How often you should condition your hair depends on both your unique hair type and the kind of conditioner you’re using.

You probably already know that conditioner can make your hair softer, shinier, and more manageable. But you might not realize that the type of conditioner you use and how often you apply it can also make a big difference.

Condition too much, and you run the risk of greasiness. Condition too little, and your hair might end up dry and tangled. To avoid either of these extremes, it’s important to strike the right balance.

Read on to learn how often to use conditioner, plus what might work best for your hair type.

Conditioner is a moisturizer for your hair. It’s usually made up of cationic surfactants, which help to smooth your hair, as well as emollients, oils, and sometimes silicones.

Silicones coat your hair to help to lock out humidity, reduce frizz, and make your hair shiny.

Conditioner has three main uses:

  • replenishing some of the moisture that shampooing strips away
  • moisturizing hair after chemical treatments, like coloring and straightening
  • helping hair recover from heat damage, including damage from hair dryers and curling irons

How often you should condition your hair depends on your hair type and the type of conditioner you’re using.

Rinse-out conditioner

Rinse-out conditioner is what typically comes to mind when people think of conditioner. You apply it after shampooing your hair and rinse it out after a minute or two.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using rinse-out conditioner after every wash, ideally a few times per week.

However, if you have very oily or fine hair, you may want to condition less frequently because it can weigh your hair down.

If you have dry, coarse, curly, or color-treated hair, you may benefit from conditioning your hair more frequently — daily or every other day. These hair types tend to be on the dryer side, and may love a little extra moisture.

Leave-in conditioner

The aptly named leave-in conditioner is meant to be left in your hair until the next time you wash it. This type of conditioner is used to moisturize mild to moderately dry hair and to repair damaged hair.

As a general rule, try applying a leave-in conditioner once a week. If your hair is curly, dry, or damaged, you might want to apply it more frequently.

Deep conditioner

Deep conditioner is meant to be left on your hair for around 30 minutes or more.

Heavier than rinse-out and leave-in conditioners, it’s designed to help repair very damaged hair and hydrate very dry hair. It’s usually meant to be applied every month or two.

Cleansing conditioner

Cleansing conditioners are a type of rinse-out conditioner that both cleans and conditions your hair. They eliminate the need for a separate shampoo.

They’re typically lighter than other types of conditioners, so they won’t weigh down your hair. That makes them a good choice for people with fine or oily hair.

Cleansing conditioners are treated like shampoo, so they can be applied as often as you would apply shampoo. Generally speaking, that means daily or every other day for oily or fine hair.

Dry, coarse, and curly hair can withstand longer periods between washes, often up to a week or more. However, they should be conditioned more regularly, so cleansing conditioner might not be the best choice for these hair types.

The way you apply conditioner can affect how well it works. It can also make a big difference in your hair’s overall appearance.

It might be tempting to apply conditioner all over your hair, but those with fine or oily hair should avoid this. It can make your hair look weighed down.

Instead, focus on applying conditioner to the ends of your hair only. Your ends get damaged over time, making them drier and more porous than the rest of your hair.

Very coarse or curly hair, on the other hand, tends to benefit from all-over conditioner. Some people with curly hair also find success with co-washing, or using conditioner in place of shampoo.

It’s a gentler way to cleanse, though it can sometimes cause buildup. In that case, doing an apple cider vinegar rinse or clarifying treatment every couple weeks should help.

While conditioner can benefit your hair in lots of ways, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Signs that you’re overconditioning your hair include:

  • greasiness
  • lack of buoyancy and volume
  • excessive shine or glossiness
  • more difficulty styling your hair with heat

If you notice any of these signs, simply cut back on your conditioner use. You can play with how often you condition and what type you use until you get the right balance of shine, buoyancy, and smoothness.

Just as you can overcondition your hair, you can undercondition it as well. Signs of underconditioned hair include:

  • dry or brittle strands that break easily
  • excessive tangling
  • frizz
  • dullness

If any of these signs are bothering you, try applying conditioner more often. You can also consider deep conditioning your hair periodically to help maintain moisture.

How often you should condition your hair depends on your hair type and the type of conditioner you’re using.

Generally, those with fine or oily hair should use a rinse-out conditioner or cleansing conditioner a few times a week.

Those with coarse, curly, or dry hair should condition more frequently, and may want to consider a leave-in or deep conditioner for maximum moisture.