For too long, conditioner has been to shampoo what Robin is to Batman, Ron is to Harry, George is to Jerry…that is to say, the sidekick. Even though shampoo is simply responsible for cleansing, it somehow gets all the credit for that fresh-and-fluffy feeling that comes from washing your hair. But in truth, that feeling comes from conditioner: It superficially restores the lipids your hair loses from environmental damage, heat styling — you name it — and in turn leaves your hair noticeably softer and shinier than shampoo alone.
We at Allure’s The Science of Beauty podcast admit that we perpetuated the stereotype that shampoo is superior by dedicating an entire episode to it last season. So this time around, hosts Jenny Bailly, executive beauty director, and Dianna Mazzone, senior beauty editor (and yours truly), are righting that wrong by doing the same for conditioner — with a little help from Dr. Jeni Thomas, global principal scientist for Pantene.
The episode is chock-full of fascinating tidbits that will change the way you choose and use conditioner — so many, in fact, that we couldn’t do them all justice here. So check out a few below and be sure to listen to the full episode.
Letting your conditioner sit for longer doesn’t make it work better.
While Dr. Thomas says there's no harm in letting your conditioner sit in your hair while you, say, shave your legs or meditate in the shower, contrary to popular belief, there's really no need to wait before rinsing it out. It's the very act of rinsing that releases the actives in the formula so that they can get to work, says Dr. Thomas.
Conditioner is actually extra beneficial to those with fine hair.
If you have fine hair, you've probably been conditioned (no pun intended) to apply the stuff with a very light hand so as to avoid weighing down your strands. But according to Dr. Thomas, a fine hair fiber can have 50 percent less protein than a thick one — so those with fine hair are actually the most in need of the lipid-boosting powers of conditioner.
Combination shampoo-conditioner-body wash is not your friend.
No one — and no one product — is good at everything, which is why Dr. Thomas says to steer clear of 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 formulas unless you're willing to sacrifice performance. "I can tell you it's not in my shower," she says.
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