The Best Conditioner For EVERY Hair Type

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As a wise man once said, "Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty." Problem is, when it comes to your hair, not all moisture is created equal. Because each hair type and length comes with its own particular set of quirks and drama, it's important to make sure you're using the right conditioner for your locks.
Just as you wouldn't use a super-thick and heavy cream on oily skin, you also wouldn't use a heavy oil on fine hair. Use the wrong type of conditioner and you could end up with a 'do that's either greasy and weighed down (from too heavy of a conditioner) or strawlike and straggly (from a not-nourishing-enough conditioner). Not really the end result any of us are going for.
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To help us make sense of this confusing conditioner conundrum is celebrity stylist Adir Abergel. With clients that include everyone from Rachel McAdams to Sienna Miller, the man has racked up some major knowledge on how to make hair look pretty effing amazing.
Ahead, you'll find our guide to all things conditioning, including the particular challenges and things to watch out for with your hair type, plus ingredients to stock up on, as well as the best leave-in and wash-out hydrators for your hair. Read on for his expert advice, tips, tricks, and to find your moisture match — no Blue Steel required.
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One of the best things about short hair is its light, airy look and feel. So, the absolute last thing you want to do is goop it down with ultra-heavy hydrators. Another thing to note with short hair, says Abergel, is that conditions like dandruff or a dry, flaky scalp are much more noticeable, meaning you've really got to keep on top of your healthy hair routine.

According to Abergel, the best conditioning ingredients for short-haired girls are coconut and jojoba oil. "These are great because when massaged into the hair, they increase scalp circulation, which helps overall hair health."

He recommends applying a leave-in mask to your mane — short hair can sport the slicked-back look better than other hair types. "Coat your hair with the mask, leave it uncovered, or wear a scarf," he says. "The longer you leave the mask, the shinier, healthier, and bouncier your hair will be."
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Long, mermaid hair is awesome in theory, but if your strands are split, frayed, and dull then you're not doing yourself or your 'do any favors. "Long hair looks beautiful when it’s super shiny, healthy, and bouncy," concurs Abergel.

Think about it this way: The hair at your ends has been on your head for YEARS, and it's taken quite a beating through things like heat styling, UV damage, and general wear and tear by the time it gets down there. "Always begin conditioning at your ends," says Abergel. "The ends are the oldest, driest, and most prone to breakage and splitting. By starting with your ends, it allows the conditioner to absorb and for your hair to reap all the conditioning benefits."

Abergel says to look for conditioners with ingredients like glycerin, to bind water; olive and avocado oils, for sheen and replenishment; and keratin, to strengthen and nourish.

Abergel doesn't recommend applying conditioner at the roots for long-haired ladies — it weighs the hair down and causes buildup. Instead, apply the conditioner to your ends and incorporate it gently with a wide-tooth comb, starting at the bottom and working your way up.

To make things easier all around, Abergel suggests brushing your hair before you wash it to prevent tangles. Be sure to wring out excess H2O before applying conditioner, as the water will dilute it and cause you to not get the maximum hydrating benefits. Avoid extra-long, hot showers, says Abergel, as they will strip your locks of their natural oils. "Lukewarm water is always your hair's best friend," he says.
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Because they've been burned before by too-heavy hydrators, fine-haired girls are usually the pickiest about their conditioners. Their hair is most susceptible to getting that greasy look when using the wrong moisturizer. Plus, most fine-haired gals are on a perpetual quest for volume, something that's hard to achieve when your hair is all gunked up with oils and creams.

But, Abergel says you'd be remiss if you chose to skip the conditioning altogether. "Most hair needs conditioning as regularly as it needs washing. Even oily hair can be brittle at the ends," he says. However, he continues, with the right conditioner you can restore flexibility and prevent breakage. Not to mention help protect your locks from damage caused by heat styling and environmental factors like the sun, pollution, and extreme cold.

With that in mind, Abergel says you'll want to stick to lightweight conditioners or those with volumizing formulas. His top ingredient picks for fine girls are avocado oil and omega fatty acids to help hair maximize its natural water retention and boost growth and shine.

Almost as important as the ingredients you use is how you apply them. Just like with long hair, Abergel says to avoid applying conditioner at the crown area — instead, apply it about two inches down from the root, concentrating on your ends where the hydration is most needed. "You want to boost body and shine and control flyaways, which can occur when your hair isn't properly moisturized."
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While thick hair definitely has its perks, it also comes with some downsides — namely, frizz. "For thick hair it's all about replenishing [lost] moisture," says Abergel, but he warns that you need to take heed of the products you are putting in your hair, as those with alcohol will only serve to dry it out more and make it frizzier. So, easy on the hairspray, okay?

Just like long-haired girls, frizzy gals need to focus on their ends, since they are going to be the most prone to showing damage and accruing more of it. Abergel loves leave-in conditioners, oils, and masks for this hair type. "Once a week, sleep in a hair mask or hair oil," he advises.

Abergel also says to avoid any products that make your hair look thicker on the bottom, as it can create the dreaded puffy-'do effect. He loves softening ingredients like avocado and soy milk to help add weight, create silky texture, and smooth out volume. For thick hair that's been chemically treated, Abergel strongly recommends grabbing something with keratin in it to help prevent breakage and renew growth.
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The key to great curls, says Abergel, is (you guessed it) hydration. "It takes longer for natural oils to move from the scalp to the ends with curly hair, which can cause frizz on the lower half and give it the mushroom effect," he explains.

You need to stock up on moisturizing and protein conditioners to add shine and essential nourishment, he says. Look for ingredients like shea butter, olive oil, and glycerin to boost hydration and curl elasticity. Abergel also swears by kukui nut oil, "because it’s rich in amino acids and fatty acids that penetrate the hair shaft to leave it looking healthier and more moisturized."

A great tip for girls with curly hair, says Abergel, is adding steam to your regimen. "It lifts the cuticle gently to allow for better penetration of conditioning ingredients," he explains. "It helps improve elasticity and moisture retention."

Another pro tip Abergel uses on the daily: working a dime- or quarter-sized amount of conditioner in damp hair, applying it just below the roots and through to the ends, and then styling as usual. "This helps to protect the hair from heat styling and improves texture and manageability," he says. "You can also use a styling product that doubles as a leave-in conditioner."
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Photo Courtesy of Sephora.
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Photo Courtesy of Sephora.
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"Conditioner is extremely important for women with textured hair," says Abergel, "because it tends to be very dry and can break at the root due to intense heat styling." He recommends fortifying deep conditioners with protective ingredients to help maintain healthy, strong hair and guard it against future damage. Argan oil is a favorite because it smooths the cuticle and restores hair health at the scalp.

For girls with coarse, thick, or curly manes, Abergel is a fan of co-washing, i.e., just rinsing the hair (no shampoo) and then conditioning. Or, you could also try a cleansing conditioner — they contain little to no detergents, which can dry hair out. This makes them ideal for thick, curly, and textured hair.

Abergel suggests deep-conditioning your hair regularly, being careful not to overdo it (as that will cause buildup). Another great tip: Dry your hair with paper towels (or a T-shirt to minimize waste) to get rid of the extra water in your hair, then spray in a leave-in conditioner. This will further hydrate your hair and keep curls soft, he says.

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