9 Ways to Use Leave-In Conditioner For Soft, Healthy Hair

9 Ways to Use Leave-In Conditioner For Soft, Healthy Hair


Were all pretty familiar with elaborate skincare routines and the slew of extra products that we dont necessarily need in our line-up, but are nice to have (face essences come to mind). However, for some reason or another, haircare remains a murkier world. We know we have to shampoo and condition our hair, that we need to use heat protectant every time we use a hot tool, and that using a deep conditioning mask whenever our hair has an SOS moment is very important. However, all the other "nice-to-haves," such as ACV rinses and scalp scrubs, still raise an eyebrow for many.

But, were here to talk about one of the most underrated haircare products in the category: leave-in conditioners. While some may think its not necessary to use one if youre already incorporating conditioner and masks into your routine, experts agree that leave-ins can seriously amp up your hairs overall health. The result: hair becomes softer, more manageable, shinier, and stronger.

Below, three hair experts share everything there is to know about leave-in conditioners. From how much to use and what types of ingredients to look for to where to apply it. Keep scrolling for their top tips and some of their favorite product picks.

Dont Shy Away from Leave-In

First things first, yes, your hair will deeply benefit from leave-in. Celebrity hairstylist Justine Marjan confirms that every hair type can benefit greatly from leave-in. She says that people who will benefit the most are those with dry and frizzy hair or those who heat style their hair often. "Leave-in conditioners dramatically help in retaining moisture, preventing frizz and/or breakage, and boosting shine," she adds.

Keep Using Normal Conditioner

Leave-in conditioner is like calling in for backup, not substituting your usual lineup. "Conditioning in the shower is still important," confirms Marjan. "Leave-in conditioner is best to help hair stay soft, detangled, and nourished." Consider leave-in your extra boost of TLC whenever your hair needs reinforcement.

Apply on Damp Hair

Rule number one of applying leave-in conditioner: Wait to apply until youre out of the shower. Since you dont need to wash leave-in conditioner out afterwards, you can simply apply it to damp hair. "Towel dry hair first," says IGK Hair Care co-founder Leo Izquierdo. Just use a towel to pat the head and dry it just slightly (you still want the hair to be damp while you apply the product). As for product picks, Marjan recommends the TRESemmé Keratin Repair Leave-in Treatment ($9) "because it allows even distribution."

Concentrate on Your Tips

When your clean hair is damp or towel-tried, smooth the conditioning product thoroughly throughout, while focusing on the shafts and ends of your hair. This is where your hair is the driest and most damaged, and therefore where it needs the most attention. For the best result, apply a dollop of leave-in from the mid-lengths down.

Use a Leave-In that Suits Your Hairs Needs

"Start by addressing concerns that are unique to your hair. Are you trying to add shine? Eliminate frizz? Maintain color treated hair? All of the above? It’s important to know what issues you’re dealing with before making your selection of a leave-in conditioner," says Bradley Leake, an LA-based celebrity hairstylist. Some formulas will target specific issues associated with different hair types (like color damage, split ends, frizz, fine hair, or major coarseness) better than others, so use one thats specific to what your hair needs. Leake particularly recommends Kérastases Chroma Absolu ($45) to prevent frizz in color-treated hair and Curl Manifesto  ($45) adding that it "will answer all my curly girls prayers."

Use the Right Amount

The amount of leave-in conditioner you use depends on your hair type. The rule of thumb is one small pump for fine hair, two to three pumps for medium-thick hair, and then four to five pumps for coarse hair.

Brush Product Through for Even Distribution

Marjan recommends using a detangling brush or wide-tooth comb to disperse your leave-in conditioner evenly throughout your hair, then leave it— no rinsing required. If you have curly hair that you prefer not to brush through, try a leave-in conditioner cream that you can scrunch into your ends.

Leave-in conditioner has detangling properties, too, and protects hair from heat damage, making it the perfect product to use before styling.

Look for Hair-Healthy Ingredients

While each hair type will benefit from a certain type of formula, there are universal ingredients that work for everyone. With that said, there are some key, potentially hair-boosting ingredients youll want to look out for like vitamins, antioxidants, natural oils, botanical extracts, and heat-protectant properties to name a few. A great universal leave-in is Ceremonias deeply hydrating Guava Leave-In Conditioner ($24) which features guava fruit extra and aloe leaf extract.

Aloe Leaf Extract

"Aloe is a plant with multiple benefits for the body, skin, and of course, our hair," says Tonya Lane, a North Carolina-based cosmetic chemist. "Naturally, aloe has the ability to hold moisture, especially in dryer climates where water is scarce. This awesome property makes aloe the perfect candidate for obtaining and retaining moisture in our hair."

Consider the Type of Formula

Leave-in conditioners come in an array of formulas, like sprays, creams, oils, balms, and more. If you have naturally fine hair, choose a lightweight spray or foam thatll leave your hair silky rather than greasy. If you have dry, damaged, curly, or over-processed hair, its a good idea to find a creamy, nutrient-rich formula with hydrating properties.

How to Pick the Right Conditioner for Your Hair Type, According to a Derm

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