An impor­tant ques­tion that is often asked is about the ini­tial step before con­di­tion­ing.

1. Oil as a con­di­tion­er (pre wash treat­ment) 

Oil for the pur­pose of con­di­tion­ing is always applied to dry hair. This is because water repels oil and if your inten­tion is to use oil to pen­e­trate hair then your hair needs to be dry. You can wet your hair first or mix the oil in con­di­tion­er if:

-you want to lim­it how much water pen­e­trates hair
— you do not like how your hair feels when oil is applied to it dry
— you want to use the oil to seal in mois­ture
— you want to use the oil to help reduce dam­age post wash­ing

2. Water based Con­di­tion­er

For this arti­cle I am refer­ring to a reg­u­lar water based con­di­tion­er (deep, inten­sive, mask or rinse out) that is coat­ed onto hair with the pur­pose of repair­ing dam­age, soft­en­ing, cuti­cle smooth­ing and/or mois­tur­is­ing.

Sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly, the pre­ferred method of get­ting the max­i­mum amount of con­di­tion­er to adsorb and then poten­tial­ly pen­e­trate (only ingre­di­ents that can) is :

  1. Sham­poo with a prod­uct con­tain­ing anion­ic (neg­a­tive) sur­fac­tants
  2. Rinse off sham­poo — this is impor­tant
  3. Apply con­di­tion­er which con­tains cation­ic (pos­i­tive) sur­fac­tants

Pos­si­ble Ques­tions:

Q: Why use a sham­poo first?

Hair car­ries a slight neg­a­tive charge which is enhanced when you use a sham­poo with a neg­a­tive charge. Hair will adsorb the con­di­tion­er bet­ter because the pos­i­tive charge in the con­di­tion­er is attract­ed to the neg­a­tive charge on the sur­face of hair. For the pur­pose of get­ting the best result from a sham­poo, sur­fac­tants with a charge are best for exam­ple
— gen­tle sul­fate sham­poo — SLES (sodi­um lau­ryl ether sul­fate) which is neg­a­tive­ly charged
— mild sul­fate free sham­poo — cocamidopropylbetaine/cocobetaine/cocabetaine which is zwit­te­ri­on­ic 

Q: Why should you rinse off the sham­poo?

Some nat­u­rals like to ‘buffer’ their sham­poo by direct­ly adding con­di­tion­er to it before rins­ing it off. Some also like to sim­ply apply the con­di­tion­er before rins­ing off the sham­poo. In both these cas­es, the neg­a­tive charge of the sham­poo and the fact that it is present in a large amount inter­feres with the abil­i­ty of con­di­tion­er to stick to the sur­face. Two out­comes are pos­si­ble in this case:

1. Con­di­tion­er does not stick to the sur­face and is washed off along with the sham­poo
2. The sham­poo and con­di­tion­er bind togeth­er and cre­ate build up on the sur­face of hair.

Q: Can you con­di­tion first and then sham­poo?

Yes you can but you will be remov­ing con­di­tion­er that stuck to the sur­face of the hair from the ini­tial con­di­tion­ing process. You will need to con­di­tion your hair again in order to smooth the cuti­cle. Your process would look like

-Deep Con­di­tion
-Rinse out con­di­tion­er
— Leave ins, oils, styling prod­ucts etc

Q: Can you deep con­di­tion on dry hair?

Yes you can but remem­ber the rules about using sham­poo after­wards (see the ques­tion above). Apply­ing sham­poo first and rins­ing before apply­ing a con­di­tion­er does how­ev­er give the best result in terms of con­di­tion­er adsorp­tion.

Ladies, what’s your deep con­di­tion­ing process? Do you apply con­di­tion­er to dry, wet or sham­pooed hair? Why does this work for you?

J Soc Cos­met Chem, pp 351–359, 1991
J Soc Cos­met Chem, pp 263–278, 1993

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39 Comments on "Should Deep Conditioning be Done on Dry, Wet or Shampooed Hair?"

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After Deep Con­di­tion­ing, my hair is extreme­ly oily. Can I sham­poo after DC to remove the excess grease, with­out los­ing all the ben­e­fits of the Deep Con­di­tion?

Pass The Deutschy

I know it’s three years on but I’d say change the con­di­tion­er as sham­poo­ing will remove the ben­e­fits to the con­di­tion­er any­way. Like with all prod­ucts if you get a reac­tion you don’t like change the prod­uct.


I do it on wet hair with the pro nat­u­rals hair mask made from real argan oil. So far it’s worked great for me


I have been deep con­di­tion­ing on dry hair and it has been work­ing won­ders for my tran­si­tion­ing hair. I’m about 6 months post relax­er so my new growth lovvves the moister! I use Olive Oil replen­ish­ing con­di­tion­er and leave it in for around an hour or two. I also apply a lit­tle heat with a blow dry­er while my hair is in the plas­tic cap. It feels like SILK when I wah it out! This is the best deep con­di­tion­ing method for me.

I actu­al­ly loovveee deep con­di­tion­ing on dry hair. I use the macadamia deep repair masque:) I wash my hair at night using a cleans­ing sham­poo and reg­u­lar light con­di­tion­er I dont add a serum or leave in, sleep on it and let it dry nat­u­ral­ly. The next morn­ing when its dry I sec­tion off my hair and apply the masque/deep con­di­tion­er. I put a show­er cap on and leave in in for a few hours and when I rinse my hair and let it dry it nev­er looks more beau­ti­ful! Ih find I can go longer not wash­ing it and… Read more »

I’d like to know what Jami­ka was talk­ing about?????


So finan­cial­ly, you need to weigh up the cost of den­tal implants against not just that of a bridge but of extra den­tal work, repairs and replace­ments in the future as well. 74. If you don’t feel the pain war­rants such a trip, try some oth­er options.


Every wash day I wet, sham­poo, rinse, con­di­tion, bag, and fin­ger detan­gle in sec­tions, where I might add extra con­di­tion­er on or just seal with oils. On dry hair I tend to use a bit of water and oils (for overnight) or straight up oils just before going out.

Nachaly Ortiz

What’s bag?


She cov­ers her head with a plas­tic bag to keep her body heat in to help the con­di­tion­er pen­e­trate bet­ter.


Yes, I was almost 30 years old, but I knew I would need the same lev­el of reas­sur­ance as the 3-year-old in the chair next to me. Why would a per­son look for an implant. They offer rig­or­ous treat­ment set­ting up and also uti­lize the most recent strate­gies to attain their patient best health.


I start­ed deep con­di­tion­ing on dry (dirty) hair out of lazi­ness. I hat­ed get­ting in and out of the show­er to sham­poo first, then deep con­di­tion.

I deep con­di­tion, detan­gle, sham­poo, con­di­tion, (insert show­er activ­i­ty here i.e. wash­ing my body, shav­ing, etc.), rinse. Then I apply a leave-in con­di­tion­er and braid my hair so it can air dry.

I find that my hair is way more mois­tur­ized when­ev­er I deep con­di­tion first.…and elim­i­nates the sec­ond trip to the show­er. :)


I deep con­di­tion on dry hair. I make my own deep con­di­tion­er: avo­ca­do, banana, egg, hon­ey, coconut oil, and olive oil smooth­ie. Detan­gle. Apple cider vine­gar rinse. Mud wash. Leave in con­di­tion­er (kim­may­tube recipe) and then dou­ble strand twists with shea but­ter whip.



Ugonna Wosu

lol, I guess I’m the only per­son who alter­nates. Some­times I pre­poo, some­times I DC after poo­ing, some­times I do BOTH the same day.


*sighs* I am confused…deep con­di­tion first then sham­poo? uh?


I pre-poo on dry hair (con­di­tion­er + oil) and then DC on wet hair after using a cleans­ing con­di­tion­er (As I Am Coconut Co-Wash Cleans­ing Con­di­tion­er). I will either detan­gle before or after DCing, depend­ing on how my hair feels (Tre­semme Nat­u­rals + oil).


If you are going for finest con­tents like myself, just pay a quick vis­it this web­site every­day since it offers fea­ture con­tents, thanks


I do pro­tein treat­ments on dry hair, and mois­tur­iz­ing treat­ments after I either wash or co wash


I do what­ev­er I feel like doing on the par­tic­u­lar wash day. Usu­al­ly, I will detan­gle by sray­ing water on the hair and apply­ing some con­di­tion­er to the strands. Then, I will either rinse it off with water only (result­ing in a co-wash) or I will use a sham­poo (main­ly on my scalp). Even when I do use the sham­poo, I don’t always pro­ceed with a DC after­wards. It real­ly does not make a dif­fer­ence in the feel and look of my hair, so I ususal­ly jump straight to styling and apply­ing my leave-in.

For me it makes absolute­ly no sense to deep con­di­tion hair that has not been cleansed first, but being that my hair is low poros­i­ty, absolute­ly noth­ing works on my hair if I apply it wet, it is an utter waste of prod­uct. That is why the best thing for me is to clean my scalp, then let my hair dry for fif­teen to twen­ty min­utes with noth­ing on it but I do have to move fast in that time so that my ends do not get too dry. Also, by doing my pre-detan­gling on dry hair with coconut oil,… Read more »

pls can you share your reg­i­men and prod­ucts? this is how exact­ly my hair is and i am fed up with it.i want to give up on this nat­ur­al hair jour­ney nd go bak to relax­ers God knows i have tried every­thin.


I use mayo and avo­ca­do deep con­di­tion­er on dry hair. Then I use sham­poo, and that’s it.


This is my process. Takes about an hour or less.

-Deep Con­di­tion
-Hueti­ful Hair Steam (20 min­utes)
-Twist into four sec­tions
-Non-sul­fate Sham­poo in sec­tions
-Rinse (Fin­ger detan­gle under run­ning water)
-Non-sil­i­cone Rinse out con­di­tion­er in sec­tions
-Repeat for each sec­tion
— Leave ins, oils, styling prod­ucts etc


My reg­i­men is as fol­lows:

Hot oil treat­ment with cas­tor oil for 30 min­utes (sit under dry­er some­times)
Detan­gle, Sec­tion
Rinse & sham­poo (Kinky Curly, Tal­i­ah Waa­jid, or Shea Mois­ture)
DC with either (any condish + EVOO + hon­ey) OR (greek yogurt + EVOO + honey)for 30 min­utes
Rinse with warm then cold water, final rinse with ACV


I’ve DC’d on dry and wet hair and found the for­mer to be more effec­tive at least for pro­tein DCs.


I spray my hair with warm water to open the shaft.then is sham­poo twice.(once scalp only,then scalp and hair strands). Rinse then deep con­di­tion wet hair for 25 mins under plas­tic cap.rinse thor­ough­ly and apply leave in conditioner.squeeze out Excess leave in. Begin twi­sylt­ing with cream hair dress n seal with evoo/castor oil mix.


I always deep con­di­tion pri­or to hop­ping in the show­er. I also have a steam­er so my ses­sions tend to take max 10–30 min­utes, depend­ing on my mood. Once I sham­poo, then I rinse with a quick con­di­tion­er and then it’s time for mois­tur­iz­ing and seal­ing.

Bebe H.

I pre­fer deep con­di­tion­ing on dry hair, too. After that i sham­poo and fol­low with a quick con­di­tion­er.
Some deep con­di­tion­ers i.e. from Aubrey Organ­ics are direct­ed to use on dry hair when you want a deep trest­ment not on fresh­ly washed hair.
so For Me often it’s save to fol­low the direc­tions, since the peo­ple how make the prod­ucts have test­ed it many times like direct­ed.


For me 4D hair loves to be clean and fresh before a DC, also Sham­poo­ing first opens up my pores so that the oils in my DC can pen­e­trate, I add a bit of Olive, and Avo­ca­do oil to my store bought DC and cov­er with a plas­tic for max three hours when I rinse out hair feels super soft then I apply a reg­u­lar rinse our con­di­tion­er as my after DC wash.


I apply con­di­tion­er to “dry” hair before sham­poo­ing — more pre­cise­ly damp­ened and oiled hair.

My deep con­di­tion­ing process is as fol­lows:
— fin­ger-detan­gle w/ water/glycerin spritz & coconut oil
— apply deep con­di­tion­er
— let deep con­di­tion­er sit for 30 min­utes (or overnight*) under a plas­tic con­di­tion­ing cap/beanie com­bo
After deep con­di­tion­ing I sham­poo my scalp, mois­tur­ize, seal and style. 

I deep con­di­tion this way so I don’t have to hop in and out of the show­er. It works well for my kinky, coily, Afro-tex­tured, super dense hair.

*I deep con­di­tion overnight for con­nivence and increased moisture/softness.


* con­ve­nience


I usu­al­ly deep con­di­tion with pro nat­u­rals argan oil hair mask and then sham­poo with a sham­poo from the same brand. It’s all sul­fate and sil­i­cone free so it’s super mois­tur­iz­ing.


Wow!4–6 hours is a long wash day. Sab­ri­na Your rou­tine is sim­i­lar to mine except I sham­poo before deep con­di­tion­ing and I only acv once after i sham­poo. My hair is about the same length and nap­pi­er (4b/c)and I’m done in about an hour or two if I being slow. No shade but just wowed by how dif­fer­ent our hair care prac­tices can be.

I deep con­di­tion after I sham­poo. I fig­ure the coconut oil I put in the night before is good enough of a con­di­tion­er if I chose to skip deep con­di­tion­ing for the sake of time.

Sabrina Antoinnette
I should real­ly attempt to cut back again. I used to sham­poo before I con­di­tioned, but I hat­ed get­ting in/out of the show­er. My kitchen sink isn’t an ide­al place to wash unfor­tu­nate­ly. I also find that my hair tuns into an awful tum­ble­weed is I skip either the pre-poo or the deep con­di­tion­ing. I have to do this bi-week­ly at the longest and it actu­al­ly loves week­ly, but it’s just far too much time to spare every week. Styling is also a time killer for sure — I typ­i­cal­ly opt for mini twists or havana twists for pro­tec­tion and… Read more »
Sabrina Antoinnette
I’ve always won­dered if con­di­tion­ing on dry hair was effec­tive, since this is what I pre­fer. This arti­cle is very help­ful and lets me know I’m tak­ing prop­er steps. My deep con­di­tion­ing process is fair­ly straight for­ward: - pre­poo overnight with coconut oil while still in pro­tec­tive style. — take­down & fin­ger detan­gle the next day — section/braid as I do so — quick­ly clar­i­fy in sink with an ACV rinse — tends to make my con­di­tion­er work bet­ter — deep con­di­tion 1 hour w/o heat- just plas­tic cap and tow­el — rinse, wash, con­di­tion, rinse, acv rinse, plop, leave-in, seal, style. All… Read more »

What a name! Your moth­er named you very well.

Sabrina Antoinnette

@Lana Thank you! The thanks has to go to my pre­cious Nana — bless her!