There’s also dry conditioner now, which, according to cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson, is designed to spritz on just enough to make your hair shinier, smoother, and softer, without the risk of overapplying or making hair greasy.
Now that you’re caught up on the most common kinds of conditioners, let’s get back to talking about your traditional, no-bells-and-whistles conditioner and what it can do for you.
How do you use hair conditioner and how long should you leave it in?
Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to condition your hair. The right way, according to Los Angeles-based hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins, is to apply the product in long, fluid motions, and to ensure you squeeze some of the water out of your strands after shampooing so that it doesn’t diminish the effects of the conditioner.
“Excess water dilutes your conditioner and prevents hair from soaking up moisturizing the ingredients,” he explains.
As far as how long you should leave it in for, Hawkins says two minutes should suffice, as this is approximately how much time it takes for the conditioner to adhere to the hair. If you’re using a deep conditioner, however, he says three to five minutes is ideal.
What are the benefits of conditioning your hair?
“Conditioner refortifies the cuticle with a protective coating, allowing the hair to keep growing and not break easily,” explains Washington, D.C.-based board-certified dermatologist Adam Friedman, who compares conditioner to cement filling a pothole. “When the hair is exposed to the outside world, the cuticle, or outer lining, gets damaged until it ultimately breaks; the conditioner fills in those injuries and coats the hair to assist the cuticle.”
Cosmetic chemist and author Perry Romanowski tells Allure the primary benefit of a conditioner is that it makes the hair much easier to comb through, though he says that there are several reasons one should use conditioner in their hair-care routine. “Conditioners also smooth the hair, detangle it, increase shine, reduce frizz, and make it feel nicer to touch,” he says.
“All you have to do is to wash your hair, only apply conditioner to one half of your head, then comb through the hair to notice the differences,” Romanowski suggests for any skeptics out there.
How often should you use conditioner on your hair?
Conditioners smooth and detangle the hair, which, therefore, helps reduce breakage and split ends — and that’s precisely why New York City-based hairstylist Chuck Bass recommends conditioning every time you shampoo in order to add moisture back, as well as to soften and detangle. He’s not the only one who recommends this hair-care approach. “Any time you shampoo your hair you should condition it,” urges Romanowski. “It really makes the hair easier to comb and style.” There you have it.
Which conditioner should I use for my hair type?
This is almost a trick question: According to Romanowski, there actually isn’t a huge incentive to use conditioners based on your hair type. “In truth, there is not much measurable difference between products marketed for normal, damaged, color-treated, or curly hair,” he says. “Most modifications to the formula are done for theoretical reasons, but you probably wouldn’t be able to tell as a consumer that they are different.”