Helloooooo, soft hair
I’d guess that at least half of all women go through their best hair conditioner twice as fast as shampoo. And considering that it is usually a little bit pricier, you want to be sure it’s a formula that’s doing the job right for your own hair type.
Read on as the Marie Claire UK beauty editors chart the best formulas that money can buy, by hair type.
How does hair conditioner work?
‘Conditioner is a moisturising agent which helps replenish the hair’s moisture post-cleansing,’ explains Antony Rawlings, Creative Director of Redken salon Lockonego London. ‘It is worth noting that conditioner alone will not improve the health of the hair – only the appearance and manageability. Conditioners help to close the cuticle.
‘A tip when using is to brush through, as this will further aid the closing of the cuticle and thus improve manageability. Conditioners focus on the appearance too, leaving hair soft and shiny.’
How to choose a conditioner for your hair type
‘Quite simply, you need to choose a conditioner based on the weight and thickness of your hair,’ says Antony. ‘Prescriptive conditioners help to improve manageability and offer solutions. If you suffer from frizz, for example, you will want to use a conditioner that specifically tackles this, such as the Redken Frizz Dismiss Conditioner.
‘If you find your hair is dry and undernourished – a result of the cold weather, or overuse of heat styling tools during party season – then you will want to use a conditioner that is packed full of protein and moisturising agents like argan oil. I would suggest Redken All Soft Conditioner for this.’
The best hair conditioners to buy now:
Need more hair-spiration? Keep on scrolling for more of Team MC‘s hero formulas for every budget. We’ve included everything from exciting new releases to old favourites such as Olaplex. Did you know that their conditioner is one of Cult Beauty’s bestselling products? While you’re here, don’t forget to check out our guides to the best hair masks and best hair oil. Trust us, your hair will be thanking you…
Best leave in conditioner:
While you can leave one of the best hair masks in overnight and wash it out the next day, sometimes you need a quicker route to softer hair. Enter leave-in conditioner. Founded by Jen Atkin, hair stylist and BFF to the Kardashian-Jenner clan, OUAI's Leave In Conditioner (formerly Smooth Spray) flattens frizz and revives second day hair that's got a bit dry and unhappy, as well as being a great moisture hit for damp hair pre-blow drying.
Best conditioner for all hair types:
NEOM have just launched their new haircare, and here at Maire Claire UK we couldn't be more excited. Their conditioner is designed for all hair types, and enriched with pure spearmint, rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils. The rejuvenating formula will envelop your hair and scalp with a long-lasting scent, plus coconut and sweet almond oil to deeply nourish your tresses. What’s more, this plant-powered formula is biodegradable, so it’ll remain gentle on your hair and the planet.
Best affordable conditioner:
For me, the smell of an Aussie deep treatment conditioner is seriously nostalgic. Grab one of their super thick 3 Minute Miracles for serious moisture results that are 1) quick and 2) affordable. If you don't have the time or money to do a fancy hair mask, this one's for you.
Best moisturising conditioner:
If your hair is in need of some TLC, look no further than Olaplex. The best-selling conditioner targets the appearance of frizz and breakages and helps to fortify damaged locks. Designed for hair weakened by frequent colouring, bleaching, chemical treatments and heat styling, the formula works to re-link broken disulphide bonds and fortify hair structure.
Best conditioner for dry hair:
Aveda's conditioner is the perfect antidote to a dry and thirsty haystack of hair. It may look a little like mayonnaise, but it's a dreamy conditioner; it infuses your hair with lightweight moisture, keeping it soft and frizz-free, and detangles perfectly for bouncy and knot-free hair. And of course, it has that signature Aveda 'pure-fume' scent, so you'll spend a lot of time resisting the urge to sniff your freshly-washed 'do.
Best conditioner for damaged hair:
I know, I know, this is a LOT for one bottle of conditioner, but if you are prepared to invest the silken sheen it gives your hair really is to die for – even if it's saved for treat days. Packed with hair loving ingredients like argan, passion fruit and cypress, it also contains a UV filter to help protect your hair against environmental factors post-wash.
Best conditioner for bleached hair:
As well as damage repair, the number one priority for bleach blonde hair is to keep it silvery fresh and not brassy-looking. Aura Friedman, the hair colorist extraordinaire behind Leighton Meester's platinum blonde hair, recommended this very formula for those wanting to nourish bleach locks, so you know it's a winner.
Best conditioner for coloured hair:
Not only does TRESemmé's conditioner add shine and prolong the life of coloured hair, it's also an absolute bargain. Less than a fiver for a great conditioner? Yes please.
Best conditioner for curly hair:
This conditioner is up there with the best of the best for curly hair. With curls, the hair's structure mean that it's harder for the natural oils to make their way down the lengths of the hair shaft, usually rendering the ends a bit dead and brittle. Sachajuan's Curl Conditioner puts the moisture back into the full length of your hair, maximising its shine and bounce. Plus the Ocean Silk Complex scent is incredible; I really wish they'd turn it into a perfume.
Best conditioner for fine hair:
The Ordinary's conditioner is ideal for fine hair as it won't weigh it down. The creamy white emulsion uses a minimalist approach, focusing solely on the multi-functional conditioning ingredient, without the addition of other ingredients into the formulation.
Best conditioner for frizzy hair:
FEKKAI's Brilliant Gloss Conditioner was created and perfected for flat, dry, frizz-prone hair that needs some extra love. It helps deliver slip without lingering residue through Olive Oil-derived silicone alternatives and provides antioxidant protection. It has our Beauty Editor's seal of approval, so you know it's a good one.
Best conditioner for oily hair:
This conditioner works to not only tame but also add shine to dull hair without leaving locks feeling weighed down or greasy. Perfect for those of us who suffer with oily roots.
Best conditioner for added volume:
Living Proof have just launched lots of new shampoos and conditioners, and this one definitely caught our eye. This detangling conditioner adds softness and shine - without the extra weight - for hair that looks like it’s naturally fuller. It also contains Hemisqualane, an innovative, lightweight sugarcane-derived emollient that helps to manage frizz, adds shine and reduces damage from combing while helping to seal the cuticle and repair hair’s surface.
Best conditioner for an itchy scalp:
This nourishing conditioner has been designed to be layered, acting as a traditional detangler, a leave-in conditioner to wet or dry hair and heat protection for enhancing styling and finishing. It is so nourishing it can be applied to the scalp as a moisturiser to calm an itchy scalp. Win win.