Home Ask The Pro Ask The Pro! Overnight Conditioning: Helpful or Harmful?

Ask The Pro! Overnight Conditioning: Helpful or Harmful?

September 12, 2013

Our resident natural hair care professional Simeko Watkins-Hartley answers…

Should you sleep with conditioner in your hair?

Answer: You shouldn’t, as this can be potentially harmful by having an adverse effect on the hair. 

Let me explain but first let me ask you this… If you were experiencing symptoms of some sort and the doctor prescribes medication, would you follow the instructions given by the doctor or would you take more than what was prescribed in hopes that the symptoms go away faster? Would you not agree that by doing the latter, you may cause more harm than good?!


Well, likewise with deep conditioning your hair. If the manufacturer states to leave the product on the hair for a certain period of time, it’s most likely because through tests and trails, they were able to determine the amount of time it takes for the product to absorb and penetrate into the hair shaft, accomplishing the needed results without causing potential harm to the hair.

Deep Conditioners are designed to penetrate into the inner layer of the hair shaft to aid in correcting problems such as dry, brittle, and/or weak hair by imparting a certain amount of moisture and/or protein. Once applied to the hair, it usually penetrates the shaft within 15-25 minutes depending on the ingredients. 

So, how can it be potentially harmful to the hair?

When water is applied to the hair it expands the hair and swells the cuticles. This allows for absorption and penetration of larger molecules from other ingredients in the product.  However, water changes the structure of the keratin in the hair and, if left on too long, can make the hair more fragile and potentially lead to more damage (i.e. the adverse effect).  And as we know, natural hair is already fragile so we definitely don’t want to do anything that can make it even more fragile!


Protein based conditioners are great for strengthening the hair but if left on too long, it can make the hair brittle, dry and hard. Moisturizing conditioners are great for adding moisture to the hair but if left on too long, can leave the hair weighed down and without body.

So ladies, in the effort to regain and maintain our healthiest hair possible, let’s set aside some well needed time to pamper ourselves and nurture our hair by properly deep conditioning it!

And before I go, I must say this; everyone’s hair is different (like your finger prints) so what works well for one person (even if their hair looks just like yours), may not work for another person. LISTEN TO YOUR HAIR!

Naturally Yours,

Simeko Watkins-Hartley

Owner & Creative Director of Meko, New York Natural Hair Care Spa & Boutique

Disclaimer: This information serves as a guide to inform, inspire and encourage women, like myself, to regain and maintain their healthiest hair possible.

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