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What Does Hair Conditioner Do? 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Conditioner is an important step in every hair care routine. Learn what conditioner actually does to your hair, and what mistakes you should avoid making when using conditioner.

Not everyone realizes how important a good conditioner is for the health and manageability of your hair. You should never skip conditioner – in fact, some people choose to condition hair more often than they shampoo.

If you’re not yet a believer in the magic that conditioner can bring to your hair, and you’re wondering to yourself “what does a hair conditioner do?” Read on to learn what mistakes you’re maybe making with your conditioner, and explore 5 conditioners for different hair types.


What Does Hair Conditioner Do?

Hair Conditioner

Source: Pixabay

In short, conditioners smooth and detangle hair to make it easier to manage and reduce breakage and split ends.

Conditioner is meant to replenish hair’s moisture after shampoo strips some of it away. For this reason, you should never skip conditioning your hair after washing–even if you’re in a hurry.

The benefits of conditioner include:

  • Adding a protective coating to the hair cuticle
  • Smooth and soften hair
  • Make detangling easy
  • Reduce frizz
  • Increase shine

Although forgoing shampoo isn’t for everyone, the conditioner has some of the same cleaning properties as shampoo, without being as harsh on your hair by stripping away the oils.


Mistake You Might Make with Conditioner

1. Not Using Conditioner at All

benefits of using hair conditioner

This is the biggest you can make with conditioner: foregoing using one altogether! You may think that you don’t need to use one, but the use of a conditioner does benefit hair if the right one is used.

The softness and manageability that it provides are unbeatable, so start your journey to find out what the best conditioner can do for your hair.


2. Choosing A Conditioner without Doing Your Research

perfect conditioner for hair type

Not all conditioners are the same; different conditioners work best for different hair types. If you choose a conditioner that isn’t compatible with your hair type, it may not make any improvements to your hair. In fact, it may make your hair less manageable.

Be sure to do your research to understand what type of hair you have–whether it be fine, thick, coarse or natural. You’ll also want to understand your hair’s porosity to determine how it would react to certain hair conditioners.


3. Applying Conditioner Mainly to Your Scalp

applying conditioner on scalp

When it comes to conditioner, your priority should be the ends of your hair. Your ends are the oldest part of your hair, meaning that they need the most attention.

Depending on the length of your hair, the natural hair oils produced by your scalp may not be able to travel to your ends, causing them to be prone to breakage and damaging your hair.

When applying conditioner, work your way up from your ends up your hair. Your scalp produces natural oils, so your roots really don’t need conditioner at all.


4. Not Thoroughly Rinsing the Conditioner out Of Your Hair

Although conditioner is beneficial in adding moisture to your hair, a conditioner used in the shower after shampooing should be thoroughly rinsed out of your hair before exiting the shower.

These conditioners are not meant to be left in, and they’re usually quite thick. If not rinsed out properly, the conditioner may clog your hair follicles and create buildup in your scalp. If you really want to add conditioner to soften your hair, use a leave-in conditioner after your shower.


5. Not Giving the Conditioner Time to Saturate Your Hair

You shouldn’t treat a conditioner the same way you treat shampoo. Conditioner is meant to moisturize your natural hair, and in order to do that, it needs time to saturate your strands.

If you lather it on and rinse it out immediately, you’re really not reaping the benefits of conditioner. Try to leave the conditioner on your head for at least a minute or two.

You can use the time to give your body scrub or shave your legs and have rinsed the conditioner out of your head be the last thing you do in the shower.


6. Using Too Much/too Little Conditioner

conditioner your hair

Source: Pexels

Using too much conditioner may not sound possible, but it is. When you use too much conditioner, not only might you have trouble rinsing it all out, but it may end up weighing down your hair.

This is especially true if you have fine hair. Try and follow the instructions on the bottle. Depending on the thickness of your hair, one or two quarter-size dollops are often enough to fully coat your strands.


7. You Only Use a Conditioner in The Shower

hair conditioner

If you currently don’t use a rinse-out conditioner at all, then starting by using a conditioner in the hour is the best idea. However, know that there are a number of products and methods available to condition your hair.

  • Leave-in Conditioners: As simple as their namesake, leave-in conditioners are meant to be left in your hair after applying.
    They are usually lightweight compared to rinse-out conditioners and add moisture that is meant to last all day. Because they’re meant to be left in your hair, they can even sometimes be used as a styling tool.
  • Deep Conditioners: Deep conditioners are also meant to be rinsed out of your hair after application. However unlike regular rinse-out conditioners, you use in the shower, deep conditioners penetrate deeper into the hair shaft, providing more conditioning.
    They usually sit in your head longer too–for 15 to 30 minutes–so it’s best to do a deep condition after you exit the shower.
  • Hair Masks: Hair masks are similar to deep conditioners, except their goal is to help repair damaged hair. They’re usually rich in oils and fats, and much heavier than other conditioners.
    Hair masks can be left on your head for anywhere from a few minutes to overnight, and rinsed out in the morning.

It’s a good idea to have variety in your hair regiment, and switch up your normal rinse-out conditioner for a deep conditioner or hair mask from time to time.

If you use a leave-in conditioner or a deep conditioner, you may be able to skip the rinse-out conditioner in the shower.


8. You’ve Never Changed Conditioners

Maybe you’ve been using the same conditioner since you were in high school and feel like it works fine. However, there are always new products and formulas being developed which may benefit you more than the one you’ve been using for the past 10 years.

Plus, the product you’ve been dedicated to may also have switched its formula without you realizing it, making it less effective for your hair.



Best Hair Conditioners to Try

If you’re thinking of switching up your current conditioner, or you don’t currently use hair conditioner at all, check out these suggestions of top hair conditioners to try, and get started on your journey to strong, hydrated hair!

OGX Renewing + Argan Oil of Morocco Hydrating Hair Conditioner – Best for Dry Hair

OGX Renewing + Argan Oil of Morocco Hydrating Hair Conditioner, Cold-Pressed...
  • Strength, Shine, Softness: a unique, precious blend with argan oil of Morocco helps to penetrate the hair shaft; discover...
  • Smooth, Sexy Tresses: this exotic, precious blend with argan oil of Morocco that penetrates, moisturizes, renews, and creates...
  • How To Use: apply shampoo generously to wet hair, massage into a lather through to ends, then rinse the hair thoroughly;...

Conditioner is especially important for dry hair, and OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Conditioner will provide your hair with the additional moisture that it needs.

This conditioner uses argan oil to hydrate, repair and renew your hair, giving it a soft feel and helping with detangling.


  • Affordable
  • Formulated with argan oil
  • Suitable for all hair types


  • Very thick–may weigh down fine hair


OUAI Fine Conditioner – Best for Fine Hair

OUAI Fine Conditioner. This Lightweight Conditioner Gives Fine Hair Softness,...
  • OUAI FINE CONDITIONER. When volume is only a button on your phone, we’ve got the products for your OUAI Fine hair....
  • YOUR HAIR’S HOLY GRAIL. Nourishing conditioner with keratin, biotin, and chia seed oil gives fine hair life! Apply on wet...
  • OUAI (or “way”) means yes in that casual, Parisian way. We believe in effortless routines and good for you ingredients....

OAUI Fine Conditioner not only works to hydrate your hair, but it also adds volume to your hair.

The nourishing ingredients of keratin, biotin, and chia seed oil in this conditioner help strengthen hair, to prevent breakage. OUAI has conditioner options for medium and thick hair as well.


  • Customized for fine hair
  • Formulated with keratin to help strengthen hair


  • Pricey


Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment – Best for Damaged Hair

Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment, 3.3 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
  • Repairs damaged and compromised hair, strengthens and protects hair structure, restores healthy appearance and texture
  • Apply a generous amount from roots to ends on unwashed towel-dried hair.
  • Comb through once and leave on for a minimum of 10 minutes or more. Rinse from hair, shampoo, and condition.Healthy hair

If your hair is damaged, all is not lost; the right conditioner can help repair that damage and protect your hair from any further damage.

Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector is a conditioner that reduces breakage and visibly strengthens hair to improve the overall look and feel. With constant use, you’ll soon repair your hair to a much healthier appearance and feel.


  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Sulfate-free
  • Cruelty-free


  • High price for small quantity


Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Hair Conditioner – Best for Natural Hair

Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisturizing Conditioner for Curly, Wavy,...
  • HYDRATING CONDITIONER: This deep conditioner for curly hair made with a blend of Shea Butter and Rosemary can put an end to...
  • FOR DRY, DAMAGED HAIR: Detangles and smooths wet hair to lessen breakage; Light enough to use daily and works great as...
  • COILY, CURLY, WAVY HAIR PRODUCTS: Carol’s Daughter Collection created for natural hair with 4C, 4B, 4A, 3C, 3B, 3A, 2C, 2B,...

This Carol’s Daughter Hair Conditioner is formulated with pro-vitamin B5 and biotin to treat dry brittle hair and balance moisture.

It makes detangling kinky curls much easier, reducing the risk of further damage through breakage. Plus, the scent of black vanilla will have your hair smelling amazing!


  • Made especially for natural hair
  • Great smell
  • Makes detangling a breeze


  • It may not be effective for fine hair


Consider switching up your conditioner from time to time to see if your hair would respond to something new. It isn’t always a guaranteed success, but it does take trial and error to find the product that works for you.