Best leave-in conditioner

Hair Products

Some leave-in conditioners are moisturizing enough to be used as a heat protectant on the hair as well as a skin lotion.

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Which leave-in conditioner is best?

If you’re in search of a good hair day, a leave-in conditioner is a great place to start. Due to its hydrating and moisturizing effects, leave-in conditioner will leave your hair feeling soft and smooth, regardless of the weather. Selecting a formula that works best for your specific hair type is crucial. When buying a leave-in conditioner, consider the formula and which ingredients will benefit your hair.

If you’re looking for a detangling conditioner that reduces frizz and leaves hair soft, Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner is a top choice.

What to know before you buy a leave-in conditioner


Leave-in conditioners all serve the same purpose but come in different application formulas and consistencies. Depending on your hair type, you can choose from a spray conditioner or a cream conditioner.

Spray: A spray leave-in conditioner uses a water-based formula and is very lightweight when applied to the hair. This style is suitable for those with oily and/or thin hair. Spray formulas are easy to use: they’re applied by misting and can be worked through hair with a comb. If you have thin, oily hair, this formula can benefit your hair and leave it looking shiny, smooth and full.

Cream: A cream leave-in conditioner has a heavy, thick consistency and provides hair with more moisture than a spray conditioner. Creams are ideal for dry, thick, coarse or damaged hair that needs extra hydration. To use this product, rub a small amount at a time between your fingertips and apply generously through your hair, especially the ends. If you have thick, dry hair, this formula can benefit your hair and leave it looking shiny, smooth and bouncy.


Leave-in conditioners contain hydrating ingredients that help draw moisture to the hair.

Glycerin, plant oils and proteins such as keratin strengthen hair and heal damage, retain moisture, smooth the hair and boost shine. When purchasing leave-in conditioner, make sure it’s free of parabens, sulfates and any alcohol that may dry out the hair. A product usually says if it’s free of parabens and sulfates in the description, as well as whether the ingredients are animal-derived or plant-based.


Some leave-in conditioners are scented using chemical fragrances, and some derive their scent from essential oils. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid fragrance altogether and opt for a product that’s fragrance-free. Though essential oils are more natural than chemical fragrances, both can cause skin irritation, and depending on the oil, can strip hair of necessary nutrients.

What to look for in a quality leave-in conditioner


The main benefit of a leave-in conditioner is that it provides hydration to your hair. Applying leave-in conditioner to wet or damp hair locks in moisture, leaving the hair smooth and soft. If your hair is dry and damaged, consider purchasing a leave-in conditioner to use a couple of times a week to hydrate the hair and scalp.


A good leave-in conditioner not only leaves the hair feeling soft and hydrated, it can detangle the hair. This is useful for those with dry, damaged or thinning hair because it can lessen the amount of hair breakage when brushing as opposed to if it were tangled. This can help hair grow in the long run.

Heat protection

Leave-in conditioners naturally protect the hair from added heat. They don’t block UV rays unless they contain SPF, but they prevent damage when blow drying, curling or straightening the hair with a flat iron, working to combat the effects of heat styling.

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

You can find cheap leave-in conditioners that provide some moisture and hydration from $6 to $8, while leave-in conditioners in the $10-$20 range use naturally sourced ingredients to benefit the hair over time, and they’re sustainably produced. Leave-in conditioners with high-end features and benefits can be found for $25-$50.

Leave-in conditioner FAQ

How often should you use a leave-in conditioner?

A. Although these products leave your hair soft and silky after use, avoid using them more than twice a week. Overusing leave-in conditioner can cause adverse effects and lead to buildup on the scalp, preventing growth.

Can leave-in conditioner help with hair growth?

A. Leave-in conditioner won’t give you longer hair immediately, but if used with other hair products, it can help — since leave-in conditioners contain ingredients to strengthen the hair and prevent damage, they can help strengthen hair bonds and promote growth over time.

What’s the best leave-in conditioner to buy?

Top leave-in conditioner

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner

What you need to know: SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil leave-in conditioner is a repairing leave-in conditioner that softens and detangles hair while controlling frizz.

What you’ll love: This conditioner helps to rebuild hair strength and prevent breakage by providing a protective layer for all hair types. It improves the appearance of split ends.

What you should consider: This conditioner is a thick cream and can cause residue buildup on the hair.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta and Amazon

Top leave-in conditioner for the money

Cantu Shea Butter Men's Collection Leave-In Conditioner

Cantu Shea Butter Men’s Collection Leave-In Conditioner

What you need to know: This product contains hemp seed oil, which works to improve moisture retention and elasticity to fight breakage.

What you’ll love: This conditioner deeply moisturizes the hair with naturally sourced shea butter and is made without sulfates, parabens or mineral oils. It benefits all hair types.

What you should consider: The smell can be very strong. If you have a sensitive scalp or don’t like highly fragrant products, this may not be for you.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

Worth checking out

Paul Michell The Original Moisture Balancing Leave-In Conditioner

Paul Mitchell the Original Moisture Balancing Leave-In Conditioner

What you need to know: This conditioner contains Hawaiian awapuhi to help balance moisture and improve hair texture. It smooths hair, reduces static and prevents dryness.

What you’ll love: This product can also be used as a moisturizer for the skin and works well for all hair types. It uses naturally derived oils for its fragrance.

What you should consider: Some users don’t experience softer hair and don’t like the strong scent of this conditioner.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta and Amazon


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

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