  min­utes.

*There are two charts in this post that are very helpful in providing visuals for the effects of time and heat on deep conditioning.


Do You Need to Deep Con­di­tion Your Hair?

A study done on nails (same ker­at­in pro­tein as hair) was per­formed to find out why nails get weak­er with repeat­ed water expo­sure. The study found that expos­ing nails to water for over 15 min­utes (remem­ber­ing that at 15 min­utes the pro­tein is sat­u­rat­ed) led to the ker­at­in coil­ing dif­fer­ent from nor­mal and this was linked to soft­en­ing and weak­ness (BBA,pp 210–216,1999).

There are many nat­u­rals who will con­di­tion their hair for hours at a time because they like the soft­ness that it devel­ops. If you are in this group, you are some­one who likes over-con­di­tioned hair. The soft­ness you are feel­ing is most like­ly relat­ed to the change in the ker­at­in and you should be care­ful when han­dling your hair when it is that soft as it will be weak­er until it has time to recov­er its stronger con­for­ma­tion.

(Man, I just LOVE learn­ing about the sci­ence behind hair and prod­ucts!!)

Well, after read­ing that 1) Con­di­tion­ing over 30 min­utes does not provide any addi­tion­al ben­e­fits as adsorb­tion plateaus and 2) Con­di­tion­ing for hours at a time caus­es a a change in the ker­at­in that results in soft­en­ing and weak­en­ing, I start­ed re-think­ing my post-wash, deep con­di­tion­ing habits. Now, though I have pret­ty much stopped deep con­di­tion­ing overnight and often only deep con­di­tion for 30 min­utes to an hour, I still con­di­tion for 3–4 hours on occa­sion. But again, it’s not to get any addi­tion­al ben­e­fits … it’s just because I don’t feel like get­ting up to rin­se my hair and style it!! I KNOW!! LOL!! But, I’m real­ly work­ing on keep­ing deep con­di­tion­ing down to 30 min­utes or a max of an hour!!

Now, although I don’t do post-wash deep con­di­tion­ing overnight any­more, I still sleep in my pre-poo (Vatika Oil mixed with Aubrey GPB and/or Aubrey Hon­ey­suck­le Rose). The rea­son I do this is because the study done on the ben­e­fits of Coconut Oil for pre-poo­ing demon­strat­ed the effects with overnight appli­ca­tion, so that is what is rec­om­mend­ed. I also pre-poo my dry, not wet or damp­ened, hair. How­ev­er, the Aubrey con­di­tion­ers do con­tain water as the first ingre­di­ent … so I’ve been torn about mix­ing them with Vatika Oil for my overnight pre-poo. How­ev­er, for now, I’ll con­tin­ue this prac­tice as my hair seems to do great with the com­bo and doesn’t feel exces­sive­ly soft. I think the pro­tein in GPB and the “pro­tein-retain­ing” prop­er­ties of coconut oil may have some­thing to do with that! And, you know the say­ing, if it ain’t broke …

How long do you deep con­di­tion? Do you deep con­di­tion overnight?

Leave a Reply

74 Comments on "Why I Stopped Deep Conditioning Overnight"

Notify of

i for­sook the prac­tice of deep con­di­tion­ing when i quit flat iron­ing my hair. i found that it was no longer nec­es­sary.

I also love overnight DC’ing but with oils. I pre-poo overnight all the time — with a cas­tor, avo­cado, coconut oil, and rose­mary and tea tree oil for my itchy scalp — and my hair LOVES IT. I do not DC overnight with a creamy DC any­more because I found that it did actu­al­ly dry my hair out at times. In the morn­ing I wash or cow­ash and then DC for a few hours. My faves are KBB Lucious Hair Mask and BASK Hon­ey Mask. I also always check the strength of my strands. I take shed hair and pull… Read more »

I nev­er DC’d overnight or any­thing like that. I do every­thing in the shower…I just don’t have the patience/time. I find that the time it takes me to show­er and shave is all the time I need to leave the con­di­tion­er in my hair. It doesn’t feel any less soft than when I’ve left it in for 30 min­utes or longer so I don’t both­er.

Tiff Dizzle

I fol­low the direc­tions on the bot­tle if it says leave in hair 10–15 min with heat I do that if it says leave in hair 3 min and wash out I do that. My hair is super thick and since I don’t have a twa any­more I real­ly don’t have any time to do doing extreme con­di­tion­ing to my hair if it wont ben­e­fit my hair


Great arti­cle.
I love deep con­di­tion­ing overnight though. I think it’s a part of my reg­i­men that I will not get rid of. I know you can over mois­tur­ize, but its my main source of mois­tur­iz­ing. I work­out often so I am con­stant­ly rins­ing my hair. Deep con­di­tion­ing overnight once a week is what saves my hair.


Thanks for the post,i learnt alot!


I’m a huge conditioner/ deep con­di­tion fan. One ques­tion I have is whether the hair was left wet overnight or allowed to air dry? All I use is con­di­tion­er the major­i­ty of the time, and I feel my hair is stronger for it. When I allow my hair to do an. “Overnight treat­ment”, my hair is total­ly or most­ly dry once I’m asleep.


Wow! This is real­ly mak­ing me rethink my cur­rent reg­i­men. I wash my hair once a mon­th and when I do I always deep con­di­tion. I slept overnight in my con­di­tion­er because I was so tired. After read­ing this I will not do that again!


“I don’t do post-wash deep con­di­tion­ing overnight any­more, I still sleep in my pre-poo (Vatika Oil mixed with Aubrey GPB and/or Aubrey Hon­ey­suck­le Rose).”

Hmmm…I would call that an overnight deep con­di­tion.

Once a week, I do an overnight deep con­di­tion on dry hair pri­or to wash­ing. I cov­er my hair in a plas­tic cap and a beanie hat before bed — it’s not messy or noisy at all. Deep con­di­tion­ing this way leaves my kinky, coily, Afro-tex­tured hair super mois­tur­ized — and saves me from jump­ing in and out of the show­er.

Jo Somebody
Dit­to this! It con­tin­ues to work, so I con­tin­ue to do it AND it suits my lazy lifestyle. Unless you’re wash­ing your hair dai­ly, any­thing you put on your hair stays there all day AND overnight. Grant­ed the plas­tic cap makes a big dif­fer­ence, but a hat, head­scarf or wig would also keep the prod­ucts in a warm envi­ron­ment, espe­cial­ly if as advised, we line our hats with silk. *shrugs* I will nev­er under­stand the con­cept of need­ing some­one else to point out to you that some­thing is not work­ing in *your* hair. Styling advice ok, new ideas fine, the… Read more »
lola bird

I stopped deep con­di­tion­ing. i’ve found using a good con­di­tion­er and leav­ing in for 3–5 min­utes as well as using a sul­fate free sham­poo has made my hair alot bet­ter


i just deep con­di­tion with rhas­soul clay/evoo/honey for a cou­ple of hours.…I think overnight deep con­di­tion­ing every week is such a bad idea and even though the dam­age to the hair won’t be imme­di­ate or vis­i­ble, it will be there. Too much of any­thing is not good. I do think overnight con­di­tion­ing is a good idea if you are deal­ing with pro­tein over­load, it’s a great quick fix. I’ve been there…


I deep con­di­tion under a hood­ed dry­er twice a mon­th for about 20–30 min­utes, and steam with pro­tein once a mon­th for 30 min­utes. I try to keep my reg­i­ment short and sweet: pre-poo, sham­poo, con­di­tion, style.


Glad I read this. I actu­al­ly learned some things to keep in mind for my next wash ses­sion which is com­ing up soon. I also learned that adsorp­tion is a word and what it is (the english/grammar nut in me was freak­ing out: “WHY is there a D where a B should be???” until I googled it)(:

The Natural Haven

lol Jai­lyn, one of those thumbs up is from me. I have been try­ing to get peo­ple to use the word adsorb for a while now, it real­ly is a dif­fer­ent word and process :)

To Shel­li — I love see­ing the prac­ti­cal use of the sci­ence info, thank you so much for cit­ing my blog :)


Thanks for all the great infor­ma­tion you share Jc!! It helps me bet­ter under­stand why some things work and oth­ers don’t and also assists me with “diag­nose” the sit­u­a­tion when some­thing seems to be going right or wrong!! 


I do not deep con­di­tion overnight because I hate sleep­ing with soaked, goopy, oily hair; the crin­kle of the plas­tic cov­er­ing my head dis­rupts my sleep (I toss and turn dur­ing the night); even with a tight plas­tic cap some pro­duct STILL man­ages to leak out and make a bit of a mess; and I sim­ply don’t trust some­thing being left in that long and being unaware of what it is doing to my hair (nat­u­ral prod­ucts or not). Plus, it extends my get­ting ready time in the morn­ing, which is a no-no for my sched­ule. One hour once a… Read more »

This! I tried to do it twice and I must say…the worst sleep I ever had…lol. I don’t do overnight deep con­di­tion­ing any­more because of that fact. I try to leave the deep con­di­tion­er on my hair for 30 to 45 min­utes top any­thing after that “ain’t nobody got time for that…lol”. I believe if the pro­duct didn’t work in enough allowed time then it is not going to work. Plus, I have been read­ing an inter­est­ing arti­cle on the issue of what is actu­al deep con­di­tion­ing and does it tru­ly work or not.


“I do not deep con­di­tion overnight because I hate sleep­ing with soaked, goopy, oily hair; the crin­kle of the plas­tic cov­er­ing my head dis­rupts my sleep”

YES! It’s what I hate the most about overnight DC’s and why I stopped them. It’s just not that seri­ous!


There are con­di­tion­ers that have pro­tein in it. You can try that. I love my coconut oil espe­cial­ly in the win­ter. It keeps my hair mois­tur­ized and mangable. I just start­ed using it on my hair cause I would nor­mal­ly use it on my body and that was it, then my moth­er remind­ed me that she used to use it in my hair when I was lit­tle, so I was like, “Hmmm. why not”. So glad I use it now.


I deep con­di­tion for 45 min­utes, I think im gonna knock 15 min­utes off of it. I deep con­di­tion overnight once thought it was too much.


yep. a 15 min­ute TOPS deep con­di­tion­ning is all I real­ly need.Overconditionning makes my hair feel extreme­ly weak.Plus a short DC makes for a more com­fort­able night of sleep.
Btw, good arti­cle!!

Chicago Chica

I try to deep-con­di­tion on a week­ly basis, and then only for 30 min­utes. I’ve nev­er been an advo­cate for overnight con­di­tion­ing for my hair. I tried it once, and it wasn’t for me.


I deep con­di­tion with heat for 15–30 min­utes once every week to 10 days. And about once a mon­th I use pro­tein.

I also stopped this prac­tice. When I was relaxed, I was always taught that the longer you deep con­di­tion your hair, the bet­ter! But I found that my fine strands were TOO soft when I deep con­di­tioned overnight. I nev­er under­stood why I shed so much bro­ken hair when I was so gen­tle to my hair, used cone-free nat­u­ral prod­ucts, and pro­tec­tive­ly styled my hair 90% of the time. Then I found the Nat­u­ral Haven’s arti­cle and under­stood where the break­age came from! Now I have used con­sis­tent pro­tein treat­ments to help rebuild the elas­tic­i­ty, but I wish I knew… Read more »

I’m tran­si­tion­ing and all I read about is con­di­tion­ing and keep­ing mois­ture. But this real­ly made me think about what I do with my hair… I’m an over con­di­tion­er lol! But as I keep learn­ing I will be tak­ing notes of the­se tips. Thanks!