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What Is Conditioner Used For? Is It Needed? What Does It Do?

A black woman uses hair conditioners with soothing natural ingredients on her freshly washed, color-treated hair.

We’re pretty sure everyone reading this has used conditioner at some point. But as you slather the creamy goodness onto your strands, you might begin to wonder what’s the point.

What is conditioner used for? Is it necessary? If you’re wondering what conditioner is and why you’re supposed to use it, we’re here to help!

In this article, we’ll take a look at conditioner and what it’s used for. By the end, you’ll be armed with all the tools you need to use conditioner like a pro. 

What Is Conditioner Used For?

For most people, washing their hair is a two-step process. The first step in hair washing is shampoo. Shampoo cleanses your hair and scalp and helps remove dirt, oil, leftover product, and skin cells.

The second step in the wash day process is applying conditioner. 

Conditioner is a thick, creamy hair product that hydrates, strengthens, and repairs your hair. It improves your hair’s texture by making it softer, smoother, and significantly easier to manage.

Keep in mind that there are other uses for conditioner. It can also be used as a detangling aid or pre-shampoo treatment. 

A cute African American female that keeps her hair soft by using deep conditioners once every two weeks.

Is Conditioner Necessary for Hair?

Regardless of your hair length, thickness, or type, conditioner is essential for healthy hair. It improves existing damage and helps ensure that your strands are strong enough to handle whatever the day throws at them. They also help to rehydrate the hair after using shampoo, which tends to dry out the hair. 

What Happens if You Don’t Use Conditioner?

Still not convinced that you need conditioner? Perhaps this section will make you a believer. Here, we’ll explain what can happen when you don’t use conditioner. 

A black woman with naturally curly fine hair styled with coconut oil and a leave-in conditioner to make her hair shinier.

Your Hair Will Be Dull

One of the first things you’ll notice after not using conditioner is that your hair looks incredibly dull. Conditioners smooth your hair cuticles so they lay flat and better reflect the light.

Most conditioners also contain shine-enhancing agents that coat your strands in a thin, highly reflective layer. Without this protective coating, your strands will be noticeably rough and dull. 

Your Hair and Scalp Might Become More Greasy

Is your hair naturally greasy or oil-prone? Although it feels counterintuitive, ditching the conditioner can send your scalp into an oil production overdrive, leading to an oily scalp.

After you use shampoo, your hair and scalp are squeaky clean. While this level of cleanliness looks and feels great, it negatively affects your scalp. Your scalp senses the loss of oils and pumps out even more to counteract the dryness. 

A female with curly hair that's concerned about hair loss is spraying her dry hair with a mask-like creamy product.

Your Hair Will Be More Difficult to Detangle

Most conditioners give your hair slip. They coat your hair in a slippery film, which makes it easier to comb through and detangle.

This cuts down on knots and breakage and makes it easier to retain your length. However, skipping the conditioner will make your hair more difficult to comb, brush, and detangle. 

You’ll Probably Suffer From Dryness and Breakage 

Conditioner helps repair the damage caused by styling, shampoo, and the environment. So, if you stop using it, all of that damage will wreck your strands.

Your hair will become dry and brittle, and you’ll likely see a sharp increase in breakage and split ends. And as your hair becomes more damaged, it’ll become even more susceptible to harm. 

A black female is spraying her hair shaft with a leave-in conditioner - a stable in her hair care routine.

You’ll See an Increase in Frizz and Flyaways

Many conditioners contain oils and silicones that weigh down your strands. While this doesn’t sound great, it can make a huge difference in styling your hair.

As conditioner weighs down your strands, it helps tame flyaways, fluffiness, and frizz. So instead of poofy, your hair feels silky smooth. 

How Do You Properly Use Conditioner?

Although using a hair conditioner seems relatively straightforward, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. Want to know what they are?

Here are some of our top tips for getting the most out of your conditioner. 

A beautiful black woman with natural curls is wearing neutral makeup after styling her hair with a deep conditioner.

Apply Your Conditioner to Damp Hair

One of the first mistakes people make with hair conditioner is applying it to dripping wet hair. While this may seem like the best choice, the water can prevent the conditioner from penetrating your strands.

That’s because your hair acts a lot like a sponge.

When it’s filled with water, it doesn’t have the space to take in the conditioner. So, for the best results, apply the conditioner to damp hair. 

Make Sure the Conditioner Is Evenly Distributed

When you apply conditioner, you want to ensure that all of your strands can benefit from the treatment. So, take a few minutes to comb or brush the conditioner through your hair. 

A lady with type 3 curls styled with a wide tooth comb and deep conditioning hair masks to reduce split ends.

Wait for the Recommended Time

Another mistake people make with conditioner is rinsing it off too early. But if you rinse it off right away, your hair won’t have the time to suck up all of those nourishing ingredients.

Always follow the time recommended on the packaging and give the conditioner enough time to penetrate your strands fully. 

Focus On Your Ends

As the oldest part of your hair, your mid-lengths and ends need conditioner the most. Your scalp and roots get enough moisture from your scalp’s natural oils.

It’s also important to note that conditioner is formulated for your hair, not your skin.

As a result, it can irritate your scalp and clog your hair follicles. So, try applying conditioner to just the mid-lengths and ends of your hair for the best results. 

A woman that believes conditioner makes hair softer uses it immediately following her hair wash regimen.

Crank up the Heat

While most hair experts recommend avoiding heat, there is one clear exception. Heat gently nudges your hair’s cuticle open, allowing more beneficial ingredients to sink into your strands.

It also speeds up chemical reactions, so the ingredients bond to your hair much more quickly. To get the most out of your conditioner, sit under a hooded dryer while you wait.

Don’t have one? You can also wear a shower cap to help trap your body heat. 

Use the Right Conditioner for Your Hair Type

If your conditioner isn’t working the way you want it to, there’s a chance that you’re using the wrong kind of conditioner for your hair. Use a weightless conditioner if you have straight, fine, or naturally greasy hair.

You can also choose a conditioner that contains oil-regulating ingredients like essential oils, astringents, and plant extracts.

But if you have curly, dry, or damaged hair, use a thick, creamy conditioner instead. These hair types are drier and breakage-prone, so they need extra moisture. 

An African American female uses a hair mask as frizz-control on her just-washed hair to soften her long hair shafts.

Rinse Your Hair Thoroughly With Cool Water

Rinsing out your conditioner is one of the most essential and easy-to-overlook aspects of conditioning your hair. When you rinse out your conditioner, take your time to remove as much of the conditioner as possible.

That way, it doesn’t weigh down strands, making them appear limp and greasy.

You should also use cool or cold water to rinse your hair. Cool water seals your cuticles, so your hair retains more of the conditioner’s wholesome ingredients. 

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There’s absolutely no doubt about it: conditioner is a critical part of any wash day routine. It keeps your hair strong and soft and is one of the most important steps in maintaining healthy locks.

It also makes an excellent styling aid and helps ensure your hair always looks and feels fantastic.

Just make sure that you’re using it correctly, and you can make every day a great hair day! We hope that the information we’ve gone over today helped shed some light on hair conditioner and what it’s used for.