What is an Instant Conditioner?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Instant conditioner is a type of hair product used to reduce dryness and aid in the styling process. Typically applied after showering, most instant conditioners are leave-in products that do not need to be rinsed out like regular conditioners. Many different hair product lines feature instant conditioning products, from drugstore budget brands to high-end beauty suppliers.

Instant conditioner helps keep hair moisturized while controlling frizz and fly-aways.
Instant conditioner helps keep hair moisturized while controlling frizz and fly-aways.

A conditioner is a type of product that contains oils and ingredients meant to add moisture and repair damage to hair. If hair appears frizzy or wispy, or feels stiff to the touch, it may be over dried and in need of additional moisture. Breakage and split ends can also be signs of damage that may be somewhat treatable with conditioning products. Dry hair typically occurs due to overuse of heated styling tools, such as blow dryers and straightening irons, but can be a result of over-exposure to sun, a dry climate, or simply a particular type of hair.

Instant conditioners can help reduce damage caused by hot curling irons.
Instant conditioners can help reduce damage caused by hot curling irons.

Ideally, an instant conditioner works in several ways to improve the look and quality of hair. Depending on the ingredients, it may increase shine, making hair appear healthy and sleek. Some also reduce the appearance of frizzy hair or flyaway strands, while others claim to mend breaks in hair strands, healing and preventing split ends.

Using an instant conditioner may help reduce the appearance of dandruff.
Using an instant conditioner may help reduce the appearance of dandruff.

Many types of conditioner are used in the shower, just after shampooing. These products, while they can be effective, can be difficult to rinse out and may make thin or fine hair feel weighed down and greasy even after rinsing. An instant conditioner, which usually comes as a cream or misting spray, is put on after the shower and coats the hair strands lightly. People with minimal dryness or those with fine hair may find this a better solution than a heavy regular conditioner.

Prior to sun exposure, it can be helpful to apply a conditioner that contains sunscreen.
Prior to sun exposure, it can be helpful to apply a conditioner that contains sunscreen.

Some instant conditioning products contain a set of ingredients meant to reduce damage caused by styling tools. These are often advertised as thermal-protecting or heat-resistant on the bottle. For people who use straighteners, curling irons, or blow dryers daily, this may be an excellent way to reduce damage and breakage to the hair.

Some instant conditioners claim to repair split ends and other hair damage.
Some instant conditioners claim to repair split ends and other hair damage.

Some beauty experts recommend using an instant conditioner with a sunscreen before being out in the sun all day. Just like skin, hair can become damaged when exposed to the sun's rays, and this damage may be avoidable by using the right products. Be aware that instant conditioner can leach off the hair into water, so reapplication after a swim may be advised. Some environmentalists also suggest skipping instant conditioner if swimming in lakes or oceans, as the chemicals in the products may damage or pollute local waters.

Some instant conditioners are formulated for use on curly or dry hair.
Some instant conditioners are formulated for use on curly or dry hair.
Many types of conditioner are used in the shower, just after shampooing.
Many types of conditioner are used in the shower, just after shampooing.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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