Skip to Content

How To Use A Conditioner Bar Properly (Step-By-Step Guide)

If you know how to use bar soap and liquid shampoo, then you’re halfway there in figuring out how to use a conditioner bar properly. The real trick is getting through the transitional period while your hair gets used to the idea of non-liquid conditioner.

Table of Contents

How To Use A Conditioner Bar Properly

Your conditioner bar will work wonders for your hair if you know how to use it correctly.

Make Sure It’s Conditioner, NOT Soap

Don’t think of your conditioner bar like bar soap. If you mix the two up, you’ll either give yourself scummy hair or less-than-clean skin. Check the packaging – are you actually using conditioner on your hair, or is it soap? 

The label should be pretty straightforward. You can also check the ingredient list. If it has any “exfoliants” like almond chunks, salt, or something similarly textured, it belongs on your skin, not in your hair. 

Some natural soaps are good for both skin and hair, which is absolutely fine. Just make sure you’re not about to make a fatal soapy mistake.

If you’re still deciding what conditioner is right for your hair, check out our list of the best zero waste conditioner and shampoo bars. (They’re not soaps.)

Use Shampoo First

Shampoo cleans your roots and dissolves acne-causing oil (check out the best shampoos and conditioners for scalp acne). If you use conditioner without shampoo, it won’t fully clean your hair.

On the flip side, you can technically use shampoo without conditioner – lots of men do – but conditioner helps soften your hair. I recommend it most for guys with dry, frizzy, or curly hair. If you have oily and soft hair, you can probably get away without using conditioner.

Lather Up The Conditioner And Apply To Your Hair

There are a few ways to get the bar conditioner on your hair. Lots of guys who are new to the world of bar conditioners like to lather it between their hands, put the bar down, then apply the suds to their hair, like a normal liquid conditioner.

You can also rub the bar directly on your hair, but you’ll still want to lather it in with your hands afterwards for better coverage.

A quick note: natural conditioners and shampoos don’t have the same foamy, bubbly lather that commercial hair products do. It’ll be slick and thin, but it’s just as effective. Proceed like normal.

Focus On The Tips, Not The Roots

Just the tip, guys. Conditioner is meant to help detangle your hair and prevent dryness. It’s the ends and the tips of your hair that need it most.

If you have long hair, put conditioner on everything below the nape of your neck. 

If you have short hair and can’t avoid getting the roots, try using your conditioner bar every other day so that you don’t over-moisturize your hair.


Leave in the suds for a minute or two, then rinse your hair. If you’re having a hard time rinsing, then double check the packaging to make sure that you’re actually using conditioner, NOT SOAP. If you get soap in your hair, it will be very hard to rinse out.

What To Do If You’re Transitioning to A Conditioner Bar 

Guys who are new to conditioner bars have a few extra steps to consider. It’s likely that your hair has product buildup in it. That means the shampoos, conditioners, and gels you’ve been using have coated your scalp and hair shafts. Your hair might not initially react well to the all-natural ingredients in conditioner and shampoo bars because of that product buildup.

Use Baking Soda To Prep Your Hair Beforehand

Before you break out your shampoo or conditioner bar, consider rinsing your hair with baking soda. It dissolves product buildup so your conditioner bar can work more effectively (and have no negative side effects).

Just mix a few spoonfuls of baking soda with a little bit of water until you have a pasty mixture. If it’s too watery, add more baking soda, and if it feels too thick, more water (the ratio doesn’t have to be precise). Apply that to wet hair, scrub it in, and rinse it out. Then go about your shower routine like normal.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar To Detangle And Balance Acidity Afterwards

After you use bar conditioner for the first time, you can rinse your hair with some diluted apple cider vinegar to make sure that your hair texture stays awesome and your scalp feels clean.

Add several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to however much water it takes to cover your whole head. Then after you’ve used your conditioner, pour the ACV mixture over your hair, let it sit for a few minutes, and rinse it out. 

This is a good strategy for guys who still don’t feel like natural bar conditioners aren’t improving the texture of their hair. It’s a second fallback for rinsing out product buildup.

How To Use A Conditioner Bar With Hard Water

Something funky happens when the ingredients in bar conditioners and bar shampoos combine with hard water. The minerals in the water create a waxy texture that feels weird along the roots of your hair.

The best option of all is to just wash your hair with filtered water outside the shower. That way you don’t have to deal with hard water in the first place. But I know that’s undoable for some guys.

That apple cider vinegar rinse we just discussed is a good alternative, and it’s probably the second easiest way to deal with conditioner bars and hard water. Running some diluted ACV through your hair will dissolve mineral buildup that reacts strangely with your conditioner.

You can also buy the best shampoo and conditioner bars for hard water. Their ingredients are specially formulated to deal with mineral buildup.

It’s a noble learning curve, figuring out how to make the most out of your conditioner bar. In the long run, it’ll be better for your hair and our earth.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.