Best leave-in conditioner

Hair Products

Select a leave-in conditioner with SPF protection to safeguard hair color and hair from overdrying due to daily exposure to UV rays.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which leave-in conditioners are best?

If you have dry or textured hair or are just looking to add more moisture to your mane, a leave-in conditioner may pick up the slack when your regular conditioner just isn’t cutting it. As the name suggests, a leave-in conditioner isn’t rinsed out of your hair and stays in all day long providing long-lasting hydration.

The market is saturated with hair products, and it can be dizzying to choose a leave-in conditioner. We’ve come up with this quick shopping guide to help streamline the purchasing process and also have included our top picks like this It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Conditioner, that features a gentle and lightweight formula.

What to know before you buy a leave-in conditioner

A leave-in conditioner can be used in conjunction with or in lieu of a regular conditioner. It’s best to apply these products after hair has been washed, conditioned, and towel dried. We recommend using a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute the leave-in conditioner through your damp hair.

Here are some of the benefits of using a leave-in conditioner:

  • Keeps conditioning your hair throughout your day because it stays in your hair, unlike conventional conditioners that are designed to be washed out.
  • Adds moisture to your hair and keeps it looking and feeling soft and smooth. Hydrated hair also is less prone to breakage and splits.
  • Provides heat protection and guards your hair from damage from heat-styling tools, like blow dryers and flat irons.
  • Detangles hair by adding extra slip for combing out knots and tangles after a shower.
  • Helps styling by smoothing and conditioning hair and also preps hair for potentially drying hair products like gels.

What to look for in a quality leave-in conditioner

Different types 

There are generally two different forms of leave-in conditioners:

  • Cream: A cream leave-in conditioner has a thick consistency and is ideal for dry, coarse, damaged or textured hair that needs heavy hydration. Some lightweight formulated creams are available.
  • Spray: Spray leave-in conditioners are lightweight, water-based formulas dispensed in a mist. If you have thin or fine hair, this type of leave-in conditioner won’t weigh your hair down.


Select a leave-in conditioner with ingredients that match your needs and hair types. Here is a list of common hydrating and fortifying ingredients in leave-in conditioners.

  • Glycerin: This humectant both draws in moisture from the environment and helps your hair retain it.
  • Fatty acids: Alpha-linolenic and stearic acid are two fatty acids that boost shine, promote hair growth, and soothe irritated scalps.
  • Cationic surfactants: Citrate, lactate, and propionate are all surfactants that help detangle hair.
  • Proteins: Keratin is one kind of protein you might see in a leave-in conditioner that helps strengthen your strands and repair damage from breakage.
  • Plant oils: Jojoba and olive oil are plant oils that naturally add shine, hydrate, repair damage, and smooth hair.
  • Silicones: Dimethicone and amodimethicone are silicones that coat the hair to make strands less porous, thus reducing moisture loss and frizz. Be aware that silicones can cause buildup on the hair.

How much you can expect to spend on a leave-in conditioner

Expect to pay anywhere from $4 to $70 for a leave-in conditioner. A quality, mid-priced cream leave-in should run you between $15 to $42 and a spray between $12 and $20. 

Leave-in conditioners FAQ

Q. Should I use a regular conditioner and a leave-in conditioner?

A. Yes. Leave-in conditioners are designed to be used after rinse-out conditioners to provide extra hydration as well as protection from heat and environmental factors.

Q. Can I use a leave-in conditioner on dry hair?

A. You can, but we’d only recommend using the product on the ends of your hair. Applying a leave-in conditioner to your entire hair when it’s dry may make hair appear greasy. Most leave-in conditioners are designed to be applied to damp hair.

What leave-in conditioners are best to buy?

Top leave-in conditioner

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Conditioner

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Conditioner

Our take: A top-rated leave-in conditioner that won’t weigh down your hair or leave a residue.

What we like: Tames frizz and detangles. Lightweight formula. Leaves hair super soft.

What we dislike: Pump dispenser is prone to clogging.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top leave-in conditioner for the money

Giovanni Direct Leave-in Weightless Moisture Conditioner 

Giovanni Direct Leave-in Weightless Moisture Conditioner 

Our take: Affordable leave-in conditioner boasting natural, organic ingredients.

What we like: Organic botanical extracts and proteins. Lightweight; won’t weigh down hair. Softens and smooths hair.

What we dislike: May not provide enough moisture for some users’ needs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner

Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner

Our take: A premium leave-in conditioner that’s a fan favorite with curly-haired users.

What we like: Locks in moisture and curls. Very hydrating formula. Smooths away frizz. Adds a bit of volume.

What we dislike: Too heavy for fine or thin hair types.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.