Can You Use Conditioner Without Shampoo?

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Not everyone likes shampooing their hair.

While we all know that shampoo is the best product for cleaning your hair, most regular shampoos can also dry your scalp and cause your hair to become brittle.

This is because most shampoo products contain chemicals that not only remove the dirt and grime but strip the hair of its natural oils too.

So quite understandably, some people want to ditch shampoo. Or, at the very least, ditch it for several days.

If you’re one of those people, you may have questions about not using shampoo in your hair care routine — like how will you wash your hair?

Is it possible to use conditioner without shampoo?

a middle-aged woman smiling at the camera while applying conditioner to her hair

In a standard hair care routine, conditioning typically comes after shampooing.

After the shampoo has cleaned off oil and impurities, the conditioner soothes the scalp and softens the hair.

Conditioner replenishes the hair’s helpful natural oils stripped off during shampooing. Plus, it also nourishes your locks making them soft and smooth.

So. while shampoo and conditioner may be the usual hair care combo, following this routine is not your only option.

If you want to kiss shampoo goodbye, you can. Check out the pros and cons of just using conditioner on its own.

Can You Use Conditioner Without Shampoo?

While it isn’t the traditional hair care method, conditioning without washing your hair with shampoo is not uncommon.

If fact, many prefer not using shampoo or at least not using it every day.

Shampoo can leave the hair dry and brittle if overused. So some people prefer skipping it and just using conditioner to nourish the hair and keep it soft.

Some people only use shampoo every so often and conditioner as their main hair care product daily.

They feel this is the best way to moisturize their hair and keep it soft and tangle-free.

It’s possible we have doubts about using only conditioner when we shower because we’ve always been told to use both products simultaneously.

Well, that is no longer the case and it’s definitely okay to just skip the shampoo to opt for conditioner instead.

What’s in Conditioner and How Does it Work?

We all know how a conditioner can make our locks softer and easier to manage right after getting them squeaky clean.

But how does a conditioner do that, and what else can it do to your hair?

A conditioner is a moisturizer for your hair. Its purpose is exactly like that of a facial moisturizer that you use after cleansing your face.

Here are some of the ingredients in a hair conditioner:

Now, you don’t need to put on your lab coat for this one because we’re not going to talk about these ingredients one by one.

To put it simply, they help the conditioner make your hair soft, smooth, and manageable.

a young woman fulfilled with her soft and silky long hair after using conditioner

Additionally, some conditioners also have protein to help rebuild hair bonds, and some have thickening agents to make the hair feel fuller.

As a bonus, other hair care brands even put in hair-loving plant extracts for more nourishment.

With all those ingredients, this hair care product improves the feel, texture, and appearance of the hair.

Types of Hair Conditioners

Does the conditioner we use matter if we use them without shampooing?

The type of conditioner you use matters because these days, hair conditioners are not only used for softening or smoothening the hair.

There are different types of conditioners and they have different uses too.

Conditioner is categorized into the following:

For this topic, the spotlight will be on the last two items on this list.

Rinse-out Conditioner

This is the type of conditioner that people most commonly know about and use. It’s the product that’s used after shampooing as part of the hair-washing routine.

The rinse-out conditioner is applied to wet hair and rinsed out after 2 to 3 minutes.

The result is instantaneous. Your strands will be smoother and softer in no time.

Cleansing Conditioner

A cleansing conditioner is the leveled-up version of a regular rinse-out conditioner. It has added mild chemicals that can gently remove oil and dirt from your hair.

A cleansing conditioner is designed to clean and nourish your hair. That’s why it can be used to replace shampoo.

This is perfect if you want to keep your hair clean without drying it.

This product is popular among people with curly or textured hair because they need more hydration.

Moreover, a cleansing conditioner is used for co-washing or conditioner washing.

a portrait of a silky and healthy colored hair

Rinse-out Conditioner vs Cleansing Conditioner

When it comes to washing your hair without using shampoo, you can use both rinse-out and cleansing conditioners.

But what is the difference?

To be precise, the cleansing conditioner is what you can use for cleaning your hair and scalp because of its added cleaning agents. It also has a thinner consistency, so it can easily be rinsed off.

Meanwhile, the rinse-out conditioner isn’t meant for cleansing since it can’t remove product and dirt build-up.

Rather, its main purpose is to moisturize the hair. It has a thicker consistency and makes the hair slippery after rinsing.

A Conditioner’s Effect on Different Types of Hair

Whatever the type and state of your hair, you need a hair conditioner.

However, conditioning hair without shampooing might feel different depending on its thickness and condition.

Hair Thickness

If you have fine or thin hair, you might want to avoid extra-nourishing conditioners. Since you already have thin strands, your hair can’t carry all those added ingredients.

Some people have textured hair that has thicker hair shafts. If you’re one of them, you might want to use a stronger conditioner.

Hair Condition

Can you use conditioner without shampoo on dry hair? How about oily hair?

From the beginning of this article, we’ve discussed how conditioning hair without shampooing can avoid dryness. So people with dry hair can benefit from avoiding shampoo.

But if you have oily hair, doing this can cause a problem.

What we would suggest is applying your conditioner only on the ends of the hair. Avoid the scalp area so you don’t add more oil where you don’t need it.

The Pros of Using Conditioner Without Shampoo

After shampooing your hair, you might have noticed that it’s clean, fresh, and fluffy. It probably also feels a little dry.

But the next day, you feel it become softer, smoother, and shinier.

That’s what you call second-day hair. And you can achieve that without having to wait for the second day.

You just skip the shampoo and use conditioner instead.

a young woman showcasing her long, silky and healthy hair while posing at the camera sideways

Aside from that instant second-day hair result, there are plenty of conditioner benefits that your hair can get in the long run.

Soft, Smooth, and Shiny Hair

When you use a conditioner, you give your hair protection. That’s because the conditioner coats your strands with a protective layer that locks in moisture.

This makes your hair feel soft and smooth. It controls frizzy hair as well.

What’s more, when you shampoo less, your hair can keep its natural oils. Hence, you get lustrous locks.

Reduced Hair Breakage

The protective layer left behind by conditioners can also strengthen the strands. Since your hair is stronger, it won’t easily break and it’s less prone to split ends.

Plus, this layer also makes the hair slippery and easier to detangle.

Because of the slip, the strands won’t get snagged on each other and won’t break when you comb your hair.

Longer Hair

Conditioners can make your hair grow faster, but not in a way similar to biotin which boosts the hair follicles. Instead, the conditioner keeps your hair healthy and helps it grow well.

This means conditioners can give the hair the nutrients it needs to grow and protect it from damage that can slow down the growth.

Conditioned hair split and break less often. In that case, you won’t need to trim your hair regularly.

In other words, when you condition your hair, you can grow it out and keep it long.

Repaired Damage

Most conditioners have nourishing ingredients that get absorbed by the hair fibers. Not only do they moisturize hair; they also repair.

If you have chemically damaged or heat-damaged hair, you can use a protein-infused conditioner. The proteins work to rebuild the bonds in your hair strands and add strength to your hair.

This will restore your hair’s condition.

Improved Elasticity

Hair elasticity is the ability of the strand to be stretched without breaking. When you pull a strand of your hair and then release it, the strand will go back to its natural shape.

When your hair is dry or brittle, it has low elasticity. Therefore, the strands will easily snap off when you brush your hair.

Conditioner improves the elasticity of your hair by hydrating the hair cuticles and fixing the cortex of your strands.

After regular use of conditioner, you’ll notice that your hair will be able to stretch without breaking off.

The Cons of Conditioning Without Shampoo

Can you just use conditioner without shampoo?

If you plan on using a regular conditioner and not a co-washing product, you can do so. However, there may be some drawbacks.

Not Clean Enough

During your first few weeks of a no-shampoo hair regimen, you’ll be in a transition phase. And in this phase, you’ll have that icky feeling of having dirty hair.

Well, it’s not actually dirty. You were just used to having squeaky clean hair and now your body is adjusting. It would take some time for your scalp to realize that it doesn’t need to produce as much oil as before.

But after the adjustment, the oil on your scalp will lessen and feel more natural.

Time Consuming

When you skip the shampoo, you probably think you would save time. But the truth is, the time spent washing your hair is still the same and maybe even longer.

Why is that so?

Well, it would take just as long to massage the conditioner into your scalp and work it through the ends. You have to work the product through your hair more because it will help remove the dirt better.

Plus, since you’re still having that not-so-clean feeling, you’d want to rinse your hair really well until it’s not so slippery anymore.

Product Buildup

As mentioned earlier, a rinse-out conditioner isn’t meant to clean the hair.

So it’s expected that after some time of using it without cleansing, oil, dirt, and hairstyling products can build up on your hair and scalp.

This buildup prevents water from penetrating your strands. When this happens, your strands will soon be dry and weak.

Another problem that the buildup may cause is dandruff issues.


Using a conditioner every day without washing the hair with shampoo can lead to over-conditioning.

Too much conditioner can weigh down your hair and make it look limp and dull. It can also overwhelm fine or thin hair and make it look greasy.

If that’s the case, you can use a conditioner with a lighter formula and avoid the scalp area. Instead, focus on the mid-lengths and ends of your hair.

a close-up image of a woman applying conditioner at the strands of her hair

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I condition my hair every day without shampooing?

A rinse-out conditioner is safe to use on your hair every day. However, it’s not advisable to go for a whole month of daily conditioning without using shampoo or any other hair-cleaning method.

As mentioned, this may lead to over-conditioning and product buildup.

Does conditioner remove oil from hair?

A specific type of conditioner called cleansing conditioner or co-wash can remove excess oil and dirt from your hair without stripping too much oil and moisture.

If you don’t want to use shampoo to clean your hair, you can use a cleansing conditioner instead.

Can you deep-condition without shampooing?

You can use a deep conditioner without washing your hair with shampoo or co-wash first.

Some people would recommend shampooing before using a deep conditioner. For them, freshly washed hair can absorb more moisture and nutrients from the product.

However, others don’t like washing their hair first because they feel it’s too drying and would contradict the purpose of a deep conditioner.

Can you use leave-in conditioner without shampoo?

Yes. You can apply a leave-in conditioner on dry, haven’t-been-washed hair, especially if your hair is extra dry or damaged.

Just spray or massage the product on your dry or damp hair and style it as you wish.

Can Conditioner Be Used Without Shampooing?

The verdict: Yes, you can. Shampoo can cause hair dryness so you may not want to use it daily.

And when you skip the shampoo, it doesn’t mean you have to let go of the conditioner, too.

It’s normal to want to use conditioners regularly because they can effectively moisturize your hair. Who doesn’t want healthy, soft, and smooth locks?

So go on and use that conditioner, even if you haven’t shampooed your hair. It will give your locks the nourishment they deserve.

Just make sure you use the right type of conditioner and avoid over-conditioning.

What else do you need to know about hair care?


  • Rachelle Velasco

    Rachelle, is a sought-after freelance hair and makeup artist, shines particularly in the world of hair color. From subtle ombres and balayages to vibrant hues and intricate root work, she crafts unique styles tailored to individual preferences. Beyond her artistic talents, Rachelle also holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, showcasing her diverse skill set and dedication to learning.

  • Jessica Hoelscher

    With thirteen years in cosmetology, Jessica Hoelscher is a seasoned stylist recognized for her modern techniques. A graduate of Paul Mitchell the School in St. Louis, her expertise has been showcased on Fox Two News and in People Magazine. Self-employed at Salon Lofts, her work has graced TV screens, styling for renowned events and Ole Miss cheerleaders.

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