Hair feeling a little frazzled, coarse or tangled? The best leave-in conditioners are here to save the day
Having a good conditioner in your beauty arsenal is a must – that much goes without saying. But it’s also common knowledge that the longer you allow your conditioner to soak into your hair before washing it out, the more effective it will be. And while this is a nice idea in theory, sometimes dunking your head back under the tap after you’ve gone through the rest of your beauty routine just takes too much time. Enter the best leave-in conditioner.
A great leave-in conditioner will work overtime to protect your tresses from damage – be that at the hands of your hairbrush, environmental factors like pollution, or your hot tools (yes, even the best hair straighteners can take their toll on your locks) – while adding a glossy, frizz-free finish to your look.
But as with all beauty buys, it’s about finding a leave-in conditioner that works for your hair type. Ideally, you want one that moisturises hair and helps to untangle unruly strands, without weighing it down. (Particularly important if you have finer hair.)
Here’s how to find your perfect match.
What’s the best leave-in conditioner for my hair type?
With regular use, a leave-in conditioner will leave hair more resilient in the long run – especially important if you have a daily straightener habit you just can’t seem to break. If you hair is prone to bouts of breakage, we recommend opting for a formula that’s rich in ceramides, proteins and lipids – like Redken’s Extreme Anti-Snap Treatment. (It also protects against heat, so is a great damage control product to use pre-blow dry for smoother styles.)
As with skincare, hyaluronic acid is also a bit of a wonder ingredient when it comes to dehydrated hair – and these days, can be found in everything from the best shampoo for dry hair, to leave-in treatments like The Inkey List’s Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Hair Treatment.
If your hair is finer and tends to get overloaded with product easily, finding the best leave-in conditioner can feel like a trickier task. Yes, you want your hair to look and feel hydrated, but no, you don’t want your roots looking like you haven’t bothered washing them at all. Finer hair types should steer clear of heavy, creamy formulas, and opt for something lighter – like a detangling mist or serum.
Grow Gorgeous’s Volume Bodifying Leave-in Serum has been formulated to boost volume and bring some life back into limp hair while conditioning – and we reckon it’s one of the best there is for finer tresses.
But there are lots more where those came from. Scroll down for our pick of the best leave-in conditioners for every hair type.
Great hair days right this way…
There's a reason why this one and done spray is a beauty cult classic. Not only does it smell amazing (cue notes of bergamot, rose de mai, magnolia, and sandalwood), it works wonders on dry hair to detangle, moisturise and tame frizz.
BEST FOR COLOURED HAIR
It's all about the hydration when it comes to maintaining your colour. This multi-tasking Pureology treatment spray is ultra-hydrating owing to its natural blend of camelina, coconut and olive oil, while keeping colour in check thanks to its Anti-Fade Complex. Oh, and it also protects against heat damage, helps to prevent tangles and leaves hair shiny and smooth.
BEST FOR FRAZZLED HAIR
If you haven't already added Olaplex into your haircare routine, you've definitely heard the stories about how restorative the brand's treatments are. A dream for keeping your hair in good nick between salon visits, No 6 Bond Smoother can be applied after your normal wash out conditioner to strength, banish frizz and give the hair a good old dose of moisture.
BEST FOR FLYAWAYS AND FRIZZ
This pro-keratin formula with lipid and softening agents is one of the best for banishing flyaways. Protecting hair from frizz in high humidity, this multitasker does everything you want a great conditioner to do, without making hair feel heavy.
BEST FOR FINE, TANGLED TRESSES
Boasting celebrity fans like Jennifer Aniston, this weightless leave-in conditioning mist detangles and smooths flyaways without the heavy, greasy feel of richer conditioners. Spray through damp hair to protect against heat, and add body and bounce.
BEST FOR KINKY/COILY HAIR
An amazing leave-in conditioner for Type-4 curls, this ultra-hydrating, creamy conditioner helps to prevent breakage thanks to its combo of Jamaican black castor oil and organic shea butter. It's also a good option for those who regularly chemically treat their hair – by perming and bleaching, for example – because it really is a hydrating hero.
Protect hair from damage caused by external stressors and deeply nourish strands with this expertly blended anti-pollution moisturiser.
BEST FOR STRENGTHENING
If your hair's in need of more than just an instant hydration boost, this mist calls in the big guns. A nourishing formula infused with amino acids, collagen and seaweed, Leonor Greyl's leave-in conditioner will work to build strength and resilience over time for enviously healthy, shiny tresses.
BEST FOR A BRILLIANT BLOW-DRY
Ok, so it's a little bit on the spenny side. But if you're look for a leave-in conditioner that does the job of repairing, hydrating and strengthening as well as acting as an amazing styling creme, this one is unrivalled.
BEST FOR A HEALTHY SCALP
Healthy scalp makes for healthy hair, right? Then why is the scalp so often ignored when it comes to our post-wash haircare routine? Infused with tea tree oil and rosemary extracts, this Bumble & Bumble beauty feeds your roots and scalp, detangles unruly locks and encourages growth. Plus, it smells divine.
BEST FOR AIR DRYING HAIR
While leaving hair to air dry is the easier (and less damaging) option while wfh, it's practically just inviting frizz. Enter Living Proof's No Frizz Leave-in Conditioner. Its non-greasy formulation works to condition, soften, banish frizz and make tangled tresses more manageable. (Even while leaving hair to dry all on its own.)