Best Leave-In Conditioner for Curly Hair

If you have curly hair, consider investing in a good leave-in conditioner! While a leave-in conditioner is optional, it serves many benefits you can’t easily overlook.

In today’s post, I’ll discuss the benefits of leave-in conditioners, how to find the right one, and leave you with my recommendations!

What is a leave-in conditioner?

A leave-in conditioner, also called leave-in treatment, is a product that gives the hair an extra moisturizing boost after your wash and conditioning routine. The function is similar to a traditional conditioner; however, it is safe to leave in the hair. Hence the name “leave-in” conditioner.

The best Leave-In Conditioner for Curly Hair

Many great Leave-in conditioners are available on the market, but here are five of my top picks!

  1. 51KUKtshaYL._SL1000_

    01 Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave In Conditioner

    This leave-in conditioner is the perfect blend of protein and moisture. It’s clinically proven to reduce breakage because it’s enriched with hydrolyzed quinoa and silk amino acids that will strengthen damaged and brittle curls. In addition, proanthocyanidins, a chemical component in blueberries, help to stimulate the hair follicles to accelerate hair growth and slow premature hair loss. It’s lightweight in texture and absorbs quickly, making it suitable for finer hair textures.

    Brand: Curls
    Size: 237ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  2. CurlsmithLeaveinCondi_150x150 Kopie

    02 Curlsmith Curl Conditioning Oil in Cream Leave-In Conditioner

    If your curls are dehydrated, this rich leave-in conditioner will add a fantastic boost of moisture and softness! It has an extremely buttery texture that quickly melts and spreads across the hair without causing greasy build-up. In addition, it has thicker ingredients that are suitable for thicker hair or tighter curl patterns, such as shea butter, sesame seed oil, and coconut oil.

    Brand: Curlsmith
    Size: 237ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  3. Ecoslay Rice Pudding

    03 Ecoslay Rice Pudding

    If you need a hydrating leave-in conditioner that will make detangling a breeze, the Ecoslay Rice Pudding is an excellent choice. Marshmallow root extract and slippery elm extract provide a ton of slip, making detangling easier, while nettle leaf and horsetail leaf extracts stimulate hair growth and slow premature hair fall. An important thing to note about this leave-in conditioner is that it’s made without preservatives, so it has a shorter shelf-life (approximately nine months), and you should refrigerate it.

    Brand: Ecoslay
    Size: 473ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  4. BounceCurl_LEaveInCondi

    04 Bounce Curl Moisture Balance Leave-In Conditioner

    This wonderful leave-in conditioner by Bounce Curl will work to protect your curls from environmental damage. In addition, a unique blend of five Easter Mediterranean oils will deeply nourish your hair, providing hydration and shine! 

    Brand: Bounce Curl  
    Size: 177ml  
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  5. Alikay Leave In Conditioner

    05 Alikay Naturals Lemongrass Leave In

    If you need a leave-in conditioner to fight frizz, Alikay Natural’s Lemongrass Leave-In is an excellent choice! Silk amino protein will nourish, repair, and seal the hair cuticle to reduce frizz, while aloe vera will deeply moisturize the hair shaft.

    Brand: Alikay Naturals
    Size: 237ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  6. 200502141406321

    06 Kinky Curly Knot Today

    If you need a super hydrating conditioner with a ton of slip, Kinky Curly Knot Today is excellent! Organic slippery elm and marshmallow root will make detangling knots a breeze while smoothing the cuticle for smooth strands.   Brand: Kinky Curly Size: 236ml Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

  7. Mixed Chicks Leave In Conditioner

    07 Mixed Chicks Curl Defining & Frizz Eliminating Leave-In Conditioner

    Mixed Chicks’ star product is their Curl Defining Leave-In Conditioner! This lightweight leave-in conditioner will define your curls, infuse hydration, and eliminate frizz! It’s formulated with a nourishing blend of evening primrose, jojoba, and safflower oils that will hydrate the hair. In addition, a low percentage of silk and wheat amino acids will work to strengthen your hair.

    While this is a nice leave-in conditioner, it contains silicones that are not the best for curly hair! Luckily, the brand has created a silicone-free version called the Curly Friendly Leave-In Conditioner.

    Brand: Mixed Chicks
    Size: 300 ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: No, contains silicones

  8. Curl Girl Nordic Leave In Conditioner

    08 Curl Girl Nordic Leave-In Conditioner

    This hydrating leave-in conditioner is lightweight and creamy and comes in an easy-to-use spray bottle. It’s formulated with hydrating mango seed, coconut, and inca inchi oils that nourish dry hair.

    Brand: Curl Girl Nordic
    Size: 150ml
    Curly Girl Method Suitable: Yes

What are the benefits of using a leave-in conditioner?

Although a leave-in conditioner is an optional addition to your hair care regimen, it has many benefits that make it worth it!

  • Leave-in conditioners will:
  • Provide an extra boost of moisture to the hair
  • Increase the hair strand’s elasticity
  • Make the detangling process easier
  • Certain leave-in conditioners can protect the hair from heat styling
  • Certain leave-in conditioners can strengthen the hair strand

While most leave-in conditioners are available in a cream or lotion form, they can also come in liquid spray, oil, or balm formulas.

When should I use the leave-in conditioner?

You should use a leave-in conditioner after you’ve completed your regular wash and conditioning routine.

Apply it on damp, towel-dried hair. Focus the product on the mid-length and ends of your hair, and avoid the roots to prevent your curls from being weighed down. Be sure to distribute it evenly through your hair with a wide-tooth comb or by scrunching it.

What hair types should use a leave-in conditioner?

All hair types can benefit from a leave-in conditioner. However, individuals with damaged or curly hair will benefit the most from the additional moisture and TLC the product provides.

The key is choosing the right formula that addresses your hair’s particular needs and is suitable for your hair’s porosity.

Fine hair or looser curl types will benefit from a leave-in conditioner that’s a lightweight spray. Thicker hair types or extremely tightly coiled hair will benefit the most from a dense, creamy leave-in conditioner.

Can I use a leave-in conditioner in place of a traditional conditioner?

While a leave-in conditioner can provide a wonderful boost of moisture for the hair, skipping a traditional conditioner is not recommended.

Traditional conditioners tend to have more potent ingredients resulting in deep hair rejuvenation. Leave-in conditioners are a much lighter version of your standard conditioner and should serve as a supplement that provides additional benefits.

Can I turn a regular conditioner into a leave-in conditioner?

It’s not recommended to use a regular conditioner as a leave-in conditioner. Traditional conditioners tend to be thicker and more potent. They’re designed to be rinsed out because if they’re left on the scalp or in the hair, it can easily cause irritation or product build-up.

Leave-in conditioners are formulated specifically to be left within the hair. Because they’re thinner, they can penetrate the hair more easily after conditioning.

What should I avoid in a leave-in conditioner?

It’s crucial to know what you’re putting in your hair. A lot of hair care products can contain ingredients that are damaging to your hair. While many of these ingredients may not cause immediately noticeable damage, they can harm your hair over time.

These are the ingredients that you should avoid in leave-in conditioners:

Silicones

Silicone coats the hair, which can result in a temporary smoothing effect. However, it is water-insoluble ingredients that you can’t remove without a clarifying shampoo. If you’re unaware that your conditioner contains silicone, you could be headed for big trouble! A silicone build-up on the hair shaft will prevent moisturization from penetrating the hair shaft, causing excessive dehydration and leading to breakage.

Common silicones used in hair care products are Dimethicone or Cetearyl Methicone. However, you can easily spot them on the ingredients list of the product by the following endings: “-cone,” “-cool,” “-cane,” or “-silane.”

Drying alcohols

The most important thing to be aware of is drying alcohol! These drying ingredients can quickly zap the moisture from your hair, leading to excessive dryness and breakage. These shouldn’t be confused with the “good” fatty alcohols that are hydrating.

The most common drying alcohols that you should avoid include:

  • Ethyl alcohol (also called “ethanol”).
  • Denatured alcohol (also listed as “alcohol denat”).
  • Isopropyl alcohol.

However, you can identify them on the ingredient list if you see “propyl,” “prop,” “eth,” or “denatured” in the name.

Sulfates

Sulfates are surfactants, or cleansing agents, that bind to oil, dirt, and product residue to aid in cleansing. Conditioners shouldn’t contain sulfates, so if you see them listed on the ingredient list, steer clear!

The most common sulfates are

  • sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and
  • sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).

You can quickly identify a sulfate by its ending of “-one” or “-ate.”

Profilbild Laura
About the author

I've been a curly girl since I was little. 💝 But it wasn't until I discovered the right curl care for me that I learned to understand my curls. I'm happy to pass all this on to you - so that you too can learn to love your curls.

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