Hot tools can do a number on your hair — and that's true no matter your texture, affinity for
trying new colors, or the season. That's why leave-in conditioners are a godsend, particularly for natural, curly, and color-treated strands, because they can help save you from a world of damage.
While liquid formulations typically get a bad rap during colder months because they can harden (making hair brittle and prone to breakage), they are perfect for the most hospitable seasons. So, whenever it's not freezing cold outside. And while the handy product won't make your overall routine any less time-consuming, by making your hair more manageable, it
will making getting out the door in the morning that much easier.
Keep reading to see pro and staff picks for the leave-in conditioners and treatments that leave our locks soft as can be.
Best For Dry Hair If you forget to re-twist your hair on a late night, a few spritzes of this magic elixir will hydrate your curls instantly. Pro tip: Spray it directly into your hands then finger comb it through for the best results. Taliah Waajid Shea-Coco Daily Leave In Conditioner, $9.99, available at Sally's Beauty.
Best For Colored Hair Leave it to Argan oil to nourish and replenish curls even on your worst day. Safe for colored, relaxed, and textured hair, this repair cream penetrates deep to soften strands — without a ton of fuss. Our editors swear by it. Cantu Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioner Repair Cream, $5.99, available at Target.
— PAID — Best For Solving Multiple Hair Woes Dry hair? Breakage? Frizz? Some of us have it all — and that's where this three-in-one leave-in conditioner comes in. Featuring four of our favorite natural oils (coconut, argan, avocado, and grapeseed), the lightweight formula nourishes and smoothes your hair — without making it feel greasy. Pro-tip: Keep it by your desk and spritz it all over when your hair needs a pick-me-up. FORM Multitask Leave-In Lotion, $32, available at Sephora.
Best For Thick Hair "For thick hair, it's all about replenishing [lost] moisture," says hairstylist Adir Abergel. He loves applying this treatment once a week. Leonor Greyl Tonique Hydrant Leave-In Moisturizing Mist, $43, available at Leonor Greyl.
Best For Definition "I love using Iles Forumla Hair Serum as a leave-in conditioner," says Gregory Russell, whose clients include Lily Collins, Nicole Richie, and Hailee Steinfeld. "It softens the hair without being heavy, provides a light amount of definition, and makes your hair feel hydrated. For coarser textures, be a little more liberal with the product." Iles Formula Haute Performance Finishing Serum, $44, available at Iles Formula.
A-list celeb hairstylist
Marcia Hamilton recommends this castor oil-packed leave-in conditioner/shine gel hybrid for smoothing and adding definition. "I really love this gel for shaping all baby hairs," she says. "It's alcohol-free and sulfate-free, so it doesn’t dry hair. Plus, it leaves a really nice shine." SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Conditioning Gel, $10.99, available at Target.
Best For Blondes "Three or four quick sprays into my hands is enough to make my dry, knotty hair far more manageable," says Lexy Lebsack, senior beauty editor at Refinery29. (Tip: Never mist leave-in sprays directly onto hair, which practically ensures an uneven application.) "Whether I air-dry overnight or blowdry, my hair is smoother, softer, and free of tangles. It's lightweight and never greasy, with a hit of protein for stronger hair. It's nothing like any detangler I've tried, because as soon as you apply it, it soaks in instead of coating strands or adding a heavy feeling." Unite 7seconds Condition Leave In Detangler, $28, available at Unite.
Best For Frizz "My favorite leave-in is Shea Moisture's," says Danielle Priano, who works with Selena Gomez and several Victoria's Secret Angels. "I would only use this one if you're going to wear your hair curly to keep the frizz out. If you have thin, straight hair, it will make it look a bit greasy." Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner, $10.97, available at Walmart.
This curl-friendly formula works wonders for vacation days you want to keep frizz at bay. While it works just as well on freshly-washed hair, if you need a second-day revival, just dampen curls with some water and you can reapply another pump of this — no added buildup included.
Living Proof Curl Leave-In Conditioner, $26, available at Sephora.
Best For Fine, Fragile Hair "My clients who [have] weak, overly dry, and thinning hair benefit from this product greatly," says Lisa Scott, MC Lyte's hairstylist. "It's somehow both weightless and intensely moisturizing. We don't get it, but we won't question it. Carol's Daughter Mirabella Plum Leave- In Biotin Conditioner, $11, available at Carol's Daughter.
Best For Dull Hair "This spray is my life," celebrity stylist Kristin Ess said in a product description. "It creates completely weightless shine and detangles better than any other leave-in I've ever used. It seals in moisture and can bring dull hair back to life over time." Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Leave-In Conditioner, $10, available at Target.
Tight coils that suffer from an extreme case of dull frizz will benefit most from this leave-in formula. With a few pumps, your curls are revived to their shiniest form. Bonus: Continued use helps strengthen your hair so that, in the future, you might not have to worry so much about a dehydrated style.
Best For Targeted Application “Leave-in conditioner is to curly hair...what gas is to a car. And finding a good leave-in that gives your curls definition without weighing the hair down is a task," Shan Boodram, author, sexologist and YouTuber tells us. "DevaCurl is my boo, but I only use it on the top pieces — I prefer the middle to have zero product, so I get frizzy volume goodness!” DevaCurl SuperCream Coconut Curl Styler, $26, available at DevaCurl.
Best For Fine Hair "It's super silky, but doesn't weigh your hair down," celeb stylist Jenny Cho says. "It's great for thinner hair that needs conditioning, but doesn't leave it feeling greasy!" Sachajuan Leave In Conditioner, $31, available at Sephora.
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