How To Use Hair Conditioner

how to use hair conditioner

Pick the best conditioner for your hair for the best results.

Long hair, short hair, colored hair, thick hair, thin hair. There are as many types of hair conditioner available as there are types of hair. It can be a challenge to pick one out and to know how to use hair conditioner properly. We will sort this out and help you to choose the right conditioner for your individual needs.

How To Use Hair Conditioner


These are the lightest of the conditioner family. These come in non-aeresol spray form and are best used on damp hair directly from the shower or pool. Towel dry the hair first in order to remove excess moisture, then spray, beginning at the ends and working up to the roots. Since most tangles occur on the bottom half of the hair, this is where you should start. Then comb through with a wide-tooth comb also beginning at the ends and working up. Detanglers are great for long hair and for children.

Leave-in conditioner

The leave-in conditioners are one step up from the detanglers. They are usually in a light crème form similar to the texture of hand cream and are meant to be used on damp hair. Towel dry the hair and start with a dime-size dollop—you can always add more. Rub the product in your hands then distribute in the hair beginning at the ends and working your way up the hair shaft. Comb through with a wide-tooth comb and style. Leave ins are great for coarse hair and hair that tends to be frizzy. They are great for blowing out longer hair as well.


Oils are the newest addition to the conditioner family as they have come into popularity within the last 10 years. Many companies now make them in a light formula and a heavy formula. They can be used on damp hair or dry. They are great for anti-static properties in the winter and anti frizz in the summer. They are best used with a light hand and usually just a few drops is plenty. Begin at the ends and work your way up the hair shaft. Don’t worry if you forget to put some in while your hair is damp, you can also use it on dry hair.

Rinse-out conditioner

This is by far the largest group in the conditioner family. There are different types depending on your hair’s individual needs. Most modern conditioners are sulfate and paraben free, which makes them color friendly. They come in bottle or tube form. They can be used daily, after shampooing the hair. For extra conditioning power, leave the conditioner in your hair for 5-10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. These are great for all hair types. Read labels to find one that most closely matches your hair types and needs. Most companies make conditioners that are to be used in conjunction with their shampoo.


Occasionally, you will see this spelled masque—same thing, fancy spelling. They usually come in a tub or tube. These are the heaviest of the conditioner family and are best used for extremely dry hair. They are also excellent for heavily chemically processed hair. For maximum conditioning power, coat your hair with the mask, and cover with a wrap or hot towel. Leave the mask on for 20-30 minutes, or longer if desired, then rinse out very well. You can leave them on less time, but they are best left on at least 20 minutes to do the job well. These are best when used on a weekly basis, because they are a bit too heavy for daily use.

Editor’s note: If you have professional experience with hair care, Viewpoints is recruiting experts in priority product categories to write for our blog. Check out this overview of the Viewpoints Category Expert Program, including qualifications, compensation and how to apply.

Rachel Leipzig Rachel Leipzig (30 Posts)

Rachel Leipzig has been styling hair in Chicago for 15 years, after relocating from New York City and opening a salon on Oak Street on Chicago’s Gold Coast. She is currently working at Sho Studio in Chicago. A specialist in makeovers, her television appearances include Oprah, ABC, and FOX. Leipzig’s work has also been featured in Allure, Chicago Social and Today’s Chicago Woman magazines.