What Does Conditioner Do?

Mother Dirt

Conditioner is one of the things that we rarely think about in our beauty routine. Usually, we pick some off the shelf and hope that it helps our hair in some way or another. But have you ever stopped to think about what job conditioner does for the health of your hair? So does it actually help your hair, or have we just been buying it our whole lives for no reason? 

The answer is yes. It has a purpose and a good one at that. Conditioner works to hydrate your hair and save your split ends, seal your hair shaft and add shine, amongst other things. Although some conditioners can damage your hair depending on their ingredients, so it’s important to know what to look for in a conditioner. 

What Is Conditioner?

Conditioner is a moisturizing agent that is used to give your hair a shiny and smooth finish. Using a conditioner leaves your hair feeling soft and balances the moisture that shampoo often strips out. A lot of shampoos use surfactants to get rid of oil, dirt and pollution. The conditioner brings back the hydration that your hair craves to keep it looking its best. 

There are a lot of different types of conditioners to choose from out there. When deciding which one to use, it's important to think about what you want it to do for your hair. Sure, most conditioners do basically the same job, but many use different ingredients to do so. 

Why Do We Need Conditioner?

If your hair has ever suffered from frizz or dullness, then you’ll know why we need conditioner in our routines. Conditioner brings moisture back into damaged hair so that it can look gorgeous again. People with dry hair can especially benefit from conditioner because of its hydrating abilities. 

Forgetting to use conditioner after washing your hair can completely change the way your day goes. Once you get out of the shower and realize your hair still feels tough and dense, you immediately regret your mistake. Conditioner allows the cuticle of the hair to fall tightly against each other and makes your hair feel smooth again. 

Different Types of Conditioners

Besides the traditional conditioner that you apply in the shower, there is also such a thing as a leave-in conditioner that helps to detangle hair. It can help tame frizz and flyaways because of its moisture, but won’t weigh your hair down. You don’t have to wash this type of conditioner out, hence the name. People with curly hair benefit greatly from leave-in conditioner because it tends to be on the drier side. 

Deep conditioner is another type that is usually thicker in consistency than a regular conditioner. People with color-treated and coily hair often use deep conditioners to help with damage. This type of conditioner doesn’t have to be used every day. It can be treated like a hair mask and used a couple of times a month. 

Thickening conditioner usually contains protein ingredients and collagen to make your hair appear thicker and fuller. It works for all hair types, but it's best for people who have hair that is thinning.  

How To Use Conditioner

So the question remains, are you applying your conditioner correctly? Here are our suggested steps for using a traditional conditioner in the shower. 

  1. Wash your hair normally and rinse the shampoo thoroughly. 
  2. Use a quarter-sized amount of conditioner on the ends of your hair.
  3. Start at chin length for application and work your way down, avoiding the scalp.
  4. Use a wide-tooth comb to spread the conditioner and detangle.
  5. Leave the product in your hair for about a couple of minutes before rinsing it out. 
  6. Use cold water to rinse the conditioner out of your hair. 

How To Find the Best Conditioner

When searching for a conditioner to use, it’s crucial to pay attention to the bottle. A lot of companies include these ingredients to help preserve their products or make it smell nicer. In the long run, these ingredients can be harmful to your hair and your health. Here are some to avoid: 

  • Fragrance can be harmful to your skin and cause several health issues. The chemicals in synthetic fragrances can lead to hair loss and asthma. 
  • Dimethicone is a type of silicone that helps smooth hair but also dries it out. 
  • Parabens preserve the shelf life of conditioners and can disrupt your hormonal balance.

On the other hand, there are also ingredients that you want in your conditioner to look out for. Natural, plant-derived ingredients are beneficial for your hair and won’t cause any damage to it. Look for these things:

  • Aloe vera gel has antioxidants and vitamin C.
  • Glycerin is a natural humectant derived from coconut to moisturize. 
  • Shea Butter is an emollient that is anti-inflammatory and helps with itchy scalp. 
  • Jojoba Oil is similar to your hair’s natural oils and adds nourishment to your locks.
  • Coconut has antifungal properties. 
  • Olive Leaf is a biometric emollient that contains antioxidants for hydration. 
  • Rose Water has anti-inflammatory properties and helps condition. 
  • Vitamin E extract repairs, restores and protects skin. 
  • Grape seed oil is a protectant, emollient and moisturizer. 
  • Water acts as a carrier for other ingredients in products.

How Often Should You Condition?

This is a great question because you don’t want to overshoot your conditioner routine. This could lead to greasiness, but under-conditioning could also lead to dryness. So how do you find a balance? The answer depends on your hair type and what type of conditioner you are using. 

The AAD recommends conditioning your hair every time you wash it. They recommend washing your hair a few times a week. Overwashing your hair can lead to its own host of problems, so finding a balance is key. If you have oily hair, you might want to tone down the number of times you condition your hair to keep it from becoming weighed down. If your hair is dry, conditioning it more often could benefit your hair’s health. 

Leave-in conditioner is a little bit different. You can generally use a leave-in conditioner once a week, but if your hair is color-treated or curly you can apply it more often. 

What Would Happen If You Stopped Using Conditioner?

If you stopped using conditioner altogether because the entire planet ran out, you’d likely notice a few things. Your hair would be almost impossible to comb, you’d have tons of flyaways and your strands would be more prone to breakage and split ends. It would start to look duller than usual and say goodbye to shininess. So do yourself a favor and keep using conditioner.

Probiotic Conditioner

Now that you know all about how often to condition your hair and all the different kinds that there are, we have to talk about maintaining balance. Your hair and scalp have a delicate microbiome of bacteria that live there and do a whole bunch of things. The good bacteria protects your hair and scalp from harm and keeps it looking healthy.

Although scalp skin is usually self-regulating, probiotics can help rebuild and strengthen the skin barrier when it becomes unbalanced. Probiotic-infused hair care lowers your hair’s pH and helps cultivate an environment for healthy bacteria. It also discourages unhealthy bacteria from growing there. 

Mother Dirt Hair Care

Mother Dirt’s conditioner is made without any harsh surfactants or synthetic fragrances. It’s gentle on hair and is made with ingredients that won’t weigh down your hair. Our Probiotic Hydrating Conditioner is made with rose water and tucuma butter for shinier, softer hair. 

If you want the ultimate balance for your hair, you should try our Hydrating Hair Wash as well. Using both of these products in conjunction with each other is helpful for your hair and scalp because it provides consistency. 

We also recommend using our AO+ Restorative Mist to further benefit your microbiome. This patented product is made with live bacteria and produces Nitrate and Nitric Oxide. The Mist protects and maintains healthy hair and skin with revolutionary probiotics and natural ingredients. 

The Bottom Line

Conditioner was invented to help our hair, but you have to be careful with what you use. Don’t scrub and peel away all the good bacteria on your scalp and in your hair because that’s what traditional hair care has called for. Mother Dirt knows that the secret to healthy hair (and skin!)  is a little bit dirty. Don’t be afraid of the bacteria that is here to help you! Embrace your scalp’s microbiome and nourish it as best you can.



How to Use Conditioner on Hair: Best Practices by Type and by Hair (healthline.com) 

How does hair conditioner work? (scienceline.org) 

9 Things No One Ever Tells You About Conditioner (womenshealthmag.com) 

Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions (ncbi.nim.nih.gov) 

Sulfates in Shampoo | Office for Science and Society (https://www.mcgill.ca) 

EWG Skin Deep® | What is DIMETHICONE (https://www.ewg.org) 

Tips for healthy hair (https://www.aad.org)

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