The Best Leave-In Conditioners

Woman putting leave-in conditioner in her hair.

Buying Guide for Leave-In Conditioners

A woman spraying leave-in conditioner in her hair.

Why buy a leave-in conditioner?

When used after shampooing and before you style your hair, leave-in conditioners provide a three-way benefit of moisturizing, detangling, and helping to protect the hair. They help seal moisture to ensure your scalp and strands stay soft and hydrated. As a result, this helps to prevent breakage and keeps your hair looking smooth and healthy. To enjoy the time-saving benefits of using a leave-in conditioner, apply it in lieu of your standard rinse-out conditioner. However, if your tresses need a bit more TLC, you may want to use your rinse-out conditioner as usual and add the leave-in for extra moisture and protection.

What should you look for in a leave-in conditioner?

  • Ingredients: Examine the ingredient list on the product label before selecting a leave-in conditioner for your hair. Ideally, choose a nourishing product that contains natural ingredients and does not include sulfates, phthalates, parabens, or silicones. Natural oils such as coconut, olive, jojoba, or argan are a plus, depending on your hair type.
  • Frequency of Use: If you want something you can use daily, choose a lightweight formula that won’t weigh down your strands or make them feel greasy by the end of the day. If you plan on using this product less frequently, choose something with more weight because it will provide deep conditioning without making your hair feel too heavy.
  • Hair Type: If your hair is curly or wavy, look for a leave-in conditioner that contains coconut or argan oil to help tame frizz and make your waves look smoother. If your hair is straight, look for a product that contains keratin or silk amino acids; these will help strengthen and prevent breakage.

Should you buy a leave-in conditioner spray or cream?

A spray leave-in conditioner is great for people who want to apply their product quickly and easily. The spray may also be a good choice for those with oily hair since it will likely leave less residue that could weigh down the hair. Cream leave-in conditioners are usually thicker than sprays and can be applied directly to the scalp and throughout the hair. The thickness of the cream helps coat each strand with product and should be combed through so it doesn’t just sit on top of your hair.

Our Picks for the Best Leave-In Conditioners

Pros: Garnier has been a trusted brand for naturally inspired and derived hair care formulas since 1904. This nourishing blend contains citrus protein, vitamins, and argan oil, offering hydration and gloss for dry, thick, or frizzy hair. It provides up to three days of sleek and long-lasting frizz control even in 97% humidity.

Cons: Some users may find that this conditioner feels sticky to them. This is especially likely to happen with overapplication, so it may be best to start with a small amount and then add more a little at a time as needed.

Bottom Line: Consider this leave-in if you’re looking for a product that will tame frizz, especially in high humidity. In addition to this set of two 10.2-ounce bottles, this conditioner is available as a single or in a three-pack.

 

Pros: Give your tresses the strength it needs to help reduce split ends and breakage. This leave-in conditioner from Marc Anthony detangles, smooths frizz, and strengthens with caffeine, ginseng, and vitamin E. Achieve all-day conditioning with this moisturizing, anti-breakage formula suitable for all hair types. To use, spray onto damp hair from roots to ends, comb through, and style as desired.

Cons: Although this leave-in conditioner comes in a convenient spray bottle, it may be a better experience spritzing it on your hands first and then smooth it onto your hair. Since the mixture is somewhat creamy, it can be messy when pumped out, so spraying it on your hands offers better control.

Bottom Line: This may be the leave-in conditioner for you if you want to fortify your hair with vitamins and minerals for daily strengthening and repair. In choosing this conditioner, you can also feel good knowing that along with being animal testing-free, it’s also free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates.

 

Pros: Color-treated hair can quickly become dry, damaged, and brittle due to the chemicals used in the coloring process. Pureology Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Spray is a unique product formulated to provide special care to your color-treated hair, leaving it shiny and manageable. It contains a signature aromatherapy blend that helps even out porosity and acts as a heat protectant. The key ingredients in this multibenefit spray include camelina, coconut, and olive oils, which nourish, moisturize, and protect color-treated hair.

Cons: This conditioning spray is a bit expensive for the size, but with the high-quality ingredients, a little goes a long way toward repairing color-treated hair.

Bottom Line: Anyone eager to find a good leave-in conditioner to strengthen and protect their color-treated hair will likely feel that this product is worth the cost. Along with natural oil aromatherapy, this conditioner boasts 20 more hair health benefits, such as detangling, hydrating, and sealing the cuticle.

 

Pros: Caring for and detangling coily and kinky natural hair can sometimes feel like a chore. Fortunately, this leave-in conditioning spray from Carol’s Daughter can make the job easier. The wheat protein and pro-vitamin B5 fortify your hair, making it healthier and less likely to break while detangling. In addition, the leave-in conditioner features a blend of castor oil, rosemary, and aloe to transform dry, unmanageable hair into soft, incredibly moisturized hair. This weightless formula is suitable for all natural curl patterns, from 2A to 4C.

Cons: One of the ingredients in this product is wheat protein. While this component typically helps hydrate and strengthen hair, some people are more sensitive to it than others or overdo it by using too many protein-containing products. In this case, the protein can have an opposite drying effect.

Bottom Line: Carol’s Daughter is a trusted line in natural hair care, and this leave-in spray is just another item in this reputable brand that can help moisturizing and detangling become an easier task.

 

Pros: A treat for your tresses, the Moroccanoil All-In-One Leave-In Conditioner is infused with argan oil to give you soft, smooth, and shiny hair. Full of antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids, argan oil has been used throughout the ages to nourish hair and skin. This lightweight formula moisturizes and detangles hair quickly while protecting it from heat damage and breakage. This featured 1.7-ounce size makes it convenient to take your conditioning treatment wherever you go.

Cons: This is another case of a thicker-consistency product packaged in a spray bottle. As a result, just a little conditioner may come out with each pump, which can be inconvenient and frustrating. Opening the bottle and pouring the product into your hands may work better to apply it.

Bottom Line: You may want to try this leave-in conditioner if you like how your hair responds to argan oil treatment. In addition to the travel-convenient 1.7-ounce package, this conditioner is also available in a larger 5.4-ounce size.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to the best leave-in conditioner. Our picks showcase a variety of leave-ins that suit many hair care needs. Whether you’re looking for a product to soften your hair, protect it from heat damage, or prevent frizz, we have a conditioner outlined here that will work right for you.

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