Skip to Content

What Happens If You Don’t Rinse Out Conditioner?

There’s a surprising amount of discourse around hair washing. Some people think it’s a good idea to wash your hair every day. Conversely, some think you should only wash your hair a few times a week.

As a result, several fascinating hair care routines have popped up. With that in mind, what happens if you don’t rinse out the conditioner.

There are several ways to wash your hair, but most people use some combination of shampoo and conditioner. Typically, you use shampoo, rinse it out, and then use conditioner.

Most people rinse their hair, but some are asking whether it’s ok to leave the conditioner in their hair. Here we will answer the question, what happens if you don’t rinse out the conditioner?

By the time you are done reading, you should have all the answers so that you can organize your new hair care routine.

Should You Rinse the Conditioner Out of Your Hair?

Beautiful young Asian woman smiling and putting conditioner in her hair

New Africa/Shutterstock

Conditioner is supposed to be rinsed out of your hair once you finish washing. There are several reasons for this, but what you should know is you should always rinse the conditioner out of your hair.

The main reason for this is the chemicals in the conditioner are bad for your hair if left in place for an extended period.

Chemicals in Conditioner

Every brand is slightly different, but they all contain similar chemicals. Some chemicals you can expect to find in almost all conditioners include:

  • Trimethicone
  • Phenyl trimethicone
  • Polydimethylsiloxane
  • Behenoxy dimethicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Simethicone
  • Dimethicone

Check the ingredients on your conditioner bottle to see the chemicals it contains. If your conditioner has any of the chemicals listed above, your hair will have build-up if you do not wash it away.

What Happens to Your Hair If You Don’t Rinse the Conditioner Out of Your Hair?

Hairstylist squirting gel into her hand for a piece titled what happens if you don't rinse conditioner out of your hair


If you don’t rinse the conditioner out of your hair, it’s not overly dangerous. However, some negative side effects could come from not rinsing your hair. As a result, you are better off rinsing your hair than leaving the conditioner in place.

1. Conditioner Can Cause Build-Up

One of the things that can come from not rinsing the conditioner from your hair is build-up. Build-up is when conditioner builds up in your hair from not getting rinsed out.

When this happens, your hair will start to feel wavy and sticky. Build-up can occur on both your scalp and hair.

2. Scalp Itchiness

In the paragraph above, we told you that build-up can affect your scalp. When build-up occurs, it can lead to annoying side effects on the top of your head.

Notably, it can lead to scalp itchiness. If you want to avoid itchiness, use a leave-in conditioner rather than a rinse-out conditioner.

3. Dusty Residue

Another thing you might have to deal with if you leave the conditioner in your hair is dusty residue. When it dries out, the conditioner leaves behind a dusty residue. This residue comes from the various ingredients and chemicals in the conditioner.

4. Allergic Reactions

Unfortunately, it is impossible to know everything everyone is allergic to. There are several things in this world that you will never interact with, and as a result, you can’t know if you’re allergic to them.

With that in mind, there are many chemicals in conditioner that you might be allergic to. You might think that if you do not get an allergic reaction when you put the conditioner in your hair, you are not allergic to any of the chemicals.

Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case. 

It is possible to avoid an allergic reaction when you only have brief contact with something you’re allergic to. However, if conditioner is left in your hair to dry out, you could experience an allergic reaction.

How to Properly Rinse Conditioner Out of Your Hair

Pretty and thin Indian woman washing her hair in the shower for a piece titled what happens if you don't rinse conditioner out of your hair


Now that you know that you should always rinse the conditioner out of your hair, you probably want to make sure you are doing it right. Fortunately, it isn’t an overly scientific process, but we’ll take you through it anyway.

  1. Start by wetting your hair fully with water.
  2. Apply shampoo to your hair and rinse it fully from your hair with warm water.
  3. Grab your conditioner bottle and squirt some into the palm of your hand. You only need a little bit (about the size of a quarter).
  4. Slowly spread the conditioner through your hair. Focus on the tips of your hair. Avoid applying conditioner to your scalp.
  5. Run your fingers or a comb through the ends of your hair.
  6. Let your conditioner sit in your hair for one or two minutes. Enjoy the hot water on your back.
  7. After a few minutes have passed, rinse the conditioner from your hair. Be thorough so that none is left behind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read on to address the most frequently asked questions about using conditioner. 

How Often Should You Use Conditioner?

If you are using a rinse-out conditioner, it is recommended to use it every time you wash your hair. For most people, this will be a few times a week.

However, the American Academy of Dermatology does tell people with very oily hair to use conditioner less frequently. Conditioner can weigh down your hair if it is extra oily.

Is Leave-In Conditioner Safe for Your Hair?

One thing you have heard us mention a few times is the leave-in conditioner. These conditioners are used between washing and styling your hair. The main difference between them and traditional conditioners is they are used on dry hair.

As a result, they are not washed out and are instead left in your hair. There are several benefits to using a leave-in conditioner. Notably, people with dry hair get some necessary moisture.

However, it is not just people with dry hair that see benefits from a leave-in conditioner. This conditioner can also benefit people with frizzy, damaged, coarse, or curly hair.

Conditioner can combat fizziness, protect from damage, and make your curls appear healthier. Unfortunately, there are some risks to using a leave-in conditioner. Notably, allergic reactions are possible because the conditioner is kept in your hair for an extended time.

If you notice any burning or irritation in your scalp it likely means you had an allergic reaction. You should remove the conditioner immediately if that is the case.

Additionally, there is the risk that leave-in conditioner could drip down into your eyes. As a result, you need to be very careful so that you do not hurt your vision by using conditioner.

So, What Happens If You Don’t Rinse Out Conditioner?

It is essential to use conditioner to maintain your hair’s health. You should use conditioner after every time you wash your hair. You should always rinse the conditioner out of your hair in almost all situations.

The only time you can leave the conditioner in your hair is if you are using a conditioner that is labeled leave-in. Other conditioners can result in negative side effects from leaving it in.

Notably, you could experience allergic reactions, build-up, or scalp itchiness. All you need to do to avoid these symptoms is thoroughly rinse your hair before you get out of the shower.