Can I Use Conditioner After Using a Coal Tar Shampoo?

MA Hemal

Coal tar shampoo is a medicated shampoo used to treat various scalp conditions like dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Its active ingredient, coal tar, possesses anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties that can provide soothing relief. However, coal tar shampoo is thick and can be drying to the hair and scalp. This leaves many wondering – can conditioner be used after coal tar shampoo to soften hair and avoid excessive dryness? In this article, we will explore the benefits and considerations of conditioner use after coal tar shampoo.

What is coal tar shampoo?

Coal tar is a dark liquid that is produced during the heating and processing of coal. It contains various compounds like phenols and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that give coal tar its medicinal qualities. When formulated into a shampoo, coal tar can effectively treat scalp conditions caused by fungus, bacteria, yeast or chronic inflammation. Using a coal tar shampoo 1-2 times per week is most common to target symptoms.

Potential benefits of conditioner use

There are several potential benefits to using conditioner after coal tar shampoo:

  • Hydration – Coal tar shampoo is thick in texture and quite drying to the hair and scalp. Conditioner replenishes lost moisture to prevent additional flaking or itching.
  • Detangling – The conditioning agents in quality conditioners make brushing or combing hair easier after using a clarifying shampoo like coal tar.
  • Reduces breakage – Over-drying of the hair shaft from clarifying shampoos can lead to brittleness and breakage over time. Conditioner coats the hair cuticle to restore elasticity.
  • Softness – Conditioner seals the cuticle layer and locks in hydration so hair feels silkier and looks healthier overall.
  • Soothes skin – The emollients in conditioner formulations provide a protective barrier on the scalp to prevent further irritation or flaking after coal tar use.

Considerations for conditioner use

While conditioner offers benefits after coal tar shampoo, there are some considerations:

  • Wash out completely – Be sure to fully rinse conditioner from the hair and scalp. The remaining residue could counteract the medicinal effects of coal tar treatment.
  • Avoid heavy products – Thick, creamy conditioners may clog pores if not washed away thoroughly. Opt for lightweight, non-comedogenic formulas.
  • Timeframe – Wait at least 5-10 minutes after coal tar application before rinsing to allow it to take full effect on the scalp before adding conditioner.
  • Frequency – Frequency of coal tar use, conditioner use, and scalp sensitivity will determine what schedule allows relief without over-diluting the treatment or causing flare ups.
  • Ingredients – Monitor for any ingredients like fragrances, dyes or preservatives that could potentially irritate a treated scalp further.
  • pH balance – Some conditioners neutralize the pH-lowering effects of tar, decreasing its antimicrobial action. Opt for conditioners with low pH.

In general, using a hydrating conditioner after coal tar shampoo can soften hair and minimally counteract dryness when rinsed well. Considering timing, gentleness and frequency is key.

When selecting a conditioner to use after coal tar treatment, look for these attributes:

  • Free of extras like dyes, scents, alcohols that could further irritate skin
  • Oil-based for lightweight hydration without residue
  • Low pH balancing the scalp
  • Rich in moisturizing fatty acids and lipids

Some top conditioner picks are:

  • Argan or jojoba oil – Quickly absorbed for moisture without stripping benefits.
  • Shea butter cream – Nutritious fats soothe while hydrating.
  • Aloe vera gel – All-natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties complement treatment.
  • Coconut milk – Lightweight yet luxurious conditioning for hair and scalp.
  • Avocado or olive oil masks – Packed with omegas to deeply nourish without residue.

With proper cleansing afterwards, these picks minimize dryness from coal tar use in a gentle, nourishing way.


In conclusion, using a mild conditioner after coal tar shampoo can soften hair and prevent further scalp drying when rinsed thoroughly. Choosing lightweight, nourishing formulas without harsh ingredients is key as to not counteract the medicated shampoo’s effects. Considering your scalp sensitivity and frequency of use helps balance relief and results. With the right routine, coal tar shampoo can be an effective home remedy when used in conjunction with conditioners for certain skin and scalp issues.

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