We Tried Dozens of Leave-In Conditioners—These Are the 10 Best for Silky Smooth Strands
If you’re currently following a three-step hair care routine—shampoo, condition, style—you may want to consider adding a fourth step to the mix. More specifically, we’re talking about using a leave-in conditioner post-conditioning, pre-styling. Contrary to how it may seem, doubling up on a wash-out and leave-in conditioner isn’t redundant. Sure, the two may share the same name and are, at the end of the day, both working to smooth and soften your strands. But leave-in conditioners also serve some very different functions that make them well worth your time and effort. For starters, they’re an excellent way to detangle hair, making the ensuing brushing and styling process that much easier (and ultimately, minimizing the damage you’re doing to your hair from having to vigorously brush out knots and snarls). Speaking of minimizing damage, most formulas these days offer the added benefit of functioning as a heat protectant as well, ensuring all those hot tools don’t wreak havoc on your strands. On the flip side, if you’re not blow drying, leave-ins are choice for tamping down frizzies and flyaways as you air dry. Plus, there’s a litany of great options to be found these days, with something for any and every hair type and texture (and at every price point). In short, you really do need one. Ahead, 10 of the best leave-in conditioners on the market.
Living Proof Restore Perfecting Spray
There’s really nothing this spritz can’t do. First and foremost, it contains time-released conditioning ingredients that keep your hair extra smooth and soft long after you spray it on. It’s a top-notch detangler (effective for all hair textures), and protects against both heat damage and the UV rays that can dry out your strands and fade your color. What more could you ask for?
Garnier Whole Blends Honey Treasures Miracle Nectar 10-in-1 Leave-In
The shampoo and conditioner from this line are insanely popular (10 are sold every minute), but don’t sleep on the accompanying leave-in treatment. True to its name, it boasts nutrient-rich royal jelly, honey, and propolis to deliver, you guessed it, 10 different benefits. Among them, up to a 50 percent reduction in breakage, heat protection up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and weightless hydration, just to name a few.
Alterna My Hair Canvas Easy Does It Air Dry Balm
Reach for this leave-in anytime you’re going for the ‘au naturale’ look. The balm is packed with hydrating ingredients—prickly pear oil, omega fats, and more—that work to lock in moisture and lock out frizz. Translation: Your hair will dry without any errant flyaways popping up. There are protective antioxidants and shine-enhancers in the mix too, and while it’s meant for air-drying, we’ve used it before blow-drying with equally great results.
Drunk Elephant Wild Marula Tangle Spray
The brand known for creating beloved skincare recently ventured into the haircare world, in partnership with celebrity stylist Chris McMillan (aka Jennifer Aniston’s mane man, and yes, he has used this spray on her). The leave-in treatment does a great job at detangling, of course, but also imparts shine, heat protection, and moisture. Credit marula oil—a star ingredient in many of the brand’s skincare products—along with a blend of other carefully chosen fruit and nut oils. Hey, if it’s good enough for Jen, it’s good enough for us.
Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Working Serum
There’s no shortage of ways to use this serum. It’s a great leave-in conditioner, taming frizz and adding moisture. It’s a great finishing product, leaving hair with mega-watt shine. It can even be used as a styling product, mixed with a pomade or gel to create a piecey texture. No matter how you use it, you’ll reap the benefits of the brand’s patented ‘zip-up technology’, which specifically targets and strengthens weak hair and damaged hair and helps seal split ends. Multi-tasking for the win.
Maui Moisture Nourish + Moisture Coconut Milk Weightless Oil Mist
This spray-on formula delivers all the benefits of a hair oil (hydration, smoothness, shine) without leaving behind any greasy residue or being too heavy for fine hair. A trifecta of coconut milk, guava oil, and mango butter delivers all of the above—and makes for an addicting tropical scent. Use it before blow-drying, though you can also mist it on again afterward to even further enhance shine.
Amika Vault Leave-In Conditioner for Color-Treated Hair
No matter whether you’re a salon regular or a DIY kinda girl, dealing with color fading is never fun. Did you know that a leave-in conditioner is a great option for keeping your shade shiny and vibrant? Case in point: This formula, packed with both UV filters and protective antioxidants. It’s great at detangling, too, making it a must-have for beach or pool days.
Miss Jessie’s Leave In Condish
Fun fact: Curly hair is more prone to dryness than straight hair. (The shape of the hair makes it harder for natural oils to make their way from the scalp all the way down the strand.) It’s why moisturizing products are so paramount for curly girls, a good leave-in conditioner included. This one earns our vote, lightly coating curls to seal in moisture and leave them detangled and more manageable, the perfect prep step pre-styling. Plus, it works on all types of curly and wavy hair, and is a great pick for those transitioning to natural hair, too.
Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-In Conditioning Spray
A staple for muggy summer days, this mist is chock-full of ingredients that deeply hydrate hair and subsequently prevent frizz (dry hair is more likely to frizz up). We’re talking rosehip oil, which also protects hair from UV damage, plus conditioning argan oil, coconut oil, and vitamin E. Still, despite all those heavy-hitting hydrators, it feels totally featherweight and won’t weigh down your tresses.
It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In Product
We have yet to meet someone who’s used this spray and hasn’t gotten hooked. As the name suggests, it delivers 10 different benefits—detangling, smoothing, heat protection—you get the picture. And it’s an especially good choice for those whose tresses could use a little extra TLC, as it effectively prevents split ends and wards off breakage.