How Long Should I Rinse Conditioner Out of My Hair?

Conditioner NewConditioning Hair 101 :

When I was a kid, conditioner was often termed as “cream rinse”, meaning it was just an enriching step after shampooing that required rinsing.  However, most people tend to over-rinse this creamy conditioning agent.

Have you ever noticed that your hair stylist seems to barely rinse the conditioner out of your hair when you get a salon shampoo and conditioning session with your haircut?

This was the first time I started to think about how I was washing and conditioning my hair many years ago as I sat with my neck cranked backward into the wash tub at the salon I went to back then for haircuts.

How long you rinse makes a difference…here’s why

I don’t know why it had never occurred to me before, but it was one of those Aha! moments where I started to rethink how long I was rinsing the conditioner out of my hair at home.

I also started to wonder if this was part of the reason my hair came out so much better when I got my hair washed and conditioned at the salon vs. doing it myself at home.  I wondered if this short rinse cycle was part of one of many professional stylists “Secrets” to getting salon results as opposed to home results.

Of course there are a plethora of other reasons your hair usually turns out looking better when you get it done at a salon. First of all, your hair is in the hands of a professional.

They have special hair dryers, curling and flat irons, a multitude of styling products, and the knowledge and technique to get better styling results than you usually do at home.  There is also the added benefit of having freshly cut or colored hair when you go to a salon, which adds to that healthy, shiny look of course.

The pro’s agree – conditioning hair requires you leave some conditioner in

I figured if I could use just one of the pro’s techniques at home, and if it was such a simple step as to leave my conditioner on longer AND to rinse it less (not to mention it’s a great water saver), then why not employ this technique at home?

So I decided to look up online how other professionals were recommending people to wash and condition their hair.  Of course what I found is that there IS a proper way to wash and condition your hair, and I did find that most people were rinsing the conditioner right out of their hair.

The general rule of thumb is that if you’re rinsing most rinse-out conditioners for more than one minute, you’re losing a lot of the benefits that are meant to be had by adding a conditioner to your hair washing routine.  You’re literally rinsing the benefits right out.

A conditioner is meant to only be rinsed out to the point you are rinsing off the EXCESS product. You don’t want to just rinse all of the product right out because it is meant to help protect, moisturize and make the hair more manageable by leaving behind these beneficial attributes on each individual strand.

I think it’s easy to think that you have to “get it all out” and to over-rinse because you may think that leaving too much in will cause residue and weigh the hair down. While you do need to rinse the excess conditioner out, it’s not necessary to go more than 30-50 seconds depending on the amount of hair you have.

Save money, save water

Cutting down your rinse time can also save you a lot of money on unnecessary styling products that are meant to get rid of that just-washed poofy look and to smooth down or defrizz the hair, since your conditioner can do double duty when enough is left behind to do its job.

If you’re not sure how long you’ve been rinsing your conditioner out, try timing yourself and then take mental notes of how your hair looks at the various rinse times.  Try to reduce to just under a minute first, then you can reduce more from there if needed.

Your hair should still feel silky when you’re done rinsing, which indicates that you’ve left enough conditioner on the hair to condition, shine and smooth your hair til your next wash date.  It’s a great experiment to see what the perfect time is for your hair.  This way you can ensure more great hair days – and save water!


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