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What Does Conditioner Do?

May 03, 2021 4 min read

What Does Conditioner Do?

We all know the golden rules for shampoo success: limit your washes, focus on the roots and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. But when it comes to shampoo’s trusty sidekick — conditioner — there’s a lot of grey area. What does conditioner do, anyway? Do you actually need it for healthy hair? And what’s all the buzz about conditioner bars? Sit back and relax because we’re going to tell you everything you need to know to get salon-worthy results.

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What is Conditioner?

Conditioner is a moisturizing agent that is designed to enhance the look, feel and manageability of hair. It’s been around in some form or another for thousands of years. (Fun fact: Ancient Greeks used olive oil to condition their hair, while Ancient Egyptians supposedly opted for a combination of castor oil and almond oil to achieve enviable tresses.) These days, most commercial conditioners contain ingredients such as oily compounds, cationic surfactants (the scientific term for detergents that carry a positive charge to reduce staticky hair), polymers and silicones.

What Are the Benefits of Conditioner?

If you’ve never used conditioner before or you don’t use it often, you may be wondering: Does my hair really need conditioner? After all, humankind did just fine without commercial conditioners for thousands of years.

While that may be true, consider this: People thousands of years ago didn’t use modern shampoo as it’s known today. Modern shampoo is designed to gently remove dirt and sebum (oil) from the scalp, but some shampoos can end up doing the job a little too well, resulting in dry, staticky hair that is often difficult to style. 

Conditioning your hair can provide the following benefits:

  • Restores Moisture to Dehydrated Strands – Over-washing your hair or using shampoo with oil-stripping sulfates can leave hair feeling dry and brittle. Nourishing conditioners give you softer, healthier tresses by adding moisture back into your hair.
  • Protects Hair Shaft from Damage Dealing with split ends and breakage? Using a conditioner after you shampoo can help smooth and seal hair cuticles, offering a degree of protection against weather and heat styling. 
  • Reduces Hair Static and Frizz – Let’s be real, who hasn’t dealt with frizz before? Say goodbye to static and frizz when you use conditioners that are loaded with nutritious vitamins and minerals.
  • Makes Hair Easier to Style – Last but not least, conditioners are an excellent detangler and make hair a total breeze to style.

Types of Conditioner 

Walk into any grocery store or beauty store and you’ll likely see a dozen types of conditioners on the shelves. How do you choose the right one for your hair? 

Let’s break down your options:

  • Traditional Conditioner – Most people use a traditional conditioner that is meant to be applied after you shampoo. Although it’s simple to use and easy to find, traditional conditioners often contain ingredients like silicones, parabens, sulfates, preservatives that can wreak havoc on your hair.
  • Dry Conditioner – Similar to dry shampoo, dry conditioners work by absorbing oil from the roots, adding instant volume to your hair. If you’re trying to go longer between hair washes, dry conditioner could be a good choice for you.
  • Conditioner Bar – Hair conditioner bars have been getting a lot of hype recently, and rightfully so. Our planet is currently dealing with a plastic waste crisis, and the beauty and personal care industries are a major contributor to the problem. Unlike traditional conditioners that come in plastic bottles, conditioner bars are low-waste, highly-concentrated and contain none of the questionable stuff (e.g., silicones, parabens, fillers and sulfates), making them a great choice for both your hair and the planet. 
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man conditioning his hair

  • 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner – Finally, there’s 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. Like its name suggests, this type of conditioner eliminates the need to shampoo and condition your hair separately by combining them into one product. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Chances are, you’ll never find a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner that works as well as a standalone conditioner. 

How to Apply Conditioner

It depends on the type of conditioner you’re using. For example, if you’re using one of our hair conditioner bars, you’ll simply “paint” your conditioner bar on your hair, starting at the ends. Check out this video to see what we mean.

Here are a few general tips that apply to all types of conditioner:

  • Apply conditioner after every time you shampoo to help restore moisture.
  • Squeeze the excess water from your hair before you apply the conditioner; otherwise, you’ll dilute the conditioner and make it harder for your hair to absorb the ingredients.
  • Leave it in for at least three minutes.

An Earthling-Friendly Conditioner for Every Hair Type

multi-color conditioner bars

To sum things up, conditioner is pretty darn important. For people with curly or coily hair, it might even be the star of the show (we see you, co-washers). So if you want to keep your hair game strong, don’t skip it!

Looking to make your hair care routine more sustainable? Make the switch to plastic-free shampoo and conditioner bars from The Earthling Co. and help us leave this planet better than we found it!