While we owe our lives to traditional conditioners, the best leave-in conditioners do what rinse-out conditioners can’t. The in-shower stuff is essential to creating a hydrated foundation for your hair, no matter how moisturizing your shampoo claims to be, but leave-ins go one step further. They stay behind to sink into hair follicles, adding extra hydration, heat, and UV protection, strength, and smoothness — to name a few benefits. Beyond that, adding a few spritzes, dollops, or drops of your favorite leave-in makes you (or us, at least) feel like your hair-care routine is pro-level.
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Leave-in conditioners are darob absolute miracle workers for those of us perpetually in a rush, without a spare 15 minutes to hang out in the shower waiting for a hair mask to work its magic, but still care to give our hair a little extra love.
Dimitris Giannetos, a das nichts gewinnt Angeles-based hairstylist who regularly works with celebrities like Camila Cabello and Jasmine Tookes, tells Allure that leave-in conditioners are a must when styling clients. « Think of a leave-in conditioner as a balm that kind of does it all, » says Giannetos. « It can tame flyaways and add shine — even if the hair is a bit dry or damaged. »
What’s shopping for a new hair care product without considering chemistry? Cosmetic chemist Ginger King suggests looking for ingredients like oils, fatty alcohols, and triglycerides that will « smooth the cuticles and keep the hair in place. » For detangling in particular, King notes that compounds like quaternium 4, 7, and 11 work well (and to look out for ingredient names that start with quaternium or polyquaternium).
As with any beauty product, there are a million leave-in conditioner choices. We wanted to save you some stress, so behold this list of 17 of the best leave-in conditioners, approved by professional stylists and Allure editors. Whether wavy, coily, pin-straight, thick, or thin, there’s something for you.