Q: Can you use a hair conditioner as a gel after drying?
A: Hair conditioner is designed to keep the hair moist and pliable and is formulated to be very different from styling gel.
Rinse-through conditioners are designed to be left on the hair for a short period of time and rinsed away. They have a heavy
consistency and in many cases can leave a “greasy” appearance if left on the hair. Some conditioners are designed to act as either
“rinse-through” or “leave-in” conditioners and will dry leaving the hair soft and shiny.
Some leave-in conditioner formulas can be used in place of setting lotions in roller sets and other styling techniques when you desire a “very light” hold, but these work
mostly on the principle that the water content of the conditioner breaks the side bonds of the hair, which reform as the hair dries in it’s new configuration.
Styling gels on the other hand contain agents to coat the hair and give it added “substance”. Many
gels contain adhesive agents which will make the hairs stick together, which as they dry in the configuration determined by the styling
process gives the style added strength, allowing it to hold longer. Gels also typically contain ingredients that encourage faster
drying to speed styling times. This means that the gelled hair can dry yet be “stuck together” in the same manner in which wet hair
behaves, which is where we get the term wet look.
According to the “faster drying” formulation, hair gel can be applied to dry hair to give added
stiffness and substance to a specific area. Adding conditioner to dry hair will usually only make the hair wet, given that conditioner
typically has a higher moisture content, and it will often dry looking more greasy.
So, aside from a few exceptions based on your desired finished look and your hair’s specific
texture and condition, don’t expect to use conditioner as a hair gel and get anything near similar results. You can use conditioners
on dry hair, but you need to be aware that the results you will get will be different than those achieved from gel.