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Do conditioners cause your hair to fall out?

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Merla Hobbs May 20, 2014, 3:18 am

    I always have massive of falling hair every after conditionrr. From the most ecpensive and the cheapest conditioner is the same result. I am honestly worry.

    • NF July 3, 2014, 11:37 am

      I have this same problem too. I am able to use shampoo with conditioner.. but if i use the conditioner separate from a regular shampoo, i lose a lot of hair.. and my hair was thinning because of it. Now i just use a 2 n 1 shampoo.

    • Archana October 12, 2015, 6:46 am

      i am sufering from major hairfall loss after using hair conditioner revlon. I am bit worried as my hair is foing to be thinned out easily. Is ut happens so with conditioner

    • LouAnn Goodrum February 23, 2017, 6:35 am

      I can not use conditioner. I can use a 2 in 1 but I can not use separate conditioner. I used to have very thick hair but not it has become very thin. I have seen a dermatologist and talked to my doctor and they both tell me that conditioner will not cause my hair to fall out. I beg to differ! When I don’t use conditioner there is hardly any hair in the drain. When I use conditioner there is quite a bit. I have stopped using separate conditioner and hoping that my hair grows back. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong.

      • CORAZON N. MARPURI October 3, 2017, 1:16 am

        All observations, testimonies shared by users of different brand of conditioners were true. I, for myself have a massive hairfall everytime I use conditioners regardless of brands. I wet my hair every other day or sometimes on the 3rd day with conditioner only, and everytime I do this process I can see a lot of hairfall in the sink. Maybe there is a content of chemical use in the conditioner that is not a healthy combination.

    • tracy faulds February 14, 2018, 7:41 am

      It took me some time to nail down the cause of my hair lose but it’s obvious to me now that it is conditioner. My hair isn’t falling out but rather braking. I tried very expensive hair product but they too make my hair fall out. I would stop using it but I really need conditioner, so I am going to try cutting back on the amount and washing it out right away. I am also going to cut back on washing my hair.

  • Sandra September 10, 2014, 9:44 am

    I think it depends on the conditioner you use and your specific hair type. I started using this new Biotin Conditioner from Regenepure. Here is the link http://www.biotinconditioner.com/. When I used it it made my hair feel so soft and healthy. When you find the right conditioner/hair products they will help rebuild any hair breakage or damage making it easier for your hair to grow at a faster pace. This biotin conditioner has all the vital nutrients your hair would need to go through the lengthening process. I definitely think you should check it out!

  • Clara October 9, 2014, 7:00 am

    I have similar problem. Even I use the very organic conditioner, my hair is still falling out tremendously. It makes me so worried and curious to find out the cause. 🙁
    I also wonder what other conditioner that is safe for me.

    • Rogelio August 30, 2016, 11:12 am

      I think that you see more falling while using conditioner because it makes your hair more soft, I mean it coats it with silicone, so there’s less friction between each hair, the hair that you seem to loose while rinsing conditioner are the ones you would loose while combing or when your hair is dry during the day, that is normal hair loss.

  • SL Davis November 7, 2014, 10:33 pm

    I suggested to a female cousin of mine that conditioners themselves should not cause a persons hair falling out. after, she told me that she had noticed larger then normal amounts of her hair falling out after using conditioner some years ago. she was told that her hair was so fine and soft that conditioner would make your hair fall out. she told me she can only use the shampoo with conditioner included and she does ok with it. and my only proof is from my own personal experience.
    and this web site the beauty brains. their own scientist in their beauty brains bottom line stated

    “Conditioner helps keep your hair looking and feeling healthy. We could find no data suggesting conditioners cause your hair to fall out.”

    thank you, by the way, your views are helping me and my cousin greatly.

    IN CONCLUSION,my question to each of you is did anyone of you think it could be the medications your own or the scalp it self??

    • Randy Schueller November 8, 2014, 10:41 am

      Medications can cause hairless. (Chemotherapy is one extreme example.)

  • Terri Walden July 26, 2015, 8:23 am

    I washed my hair with my shampoo this morning and noticed only a few hairs i lost. Once I use my conditioner, that is when globs of hair came out. Do I just use shampoo? and is conditioner necessary?

    • Randy Schueller July 26, 2015, 8:47 am

      There’s nothing in the conditioner that should make your hair fall out instantly like that. Still, conditioners certainly are not necessary. You could just use the shampoo if you’d like but you may end up causing damage to your hair.

  • Shadna September 23, 2015, 7:29 am

    My hair also falls out a lot when I use conditioner. Definitely it is the conditioner. It is strange that when I use shampoo no issue, but when I use conditioner a whole lot of hair falls out in blobs. I have very fine hair.

  • Elmarie October 29, 2015, 1:18 pm

    I have the same problelm, I stopped using conditioner for a while and had very little hair loss. Then I went to a hairdresser who recommended a branded conditioner for dry hair. Well, I am now back to where I started – actually getting scared to wash my hair – clumps of hair every time. Needless to say, I have yet again stopped using conditioner!

  • Natti December 2, 2015, 10:06 pm

    My hair is very thick, strong, healthy and wavy. I never use chemicals or dyes. I am not on any medication and I am under 30 years of age. I truly believe conditioners in general cause my hair to come out in globs . I am loosing hair at a very rapid rate and my hair is shedding all over.

  • Merlyn January 9, 2016, 6:18 am

    Im so convinced that conditioner make my hair fall out. After reading this article. I was sceptical at first. And when to experiment for myself. I use my shampoo and only 1 strand hair or basically none came off. At the end of shower, i tried put just a little bit of conditioner and quickly rinse with it to get it done over with. Surprisingly, few or more strands of hair on my drain. I think this is not joke right?

  • Shilpa January 15, 2016, 3:43 pm

    I have experience same. When shampoo alone, no hair loss. But when I use conditioner than globs of hair loss.

  • nirmala January 27, 2016, 9:55 am

    When you use a conditioner, it basically makes your hair smoother and disentangles your hair. Because of this, the loose hair strands which have either broken while shampooing or even earlier (prior to shampooing), simply slide through your hair once you rinse it, after conditioning. Because of this you feel that conditioners cause hair fall. They don’t cause the hair to fall or come out. It just makes the hair silky and smoother, so the strands which are already loose, just slide out of your hair. On the other hand, shampoo’s don’t smoothen the hair, they just clean the hair so the loose strands don’t fall out as much.
    Hope this clears all doubts.

    • stephanie February 13, 2016, 8:39 am

      Thank you for this. I think a lot of consumers fail to realize that when your hair has more “slip” from the conditioners ingredients, it causes the loose hairs that would normally shed over a course of a day to fall out more rapidly. It’s quite dramatic yes, which can be pretty disturbing to see, but there is no factual basis to jump to the conclusion that the product itself is forcing the follicle out of the root.

    • Lisa February 18, 2016, 9:04 pm

      nirmala! THANK YOU! I am dying reading these comments!

  • maidenfan February 8, 2016, 7:18 pm

    Don’t know about conditioner but am pretty sure using leave in conditioners every day for several months caused me to lose a lot of hair. Eventually my scalp got itchy and for the first time in my life I had dandruff. Whole strands of my hair were falling out at an alarming rate. I’ve stopped using leave ins completely and hope the lost hairs will come back.

    • Ang April 24, 2016, 11:09 am

      I have noticed that my hair comes out after conditioning and googled to ask if this could be? then I noticed the comments. It’s possible that some of us may have this reaction to conditioners. I have tried various ones including well known brands and my hair comes out; I see it in the bath. This is not the case when I use a two in one shampoo/conditioner or a protein treatment. My hair dresser says she has not noticed this but her wash basin is black, so she clearly won’t see the hair loss in the bowl.

      I’m pleased that I’m not the only one that has had this experience. Perhaps my hair is not meant to be conditioned.

  • Sasha May 5, 2016, 12:19 am

    I have nice thick wavy hair…and I regurly use to shampoo it … but as soon as I started using a conditioner…my hair started falling out like anything…and when I stopped using it…my hairfull too stopped….so now I use only shampoo…NO CONDITIONING…

  • Anna May 22, 2016, 2:46 pm

    new shampoo/conditioner caused my hair fall out a lot since last eight months, any suggestions please to stop this?

    • Randy Schueller May 22, 2016, 5:55 pm

      It’s unlikely that shampoo/conditioner was the cause but you discontinue using the products and see if that helps.

      • Liz January 12, 2017, 12:38 am

        my hair is very thick always has been but for the last 4 or 5 months when I wash my and then rise it’s coming out by hand full , yes I do take meds but nothing new same for years and I do use hi quality of shampoo and conditioner from my hair stylus whith np but now it’s pulling right I have tried to just shampoo with out the conditioner still the same , But I also know that if you have thyroid disease can make it full layout but I just visit my Dr. and made sure she checked my Thyroid and I and they were okay so now I don’t know now the cause of the hair loss. But if some women don’t know this they may won’t to ask their Dr. to check the Thyroid number.

  • Kam June 30, 2016, 1:24 pm

    I started losing my hair with menopause. I’m on hrt but the hair loss continues. And, yes, it definitely falls out SIGNIFICANTLY more after I condition it, which I have to do because otherwise it’s a ball of snarls.
    After reading the above, what seems to make the most sense is that the hair is already loose and the conditioner simply allows it to slide out. (Perhaps the snarls hold it in there?)
    I suppose I’ll try the 2 in1 (shampo/cond) to see if that helps but I don’t know if that will rid the tangles enough. As it is, even after conditioning, I have to use a leave-in detangler (Pantene) on my wet air and a wide tooth comb to get through it.
    If anyone has suggestions…

    • Liz January 12, 2017, 12:43 am

      have your Dr. to check your thyroids.

  • Kris Lewis September 8, 2016, 5:30 am

    Your explanation of ‘ the hairs were already loose’ dosent hold water!
    I compared hairs that fell out while rinsing conditioner from my hair, with, hairs that fell out when shampooing only. Keep in mind that after shampooing, I combed through my hair, and collected any ‘loose’ hairs that were in my comb! There was NO comparison…….I lost gobs of hair from conditioners…..and very few, from just shampoo! It was a dramatic difference!

    • LouAnn Goodrum February 23, 2017, 6:42 am

      Thank you for your post. I have done the same thing just to see if there were loose hairs after shampooing. I have even brushed my hair before shampooing. While there were a few its nothing compared to after conditioner. I have come to the conclusion that there are some of us who may have an allergic reaction of some form to the chemicals in the conditioners. I am a little appalled at the person who commented about how they were “Dying reading these comments”. It may be funny to her but to those of us who have the misfortune of losing our hair from conditioner, it’s not a laughing matter. I certainly hope she never has anything go on in her life that others may find “funny”.

  • Seph October 26, 2016, 3:07 am

    I always comb my hair after bath since i started to let my hair grow long. As time pass my hair became more fizzy thus I apply rinse off conditioner after i shampoo my hair. It was the first nightmare after i saw the amount of hair fell on the floor. I comb my hair everytime after I bath (to tame it) thus I know how much hair i usually lost by add up hair loss during shampoo and comb. Using conditioner definitely cause my hair to fall much more. BTW I am a guy with black, thick and strong hair, and I am using two drops of natural olive oil infused with jasmine or cold press coconut oil to tame my hair while combing it. Works like a charm

  • Avila November 15, 2016, 11:04 pm

    Hi…. I m having hairfall too much while using conditioner. what may be the reason… shall i quit using conditioner or i can proceed with that… &
    if sometimes conditioner composition is different when compared with shampoo that is different two products of shampoo and conditioner then that cause hairfall?

  • fairycindy May 12, 2017, 9:18 pm

    First, sorry if my english is bad 🙂
    I also stop using conditioner and see no hair fall in drain. I frist think that silicones what gives me hair fall, but is not, silicone free products do the same thing. Now, I just put some oil prior washing and there is no problem. Also, now my hair is much shinner, dandruff free and no more itchy scalp. I wait until my hair is complety dry and than I brush it – and in hair brush is no more than 20 strands – amazing. And belive me, I`m hair freak, I resreach everything like crazy, I mean crazy, and for me, conditioner just do not work , maybe because my hair is extra soft on its own – naturally, but whatever is it, I`m convince to stop using it complety, and people who leave comments on this page help me (I was thinking that I`m wrong-all people just rave about hair mask and conditioners) so If someone who is desperate like I was, reading this, than I recommend- banish conditioners for good, and only use oils prior washing. Good luck!
    Thanks to all peole who leave comments and helped me!

    • KATIE CONWAY April 19, 2020, 4:18 am

      Hi, I am so glad I read these I’v tried suplfate free, everything shampoo does not pull at my hair conditioner does for whatever reason and like the other ladies I’m on hrt etc which causes hair loss so the last thing I need is to lose more. I’m going to try oil now thank you! The last few washes I’d tried no conditioner on my scalp but still tons of hair fall this time. Awful

  • Donna Richards November 13, 2017, 8:05 am

    The only time my hair falls out by the handfulls is when I use the conditioner, every time. So much comes out that my fingers become netted in it. Thankfully I wash my hair only twice/wk.

  • curlyredhead November 15, 2017, 9:53 am

    I have very curly fine hair that used to be quite thick. I have not changed anything in my routine other than I had a child 1 year ago. Now since using conditioner I loose globs of hair after rinsing the conditioner out. I have determined that I now will only use a detangler and no conditioner. I only shampoo 2x a week due to I do not use anything that has compound build up. I am an essential oils person 😉 sage/grapefruit/lavender/peppermint/cinnamon/coconut and aragon fractionated oil/frankincense mixed in and diluted with water to tame my curly frizzy hair down every morning. Some people are blessed with that thick loucious no issue hair. Some are born with hair that needs way more attention. THIS PEEPS IS WHAT MAKES US ALL BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE. Try 3-6 months with no conditioner for your sanity and see how your hair does. I found that taking prenatals, using my oils, ridding stress that I can and doing the best I can with my hair things were starting to get better. Then I fell back on my old routine and now globs are coming out again. I am no hair expert but we all have very different follicles of hair and hair types. If your hairdresser cannot help you then you need a new one. Good Luck ladies!!!

  • Mel December 2, 2017, 11:25 am

    I have to say I agree with most everyone on here about conditioners giving you fall out. I have very thick wavy hair that is pixy cut short.
    I rarely even find one hair after just shampoos and none in my brush! If I use conditioner of almost any kind I find a LOT of hair..
    I have stopped using it all together and embraced my fluffy wavy hair. The only time I use it now is before I get a hair cut.

  • Mandy January 13, 2018, 4:03 pm

    I find conditioner or over conditioning shampoo products do seem to make the hair fall out. Other things such as Iron deficiency can also do this. I recommend you get your Iron levels tested and take Florisene Iron tablets by (Lamberts) which will make your hair grow back. If it is Iron (and sometimes tests will show your iron levels as being normal!) stop drinking tea and coffee as this stops Iron absorption. The tannin and caffeine will take the iron back out of the body so dietary changes are an good idea. If you use a product and you are convinced it is making it worse, stop using it. And don’t worry, because it always grows back.

  • Janet Bernasconi January 23, 2018, 10:55 pm

    Wow…so glad I found this article. I felt as if was just happening to me, but here I am reading that so many ladies are having the same problem. For years I always had thick shiny hair, but once I hit menopause I noticed that my hair became dull and dry. And I too noticed that every time I used conditioner more hair would fall out than normal. So I got scared and stopped using conditioner. I only use shampoo. In order to get my hair to shine I use Garnier Coconut oil after I have dried my hair.( mostly on the bottom part of my hair so it doesn’t weigh it down) I also stopped using my curling iron. I love curls and used to love curling my hair all the time, but not anymore. All that does is destroy and burn your hair. I use sponge rollers now and it works well. I haven’t tried a hot oil treatment, but wonder if that will make my hair fall out? By the way, one of the reasons for loss of hair is also lack of iron. My doctor told me that. I guess as we age hair changes too. Do what you feel is best for your hair. Everyone is different. Hope this helps. 🙂

  • kriti July 16, 2019, 4:02 pm

    I can really relate to everyone. I am also facing the same problem. If I use hair conditional, I fell more hair loss than if I don’t use them but I that case my hair feels dull. I am thinking of using 2-in-1 shampoo with conditional. Has anyone tried 2-in-1 shampoo? Any suggestion on these products?

  • Veronica May 21, 2020, 7:55 pm

    I use to have very thick healthy hair. The past couple or three years ago it started falling out and getting really frizzy. Now I have half the hair I had before and it continues to fall out. Conditioner?? Had to stop using it cause it was even worse using it. I am now on iron hoping that is my problem. I also bought some argan oil shampoo and conditioner. It did wonders for my hair but when I use the conditioner then I’m back at loosing gobs of hair.. It really depresses me and causes more stress. I am now at a total lose. Hope someone wonderful can find the magic cure and let me know.