The basic difference between a shampoo and conditioner is just like there is between a soap and a moisturizer. There are also other differences.

Difference Between Shampoo and Conditioner

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Many people get confused with the application of a conditioner. Some do not think it is important, while some think they can use either one of shampoo or conditioner. But, there is a major difference between the two. Here is a detailed article explaining the differences between a shampoo and a conditioner.

Shampoo works like a soap, while conditioner works like a moisturizer:

A shampoo has cleaning agents such as sulphides that lather and form a soapy solution. This helps the dirt to stick to the soapy particles, thereby cleaning your hair. A conditioner only contains intense moisturizers for hair that soothes the hair and nourishes it after it has been ripped clean by a shampoo.

Shampoo only cleans the hair, while a conditioner softens it:

Many conditioners contain hair smoothening oils, nourishing oils and softening agents that soften hair strands after they have been cleaned. A shampoo generally rips the hair off its natural oils as well, making it rough. A conditioner restores those oils and makes your hair soft.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Shampoo only cleans but a conditioner detangles  your hair as well:

Conditioners contain hair smoothing and detangling serums that help to detangle long tresses and make them straight. When you only clean your hair with shampoo, your hair normally gets badly tangled. A conditioner application after shampoo, helps to detangle your hair and make them soft and smooth. This helps in easy combing after they are dry and thereby less breakage. If you try to straighten or detangle rough hair, you end up weakening the strands and creating more hair loss. A conditioner works like a boon for those who have long hair that get badly entangled while washing.

Conditioners leave the hair soft and shiny, while shampoo only cleans the hair strand and scalp:

A conditioner also contains many essential oils, nourishing hair serums and moisturizers that create a protective barrier over each hair strand, softening them and adding a lovely shine. A shampoo only helps to get rid of excess sebum, dirt, grime, dandruff flakes and sticky sweat from the hair and scalp. 

Conditioners are of two types – leave in and rinse off conditioners, shampoos are of only one kind:

If your hair is too dry and frizzy, you can opt for leave-in conditioners that have to be applied to the hair after shampooing and drying. Such conditioners form an extra protective layer on the hair strand and prevent the natural oil and moisturizers from escaping, thereby helping to keep the hair soft, shiny, less frizzy and more manageable. You also get rinse off conditioners that need to be given a slight rinse after application to wash off the excess. Such conditioners contain excessive cream and moisturizers that are best applied to the hair when they are completely wet and clean. The hair strands absorb all that they require and then you rinse off the excess to prevent the hair from getting too sticky.

These are the basic differences between a shampoo and a conditioner. Both have totally different uses and directions. It is important to use a conditioner after every shampoo.

How to Use a Shampoo and a Conditioner:

It is always recommended to use the same brand conditioner as your shampoo. The directions to use a shampoo are mostly mentioned behind the bottle. You need to rinse your hair well and apply shampoo on wet hair. Then, you need to lather well and then rinse off. If your hair is excessively dirty, you can use the shampoo twice to wash and clean your hair.

After you have finished washing your hair with a shampoo, you should use a conditioner. Use the same brand conditioner as they generally work better together. Take a generous amount of conditioner in your palm and rub it well all over your wet hair, after you have rinsed it well. Then, you need to give a slight rinse to remove the excess conditioner from your hair. Then, let your hair dry naturally for best results. 

Some people swear by using a conditioner before shampooing. They feel that it makes their hair softer, but there is no scientific evidence behind this.