Hair Skin Care Over Conditioning

If you’re like most people, after you shampoo your hair, you follow with a conditioner. Conditioners help restore moisture to the hair, keeping our locks healthy and shiny. However, as good as conditioners can be, you could be causing damage to your hair if you are using too much conditioner or are using the wrong type of conditioner.


Conditioners are products that coat the outer cuticle of the hair, providing it protection from the environment and everyday abuse. Conditioners also add shine to the hair and help prevent it from tangling and breaking.

There are a number of conditioners on the market, from conditioners for dry hair to volumizing conditioners to color-enhancing conditioners. To avoid using the wrong conditioner, you’ll want to select one that is appropriate for your hair type. If you are unsure of which conditioner to choose, ask your hair stylist. She’ll be able to point you in the right direction.


Simply stated, over-conditioning is using too much conditioner on your hair. Often, people take globs of conditioner and slather it from the roots of their hair to the tips of the hair.

What most people don’t know, however, is that the hair follicle provides nutrients to approximately the first three inches of the hair shaft. Therefore, the only areas of your hair that are in need of nourishment and protection are the sections not nourished by the hair follicle.

Over-conditioned hair often looks limp and greasy. It can also be very oily and difficult to style.

How to Avoid Over-Conditioning

If you are applying conditioner to your scalp and the roots of your hair, you’re likely over-conditioning. To prevent your limp, lifeless hair, follow these steps:

  1. After shampooing your hair, gently squeeze the excess water from your hair. This will allow your hair to better absorb the conditioner.
  2. Apply the conditioner to the palm of your hand. The amount you need will vary depending on the length and thickness of your hair. If your hair is long and thick, you will likely need one tablespoon of conditioner. If your hair is thin and short, however, use significantly less. Using too much conditioner will result in over-conditioning.
  3. Rub your palms together to distribute the conditioner.
  4. If you have long hair, pull your hair into a ponytail and use your fingers to coat only the hanging portion of hair with the conditioner. If you have short hair, take care to apply the conditioner to only the mid-section and tips of the hair shaft.
  5. Let the conditioner sit for a few seconds. If you have very dry hair, allow it to sit for approximately 30 seconds.
  6. With your fingers or a wide-toothed comb, gently pull the conditioner through your hair, carefully working to remove tangles.
  7. Using warm water, rinse all the conditioner from your hair. Do not use hot water, as it can cause excessive drying of the hair. Rinse for at least one minute to ensure all the conditioner is removed from your hair.
  8. After rinsing, gently squeeze the excess water from your hair. Use a towel to gently blot moisture from your hair. To prevent breakage, do not rub your hair vigorously with the towel.

Do not follow this conditioning process with a spray conditioner or a leave-in conditioner unless you have very dry or damaged hair. Talk to your stylist to determine whether or not you need a leave-in conditioner.

Resources (1997-2005). Hair Conditioners. Retrieved October 31, 2007, from the Web site: (2006). Hair Conditioner