How Long Should I Leave Conditioner on My Hair?

Shampoo instructions are straightforward and pretty much universal: lather, rinse, and repeat. Conditioner formulas vary more widely and often bear mixed messaging on the packaging.

Over- or under-conditioning can occur without careful attention to timing. It's important to understand how a conditioner works in order to benefit from it the most.

AtHomeHairPamperingHasReachedNextLevel Mirenesse ThermalWrapnRepairMaskCap 002.jpg?transformations=f auto,w 700,h 540,c fill,g autoAtHomeHairPamperingHasReachedNextLevel Mirenesse ThermalWrapnRepairMaskCap 002.jpg?transformations=f auto,w 700,h 540,c fill,g auto

Why Should I Use A Conditioner, And How Does It Work?

conditioner nourishes and protects your hair for a healthy look and feel. Conditioners work by coating the hair cuticles in a moisturising layer that penetrates the strands for nourishment.

The coating left behind after rinsing protects the hair from external elements. A conditioning treatment also smooths the hair to prevent flyaways and add a glossy shine.

Timing your conditioner boils down to how quickly it can penetrate the hair strand and begin the nourishment process.

How Long Should I Leave My Rinse-out Conditioner In Before Rinsing?

First off, you should always apply conditioner to hair that's been wrung out. Sopping-wet hair is too slippery for the product to adhere to. Your conditioner will drip off along with the excess water, resulting in uneven coverage and incomplete treatment.

One or two minutes is enough time for your hair to absorb a regular conditioner. Comb through your hair during this time to ensure the product has been equally distributed, and then rinse thoroughly.

If you want a rinse-out conditioner with deeper penetration, use an oil-based product such as Wella SP Luxe Oil Keratin Restore Mask. This takes a few more minutes to absorb but will leave your hair better nourished.

The main function of a rinse-out conditioner is simply to coat the hair cuticle with a protective layer. Whilst everyday conditioners do provide some moisture, it's important to use deep conditioning treatments to really benefit from hydration.

Aveda ScalpTreatment 0118.jpg?transformations=f auto,w 700,h 540,c fill,g autoAveda ScalpTreatment 0118.jpg?transformations=f auto,w 700,h 540,c fill,g auto

How Long Should I Leave My Deep Treatment Conditioner In Before Rinsing?

Deep treatment conditioners are formulated to hydrate the hair as much as possible and should be left on longer than a rinse-out conditioner to enjoy the full benefits. Deep treatments can be used as regular treatments depending on your hair type.

Some deep conditioners, such as Green People Intensive Repair Conditioner - Coloured/Damaged Hair , should be left on for as much as 10 minutes. Others, such as Kérastase Densifique Masque Densité, only take a few minutes to absorb.

Generally, the masks that require more time to work are better for thickdamaged, or coloured hair and should be avoided if you have fine hair.

What About Leave-in Conditioners? Do I Just ... Leave It In?

Yes! A leave-in conditioner really should be left in to enjoy the maximum effects of the product. These formulas are much lighter than typical rinse-out conditioners and should be applied to towel-dried hair.

What Happens If I Leave My Conditioner In For Too Long?

Leaving on your conditioner for a few extra minutes won't cause any immediate problem. But if it becomes a habit, the extra conditioning time can leave your hair feeling coated with product build-up.

There are minimal benefits to leaving a rinse-out conditioner on for a long time. If you've got time to pamper your hair, it's best to reach for a deep treatment instead.