What Happens If You Leave Conditioner In Your Hair?

5 Mins read

Conditioning your hair is crucial to maintaining its optimal health. And it is absolutely fine if you want to leave the conditioner in your hair for long or overnight. Some conditioners, especially leave-in conditioners, are meant to be left in your hair, while you should wash rinse-off conditioners after a few minutes.

This article explains the right way to use both types of conditioners and how long you should leave them in your hair before rinsing off. Scroll down.

In This Article

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.

Related: Hair Conditioner – Benefits And How To Use It

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.

StyleCraze SaysChoose a conditioner that is free from ingredients like dimethicone, trimethicone, and dimethiconol because it can be tough to get out of your hair.

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

Related: How To Use Leave-in Conditioner, Benefits, And Precautions

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, which will cause the hair to miniaturize and eventually fall out due to lack of oxygen and nutrients.
  • 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.

Did You Know?If you use a protein-laden conditioner on your hair, you may experience scalp irritation and itchiness due to protein overload.

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.

Infographic: Tips To Keep In Mind Before Using A Conditioner

A conditioner keeps your hair hydrated, smooth, and shiny. However, leaving a conditioner on overnight can lead to scalp itchiness and product buildup. Hence, we have compiled a list of tips you can keep in mind before you use a conditioner to ensure proper hair hydration and health. Check out the infographic below to know more.

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

While conditioning is a crucial part of a hair wash routine, over-conditioning can damage the hair structure and do more harm than good. Therefore, it is better not to leave the conditioner in your hair longer than the suggested time on the product package. In addition, regular conditioners have a different formula than overnight and leave-in conditioning products available on the market. Leaving them for a few extra minutes once in a while may not damage the hair, but you must stop if you do this regularly. This habit may ultimately affect your overall hair health, weigh your hair down, and make it appear limp and flat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put conditioner in my hair and let it sit?

Yes. You can apply a regular conditioner and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. Then wash it off with cold water.

Does leave-in conditioner cause hair loss?

No. Leave-in conditioner does not cause hair loss. It improves hair health and keeps it soft and manageable

Key Takeaways

  • Leave-in conditioners are meant to be left in your hair until the next wash, but should wash off regular after a few minutes of application.
  • Leaving conditioner in your hair for too long can cause hair fall, breakage, and scalp irritation.
  • Deep conditioner should not be left on your hair for more than 30 minutes as it may over-condition your hair.


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Ramona Sinha

Ramona is an editor at StyleCraze. Prior to that, she authored over 200 articles on skin and hair care. She… more

Monica Dickenson

(Certified Trichologist)Monica Dickenson has more than 30 years of experience as a dedicated technician and business owner. She is very passionate… more


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