How To Use Conditioner and Nourish Your Hair The Right Way

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Arshiya Syeda

When it comes to using a hair conditioner, you need to strike the right balance. You cannot slap on too much of product, neither can you leave it on for a mere 30 seconds before rinsing it off. Without this knowledge, you might be over-conditioning or under-conditioning your hair, making all those investments into expensive hair products a total waste!

In this article, we walk you through the proper way of using your hair conditioner and share our favorite DIY conditioner recipes for smooth, silky hair. First off, let us see why this product is so important for your hair.

Why And How To Use Hair Conditioner

Constant exposure to pollution, heating styling, dirt, and sweat can strip your hair of its natural oils. Even shampooing rids your hair of sebum and other nourishing oils. Hence, you should use a conditioner and keep the oils and nutrients intact.

Whether you have thin and fine hair, thick and wavy hair, or curly and frizzy hair, conditioning your hair is an absolute must. To find out how to condition your hair, take a look at this routine:

  • Rinse the shampoo off properly to get rid of sweat, dead skin cells, pollution, and additional hair products.
  • Take it in the palm of your hands as per the quantity recommended on the bottle. (It generally amounts to the size of a quarter).
  • Start by applying it to your hair ends. If you have longer hair, apply it from the chin level and move towards the ends.
  • Next, run a wide-toothed comb through your hair to apply
  • Leave it on for about 1-7 minutes. (The time frame depends on the conditioner you are using).
  • Finally, rinse it off thoroughly, preferably with cold water.

Moving on, let us look at the different conditioning methods you can use, depending on your hair care needs.

How To Use Conditioner: Top 4 Hair Conditioning Methods

1. Engaging In A Pre-Conditioning Ritual

This method is ideal for people with long hair. Here are the steps to follow if you wish to pre-condition your hair:

  • Use lukewarm water to wet your hair.
  • Apply conditioner.
  • Leave it on for a few minutes.
  • Wash it off with a gentle shampoo and condition again.

2. Using Regular Conditioner

A popular method of hair conditioning is to use a regular conditioner after you shampoo your hair. These conditioners help seal the hair cuticles while adding essential nutrients to your strands. Plus, it improves your hair’s elasticity and softens the hair fibers.

Make sure to get rid of all the excess water in your hair after your shampoo it. This way, the nutrients can easily penetrate your hair shaft.

3. Using A Leave-In Conditioner And Serum

Leave-in conditioners and serums detangle the hair, tame unruly and frizzy locks, and add an extra layer of luster. They also coat your hair without weighing it down.

You can use leave-in conditioners and serums post-shower if you have thick and unmanageable hair. However, use these products sparingly as over-using them can make your hair greasy and oily.

For more volume, towel-dry your hair first. You can use a leave-in conditioner for curly hair and frizz control by applying it on sopping wet hair.

4. Using A Deep Conditioner

You can use plant oils such as coconut, almond, avocado, or jojoba oil as a natural alternative to chemical-laden conditioners. These choices are safe to deep condition your hair. However, bear in mind three important factors:

  1. Do a trial run for a week and see how your hair responds to this type of deep conditioning.
  2. Be prepared for your hair feeling heavier and greasier than usual.
  3. Make sure to use 100% pure and organic oil.

If you want a balance of the right proteins and moisture, you can ask your stylist to recommend a deep conditioner. Here is how you should apply it:

  1. Use a deep conditioner after shampooing your hair.
  2. Leave it on for 30 minutes.
  3. Steam your hair so that the conditioner gets sealed into your hair shaft.
  4. If you are not short of time, you can wrap your hair in a shower cap.
  5. Set your blow dryer on low speed to let the heat work its magic.

Using hair conditioners made with natural ingredients can ensure your tresses are healthy, strong, and nourished. If you are struggling to find a chemical-free product, try the following DIY conditioner recipes.

DIY Easy Hair Conditioner Recipes

Try these simple hair conditioner recipes made with everyday ingredients for smooth and shiny locks:

Recipe 1:

  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seed oil
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
  • Half a cup of yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Recipe 2:

  • 1/2 cup of shea butter
  • 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 avocado

Recipe 3:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil/coconut oil

Instructions For All Three Recipes

  1. Mix all the ingredients respectively and apply the mixture to your hair.
  2. Dab your hair with a towel that has been soaked in hot water for 2 minutes.
  3. Leave the mixture on for 15-30 minutes to deep condition your hair.
  4. Wash it off with a natural rinse such as beer or a combination of water and apple cider vinegar.

Before applying the conditioner to your mane, ensure that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. Do a patch test on your arm, or speak to a hair specialist before you proceed.

Wondering how to choose the right conditioner for your hair? The answer is in the following section.

How To Choose The Right Conditioner For Your Hair?

Start with understanding your hair type and texture. You also need to factor in your styling routines and tend to your locks accordingly.

Here is a quick breakdown of how to choose a conditioner that actually works for your hair:

  • For Color-Treated Hair
    For hair that has been bleached or colored, you need an extra dose of nourishment. So, opt for a conditioner that is specifically formulated for color-treated hair.
  • For Textured Hair
    If you have coarse, thick hair, you can go for a stronger conditioner that can heal, nourish, protect, and deep condition your hair. Conditioners made of coconut oil or shea butter are a good choice.
  • For Curly Hair
    Look for ingredients like coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, and keratin in your conditioner. People with curly, dry, and frizzy hair need to spread the conditioner more evenly throughout their hair. A wide-toothed comb can help distribute the product.

You now know how to pick the right one for your hair type. But before you start using it in your hair care routine, keep the following tips in mind.

Effective Hair Conditioning Tips To Keep In Mind

1. Apply Conditioner An Inch Away From Your Roots

Start by applying where your hair is the driest and most damaged. Distribute it evenly from the mid-length till the ends. Do not apply conditioner on your scalp or roots as it can make them extra oily.

2. Consider Co-Washing Your Hair With A Conditioner

For people who have extremely dry and brittle hair, using shampoo too often can make things worse. Instead, go for co-washing – a method that involves using just conditioner to cleanse your hair and skipping shampoo completely.

Co-washing maintains your hair’s strength, moisture levels, and integrity without making it dry or frizzy. The biggest downside is that it may leave a lot of product build-up in your hair. Therefore, you need to use a gentle clarifying shampoo every 2 weeks to get rid of it.

3. Wash it Off Thoroughly

Any conditioner left behind can lead to hair breakage and damage. So, wash the product off until the water runs clear. You should not see any bubbles or residue.

4. Rinse With Cold Water

Washing your hair with cold water can retain the moisture and nutrients from the conditioner by closing the hair’s cuticles.

5. Use A Hair Serum To Complete The Ritual

To get the most out of your hair conditioning ritual, use a hydrating serum after every wash.


As with any other hair care product, conditioners do not come with a one-size-fits-all approach. There are hundreds of them in the market and different ways of applying them. Therefore, you should understand your hair type and use a conditioner that best suits your hair needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I apply hair conditioner?

It is best to apply conditioner after you shampoo your hair as the latter can rid your hair of natural oils and make it dry.

How to use shampoo and conditioner in one?

If you’re using a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner, follow these steps:

  • Rinse your hair thoroughly.
  • Apply the shampoo-cum-conditioner to your hair, working your way from the ends to one-inch away from the roots.
  • Gently lather and massage your scalp to get rid of excess build-up.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water.
  • You will notice that your hair feels squeaky clean and soft at the same time.

Note: It is better to avoid a shampoo-cum-conditioner and use separate products.

How often do I need to change my conditioner?

Ideally, you should change your conditioner when it does not work despite consistent application. Speak to a hairstylist to get a better grip on the type of product to use. Change the conditioner as per the weather condition. For instance, you need deep hydrating conditioners during winters. Also, if you have color-treated and chemically-treated hair, switch to a specialized conditioner.

Is it best to put conditioner on wet or dry hair?

Avoid applying conditioner on dry hair as this can make it difficult to spread the product throughout your hair follicles.

Can you just put conditioner in your hair?

You can co-wash your hair with a conditioner, but use a gentle clarifying shampoo every two weeks to eliminate excess product build-up.

How much hair conditioner should I use?

You can use 1-2 quarter-sized dollops of conditioner, but it all depends on the thickness and length of your hair.

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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).