Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/17/2022
If you’re shedding more than usual, you might be wondering: Does conditioner cause hair loss?
Browse online or walk through any beauty aisle and you’ll find hundreds of conditioners. From formulas promising to plump fine hair to options insisting they strengthen and repair damage, there’s a bottle for every strand situation.
With such big claims, it makes sense that many think of using conditioner as a smart way to boost hair health. But on the other hand, there are also rumors it might actually be the culprit of hair loss.
So you’re not the first person to think, Does using conditioner cause hair loss?
Find the answer to this question below, along with tips for managing fallout and preventing hair damage.
Drum roll, please… There is absolutely no evidence that conditioner causes hair loss. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Using conditioner can help make your tresses healthier and stronger. Many experts even recommend using it if you notice hair loss and breakage, as it can strengthen strands.
Conditioners are often used to detangle hair, enhance shine and fight frizz. They do this by lubricating the cuticle layers so they lay flat. Most frequently, they’re made with silicones, which offer a smoothing effect.
When most people think of conditioner, they imagine the kind you use in the shower and rinse out. But there are also deep-conditioning masks and leave-in treatments, both of which tend to contain concentrated ingredients that can penetrate the hair shaft more deeply. These can be good if you’re dealing with serious hair breakage or have very dry hair.
When it comes to conditioner, it’s best to pick one based on your hair’s needs. So, if your hair is dull, look for something with shine-enhancing capabilities. Fine hair? Consider a lightweight formula that won’t weigh down your locks.
In terms of when to apply, you should use conditioner after shampooing. Concentrate it on the ends of your strands, as applying it at the scalp can cause your hair to look greasy when it dries.
Now that you know that conditioner doesn’t cause hair loss, you may be wondering how that rumor ever got started. While it is impossible to completely pinpoint the source, we have a pretty good hypothesis.
Remember how we said conditioner can detangle hair? If you have lots of knots, the strands you’ve already shed can get caught within them. So, as you rinse out the conditioner and the knots untangle, you may notice excess hair going down the drain.
Understandably, this could lead you to think conditioner is causing hair loss when it’s really not.
You may not notice random strands of hair falling out while you’re busy working. But when you’re in the shower, you’re more focused on your mane and may be more aware of this natural hair shedding.
Conditioners should not have a negative impact on healthy hair growth or cause hair damage. However, any hair products (including hair conditioner and conditioning shampoos) can impact how your tresses look.
This is why it’s crucial you use the right conditioner for your specific hair type — and avoid using the wrong one.
If you have frizzy hair, a lightweight formula made for sleek strands isn’t going to help. Got curls? A hair treatment for thin, straight hair isn’t going to do you any favors.
Similarly, if you have oily hair and apply conditioner to your roots, it may give you an even greasier look. And finally, if you’re allergic to any ingredients or have super sensitive skin, you should always take that into account when purchasing new hair products.
Just because hair conditioner doesn’t cause scalp irritation or damage to hair doesn’t mean you won’t experience fallout due to another factor. In fact, there’s a good chance you will.
Research suggests about half of women will experience some type of hair loss in their lifetime.
This type of hair loss is referred to as androgenic alopecia or female pattern hair loss. When you have genetic hair loss, certain genes cause your hair follicles to shrink, and you stop growing hair.
Other things that can cause hair loss include wearing too-tight hairstyles (also called traction alopecia) and damaging your hair with hot tools. Dry, damaged hair is more likely to be brittle and break.
If you’re facing hair loss, a healthcare professional can help you determine what to do about it. Here are some of the more common treatments.
You can find topical minoxidil in a 2% solution or a 5% foam. It works by sending messages to your blood vessels to open so more nutrients reach your hair.
Minoxidil also stretches out the growth phase of your hair, meaning more follicles are created to replace the hair you lose. This can help with hair thinning and loss.
Another option for genetic hair loss is the acne medication spironolactone, which works by slowing down genetic-induced hormonal shifts from making hair loss occur.
But we should note this medication can cause unpleasant side effects, like nausea, dizziness, vomiting and breast tenderness, and it’s not recommended for those who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
Since spironolactone is available by prescription, you’ll need to work with a healthcare professional to figure out if it is the right medication for you.
As mentioned, conditioner can help with hair breakage. Infusing hydration back into your strands while lathering up can lead to healthier locks.
Want to prevent even more hair damage? Consider lessening how often you use hair tools, and be careful of tight ponytails and buns.
Biotin is a B vitamin known for encouraging healthier hair and growth. So, taking a biotin supplement may help with excess shedding.
A study suggests that taking biotin supplements encourages faster growth in people experiencing thinning hair. However, subjects were given a marine complex rich in not only biotin but also zinc and other minerals, so it’s tough to say whether it was the biotin alone.
However you choose to address your hair loss, know this: Conditioner is not behind it.
Whether you have curly hair, oily hair or some other hair type, using conditioner can help. It’s known to give you stronger hair, reduce hair damage and more.
If you’d like to speak with a healthcare professional about your hair loss, Hers offers online consultations.
A provider can help you figure out if you have excessive hair breakage, are dealing with issues with your hair growth cycle, have traction alopecia or have permanent hair loss. Then they’ll work with you to come up with the best treatment plan for your hair situation. Get started today.