Your hair – no matter what the texture or color – needs to stay hydrated. Whether you prefer to rinse it out or leave it in, a conditioner is going to provide your hair with the moisture it needs to stay looking gorgeous.
Do you know which is the best leave-in conditioner for your hair type?
If not, then you will find the answer below in our detailed guide. Here, we help you understand what formulas work with certain hair types, show you 10 purchase-worthy products and provide you with extensive reviews of the top five.
Top 10 Leave-In Conditioners Table
Choose a Leave-In Conditioner Based on Your Hair Type
You’ll have the most success with a leave-in conditioner if you choose one that works for your hair type, so here are a few basic rules to help you understand what to pick.
- Fine. If you have fine hair, be sure to avoid heavy creams and conditioners that will weigh your hair down. You’ll do well with a mist or oil that will provide your hair with the hydration it needs, leaving it light.
- Curly. Curls can come in a variety of textures – from fine and thin to thick and coarse; you need to make sure the product you use isn’t going to weigh them down.
As we just mentioned, light sprays and oils are great for thin hair, but thicker formulas can help tame frizzy, unruly curls. Just remember that the thicker, creamier formulas are more likely to weigh your hair down, so if you prefer lighter, bouncier curls, they aren’t always the best option.
- Frizzy. Since friction is your enemy, you need products that can help smooth and polish the strands. Frizz happens when the scaly cuticle layer (the outmost layer of a single strand of hair) raises. When you apply the right leave-in conditioner, you can help “push” those layers back down to leave the strand feeling sleek and smooth. Dicetyldimonium Chloride and Cetrimonium Chloride are two ingredients that you want to see on the label (we will offer more details about them below).
Understand a Bit About Ingredients
Have you ever done much research about the ingredients used in conditioners? We have, and there is a lot to know about them.
We’ll go over some of the basic ones you are most likely to see in leave-in conditioners. Some are good, and some are bad, but their level of “goodness” really depends on whom you ask since not everyone agrees about all of them (e.g. silicone).
- Propylene Glycol, Glycerin. These are humectants. They help keep your hair moist.
- Panthenol. Derived from Vitamin B5. It also acts as a humectant and is said to help add shine, moisturize and help detangle hair.
- Amodimethicone. A silicone-based polymer. Used to condition hair.
- Stearyl, Cetyl or Cetearyl Alcohol. These are all fatty alcohols that are good for hair. They soften and function as emollients (moisturizers).
- Dicetyldimonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride. Frizzy hair’s best friend! These ammonium salts help prevent static buildup.
Natural extracts and oils are also great to see in the leave-in conditioners, but sometimes just using them singly can work great. The Slice of Nature Cold Pressed Marula Oil, for example, is 100% pure marula oil that hydrates both skin and hair. It’s a great alternative to Argan oil.
Top 5 Best Leave-In Conditioner Reviews
Quantity: 5.1 fluid ounces.
CC creams are already popular in the makeup world, but this unique “CC” cream is designed specifically for hair.
It’s more of a luxury item, but those who use it love what it does for their hair. It is marketed as a 10-in-1 product that will provide your hair with moisture, UV protection and even a bit of hold. It also smoothens, softens and adds a bit of shine while strengthening hair (anti-breakage).
Does it really do all of these things it claims to?
We tried it on several different hair types, and the results were impressive. Fine hair, curly hair, dry hair and frizzy hair, this has something for everyone. Just remember that it is a cream, and might be too heavy for some hair types. Use the product sparingly to help prevent it from weighing down your locks.
Since you don’t need a lot of product, a tube will last you quite a while which is why we didn’t mind spending this much on a leave-in conditioner. It is truly like caviar for your hair (also because it contains caviar extract in the ingredients).
Quantity: 10 fluid ounces.
A more affordable alternative 10-in-1 product to the Alterna brand of leave-in conditioner is this one from It’s a 10. So many people love this, and we must say that it is one of our favorites, as well.
We find that it does just as much as the previous product but comes in a spray rather than a cream. It’s not liquid; it’s more like a thin gel.
It’s a bit more expensive than Alterna, and you do get less product, but it is one of the best leave-in conditioner products out there and probable the most popular choice. It comes in a 4-ounces size, as well, for those of you who want a smaller bottle.
They also have another formula with extra Keratin added, so if you have damaged hair or you use a lot of harsh chemicals, this would probably be a great product for you. Keratin is already present in our hair, so adding an extra boost to strands that may have lower keratin levels will help strengthen it.
Quantity: 10.2 fluid ounces.
Garnier is our favorite drugstore product on the list. It’s affordable and works very well on dry, frizzy hair.
It is especially good on curly hair; from Type 2A Wavy to Type 3C Curly, this will provide you with a light layer of moisture that won’t weigh down your hair.
When checking out the ingredients label, we did like what we saw for the most part (water is the first ingredient, which also means that it takes up the largest percentage of the formula), but didn’t like the isopropyl alcohol since that can tend to dry out your hair.
In this price range, you can’t expect the same quality of ingredients that we saw in the previous products, but if you only use a leave-in a few times a week, this will probably work very well for you.
Quantity: 10 fluid ounces.
If you fall in the Type 3 to Type 4 curly hair range, then this is the type of product your hair needs.
As a thicker cream, this works best when used in small quantities to help give dry, brittle hair the extra layer of moisture and protection that it needs. It isn’t waxy or greasy but is a bit heavier than some of the other mists and oils. It definitely helps tame the frizz and will define your curls, however.
Some of the ingredients might irritate sensitive, so just a heads up to those of you who have problems with certain hair care products that make your skin break out around the forehead.
As a leave-in conditioner, it really does a great job for the types of curly hair we mentioned and definitely is a top pick from our list.
Quantity: 5 fluid ounces.
Oribe is by far the most expensive leave-in conditioner on our list, but if you’ve already tried the other products we reviewed and didn’t have any luck with them, then it might be time to spring for something like this.
It will not only moisturize your hair, but it also offers heat protection from styling tools, adds shine, tames the frizzies and helps smooth those split ends.
The ingredients are top-notch, containing natural extracts, soy protein to prevent frizz, wheat amino acids to help retain moisture, keratin to help strengthen hair and protect it, Kaempferia Galanga root for UV protection, vegetable-derived protein and glycerin to lock in moisture.
It’s a surprisingly popular leave-in conditioner in spite of the price tag, so if nothing else you have tried up until now has worked, then try it.