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Is leave-in conditioner right for your hair type?

We load up our showers with shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, hair serum, heat protectant, and so on. Do we really need to invest in a leave-in conditioner? What if we don’t have the right hair type? In short: Yes — you will benefit from a leave-in-conditioner, and yes — you have the right hair type.

In fact, some leave-in-conditioners can replace the need for three or more hair products, including heat protectants and hair serum. And, with the technology that has evolved in hair care today, there’s a leave-in conditioner created for all hair — straight to coily, fine to thick, dry to oily.

Below, we give you the low-down on leave-in conditioner to help you determine whether it’s right for you and your hair care routine.

What is a leave-in conditioner?

Leave-in-conditioner is an optional third step in a hair wash routine after shampooing and conditioning. Unlike traditional conditioners (or even a hair mask), a leave-in conditioner doesn’t require a rinse and can be used throughout your drying and styling process. Similar to traditional conditioners, leave-in conditioners offer an extra layer of moisture. It’s also a protectant from external sources (like heat from your styling tools or the sun).

Pros to leave-in conditioner

As a leave-in conditioner adds layers of moisture and protectant to each strand of hair, there are many benefits to utilizing a leave-in conditioner. When picking a formula that is right for you, leave-in-conditioner can offer:

  • Frizz reduction
  • Detangling 
  • Heat protectant
  • UVA/UVB protectant 
  • Shine
  • Smooth hair cuticles
  • Combat brassiness (for color-treated hair)
  • Moisturize your hair
  • Hydrate your scalp 

Cons to leave-in conditioner?

If not used correctly, a leave-in conditioner can cause your hair to look greasy, promote extra oil buildup, and mess with your hairstyling efforts. As having over-hydrated hair is better than having dry hair, it’s important to note that there’s no lasting damage that can happen when applying a leave-in-conditioner. Your hair may not look the way you want it to and you may need extra lathering to get it out, but there’s no long-lasting effect.

Some ways you may use it incorrectly:

  • Too much product
  • Choosing the wrong product for your hair type
  • Applying too often (limit to one to two times a week)
  • Focusing product on the scalp and roots versus the hair ends
  • Not brushing it out
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Do you have the right hair type for a leave-in conditioner?

While those with some hair types and styles may shy away from the idea of using a leave-in conditioner (such as fine or short hair), it’s important to note that not all products are the same. Traditional leave-in conditioners target those with dry, coarse/thick, or brittle hair, but formulas have expanded and now work with multiple hair types. Below we outline some of the best products for popular hair types and styles. 

  • Fine hair: The key to using the right leave-in conditioner for fine hair is to pick a lightweight formula and apply it slowly (with a controlled applicator). Fine hair doesn’t need many products. A touch of lightweight formula will ensure your hair has all the benefits a leave-in-conditioner can offer. Try DryBar’s Mr. Incredible Leave-in-Conditioning Spray. When it comes to fine hair, there’s more tendency for the hair to experience damage and breakage, along with being a lightweight formula, DryBar’s Mr. Incredible Leave-in Conditioning Spray is made with acai packed with EFAs (essential fatty acids) to help replenish damaged hair. 
  • Thick hair: Thick hair is a perfect foundation for a leave-in conditioner. Since it requires more conditioning to ensure moisture, a heavier formula that focuses on hydration will benefit thicker hair. Try IGK’s Thirsty Girl Coconut Milk Leave-in-conditioner. Why this product is great for thick hair, is the pure coconut milk adds in an extra layer of moisture with its high levels of saturated fat, which is ideal for thicker hair.
  • Straight hair: When styling or maintaining straight hair, it’s essential that your strands are kept sleek and moisturized. Since they are prone to unwanted flyaways or frizz, straight hairstyles benefit from a product that promotes your hair’s style and appearance. Try R+Co Waterfall Lotion. Formulated with witch hazel, which helps combat frizz, the Waterfall lotion will leave your hair sleek and void of any flyaways. 
    • Curly hair: In general, curly hair is easily subject to dryness because oils in your scalp have to make their way from root to tip navigating all the bends. You’ll want a heavier leave-in conditioner to apply to the middle and ends of your hair to help promote and lock in moisture. Ouidad’s leave-in conditioner is formulated specifically for curly hair, by curly hair individuals. Their products, in particular, are crafted with specific ingredients that can manage, maintain, and distribute formula evenly throughout curly for the perfect bounce. 
  • Bleached/ highlighted hair: To maintain color, it’s essential to keep hair moisturized and combat unwanted brassiness with color correcting. For those who are bleached blondes, try Bumble & Bumble’s Illuminated Blonde Purple Leave-In Spray. The purple hues work as a color corrector to help combat the brass and warm tones that can come from over-time wear on bleach or highlighted hair. 

How to use leave-in conditioner

Use leave-in conditioner once to twice a week after washing and conditioning your hair. As it doesn’t require rinsing, apply outside of the shower on damp hair that has been lightly towel dry. Hair should not be dripping wet or dry. It’s important to comb or brush out your hair to avoid concentrated formula and promote the product reaching each strand of hair. 

No matter what length, texture, or volume your hair may have, there’s a signature leave-in conditioner that can assist you and your strands. Whether it’s helping detangle your hair, replenish moisture, reduce brass, or add a layer of protection from heat, there are many benefits that can come with using your signature formula — all you have to do is find it!

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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