Buying Guide for Leave-In Conditioners
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, too.
- Frequency of Use: If you want something you can use daily or almost 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 the product and should be combed through so that it doesn’t just sit on top of your hair.
Our Picks for the Best Leave-In Conditioners
Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Intensely Smooth Leave-In Conditioning Cream
Tame frizzy, dry hair with this pack of two leave-in conditioning creams.
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 conditioner 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 three-pack.
Marc Anthony Leave-In Conditioner Spray & Detangler
Mend split ends and prevent breakage with this leave-in conditioner spray that's fortified with vitamin E and ginseng.
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, you may have a better experience spritzing it on your hands first and then smoothing 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.
milk_shake Leave-In Conditioner Spray Detangler for Natural Hair
A color-safe leave-in spray that uses natural ingredients to condition and detangle.
Pros: Color-treated hair can quickly become dry, damaged, and brittle due to the chemicals used in the coloring process. This milk_shake Leave-In Conditioner Spray Detangler is a unique product formulated to leave all hair types (including color-treated ones) shiny and more manageable. This lightweight spray is made with a natural milk protein, fruit extract, and honey formula that hydrates and conditions the hair, leaving it smooth and soft. It protects and preserves your hair color, while the sweet vanilla scent keeps your hair smelling delicious.
Cons: While most people enjoy the vanilla milkshake smell of this leave-in, it’s not for everyone. If you’re not fond of sweet scents, you may want to choose another conditioner. This one is also a bit higher on the price spectrum.
Bottom Line: Have you ever thought about treating your hair to a milkshake? If it offers to strengthen and protect your hair, you might! This milk_shake brand Leave-In Conditioner Spray Detangler is a great option to moisturize and detangle your color-treated hair with natural ingredients and a yummy scent.
Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-In Conditioner Spray
Keep your natural curls and coils healthy and hydrated with this leave-in conditioning spray.
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. 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 sensitive to it or overdo it by using too many protein-containing products. In these unique cases, the protein can have an opposite drying effect. You may want to check all your product ingredient labels for wheat protein before adding this one to your haircare regimen.
Bottom Line: Carol’s Daughter is a trusted line in natural hair care, and this leave-in spray is just another item from this reputable brand that can help moisturizing and detangling become an easier task.
The Honest Company Conditioning Hair Detangler
The whole family can use this conditioning detangler for gentle, tear-free moisturizing.
Pros: Made without parabens, dyes, synthetic fragrances, silicones, sulfates, or formaldehyde, Honest Conditioning Hair Detangler boasts a formula that is gentle enough for babies but effective enough to work on all hair types. Its detangling properties and inviting aroma come from natural ingredients, including orange, vanilla, and coconut extracts. This product is dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic, leaving your locks easy to manage without adverse effects on your scalp or skin.
Cons: Users with longer or thicker hair may have to use quite a bit of this leave-in to get the intended results. While the small, 4-ounce bottle may go quickly, there’s also an option to purchase a pack of three bottles that would last longer and offer more convenience for the family to share.
Bottom Line: With this leave-in conditioner from Honest, the entire family can say goodbye to tangled hair and harsh chemicals and hello to softer, more manageable tresses using natural ingredients.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to the best leave-in conditioner. Our picks showcase a variety of products 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 listed that should work well for you.