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The Best Leave-in Conditioners for Silky Smooth Hair

Kiara Perez
Written by Kiara Perez
best leave in conditioner

When it comes to your hair care routine, leave-in conditioners are essential. Whether you have curly hair or you’re just looking for deep nourishment, these conditioners have got you covered. Unlike traditional conditioners, you don’t have to rinse them out. This helps them protect your hair from damage and keep it moisturized for longer. They’re especially helpful if you regularly style your hair or dye it. Whatever your hair type, we have a conditioner that is perfect for you. Don’t forget to check out our favorite on the list, the Shea Moisture Leave-In Conditioner, for a great product that keeps your hair silky and smooth for days.

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Benefits of Using a Leave-in Conditioner

Protects hair from heat damage

Certain hair types are more prone to damage from heat styling tools like straighteners and curling irons. Investing in a quality leave-in conditioner can act as a protective barrier, shielding your hair from the intense heat and preventing it from burning or becoming overly dry. Look for leave-in conditioners that contain heat-protectant ingredients like silicones or natural oils, which form a protective layer around each strand, minimizing heat damage.

Makes hair less frizzy

Frizzy hair can be a daily struggle, especially in humid climates or for those with naturally coarse or textured hair. A good leave-in conditioner can work wonders in taming frizz by smoothing down the hair cuticle and providing weight to control unruly strands. Opt for leave-in conditioners with anti-frizz properties, such as those enriched with hydrating oils like argan oil or shea butter, which help to seal moisture into the hair shaft and combat frizz effectively.

Keeps hair moisturized

Maintaining optimal moisture levels is essential for the health and appearance of your hair, especially if you frequently wash or style it. Leave-in conditioners are formulated to provide long-lasting hydration, replenishing moisture lost during cleansing and styling processes. Look for ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or panthenol, which attract and retain moisture in the hair, leaving it soft, smooth, and more manageable.

Provides deep nourishment

Damaged and dry hair requires extra care and nourishment to restore its strength and vitality. A high-quality leave-in conditioner can deliver deep hydration and essential nutrients to revitalize parched strands and repair damage from environmental stressors or chemical treatments. Seek out leave-in conditioners enriched with protein-rich ingredients like keratin or amino acids, which help to strengthen the hair from within and promote healthy growth while restoring its natural shine and resilience.

Minimizes color fading

If you've invested time and money into coloring your hair, you'll want to preserve its vibrancy and prevent premature fading. UV rays, pollution, and harsh water can all contribute to color degradation over time. Choose leave-in conditioners specifically formulated for color-treated hair, as they contain UV filters and antioxidants that help to shield your hair from environmental damage and lock in color pigments, prolonging the life of your color treatment and keeping your hair looking vibrant and lustrous.

Helps support curl development

Caring for curly hair requires specialized products that enhance its natural texture and define its shape. Leave-in conditioners formulated for curly or wavy hair types are designed to moisturize and nourish curls, promoting bounce, elasticity, and definition. Look for lightweight leave-in formulas that won't weigh your curls down, but instead enhance their natural pattern and provide long-lasting hydration. Ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and aloe vera are particularly beneficial for enhancing curl formation and reducing frizz, leaving your curls soft, supple, and beautifully defined.

What to Check Before Buying a Leave-in Conditioner

When shopping for the ideal leave-in conditioner, there are several factors you should consider to ensure you make the right choice. Here are some things to look out for:

Moisturizing ingredients

Leave-in conditioners have lots of moisturizing ingredients to keep your locks shiny and silky.  Some of the main ingredients include essential oils and glycerin. The type of moisturizing ingredient may vary depending on your hair type.  You can also find leave-in conditioners with sunscreen to protect your hair from the sun’s harmful rays.


It’s important to buy leave-in conditioners that are in packaging that is easy to use. People with curly hair prefer cream or gel conditioners because they can easily apply it to wet or dry hair. Many conditioners come in a pump bottle, which can dispense the right amount of product for your hair. If you have difficulty applying a conditioner to your hair, you may want to try a spray bottle.

Convenient to apply

Leave-in conditioners are supposed to be easy-to-use products that you can apply and forget about. Sometimes, they can be a little tricky to use correctly. If you’ve ever been left with greasy, oily hair after using a leave-in conditioner, you know what we’re talking about. The key to using a conditioner correctly is to start with a small amount and work up from there. If you have fine or oily hair, start by applying a conditioner to your damp hair, focusing on the ends. Then, if you need it, you can apply a little bit more to your roots.

Hair type

Your hair type also affects what type of leave-in conditioner is good for you.  If you have thin or oily hair, you’ll want to steer clear of conditioners that are heavy in oils. Conversely, if you have thicker or dryer hair, you’ll want to look for an oil-based conditioner. You can also get leave-in conditioners specifically tailored to your hair type.

Safety concerns

For people who have hair allergies or are sensitive to fragrances and parabens, you need the right leave-in conditioner to make things work. Ensure your conditioner is free of fragrances, parabens, and sulfates. You can also check whether something is cruelty-free and vegan to make more informed choices. When it comes to your hair, you can never be too careful.

Leave-in Conditioner Versus Regular Conditioner

The main difference between a leave-in conditioner and a regular conditioner is that you don’t rinse out a leave-in conditioner. You can apply it to damp or dry hair and then style it as usual. A leave-in conditioner can be a lifesaver for people with dry, brittle, or color-treated hair. It adds moisture and helps to protect your hair from heat damage. It can also detangle your hair and make it easier to style.

A leave-in conditioner isn’t for everyone. If you have fine or oily hair, you might want to steer clear of leave-in conditioners because they can weigh your hair down. If you’re not careful, you can end up with greasy hair. Leave-in conditioners are also more expensive than regular conditioners. So, if you’re on a budget, you might want to stick with a regular conditioner. If you’re willing to splurge, a leave-in conditioner can be a great addition to your hair care routine.

Comparing the Best Leave-in Conditioners of 2024


Shea Moisture Leave-In Conditioner


  • Contains Vitamin E for hair growth
  • Prevents hair loss
  • Helps detangle hair


  • Not ideal for thin hair

Looking for a leave-in conditioner that will actually moisturize your hair? Look no further than the Shea Moisture leave-in conditioner. This conditioner is packed with Vitamin E, which is known for its ability to moisturize and support healthy hair growth. Apple cider vinegar is also included in the formula to help make hair smoother and easier to detangle.

With so many different sizes available, you can pick one to fit your bag or keep them in your bathroom. If you’re worried about hair loss, peppermint is included in the leave-in conditioner to help improve hair growth. This leave-in conditioner gets the top spot on our list for its high-quality formula and effective ingredients.


Marc Anthony Leave-In Conditioner


  • Comes in a spray bottle
  • Contains moisturizing and antioxidant ingredients
  • Prevents breakage and fall-out


  • Not suitable for curly hair

Want to keep your hair moisturized without having to deal with thick creams that leave a residue? Or maybe you’re looking for a product to help reduce split ends and breakage? If so, Marc Anthony’s leave-in conditioner could be just what you are looking for.

Made with caffeine, ginseng, and Vitamin E, this option detangles, smooths frizz, and gives your hair the strength it needs to stay healthy. Plus, it comes in a large sized bottle, so you won’t have to replace it very often. This product has all of the ingredients you need for strong and shiny hair.


Milk_Shake Leave-In Conditioner


  • Contains milk protein
  • Nourishes all hair types
  • Good for colored hair


  • Scent may fade quickly

The Milk_Shake leave-in conditioner is a class apart with its milk proteins and easy-to-use spray bottle. It's the perfect product to use for those who want to achieve a natural and flawless finish. This leave-in conditioner can also be used as a detangler, making it the perfect choice for all hair types.

The milk proteins in this option help to strengthen and protect the internal structure of the hair, while the strawberry extract provides a revitalizing and energizing boost. The leave-in conditioner is also rich in mineralizing vitamins that help to increase manageability and shine. With its unique formulation, this conditioner is the perfect choice for those who want to nourish and condition their hair while preserving their hair color.


Pureology Leave-in Conditioner


  • Vegan and cruelty-free formula
  • Protects from heat damage
  • Adds shine to the hair


  • Pricey compared to other products

The Pureology leave-in conditioner is a reliable haircare formula that does it all. This versatile spray instantly detangles and primes the hair for styling, while also protecting and preserving color-treated hair.

Infused with natural oils and Pureology’s exclusive AntiFade Complex, this option provides an impenetrable barrier against damage while also acting as an anti-frizz hair spray and hair shine treatment. It is also made from vegan ingredients, so it’s animal-friendly. So, whether you’re prepping for a big event or just want to give your hair some extra love, this option is your go-to solution.


Paul Mitchell Leave-In Conditioner


  • Deeply nourishes hair
  • Good for all hair types
  • Does not cause greasiness


  • May make fine hair feel sticky

This is the leave-in conditioner that started it all, and it set the bar pretty high. The Paul Mitchell leave-in conditioner is the perfect conditioner for all hair types. Plus, it has a delicious, tropical scent.

This just might be the only conditioner you will ever need. It contains Hawaiian awapuhi and wheat proteins to help restore the hair’s moisture. Since it conditions the hair so well, it reduces strays, flyaways, and frizzy hair too. It's paraben-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. So if you’re looking for a leave-in conditioner that does it all, look no further than this amazing product.

People Also Ask

  • Q: Can I use a leave-in conditioner on my silky hair?

    A:Yes, leave-in conditioners are for all hair types. If you have silky hair, you’d be better off with a spray conditioner instead of a cream one, so you don't weigh down your hair.

  • Q: Why is my leave-in conditioner causing build-up?

    A:If your leave-in conditioner is causing build-up, you are either using too much or your scalp isn’t being cleaned properly. Try reducing the amount of conditioner you use and avoid applying it near the scalp. A clarifying shampoo can get rid of product build-up on your scalp, and then you can try a leave-in conditioner on just your ends.

  • Q: How do I know how much conditioner to use?

    A:For cream conditioners, the standard amount to use is a dime size dollop that is evenly applied to the hair. If you’re using a spray conditioner, a few sprays is more than enough. Only use more if your hair is very curly or is severely damaged.

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Kiara Perez

By Kiara Perez

Kiara loves all things tech and beauty, so it’s no surprise she’s writing for magazines where she can constantly look for the best deals on hot new items. With an eye for detail and the mind of a shopper, she’s sure to sniff out products that will improve day-to-day life for many people. In her downtime, you can find her gushing about her favorite TV shows and spending time with her beloved pets.

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