Q: Is it okay to sleep with conditioner/mask in your hair overnight?
curlBOX: Ah, the debate rages on. This is a question that we receive quite often. Sleeping in your conditioner is definitely a “thing” and, while most naturals report not having any issues with doing this, let’s consider a few things. Naturally, leave-in conditioners are omitted from this discussion, as they are formulated to be left in the hair sans rinsing. Traditional conditioners are made up of fatty acids, softening agents and protein to strengthen the hair. These agents are meant to penetrate the hair for a length of time, usually, 15 -20 minutes, and rinsed out easily. Leaving conditioner in your hair for too long can sometimes lead to:
- Build up: Residue can be left on the scalp from heavier conditioners if left on too long.
- Limp hair: For finer textures, an overnight session can contribute to lifeless curls.
- Irritation: Believe it or not, the proteins in conditioners can irritate your scalp if left on for too long.
Obviously, this is not a rule of thumb for everyone, so we suggest saving your overnight conditioning pursuits for days when you’ve removed a protective style or when you’re simply too exhausted to continue styling. It totally happens. Otherwise, a 30 – 45 minutes session gets the job done.