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Technique Tuesdays – Can you over-condition your hair?

 Can you over-condition your hair?

We all know the benefits of a deep conditioning ESPECIALLY if one is applying heat, color or just living in this world with all it’s pollutants.  Despite how you choose to fall into the category of needing one, the point is whether you can overdo it.  The answer to this is a resounding “YES!”

Can you overcondition your hair?

I used to regard this as a nonsense term but when I did some research, I
do now know that it is possible. A study done on nails (same keratin
protein as hair) was performed to find out why nails get weaker with
repeated water exposure.  The study found that exposing nails to water
for over 15 minutes (remembering that at 15 minutes the protein is saturated) led to the keratin coiling different from normal and this was linked to softening and weakness (BBA,pp 210-216,1999).

There are many naturals who will condition their hair for hours at a
time because they like the softness that it develops. If you are in this
group, you are someone who likes over-conditioned hair.
The softness you are feeling is most likely related to the change in the
keratin and you should be careful when handling your hair when it is
that soft as it will be weaker until it has time to recover its stronger
conformation. The Natural Haven 

Basically, you will have complete absorption and benefits of a conditioner within 20 to 30 minutes and if you use heat it shouldn’t be above 95°F.  I am a heavy handed, over-conditioning Natural and will be pulling back from the overnight conditioning.  With the lack of color and heat I apply to my hair I really don’t need the conditioner on more than a few minutes.  No wonder my hair won’t do a damn thing the first couple of days after I wash it!  

Always staying in ‘the know’ Naturals,



Leave a Reply


  1. January 8, 2013 / 3:12 pm

    Now that I've embarked on the Curly Girl method, I wonder if this still applies? I do use a leave-in conditioner as my actual leave-in and not a Deep Conditioning conditioner so that may make all the difference in the world.

  2. January 8, 2013 / 3:29 pm

    Thank you for this Sabrina!Goodness,i looooove to overnight condition!No wonder i was experiencing some breakage!Thank you so much,i really really appreciate this!

    • January 8, 2013 / 3:51 pm

      No problem. I noticed something as well but when you are being kind to your hair you really are just overdoing it with all the DCs and overnight DCing. I am a victim too! Thanks for the comments.

  3. January 8, 2013 / 6:18 pm

    I have never left a conditioner in my hair for long periods of time the I intended to wash out, but I do use conditioner as a leave in. I think it has to do with being moist and water.

    • January 8, 2013 / 6:29 pm

      I figure my problem was using shampoo and after stripping my hair of all the oils and moisture I had to replenish it with conditioner and I overdid it. I'm still learning about how to be good to my hair. Do you have soft water? I have hard water and that creates problems as well.

  4. January 9, 2013 / 3:46 am

    I do condition overnight but don't experience breakage from it. Softness yes, breakage no. But this is food for thought. I would have thought that hair would absorb all it could, after which time, the remaining conditioner would simply sit on the top of the hair. But apparently science tells us, it is doing more. Yikes!

    Good post. Thank you!!

    • January 9, 2013 / 6:03 am

      Thanks lady. We learn something new everyday. Now, I have embraced the Curly Girl Method (picked up the book about a week ago) and love it. I do keep conditioner in my hair but it's leave in. I use Kinky Curly Knot Today. Sometimes we can be overloaded with information but what isn't working for us may be food for thought for someone else. Thanks for commenting!