The 8 Best Leave-In Conditioners for Every Hair Type

SHARE

With all of the great hair masks, oils, and treatments out there, many people forget about the simple and (usually) affordable option of leave-in conditioners.

Leave-in conditioners are one of the best ways to smooth hair, fight frizz, detangle, and protect from heat styling without breaking the bank or requiring much effort.

But it’s hard to simply pick one off the shelf and get it right—you have to consider your hair type and goals, as someone with fine hair can’t use the same leave-in conditioner as thick, curly-haired types.

Not to worry—we’ve got you covered with the eight best leave-in conditioners for all hair types, from fine-haired and frizzy to coarse and curly.

TNI Main Logo 700x432 1 Best Overall
OUAI Leave-In Conditioner
Best Drugstore
Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Leave-In Conditioning Cream
Best Leave-In
Redken All Soft Mega Curls Hydramelt Leave-In Treatment
Product OUAI Garnier Redken
Hair Type All Thick, dry, frizzy Curly
Cost $30 for 4.7oz
($6.38/oz)
Shop Now
$3.99 for 10.2oz
($0.39/oz)
Shop Now
$28 for 5.1oz
($5.49/oz)
Shop Now

Best for: People of all hair types who want to hydrate, smooth, and protect their hair. 

Designed by a celebrity hairstylist, OUAI Leave-In Conditioner is one of the best leave-in conditioners because it works for all hair types, provides heat protection, and smells great.

Not many leave-in conditioners can be used by people with both fine and thick hair, as they have such different needs—but OUAI gets the job done by being a lightweight formula that still moisturizes and hydrates. 

This leave-in conditioner spray has a milky texture made of an amino acid blend, tamarind seed extract, and vitamin E that detangles, smoothes frizz and flyaways, and protects against damage from heat styling and sun exposure.

One of the most-loved things about this leave-in conditioner is its scent—a blend of bergamot, violet, and white musk that smells both floral and beachy.

Best for: People with thick, coarse, dry, or frizzy hair looking for an affordable drugstore leave-in conditioner. 

Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Leave-In Conditioning Cream is a good leave-in conditioner for people on a budget or those looking for an accessible option at a drugstore or beauty retailer. 

This leave-in conditioner is best for thick, coarse, dry, and frizzy hair, as it’s a highly moisturizing hair cream loaded with argan oil, keratin, and citrus protein. 

It’s recommended to comb it through damp hair before styling, where you can expect shine and tamed flyaways and frizz for up to three days—even with humidity or hot temperatures. 

One downside is that this leave-in formula contains the artificial dyes Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.  

While we don’t know as much about synthetic dyes in personal care products as we do in foods (which is still not much), some people report skin irritation from using them.

However, as leave-in conditioners only go on the ends of your hair (not the scalp), the dyes may not pose an issue.

Best for: Anyone with curly or coily hair looking for a leave-in cream to deeply hydrate the hair and manage curls. 

Redken All Soft Mega Curls Hydramelt Leave-In Treatment is a top-rated leave-in conditioner for people with curly or coiled hair (curl types 3A-4C).

This leave-in cream treatment contains hydrating and nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, cactus flower extract, and inca inchi oil, which reduce frizz, enhance shine, and improve curl manageability for 72 hours.

Also known as Sacha inchi, inca inchi is a Peruvian superfood rich in hair-loving vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, locking in moisture and keeping the scalp and hair conditioned and nourished. 

While the container is on the smaller side, a little goes a long way with Redken All Soft Mega Curls, making it our top choice as the best leave-in conditioner for curly hair.

Best for: People with fine or very thin hair looking for a leave-in conditioner that won’t weigh it down.

SACHAJUAN Leave In Conditioner is a lightweight, oil-free leave-in formula that’s perfect for people with fine or thin hair.

This leave-in conditioner provides weightless moisture with their “Ocean Silk Technology”—a combination of cold water algae extracts that work synergistically to promote shiny hair and scalp health by adding minerals like magnesium, manganese, and zinc. 

However, this formula contains a type of silicone (silicone quaternium-18).

While silicones in hair care products aren’t thought to be harmful or toxic—in fact, they can sometimes be beneficial for improving shine and preventing heat damage—they can build up in the hair and cause dryness over time.

But, the form used in SACHAJUAN Leave In Conditioner (silicone quaternium-18) is water-soluble, which is easily rinsed out of the hair at your next shampoo—no worries about dryness or product buildup here. 

Conversely, you’ll want to watch out for non-water-soluble silicones in your hair care products—especially if you’re already prone to dryness or product buildup that makes your hair limp.

Best for: People with extra-dry, frizzy, or coarse hair that need extra smoothing and shine. 

Matrix Mega Sleek Blow Down Smoothing Leave-In Cream is a smoothing cream leave-in treatment best suited for people with dry, frizzy, or coarse hair.

One of the main ingredients in this formula is shea butter, which has emolliating qualities that hydrate and lock in moisture without leaving the hair feeling greasy.

However, shea butter is on the heavier side, so this product may not be great for people with fine hair. 

While Matrix Mega Sleek Blow Down is on the smaller side, you only need to use a little bit of the cream at one time, making it more affordable. 

Best for: People with frizzy or dry hair looking for a moisturizing leave-in conditioner spray.

Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-in Conditioner Spray is loaded with hair-loving oils that seal the cuticle and lock in moisture, creating frizz-free, shiny, and more hydrated hair. 

It’s even been scientifically proven—in a third-party study using human hair tresses, Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-In Spray reduced frizz for up to 48 hours. 

The frizz-fighting ingredients in this formula are argan, rosehip seed, and coconut oil, which work together to tame flyaways, detangle hair, and lock out the effects of humidity. 

Specifically, rosehip oil is loaded with essential fatty acids that maintain hair hydration, coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft to seal in moisture and prevent breakage, and argan oil combats dryness and fights frizz. 

Plus, Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-In Spray contains vitamin E to protect the hair from free radical damage, and it’s Leaping Bunny Certified and made of 98% naturally derived ingredients.

Best for: Anyone with thick, coarse, or damaged hair looking for a heavy-duty leave-in conditioner. 

Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother is ideal for thick locks or damaged hair, as it’s a heavier leave-in treatment that conditions and repairs hair without increasing density (which finer-haired folks would want). 

This product provides heat protection, acting as a protective barrier between hair and heat styling tools, which prevents further damage.

It also reduces drying time—as anyone with thick hair knows, any reduction in blowdrying time is a plus!

Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother uses their patented Bond Building Technology—a highly concentrated formula that smooths, conditions, and strengthens hair while reducing frizz for up to 72 hours.

Some ingredients in this leave-in conditioner treatment include coconut oil, aloe vera, grapeseed oil, and sunflower seed oil.

Plus, Olaplex No. 6 can be applied to damp or dry hair and can be either air-dried or blow-dried into the hair.

However, Olaplex is not known for being a budget brand—at $30 for a 3.3oz container, this product is definitely expensive.

Best for: People with color-treated or chemically-treated hair looking to detangle, soften, and protect hair’s color. 

For anyone with color-treated hair or chemically-treated hair, Amika Vault Color-Lock Leave-In Conditioner is a hydrating and nourishing product for you. 

Antioxidants and UV filters in this spray mist protect against color fading and dulling while also detangling and softening hair.

One of the key ingredients in this formula is sea buckthorn berry, a superfruit that contains the rare omega-7 fatty acid, which increases the synthesis of collagen and elastin to support hair and scalp health. 

In addition to protecting color-treated hair, Amika Vault Color-Lock is also great for chemically treated, Brazilian-treated, and keratin-treated hair—plus, free from parabens, sulfates, gluten, mineral oil, artificial colors, and phthalates.

Leave-In Conditioner FAQs

Are Leave-In Conditioners Good for Your Hair?

Leave-in conditioners are good for most hair types, as they provide extra hydration while helping to detangle, fight frizz, and protect color-treated or damaged hair.

Is It Better to Use Leave-In Conditioners on Wet or Dry Hair?

It depends on the product—some are best used on damp hair, while others can be used on both damp and dry hair. The majority of leave-in conditioners recommend using them on damp hair—not soaking wet hair.

Generally, start with just-washed, towel-dried damp hair and smooth or spray a small amount of the leave-in conditioner, starting at the mid-length and going down to the ends.

You should not add it to the roots of your hair, as it can make it greasy or oily. Brush through gently to distribute the product, then blow-dry, air-dry, or style as usual.

Why Is My Hair So Dry After Using a Leave-In Conditioner?

Sometimes, using leave-in conditioner daily can backfire and cause your hair to feel more dry over time. They can create product build-up, which leads to brittle hair. 

If this occurs, try using a leave-in conditioner every other day or every few days.

You should also check that your leave-in conditioner does not contain drying ingredients, like alcohol, sulfates, parabens, non-water-based silicones, or formaldehyde (yep, some beauty products contain formaldehyde!).

How Often Should You Use a Leave-In Conditioner?

If your hair is extremely dry or damaged, you may be able to use a leave-in conditioner daily. 

However, most people will want to alternate days or just use them once or twice a week, as daily use can cause hair product buildup and cause either dryness or greasy-looking hair over time—especially with fine and thin hair.

How Long Should Leave-In Conditioner Stay in Hair?

You can keep leave-in conditioner in your hair until your next shampoo—you don’t need to wash it out sooner.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *