Can I Leave Conditioner in My Hair Overnight? The Answer May Shock You!

As a frizzy-haired gal, conditioner is my lifesaver. I spend a good chunk of cash on buying conditioners and deep conditioners that will smoothen and hydrate my hair without making it greasy. And I’ve often asked myself: can I leave conditioner in my hair overnight?

can i leave conditioner in my hair overnight

It sounds great right? I’m pretty impatient, so I get annoyed during the 3-5 minute wait time while my conditioner does its thing. Also, I’ve noticed if I keep the conditioner on for an extra few minutes, my hair is much softer and easier to detangle.

Then the idea hit me. Leaving conditioner in my hair overnight would give me one solution for both my issues. I wouldn’t have to wait in my shower at all, and my hair would look like a hair commercial in the morning. Right?

Turns out, I was so very wrong. This article will examine if is it safe to leave conditioner in your hair overnight. And by the end of it, you will have the answer to the question ‘can you leave conditioner in your hair overnight?’

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What Happens If You Condition Hair Overnight?

The answer to this is simple and two words.

Hygral fatigue.

But before I go in deeper on the scary complicated term, let’s examine the simple science behind hair care.

Hair is essentially dead because the cells within the strand aren’t alive. Hair is made from keratin mostly, which is a helicoidal protein. Keratin gives hair its strength and shape.

Healthy hair needs a balance of two components: protein and moisture. While protein is needed for strength, moisture keeps hair soft and smooth. This is where conditioners come in, as they provide moisture and hydration to dry, frizzy hair.

However, too much moisture is a thing. When you sleep with conditioner in your hair, the moisture-protein balance is thrown off. The excess moisture causes the follicles to swell up, resulting in damage. 

This is called hygral fatigue. It causes the hair shaft to weaken, damages the cuticle, and weakens the protective fatty layer around each strand. This translates to even more frizz, a dull appearance, brittleness, and breakage. Curly hair will lose definition, and your locks will feel mushy.

Putting conditioner on dry hair overnight may just end up making your hair even drier and more frizzy. Over conditioning straight hair is even worse as it can cause massive amounts of breakage and hair fall.

However, people with curly or kinky hair should also avoid hygral fatigue. Some people think leaving the conditioner in hair overnight African American hair is okay because coarse hair needs more hydration. However, even in this scenario overnight is simply too much hydration for way too long.

While you now know the answer to “can you leave the regular conditioner in your hair overnight?” The issue remains about deep conditioners. 

Deep conditioners are even richer in hydrating ingredients and use thick oils, creams, and things like shea butter to deliver a moisture bomb to thirsty hair. 

Now imagine the damage to your hair after leaving a deep conditioner on your hair all night!

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How Long Should You Leave Conditioners in Your Hair?

leaving conditioner in hair overnight

The ideal length of time to leave the conditioner on your hair will alter depending on the brand and product you use. Because of this, it is always a good idea to follow the instructions mentioned on the packaging. 

For example, most common conditioners like the SheaMoisture Curl and Shine Conditioner instruct users to leave it on for 3 minutes. This is pretty much what all conditioners tell you to do. You can, however, leave it on for 5 minutes if your hair is extra dry and tangled.

Many deep conditioners like the As I Am Hydration Elation Conditioner can be left on the hair for 15-30 minutes, which is more than enough for even thick, dry, or coarse hair. To amp up the moisture, use a heat cap or hot towel to help the hair absorb the conditioner better.

In short, just do as your bottle of conditioner tells you to do. 

And should you put conditioner on your scalp? 

Nope, don’t even think about it. It will make your scalp greasy and weigh down your locks, making them look limp and lifeless.

Overnight Hair Treatments

Since deep conditioning natural hair overnight is a no, you might be feeling discouraged. People with very frizzy curly, coily, or kinky hair often need extra hydration to soften their hair and make it easier to style and detangle.

A good alternative to conditioning overnight is doing an overnight oil treatment. You can either stick to one kind of oil like coconut or olive oil. 

Or you can even make a blend of oil with coconut, olive, jojoba, and castor oil and add essential oils like rosemary, lavender, rose, and tea tree. Gently warming the oil mix in a double boiler will make for a super relaxing head massage too!

Massage the oil into your scalp and down the lengths of your hair. Tie up your hair and lay a towel over your pillow to prevent any staining. You can even use a plastic shower cap to protect your sheets and bedding.

The next morning, wash your hair as usual and follow up with a conditioner. Your hair will be softer, smooth, and free from gnarly tangles!


Below you’ll find answers to questions I get asked the most about conditioners and hair treatments.

01. What Will Happen if I Leave Conditioner in My Hair? 

When left for a couple of minutes, conditioners will moisturize your hair, making it smooth and easy to style and detangle.

02. Is It Good to Leave a Conditioner in My Hair Overnight?

On the contrary, it is actually bad for your hair to condition it all night. This leads to over-conditioning which can make hair waxy, lifeless, and prone to hair fall and breakage.

03. Is It Bad to Leave Conditioner in My Hair?

Leaving conditioner in your hair for too long can cause hygral fatigue which results in a good deal of damage. Weakened hair shafts, increased shedding, and even things like dandruff are prone to happen when hair conditioner is left for too long.

04. Which Conditioners Can I Leave On My Hair for a Few Hours?

DIY conditioners made from things like yogurt, bananas, avocados, and different oils can be safely left on the hair for a couple of hours. However, don’t leave these on overnight either. And make sure you wash your hair thoroughly, to prevent buildup or residue from irritating your scalp.

In a Nutshell

Well, there you have it. You now know the answer to the question “Can I leave conditioner in my hair overnight?” While it may seem like a good idea, over conditioning hair does a lot more harm than good. Trust me, I’ve done it and the mushy, stringy mess my hair became taught me a good lesson.

And in case you’ve gone and left your conditioner on for too long, don’t despair. To restore the balance in your hair, spend some time and money on a good protein treatment. 
You can do this with DIY rice water rinses and egg masks, or better yet, invest in something like the ApHogee Intensive 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor. Your hair will gradually get back to a balanced moisture-protein state.

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