What Happens If You Leave Conditioner In Your Hair?

Written by Ramona Sinha
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Regular hair conditioning is essential for maintaining healthy hair. Besides improving shine and texture, hair conditioners also repair damage caused by chemical treatments. No wonder beauty experts across the world suggest sticking to a diligent hair conditioning routine! However, to reap the maximum benefits of the hair conditioner, using it the right way is crucial.

This article explores the right way to use hair conditioners and how long you should leave the conditioner in your hair. Read on.

How Do Conditioners Work?

Conditioners contain cationic surfactants. These surfactants have positively charged hydrophilic heads that stick to the negatively charged hair strands, forming a protective coat to reduce static electricity and friction. Conditioners also improve shine and color (1). They make your hair feel softer, lustrous, and manageable.

However, using a hair conditioner will not automatically result in great hair. You should know how to use it the right way. Let’s find out.

How To Use A Conditioner?

To use a traditional conditioner:

  • Wring out the excess water from your hair after shampooing.
  • Take a dime-sized amount of conditioner. Adjust the quantity as per the hair length.
  • Rub it between your palms and apply through the mid-shafts to the hair ends.
  • Leave it on for at least five minutes. The longer you wait, the better.
  • Rinse it off with room temperature water.

Additionally, here are some conditioning tips for healthy hair:

  • Always apply the conditioner to damp hair.
  • Apply the conditioner from mid-shaft to the end. Avoid the scalp and roots.
  • Wash your hair thoroughly to avoid product buildup.
  • If you have natural hair, you may co-wash your hair between washes to keep your locks fresh and hydrated.
  • You can use water-based leave-in conditioners to keep your hair soft and manageable between washes.
  • Use a deep conditioning mask at least once a week.

Leaving the conditioner in your hair for long ensures better hydration. Does that mean you can leave it on overnight? Let’s find out.

What Happens When You Leave Conditioner In Your Hair Overnight?

Leave-in conditioners should be left on the hair for longer or overnight to get the product’s maximum benefits. When you leave it overnight, the conditioner hydrates and nourishes your hair shafts to make it smoother and softer.

However, you should wash off traditional rinse-out conditioners after a few minutes. Leaving it on for a few extra minutes once in a while may not harm your hair. However, if you do it regularly, it may:

  • Cause product buildup and clog the hair follicles, causing hair fall.
  • Attract dirt and dust and damage your hair eventually.
  • Weigh your hair down and make it appear flat and limp.
  • Damage the hair structure and cause breakage (if you are using a protein conditioner).
  • Make the scalp itchy and irritated.

Sleeping overnight with regular conditioners may cause hygral fatigue (swelling of hair shafts due to excess moisture). Over-conditioning:

  • Damages the hair cuticles
  • Exposes the cortex (inner layer)
  • Causes tangling
  • Causes hair breakage
  • Makes the hair dull and lifeless

If you think your hair is over-conditioned, reduce the frequency of hair washing for a few weeks. Take a break from conditioners and start using them once your hair recovers. Do not ignore the directions on the conditioner package. Avoid conditioners with silicones and parabens and stick to natural products. If you want to sleep in your conditioner, get products that are meant for overnight use.

Can You Use A Deep Conditioning Treatment Overnight?

No. Using deep conditioners overnight can over-condition your hair. Deep conditioners are specially formulated for extra hydration and should be left on your hair for not more than 30 minutes.

However, you will find overnight conditioners and moisture therapies on the market. These products have a nourishing formula to maintain the right moisture balance. Overnight conditioners are not overwhelming for the hair.

Wrapping It Up

While conditioning your hair is a vital part of any hair care regimen, leaving the conditioner in your hair longer than the suggested time can cause hair shaft swelling and damage the hair structure. Hence, each time you wonder if it is okay to leave the conditioner in your hair, the answer is a firm no, unless you use a leave-in or an overnight conditioner.

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Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.