Leave-in, Cowash, Rinse-out and Deep Conditioners. What’s the difference?

Welcome back to the blog!
For about two months now, I haven’t posted here; been so busy with school work and so many other things. Although, I had been posting a few videos on Instagram on ways to style your braids. For those who’ve seen it, hope you guys loved it?! If you haven’t seen any, check out my page right here. It will be on YouTube soon though, YAAY first YouTube video. Watch out!

Today’s post has been highly demanded so it’s definitely worth sharing. Conditioners are the most important products when it comes to our hair, it’s the secret behind growth, moisture, manageability and elasticity. No great hair goes without conditioners. I get questions like ‘can I use this conditioner as a leave-in?’ or ‘which conditioner should I get?’ ….. and so much more. Even when I explain, people still don’t get it right. That’s probably cause I myself didn’t get it right before! Now it’s time to get it straight so you maximize your products to their fullest.

I decided to draw out how the major tube shapes and packages each come in based on the ones I’ve known. Hope you guys like my drawings 😀

Deep Conditioners


I’ve written lots of posts on deep conditioning, enough to let you how important they are. Here’s one. They are either PROTEIN deep conditioners or MOISTURE deep conditioners. You can read about that here. They mostly come in cups, though few come in bottles. As the name implies, they are made to go ‘deep’ into your strands to strengthen and replenish your hair. It is expected to be left in the hair for 30-40 minutes, under a plastic cap or other sources of heat to allow it work its way through your strands. These conditioners are majorly responsible for hair growth, and good looking hair. They are characterized by their thickness, as the thickest of all conditioners. They are also the most expensive! In Nigeria, would usually range from N1200 to N5000 or more.

DIY/HOmemade deep conditioners made from honey, olive, coconut oil, mayonnaise, egg, avocado and banana.

You can make your own DIY deep conditioner, using fruits, oil, egg etc if you have the time. There’s more to come on that.

Rinse-out / Daily / Rinse-off / Surface Conditioners

Different tube shapes and packages of rinse-out condiitoners

These ones are less thicker than deep conditioners. They are mostly confused with deep conditioners, but they don’t play the parts of deep conditioners. Some experts call them ‘surface’ conditioners, because they affect only the surface of strands, mostly to soften and re-moisturize, but their effect does not last long. They are made to be left in the hair for 1-5 minutes. Usually come with shampoos, to restore some stripped moisture that the shampoo would have caused, or before as a pre-poo treatment; either ways, your hair still needs deep conditioners after. They are the cheapest ones, usually N1000 and below in Nigeria; some are surprisingly cheap and still get the little job done. If you feel your hair is a little dry, but not ready for deep conditioning, rinse-out conditioners are the way to go.

Tip: Use these to condition wigs and extensions after shampooing to refresh them and give that shine before installing or while you’re wearing them.

Cowash Conditioners


I wrote a full post on cowashing, here, it gives better information about these conditioners. Now, rinse-out conditioners would basically do the job of cowash conditioners; that is to re-moisturize in between deep condition days, restore hair from effects of rain water, and wash off sweat etc. However, some companies have made conditioners specially named ‘cowash conditioners’, I believe these do a better job than the average rinse-out conditioners, in washing the hair without stripping like shampoos. These are especially the best option for those who want to totally stop using shampoos, and opt for cowashing only. For info on that, check this post.

Leave-in Conditioners

Different tube shapes and packages of leave-in conditioners

Note: The last tube isn’t so fat, I got a little distracted and overdrew, then got too tired to draw again!

Now this is an entirely different type on conditioner. Unlike the others, that should be washed off, these are made to be ‘left-in’ as the name implies. They come as either sprays, or creams, and are used for moisturizing the hair after conditioning, to sort of give your hair that constant refreshing. For all information on moisturizing, check here.

What about my pocket?

naptural85, natural hair vlogger holding empty wallet and wondering how she'll get her hair done on a budget

Conditioners are the most needed products, and also the most expensive because of their many benefits. This is a problem I’m currently facing as a student, and lately been overcoming. So here are a few tips for getting good hair and not running dry!

  1. NEVER go beyond your budget. NEVER! Truth is, the best conditioners are not the most expensive. Expense is mostly based on popularity, and popularity is based on good publicity. I would admit that sure, the expensive ones are really good and some do the job they promise, but don’t kill yourself if you can’t afford them.
  2. Learn to make different DIY conditioners and make time for them, cause it could take a lot of time. One of my favorite conditioning method is the ‘hot oil’ treatment which is basically deep conditioning with only oil. A fruit I absolutely love on my hair is avocado, I would do a post later on different DIY deep conditioners you can make with this.
  3. Make use of your rinse-outs. They are the cheapest. You can add these to your DIYs and mix them up all so you have best of both. They could also be used to make leave-in conditioners, check here for a full post on that.
  4. Protective Styles. Even if you can afford the best conditioners, protective styles are always a plus for hair growth, and to reduce the extra time and stress your hair might give. I’m almost always on protective styles cause I rarely have time to style my hair, and that’s probably my major secret for the length I’ve been able to achieve so far. Wrote about those here and here.
  5. If you are TOTALLY dry and there’s only enough to feed yourself (how are you online though?), use WATER. Water is nature’s very own conditioner, it’s great and makes hair really soft. But evaporates in seconds, so wet your hair and style immediately. Note that styling very wet hair can break the hair, so be careful.

That’s it!

Conditioners are important, and you CAN afford them. Take good care of your hair, your hair will thank you for it!

What are your thoughts? Have you tried any or these? What were your results? Did I miss something? Let me hear from you

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Much love
olufarai of the AfroPelo



















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