This is a question that I have been asked several times and topped the recent poll with nearly half the votes wanting to know the answer! I must clarify first and say that when you wash your hair, you should rinse out all the conditioner thoroughly (for reasons known as potential itchiness, personal experience here, some science to follow). The question posed here is whether you can then use a little bit of conditioner afterwards as a moisturiser or on a daily basis. The answer to this question is yes you can use conditioner as a moisturiser but with caution.
So there are two main types of conditioner
1. Rinse out conditioners (heavier type that is used after shampooing to add softness - typical ingredients include fatty acids, surfactants and oils)
2. Leave in conditioners (much thinner and lighter, typically contain humectants such as glycerine to help moisturise hair )
Now, leave in conditioners are a no brainer, they are designed to be left in. The heavier rinse out conditioners are a little more tricky. They can be used but be aware
1. Using a silicone heavy conditioner (silicone in one of the first 5 ingredients) is not ideal unless you shampoo your hair. Co-washing your hair will simply not do.
2. Conditioners which contain protein (hydrolysed protein or amino acids) have been shown to cause irritation and itchiness in some people (contact urticaria is the medical term). (Allergy. 53(11):1078-1082, 1998).
3. Hair conditioner can contribute to build up. This was explained in a very intricate study (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, pg 205-214,1989). The science behind this is that the hair conditioner has positive charges and the shampoo has negative charges. Depending on the amount and type of shampoo, the hair conditioner can either be removed or the shampoo can simply attach to the hair conditioner and cause build up. Naturally if you have been applying hair conditioner to your hair on a daily basis, then you will have much more of the positive charge.
So what precautions can you take if you want to use heavier conditioner as a daily moisturiser?
1. Don't put the conditioner on your scalp, try as much as possible to target the ends of your hair (leave the scalp and the first 1-2 inches alone).
2. Read the ingredient list and if you are a no shampoo person, avoid silicones in the top 5 list of your conditioner. If you shampoo, then no worries here.
3. Pick a conditioner without proteins.
4. Rinse your hair thoroughly on your wash day.
5. Use a conditioning shampoo on your wash day if you are not anti-poo.
What is your experience with leaving conditioner in hair? Have you got the itchies or have you had a pleasant experience?