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 conditioner is usually a little bit pricier, you want to be sure it’s a formula that’s doing the job right for your hair type.
Read on as the Marie Claire beauty editors chart the best hair conditioner formulas that money can buy, by hair type.
How does hair conditoner 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.’
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. For medium to thick or coarse hair types, try the best hair oil for another leave in moisturising option.
Best conditioner for dry hair
Aveda’s newest launch 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 hair.
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 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 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.
Need more hair-spiration? Read on for more of Team MC‘s hero formulas for every budget…
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.
Most curly girls are familiar with this one, but if you're not, get on board. It's a thick formula that's great for a gentle co-wash cleanse, but similarly restores shape and bounce to unhappy ringlets and waves. It's super thick, so a little goes a long way.
Supercharged with green tea and keratin strengthening technology, this fluid formula drenches the hair with moisture and detangles any knotty locks. For extremely dry and damaged hair, there's an Ultra Nourishing version, too.
TRESemmé's sulphate-free system not only adds shine and prolongs the life of coloured hair, it's also an absolute bargain. Less than a fiver for a great conditioner? Yes please.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the thicker a conditioner, the better it moisturises – but that's not always the case. As well as keeping hair soft, shiny and healthy, this runny formula also stops your hair from becoming static and flyaway-like. Genius.