7 Reasons Why Your Deep Conditioner Isn’t Working

There could be several reasons why your deep conditioner isn’t working. Let’s take a look at the common issues. 

deep conditioner does not help my dry hair

7 Reasons Why Your Deep Conditioner Isn’t Working

1. Wrong water temperature

The temperature of your water may be too cold. 

Cold conditioner is good for removing excess build-up and grease. However, combined with cold water, a cold conditioner may weaken the roots and age the texture, causing your hair to break and become brittle.

What should you do instead?

Heat your deep conditioner up by letting the bottle sit in hot water for a while. Or maybe even microwave your deep conditioner for a few seconds. 

Deep conditioner that is heated will absorb into the hair quickly and more easily. This is particularly true if the conditioner is heated to a temperature of around 35 degrees Celsius. 

2. Rinsing too soon

You are rinsing too soon after application. 

As you apply deep conditioner, you let the water wash it out before it has time to take effect. This does not give the deep conditioner enough time to absorb into the hair follicles and smooth out the dry areas.

What should you do instead?

Allow at least 15 minutes, but no more than one hour, for the deep conditioner to set in and replenish the hair follicles. 

If you rinse out your deep conditioner too soon after application, it may not have enough time to work properly. 

The proteins in the deep conditioner ingredients need some time to do their job. This is especially true for individuals with thick, full hair that is more prone to being dry.

3. Infrequent use

deep conditioner does not work

You aren’t using a deep conditioner frequently enough. 

For a deep conditioner to truly work on repairing dry and damaged hair, it needs to be applied to the scalp at least once every two weeks.

What should you do instead?

Apply a deep conditioner once a week for several months. 

Consistency in applying a deep conditioner gets your hair used to the chemicals that enhance its appearance. 

Going for long periods of time without using a deep conditioner on your hair is like an athlete going for a long period of time without exercising. 

Your hair needs regular and frequent use of a deep conditioner to remain healthy and stay in top form.

4. Wrong hair type

You may be using the wrong type of “deep conditioner” for your hair texture. 

Not every deep conditioner is guaranteed to nourish every hair type. Read the labels carefully when shopping for the deep conditioner meant for you.

What should you do instead?

Research products on the market so the deep conditioner you choose specifically matches your hair type. 

Some hair types require specific products to maintain their luster. Take thick, wavy, or curly hair for instance. 

A regular conditioner isn’t always strong enough to absorb and nourish the roots. 

Deep conditioners such as Davine’s Love Curl Mask and JVN Nurture Deep are manufactured specifically to work on thicker hair.

5. Conditioning before shampooing

Conditioning before shampooing

You don’t shampoo prior to using a deep conditioner. 

When you apply shampoo, you are removing dirt from your hair, which may entail removing moisture from your hair as well. 

A conditioner puts the softness from moisture back in your hair, so you must condition after shampooing.

What should you do instead?

Always apply a conditioner after shampooing. 

The stickiness caused by excessive shampooing without applying a conditioner to replenish afterwards can lead to dull and brittle hair. 

When a valuable element to your hair such as moisture is stripped away, it needs to be replaced. 

6. Sleeping with wet hair

You are leaving the deep conditioner in your hair overnight. 

It may seem like the longer you let a deep conditioner absorb your hair, the more it will retain the moisture and essential nutrients meant to heal your dry hair. 

But prolonged conditioning wears on the elasticity that is responsible for the shine that healthy hair maintains.

What should you do instead?

Rinse your hair immediately after letting the deep conditioner sit for an hour. 

Leaving the conditioner in your hair overnight while you are sleeping will cause your hair to become sticky and hard, like the surface of a used cooking pan that hasn’t been cleaned.

7. Synthetic ingredients

Chemicals in store-bought conditioners can occasionally be toxic when in contact with certain types of hair. For example, silicone can cause hair to become dull, dry, and brittle. 

And polyethylene glycol contains pollutants such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, cobalt, and iron. 

What should you do instead?

Create your own conditioner mix using natural ingredients such as mayonnaise and avocado. 

Sometimes, hair care enthusiasts like to try alternative ingredients in lieu of over-the-counter conditioners, especially if they are wary of preservatives. 

These ingredients often include yogurt, henna and the aforementioned mayonnaise and avocado. 


If your deep conditioner has not been helping your dry hair, these ideas are sure to improve the appearance of your hair. Take care of your hair by following these guidelines, and you will look and feel like a brand-new person.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What are the best deep conditioners on the market?

Currently, brands such as Redken All Soft Heavy Cream, Marc Anthony Grow Long Deep Conditioner, and Kenra Nourishing Mask are all getting rave reviews for their results. Also, Olaplex is flying off the shelves for its ability to heal dry and damaged hair.

What should I do prior to deep conditioning to get the best results?

Use a regular conditioner and then comb through the tangled parts. Afterwards, rinse your hair thoroughly. Then dry your hair with a towel and apply deep conditioner. It should remain in your hair for 15-30 minutes. 

Are there any alternatives to deep conditioner that I can use?

Try coconut oil, but you must first warm it up for several seconds. Also, egg yolk, honey, yogurt, mayonnaise, avocado, or olive oil work fine as conditioner alternatives.

Do deep conditioners all serve the same purpose?

There are several types of deep conditioners that you can purchase, just as there are several types of regular conditioners available on the market. The main types of deep conditioners are moisturizing conditioners for nourishment, protein-based conditioners for strength, and 2-in-1 conditioners for combining the benefits of a moisturizing conditioner and a strengthening conditioner. 

Can a regular conditioner be used in the same way as a deep conditioner?

A regular conditioner should never be left on your hair for more than five minutes. That is because regular conditioner is not formulated to penetrate through your hair to your scalp the way a deep conditioner is. A deep conditioner is specifically engineered to be combined with heat to give your hair a shiny and soft appearance.

What is a hair mask and how does it differ from a deep conditioner?

A hair mask is used for restoring damaged hair, such as hair that has been coated with hairspray, overcolored with too many products, or just generally suffering from dryness. Hair masks strengthen the areas of your hair that are considerably weak. 

Why can’t a leave-in conditioner be used in the same way as a deep conditioner?

A leave-in conditioner is not strong enough to heal dry and damaged hair like a deep conditioner can do. Leave-in conditioners are very light, even lighter than regular conditioners, to the point where they don’t even need to be rinsed out as long as they aren’t used too frequently. 

How do I know if a deep conditioner has not been tested on animals?

If you go to the website Beauty Beyond Cruelty, you can find a list of various conditioners that have been endorsed as cruelty-free. The entire list can be found at https://www.beautybeyondcruelty.com/best-cruelty-free-conditioners with additional notes on companies whose products are not cruelty-free.

What else should I know about using a deep conditioner to restore my dry hair?

Despite all of the benefits to using a deep conditioner, it is important that you pay close attention to whether or not a deep conditioner would be a necessary addition to your hair care routine. Limp hair, loss of hair, frequent coloring of hair, and hair that has been damaged from harsh weather are the most in need of being treated with a deep conditioner. If your hair has otherwise maintained a healthy appearance, deep conditioner is not necessary. 


Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Dee Poulsen

Dee has been following the Curly Girl Method for over four years and is our in-house Curly Girl expert. She has a keen interest in natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She has a photographic memory of most sulfate and silicone-free hair products available on the high street and she's always happy to recommend you her favorites.