Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

Do Conditioners Cause Your Hair to Fall Out?

By January 27th, 202128 Comments

Do Conditioners Cause Your Hair to Fall Out?via The Beauty Brains

Lunatique asks…During a discussion on conditioners etc, a friend of mine told me that I shouldn’t use conditioner on daily basis because I would eventually lose my hair. That one bothered me for a while (in the summer I wash my hair every day, and if I don’t use conditioner they are totally untamable), so I decided to ask my hairdresser which I trust. To my surprise, she agreed, but told me not to use it daily near the roots, because the emollients in it would soften the hair follicle and it wouldn’t be able to hold the hair anymore, thus making my hair fall. So…am I really causing that much damage on my hair, or is it just another beauty myth?

The Right Brain responds:

We thought we’d heard all the hair care myths but this was a new one to us. We’re highly skeptical that this could be true given that conditioner ingredients coat the hair shaft and that they generally are too large to penetrate into the follicle. Plus, we’ve never seen any data to suggest that emollients “soften” the follicle as your hair dresser suggested. We tried to be as thorough as possible and did a literature search but we could not find definitive proof that conditioners don’t cause your hair to fall out. But, we did find a study showing that shampoos with conditioning agents do not impact “hair fall.” Let’s take a look…

Hair fall study

We found this journal article (“Absence of effects of dimethicone- and non-dimethicone-containing shampoos on daily hair loss rates”) which was published in 1991 the the journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. The study, conducted by researchers for Proctor and Gamble, involved 400 women in Thailand. They had women collect lost hairs ( in drains, combs, brushes, pillows, etc) for 2 weeks to establish a baseline of what normal hair loss was for them. (Most people will lose between 30 and 180 hairs a day.) Then they divided the women into 3 groups and on a blind basis gave them one of three shampoos: A regular non-conditioning shampoo, a silicone containing shampoo, or a 2-in-1 type shampoo with silicone.

Results and Discussion

Results showed that regardless of how much conditioning the shampoo provided, it did not impact hair fall rates. We recognize that this test was done on shampoos, not conditioners as asked in the question. But, it is reasonable to assume that this data could be extrapolated to conditioners for two reason: One, the testing was done with shampoos containing dimethicone which is one of the most popular ingredients used in conditioners. Two, one of the cells tested a two-in-one shampoo which typically contains cationic guar, which is representative of the kind of positively charged (or cationic) ingredients often used in conditioners. Therefore, we’d expect these results to be similar for conditioners. (If anyone finds a more recent study that contradicts our assumption, please let us know.)

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Conditioner helps keep your hair looking and feeling healthy. We could find no data suggesting conditioners cause your hair to fall out. If this really was an issue, the entire hair care industry would be affected and you can be sure that the large cosmetic companies would be racing to create the first “non-hair fall” conditioner because that would give them a competitive advantage.

Have you ever noticed an increase in hair shed when using conditioner near the roots?

28 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    If your hair is itchy, falling out, or if you are having any type of reaction to conditioner you are most likely allergic to an ingredient in the product. I try to pay close attention to ingredients and discontinue using products that cause my scalp to itch. I am allergic to almost everything, so just because it is 100% natural and organic doesn't mean it is good for me. Many natural products contain tree and herbal extracts which I am HIGHLY allergic to. Also, if conditioner is breaking your hair, an ingredient could be drying your hair out (sulfates, Non-fatty alcohols…). Just research your ingredients and pay attention to your hair.

  • KosherKurly Girl says:

    Wow. I have never ever heard of such a thing. I have pondered the possibilities and I ask: Do you suppose that it could be you are simply better able to detach loose hairs when you apply conditioners? could you be utilizing a conditioner with too much protein for your hair i.e are you perhaps protein sensitive?
    The hair stylist made an odd comment too,because conditioning and moisturizing are vital to hair growth and retention.Just as you apply a moisturizer to your skin after a bath or shower,so you should apply conditioner to hair to retain the water you need in it. Not to disrespect the stylists out there,but I've become pretty leery of having anyone in my hair since I began my natural journey.The most ridiculous things I've heard from people who were not trained/educated in caring for curly hair!

  • Anonymous says:

    I have the very same issue – no conditioner, not too much hair in the shower drain; conditioner – globs of it!!!

  • fayneal says:

    I am ok with using a " leave-in" conditioner so that my hair is protected after a shampooing.
    fayneal

  • Nikita says:

    great article! thanks for doing that research!! and ChicaRizada94, thank you for mentioning the drying ingredients and potentially irritating dyes/fragrances!!

  • Kyauphie says:

    I've heard this too, but never bothered to believe it. I've only heard this rumor circulate through people who perm/chemical process their hair and mock me for never having done so, only to have them jump on the rational bandwagon of the nurture your hair process. I've used conditioner and oils as a leave in for at least 13 years, never grease, whether I'm pressing my hair or not, and especially when I clip my ends or cut my hair. It's the one thing both hydrating and protecting enough for my hair to keep up with my ever changing lifestyle. Maybe it only has that result on certain hair types. Throughout my life, products designed for Black people have always clashed with my hair causing it to dry or break, leaving weird residues, requiring steps that negate the styling or health of my hair… just flat out on complementry. My suggestion is the only use products that noirish and protect your hair no matter what your hairtype. Listen to your hair always and respond accordingly.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am one year and a few months natural..well three months ago I noticed that I was losing hair around my edges and I was losing a lot of hair when I use conditioners atleast three times a week. I came across an article and a lady shared her story about conditioners. So I have decided to only use conditioners once a week after a wash. Since then my edges are growing back and I am not losing hair as I once did. So there is some truth truth to this!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow!! Thank you so much for the suggestions and information! I'm going to make an appointment w/ a Physician asap! God bless!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear Anonymous at Nov 14 6:03pm. Have you heard of Telogen Effluvium? Are you experiencing life issues (stress, health, etc) which could contribute to this?

    I had a bout of alopecia areata that cycled between three spots. The largest was nearly 2.5 inches in diameter (6cm).

    Please see your primary care health provider or a dermatologist as soon as you're able. My doctor ordered laboratory blood work to rule out perimenopause, anemia, thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, etc.

    Have you been evaluated for alopecia? After referral to a dermatologist, I received several cycles of triamcinolone injections (steroid)into the naked scalp lesions to halt the hair fall.

    I hope you find the answer.

    Be Blessed – HTH

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm the Anonymous that made the post about large amounts of hair falling out after applying conditioner. My hair is fine/thin, and I actually don't detangle often b/c of the fact that my hair is so fine and fragile. I once had thick beautiful curls as child, but after relaxing, growing out my natural hair, big chopping, and going 100 % natural, I've had a serious hair loss problem. @shavontia I actually have only used a protein product(whih was the OA) twice since going natural. I've henna'd once, and other than that my daily routine is simple.

    @Jo Somebody You may be on to something. My hair does not tangle easily, but the conditioners that I'm using may have a good "slip" and that be causing split hair to fall easier. Thanks for that info!

    The shedding is something that still concernes me. My hair comes out in clumps after applying conditioner, but when It's wet only I can rub my wet hair with my hands and turn them over with hair all over them.

    I'm going to dust my ends tonight ( It has been a while and see if that helps any) Thanks for all the advice!

  • julia @ simple truths says:

    What?
    So, if conditioners provide the right amount of 'slip' that everyone loves for detangling and makes it easier to remove shed hairs, then it would make sense that people would see more shed hairs when using conditioner than when not….

    Remember hair naturally sheds on an average of 30-180 EVERY DAY. So if you only detangle once a week, or every other week then seeing up to 2,500 in your comb, brush, sink etc is NORMAL. Unless you are noticeably thinning in specific areas please take this off of your list of things to worry about.

  • Annie L. says:

    I had a former stylist try to tell me this too – she's, again, my former stylist. These things are so subjective; diet, prescription drugs, supplements, health and beauty aid ingredients, health problems, how and how much you're using products – these factors can impact performance of a product or make it look as if it is causing trouble when it's not.

    It's important to flush out these concerns/myths but it's irritating to constantly hear generalized statements made by 'experts' with no context provided whatsoever.

  • GGmadeit says:

    I condition daily (TWA) and the only hair loss I have experienced is the ones I cut

  • Anonymous says:

    My 17 year old daughter's hair start breaking off really bad late in the spring. It came out of nowhere and we couldn't come up with any reason why. So I had her make a note of her regimen, products used etc and the one thing that stood out to me was the she was using regular conditioner as a leave-in. She did this for months and I believe that was the cause of the breakage. She ending up doing a 2nd bc because of this. Her hair has grown alot since then, but now she prefers to just keep it short. It was a lesson learned and now we know to use conditioner as directed.

  • Jo Somebody says:

    I think a conditioner with good 'slip' will allow your naturally shed hair to be removed easier, so maybe that's why it might seem that you're loosing hair. If you find that your hair doesn't tangle so much but your hair balls seem to be bigger, then I'd feel even more confident with my theory.

  • Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty says:

    No, I'd be completely bald by now as would many naturals if this were true. I condition my scalp more than shampooing it and it's thicker now more than ever. However, using relaxer on my scalp sure did cause a mighty fall back in he days. I think folks need to be more concerned about things like that than conditioner.

  • fuller hair says:

    Cool there is actually some good points on this post some of my friends might find this relevant, will send them a link, many thanks…

  • Shavontia says:

    For the young lady who posted before me, It may be possible that you may have a protein sensitivity, or what I noticed for me is that too much protein can make your hair not as flexible as it needs to be. It's not as elastic as it should be, and it may break easier. Also, that is where finger detangling is waaaay better than a comb detangling, even in the shower. It's so many factors that are different for so many people.

  • Anonymous says:

    No! That is nonsense! To reiterate what another commenter has said, using conditioner to close to the roots could cause your scalp to itch.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow!! I have this problem!! It seems as if every time I use conditioner, my hair falls out in clumps while rinsing. My hair already sheds more than the norm, but only when use conditioners does my hair come out in balls or clumps. The only three conditioners that I've ever used in my year 1/2 of being natural are Aubrey Organic Protein condish, Allafia shea and honey condish, and Avalon Organics revitalizing condish. I know that my iron difficiency contributes to my hair loss/shedding, but I can't seem to understand why it comes out so much more after using a condish.. *sigh*

  • Jessie =] says:

    This has to be false unless your conditioner has some sort of depilatory agent (Nair for example) so I would say its false unless someone doesn't like you very much and decides to put Nair in your conditioner.

  • honeybrown1976 says:

    If anything, my hair has stopped breaking and shedding at the rate it was when I started cowashing. I think it was her way of deterring you from using conditioner.

  • Go Fro says:

    I use Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle conditioner religiously. After applying some to a section of hair, root to tip, I'll also rub it into my scalp a little bit to stimulate hair growth. I haven't experienced any hair loss at all!

  • LW says:

    I'm in favor on conditioner as a leave in. Early on I did find problems with protein based conditioners as a leave in. Now that I used only moisture based as a leave in things are great.

  • Mrs. Val says:

    Never had heard of this myth either. I sometimes sleep with conditioner in my hair overnight. If this were true, I'd be bald.

  • atu says:

    yeah, i dont think the myth is true. i cowash only and have been doing so for a few years now. the only time i notice abnormal hair loss is when i use conditioners that are too thick and heavy for me. heavier conditioners get caught on my hair, which makes it difficult to detangle.

  • mangomadness says:

    Nope. I just keep it away from the roots because it's creamy and clings to my coils instead or rinsing out. I do put coconut oil on/near my scalp though.

  • ChicaRizada94 says:

    The only issue I have when I've used conditioner too close to my roots is that my scalp itches. Conditioners shouldn't make your hair fall out, but I guess if you use one with drying ingredients (like isopropyl alcohol, sodium hydroxide, etc.) or potentially irritating dyes/fragrances (e.g. violet ext. 2, linalool, geraniol)it could make you scratch your scalp so much that hair begins to fall out. That's happened to me before. But if you're using a good, moisturizing conditioner, there shouldn't be any problems. Excellent article, by the way!

Leave a Reply