Do you leave conditioner in your hair for as long as the instructions on the bottle recommends?
I used to, but not anymore. I used to think that my conditioner needed time to work its magic and that, the longer I left it on, the softer, prettier and more moisturized my hair would become. Then, a few years ago, I started researching cosmetic ingredients and the way products work, and realised that there really is no need to leave conditioner on hair for a few minutes. Why?
How Conditioners Work
You see, there are very few ingredients that can actually penetrate hair. What conditioners really do is form a protective layer around the hair, which protects the cuticles. To be more specific, conditioners smooth cuticles by filling in gaps, make them lie flat so that they reflect light and look shiny, and just generally improve the feeling and appearance of hair. Because of this, it doesn’t really matter how long they remain in the hair. What’s really important is that you take your time to distribute it evenly throughout your hair. Once you’d done that, you can rinse it off straight away. You could leave it on for a few minutes, if you prefer. It won’t damage your hair but it won’t provide any additional benefits either.
The exception to the rule
Leave-in conditioners are an obvious exception to this rule. As the name says, they are supposed to remain on the hair. But there also is another exception and that is conditioners that contain ingredients that can actually penetrate into the hair shaft. What are these ingredients? Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Argan Oil and Panthenol can all penetrate hair, providing great conditioning and making hair more flexible, softer and stronger. So, if your conditioner contains a high concentration of one or more of these ingredients, then you should leave it on for several minutes as that will allow them time to penetrate hair and make the product work its best.
How long do you leave conditioner in your hair before rinsing it off?