A lot of hair care products either don’t do what they claim they will, or they’re unnecessary. Leave-in conditioners, though, make your hair more hydrated and softer, and they should be an essential part of your routine. We’ve chosen our favorites for every type of hair.
Why Should You Use a Leave-In Conditioner?
Even if you also use a conditioner in the shower, using the leave-in kind is a good idea for the following reasons:
- It prevents dry, dull hair: Leave-in conditioner provides an extra dose of hydration, which is especially ideal for dry strands. The best formulas also add luster and shine to make your hair feel more nourished.
- It can prevent hair breakage: Brushing wet hair isn’t recommended because wet strands are so delicate. Of course, almost everyone does it, anyway. A leave-in can really help you detangle your hair, so when you brush it, there are fewer knots and less possibility of breakage. Some leave-ins also act as a heat protectant.
- It’s easy to use right after your shower: Whether it’s a spray, cream, or balm, you can quickly use a leave-in conditioner right out of the shower. It preps your hair and, again, detangles it. This makes it easier to work with, which will save you time.
- It can freshen up hair that needs a boost: Leave-in conditioners aren’t just for wet or damp hair. You can spritz it on dry hair that needs a little extra shine or moisture.
- There’s a special kind for every hair type. Like anything else, there are tons of leave-in conditioners out there, but they’re not all created equal. While some formulas work for almost anyone, some are better for specific hair types. If you’re looking for something in particular, you’ll probably find it below.
Best Overall: It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In
Possibly the best leave-in conditioner on the market, a few spritzes of It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In on your wet hair will almost immediately remove any trace of knots. It smells wonderful, and leaves your hair feeling softer and looking shinier. Aside from being genuinely great for nearly every hair type, it’s also really affordable, and you can easily find it in most drugstores, or at beauty supply stores, like Ulta.
This formula basically has it all! It’s made with vitamin C for strength, linseed extract for soothing the scalp, aloe vera for hydration, and sunflower seed extract to prevent hair color from fading.
It also helps prevent split ends and is lightweight to enhance the natural body in your hair. A little goes a long way, and, honestly, it’s not a stretch to call this stuff a miracle.
It's A 10 Miracle Leave-In Product, 10 fl oz
It's A 10 Miracle Leave-In gives your hair lots of moisture and shine and helps prevent the color from fading, too.
Best Drugstore Brand: Not Your Mother’s Royal Honey & Kalahari Desert Melon Repair + Protect Leave-In Conditioner
There are plenty of expensive leave-in conditioners out there, but Not Your Mother’s Royal Honey and Kalahari Desert Melon Repair + Protect Leave-In Conditioner is proof that more dollar signs doesn’t always translate to a better product. This favorite is a clean formula made without harsh ingredients, like sulfates and parabens. The spray nozzle also makes it very easy to use.
The honey helps to gently repair damage over time and prevents more from occurring, while the Kalahari Desert melon deep conditions your hair.
This combination leaves your hair softer, shinier, less damaged, and smelling wonderfully (but not overwhelmingly) sweet. People also love how it fights frizz and adds moisture and shine.
However, keep in mind this conditioner is on the thicker side—if you spritz on too much, it can weigh down your hair. Just a bit is more than enough!
Best High-End: Davines OI All in One Milk
If you’re willing to spend a bit more on a leave-in conditioner, Davines OI All in One Milk is the one you want. This cult classic is worth every penny. It’s lightweight but incredibly hydrating. It also detangles knots instantly, prevents frizz no matter the weather, and softens strands considerably.
The term “hair milk” might sound odd, but it’s really not. Made with roucou, which is a plant oil that adds major shine and moisture, it leaves hair feeling completely renewed. People especially love that it allows them to let their hair air-dry. It also has a clean scent that isn’t overwhelming, but just smells good.
Davines OI All in One Milk, 4.56 Fl Oz
Davines OI All in One Milk is very lightweight but super-hydrating. It will leave your hair softer than ever.
Best for Curly Hair: Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Restore Leave-In Conditioner
Thick, curly hair requires a serious leave-in that’s up to the task of taming frizz without weighing down curls, leaving them looking sad and stringy. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil is just the stuff for the job! This cream is made with super-hydrating ingredients, like shea butter, black castor oil, and peppermint, to leave your hair healthy while combatting dryness.
The rich formula is nourishing and will repair your hair while adding loads of shine, making it ideal for tight curls, and frizzy or natural hair. It’s thick but never feels too greasy or heavy, which is why it’s one of the most recommended products for curly hair.
Shea Moisture Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner 16 oz (Pack Of 1)
Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil leave-in conditioner is super-nourishing but won't weigh down curls.
Best for Frizzy Hair: Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-In Conditioning Spray
All of the leave-in conditioners on this list are ideal for frizzy hair. However, if your frizz is a little more out of control, and you want something to fight it off, Briogeo’s Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-In Conditioning Spray is for you. Made with a mix of rosehip, argan, and coconut oils, this incredibly moisturizing leave-in expertly fights frizz and leaves hair shiny.
You get all the benefits of coconut oil (more hydration, shine, and softness), but your hair won’t ever feel weighed down or greasy (which coconut oil can often do).
This formula is also vegan and cruelty-free.
Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave In Conditioning Spray, 5 oz - Coconut Oil & Argan Oil - Anti Frizz Hair Products - Natural Leave in Conditioner Suitable for Straight, Wavy and Curly Hair
Briogeo Farewell Frizz is genuinely great at preventing frizz from happening in any weather.
Best for Damaged Hair: Alterna Caviar CC Cream
Damaged hair needs more moisture and nourishing ingredients than other hair types, so it makes sense that a more heavy-duty leave-in conditioner is necessary. Alterna Caviar CC Cream is a favorite among hair gurus to repair damage because it’s so thick and conditioning. Because it’s a cream, it really gets in there and does the job.
This 10-in-1 formula is loaded with vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, and, yes, pure caviar. These ingredients will repair damage, reduce breakage, add shine and softness, and nourish hair that desperately needs it. It works instantly, making damaged hair look fuller, shinier, and healthier. It doesn’t just make your hair look healthier, either; it actually repairs it.
Alterna Caviar 10-in-1 Complete Correction Hair Cream, 2.5 Ounce
Alterna Caviar CC Cream is a 10-in-1 leave-in that adds lots of nourishment to hair that really needs it.
Best Scent: Ouai Leave-In Conditioner
Haircare product scents can be odd—they’re generally either super-fruity and sweet, smell clean, or like nothing at all. The lovely perfume scent of Ouai Leave-In Conditioner (and almost all of this brand’s products) stands out among other haircare products. The fragrance (called “North Bondi”) is a really nice floral that smells like bergamot, Italian lemon, rose de Mai, violet, and white musk.
Scent aside, though, this is genuinely a great leave-in conditioner. It smooths flyaways, acts as a heat protectant, and primes your hair for styling as it detangles and softens. It leaves your hair shiny and smooth, but it never feeling heavy. The scent is so great, you’ll want to use a ton of this—and you can! It won’t weigh down your strands.
Best for Color-Treated Hair: Pureology Colour Fanatic Leave-In Treatment Spray
When you color your hair, it damages it and makes it more sensitive. So, if you color your hair, you should use hair care products specifically for color-treated hair. These products are designed not to strip, dull, or change the color. Pureology Colour Fanatic Leave-In Treatment Spray is just such a product. It’s sulfate-free which leaves your hair softer and more manageable without ruining the color (sulfates can strip dye).
Made with coconut, camelina, and olive oils, it’s super-nourishing and moisturizing, so it adds that shine your hair needs while also strengthening it enough to repair any damage. It doubles as a heat protectant, which is extra important with color-treated hair. It might even make your hair color more vibrant.
Pureology Colour Fanatic Leave-in Conditioner Hair Treatment Detangling Spray | Protects Hair Color From Fading | Heat Protectant | Vegan | 6.7 oz.
Pureology Colour Fanatic Leave-In Treatment Spray conditions dyed hair without stripping the color.
Best for Fine Hair: Sachajuan Leave-In Conditioner
Fine hair requires a really lightweight leave-in conditioner because something heavy and thick can weigh it down. Sachajuan Leave-In Conditioner is perfect for fine strands and it’s totally oil-free.
Made with silicones and marine extracts to moisturize and soften hair, it basically does what oils do without leaving that oily feeling that often weighs down fine hair.
If you’ve found that leave-in conditioners usually leave your hair feeling too heavy or oily, give this one a shot!
SACHAJUAN Leave In Conditioner, 8.4 Fl Oz
Sachajuan Leave-In Conditioner is super-moisturizing, but completely oil-free, so it won't weigh down fine strands.
Best Multitasker: Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer
If you’re looking for a leave-in that does basically everything, then Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer is a great option. You won’t even need many other products once you spray this in your hair. This cult classic among hairdressers and stylists is a leave-in that also acts as a heat protectant and UV-ray protectant.
It’s made with six lightweight oils that leave hair softer, smoother, and less frizzy. It also helps prevent damage. It’s ideal for dry, damaged hair, but works for all hair types.
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Primer, 8.5 Ounce
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil detangles and protects your hair from heat and UV rays.
Best for Summer: Sun Bum Beach Formula 3-in-1 Leave-In Hair Conditioner Spray
When you spend the day at the beach or outside in the sun, you probably remember to protect your skin, but what about your hair? UV rays can also dry out and damage your strands and fade your hair color. Sun Bum Beach Formula 3-in-1 Leave-In is perfect for spritzing on your hair when you know you’re going to be in the sun a lot.
Made with coconut oil, quinoa protein, and banana pulp, peel, and leaf, this super-moisturizing detangler also leaves your hair feeling softer. It also contains sunflower seed extract for natural UV protection. Plus, it basically smells like summer in a bottle.
Sun Bum Revitalizing 3 in 1 Leave-In Conditioner Spray - Detangler - Anti Frizz - Paraben Free - Gluten Free - Vegan - Color Safe - UV Protection - 4 oz Spray Bottle - 1 Count
Sun Bum Revitalizing 3-in-1 Conditioning Spray protects your hair from UV rays, while also detangling.