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what does conditioner do

What Does Conditioner Do: The Science Behind Why We Use It

October 26, 2020

7 Min read

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Conditioner is something we probably all use without questioning its purpose. From the time we were little, and our parents bathed us, they used shampoo and conditioner on our hair to keep it tame and manageable. Growing up, we probably used whatever conditioner that was in the house that magically appeared in the shower. It is simply part of our hair care routine and always has been. But have you ever wondered what conditioner really is and why we use it? Have you ever thought that maybe you are not using the right conditioner for your hair type?

What Is Conditioner?

Conditioner is a moisturizing agent that is usually made up of silicones and oils. These ingredients help to bring moisture back into your hair after it has been removed with shampoo or other external factors. There are a lot of different kinds of conditioners as well. There is the traditional kind of conditioner you probably use daily. There is also a deep conditioner that can be left on for a longer period of time to further moisturize and give you those shining, luscious locks. There is even leave-in conditioner that, as the name suggests, does not require any rinsing. 

How To Use and For How Long

There is a proper way to condition your hair for the best results. You should apply the conditioner in fluid motions to your hair after squeezing some of the water out of it. If your hair is extremely wet, it could reduce the effectiveness of the conditioner. 

The sweet spot for how long you should leave your conditioner on your hair is about two to five minutes. You can, of course, adjust this time if needed. However, if you are using a deep conditioner, you can raise this to anywhere between ten and twenty minutes.

How Often?

A question we often ask ourselves is how frequently should we wash our hair. Or maybe the more realistic question is, “how long can I get away with not washing my hair?” 

This can be a complicated question to answer because it depends on a lot of different factors. Your age, hair type, and activity level can all affect how often you should wash your hair. 

If you are older than your hair probably does not get oily as fast as a teenager’s hair would, which means you can probably go longer without washing it. If you have naturally dry hair, it would also be easier to skip a day or two between washes. If you are someone who works out a lot and sweats all day, you might have to wash your hair more frequently than other less active people do. 

It is important to find a balance for washing your hair so that your hair is not too greasy or too overstimulated. As for conditioner specifically, you should use it anytime you are also shampooing your hair. These two products go hand in hand and complement each other. Conditioner works to restore moisture to hair, and not restoring any of that moisture back into your hair can be harmful in the long run. 

Conditioner softens and detangles hair after the shampooing cleans it. Conditioning your hair somewhat regularly will also make your hair easier to brush through and style. It can be very helpful to comb through your hair in the shower while you are conditioning it to make it even easier to detangle. 

Different Hair Types

Picking the right conditioner is different from picking a shampoo. Your shampoo should be picked based on the condition of your scalp, whereas your conditioner should be to treat your actual hair. One of the most common hair scenarios is an oily scalp and dry ends. If this is the case for you, then a shampoo that addresses your oily scalp is best, and a hydrating conditioner is the right choice for your dry ends. 

The first thing to do when shopping for a conditioner is to feel the ends of your hair. Feel for dryness, damaged strands, static or limpness. 

  • If your hair is dry, you should look for a conditioner to prevent any more damage to your hair. Look for types that have frizz control, protect from heat, and can repair split ends. Deep conditioner treatments can be very helpful for dry hair.
  • If you are struggling with oily roots or you have very thin hair, try to avoid applying conditioners above your earline if they are for hydrating or smoothing . These will make your hair feel heavy and weighed down. Use your deep conditioner first and then shampoo to keep hair from getting greasy.

Benefits of Conditioner

There are a lot of benefits to using conditioner to think about. Firstly, conditioner coats the cuticle of your hair with a protective coating, which helps the hair to grow and avoid breakage. Conditioner can work on repairing hair that has been exposed to the outside world.

Conditioner also makes hair much easier to comb after you get out of the shower. It can help reduce frizz, increase shine, and make your locks feel silky soft to the touch.  

Since a conditioner can do so many things, it can be hard to find one that will do everything you want it to. This is one of the reasons why customized haircare is becoming so popular. Companies like Prose allow you to pick and choose which benefits you would like for your haircare routine. You can take a short survey about your environment, styling habits, and hair type, and we’ll figure out the perfect formula for you. 

Any Downsides?

There aren’t many negatives to conditioning your hair— who wouldn’t want soft, smooth hair? Something you may want to think about is potential allergens. Make sure you look at the ingredients before using a product on your hair to avoid this. 

Another potential downside could be if you do not rinse out your conditioner all the way and you have acne-prone skin, you could break out since conditioner can clog your pores. It’s meant for your hair, not your skin. 

Another potential negative to conditioner would be if you used too much. Too much of anything can be a bad thing, and this applies to conditioner, too. Using more than a palm-sized amount can weigh your hair down and make it appear flat or greasy. 

What If You Stopped Using Conditioner?

You’ve probably wondered if you could quit using conditioner altogether (or more likely, you thought about what would happen to your hair if you were stranded on a desert island). Well, several things would happen, none of them ideal. First, your hair would be nearly impossible to detangle after a certain point. Next, your hair would start to lack shine and appear duller. Your hair would become very brittle and be extremely susceptible to breakage. Hair conditioning is very important for your hair nourishment, so do yourself a favor and don’t quit using it. 

In Summary

Hopefully, after reading more about conditioner and its benefits, you understand why it is so important. Remember, not all conditioner is made equal, and you might be using the wrong one for your hair type. Take a second, and think about your hair’s specific needs and do some research on what product would make you make you look your best.


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The Prose Staff is here to share the best hair tips and tricks to help you achieve all your hair goals with custom hair care, breakthrough innovation and more

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