Sometimes, you can heap on the hair masks and ply your hair with kilos of hair creams, all to no avail—your hair is still going to feel drier than a raisin on the scales. At least the raisin’s still going to be delicious—there’s absolutely nothing good about your being in this state!
These are the moments when leave-in conditioners seem like mankind’s best invention. These hair products, available in several different forms engineered to the needs of various hair types and goals, can work wonders on your tresses, whether they’re wavy, curly, coily, or straight.
However, as it is with all things, using leave-in conditioner right is the key to getting those hydrated locks. If you’re just introducing your hair to the marvel that leave-in conditioner is, here’s everything you need to know about how to use leave-in conditioner.
What Are Leave-in Conditioners?
Also known as leave-on conditioners and no-rinse conditioners, leave-in conditioners are applied post-washing and pre-styling. They work best when applied to towel-dried hair (a gentle reminder here to switch to micro-fiber towels if you haven’t already!).
These conditioners, unlike standard conditioning products, aren’t washed out of your hair. This allows better damage protection, detangling, and retention of moisture in your hair.
Because they stay in your until the next wash day, leave-in conditioners are designed to be more lightweight so that your hair isn’t weighed down by the product. Their lightweight nature also means that instead of forming rigid bonds that act like armor around your shafts, they impart a smoothness to your hair that makes detangling, combing, and holding up your hairstyles easier.
Leave-in conditioners can benefit every hair type—curly, straight, wavy, coily, colored, natural, chemically treated, coarse, fine, medium, short, or long. They’re especially great for frizzy, damaged, or dry hair, and hair that’s constantly subjected to the whims of straightening irons and curling wands.
The Benefits of Leave-in Conditioner
What can you expect if you start using leave-in conditioner? Here’s a rundown of the many benefits of this hair care product.
Leave-in conditioners make short work of tangles. Forget all that tugging, yanking, pulling, and accompanying pain, even if you’re one of the fine-haired folks reading this! A pump of leave-in conditioner post-wash, or on a particularly bad hair day, can make sliding through your hair as smooth as a hot knife slicing through butter.
Great for Fine Hair
Because of how thin and delicate fine hair is and how prone it is to getting greasy, regular conditioners are a bane. These weigh down your tresses, making them heavy, flat, and eventually greasy.
The lightweight formula of leave-in conditioners provides shine and moisture to fine strands without weighing them down.
Protect and Prime
Leave-in conditioners can protect your hair as well as prime it. One or two pumps of leave-in conditioner applied to damp hair before it’s blow-dried will protect the strands from heat damage while also creating a shiny, smooth finish—hairstylist who?
Leave-in conditioners combat frizz like nobody’s business! Factors such as humidity, heat, sunlight, and dry climes can increase frizz. Leave-in conditioner protects your hair from such harsh conditions by forming a protective coat around it.
Additionally, getting your desired hairstyle means resorting to using hot tools, and while this achieves the purpose, it also leaves you with all that annoying frizz.
Instead, towel-dry your hair, run a couple of pumps of leave-in conditioner through, and braid your hair into sections while it’s still a little damp. Let your hair air dry (or use a diffuser), unbraid, and perfect, smooth, sleek, and untouched-by-heat-damage waves await.
Define Your Curls
Leave-in curls will give your curls better definition, bounce, and smoothness, minus the frizz. Moisture is an important factor when you want to achieve these characteristics and what could be more hydrating than a leave-in conditioner, right?
A small amount of leave-in conditioner will help your curl patterns last longer and also protect them from dryness. Use it in between wash days to refresh your curls or after washing (followed by scrunching and air-drying or diffusing).
Tame Those Tresses
You’ve got a big date night or event coming up, you’ve spent hours on your hair, and it suddenly decides that now is the time to turn into a frizzy, dry mess.
We feel you—and so does leave-in conditioner, because just a touch of the product can smooth down your frizz, split ends, and flyaways, without the need to redo your whole look. Honestly, is there anything that leave-in conditioners can’t do?
Last but most importantly, leave-in conditioners provide tons of moisture to your hair. Dryness, caused by styling, bleaching, coloring, or naturally curly/coarse hair, can result in damage to the hair shafts, breakage, dullness, and frizz.
Leave-in conditioners provide protection and moisture, especially to curly hair where the natural oils produced by the scalp find it difficult/take extremely long to reach the tips of your curls.
They’re also great for color-treated hair, locking in color and moisture and adding shine.
How to Use Leave-in Conditioner
As mentioned earlier, leave-in conditioner is applied post-shampoo. If your hair is extremely damaged and dry, you can use both your regular and leave-in conditioner; if not, you can replace the former with the latter.
Here’s the best way to apply leave-in conditioner:
- Wash your hair with shampoo, ensuring that you thoroughly rinse it. If you’re using your regular condition, make sure that you rinse this out thoroughly, too.
- After showering, pat your hair dry (again, micro-fiber towel, folks!) to get rid of excess water.
- Once you’ve gotten rid of the excess water, apply a couple of pumps of leave-in conditioner to your hair. Emulsify the conditioner for a more even application. Make sure you stay away from the roots; if your hair is very fine, only apply the product on the ends.
- Using a comb or your fingers, detangle your hair (though we recommend a comb, as this also spreads the product evenly).
- Let your hair air dry and then, style it as you wish.
The process is pretty much the same for all hair types. However, the following tips can help you out:
- Wavy/Curly Hair: Wavy/curly hair, gorgeous as it is, can get pretty frizzy pretty fast, especially without proper hydration. Use leave-in conditioner on wet hair, scrunch gently to define and enhance your natural curl pattern, and let it air dry for beautiful curls.
- Straight Hair: Even if you’re blessed with hair that falls straighter than Heimdall, a little leave-in goodness before styling your hair, especially if you’re using heat, can keep your strands protected, the moisture locked in, and soft as a feather.
- Coily Hair: Though coily hair is all kinds of bouncy and voluminous, it can also be all kinds of dry and breakage prone. Leave-in conditioner can up the moisture levels and prevent this, deep-conditioning your locks, too.
How Much and How Often Should You Use Leave-in Conditioner?
Listen to your hair.
Honestly, your hair will tell you how much conditioner you should use and how often. If you’ve got thick hair, you may need to use more conditioner, and vice versa. Similarly, if your hair feels and looks healthy, continue using leave-in conditioner, but the second it becomes limp and oily, dial it down.
Are There Side Effects to Leaving in Conditioner?
Though not very common, leave-in conditioners may present the following risks:
- Leave-in conditioner can burn if it gets in your eyes. If this happens, rinse with cool, clean water.
- Some people may suffer allergic reactions from leave-in conditioners. Irritation and a burning sensation on the scalp are signs that you’re going through an allergic attack. In such a case, rinse out the conditioner immediately and don’t use it again.Additionally, before buying the conditioner, make sure you read the label to pick up on any ingredients that you may be allergic to.
- Naturally oily hair can get more oily and greasy with the product buildup caused by leave-in conditioners. If you also have low-porosity hair or dense, oily hair that takes forever to dry, leave-in conditioners may not be a wise option.
- Leave-in conditioners can cause acne, so keep them away from your face while applying.
Choosing the Right Leave-in Conditioner
If you’re looking for a good leave-in conditioner, there’s a plethora of options at your disposal. But how do you know which one’s the right one for your locks?
While much of it listening to your hair and experimenting, some rules will help you in your journey:
- Determine your hair type. Several leave-in conditioners are formulated specifically for different hair types, so read the label and make sure you’re buying one that matches your hair type.For example, if you constantly heat-style your hair, use a conditioner that offers heat protection. If you have colored hair, look for one that locks in color. For fine hair, use a lightweight, volumizing formula, and for curly hair, opt for a creamy leave-in with plenty of natural oils.
- Avoid products with dyes, alcohol, and sulfates. These can severely dry out your hair.
- Look for products with glycerin and silicones as these can coat and protect the hair without weighing it down. Natural oils, vitamins, and botanical extracts are all added benefits.
Leave-in conditioner is a great tool to have in your hair-care kit—your hair is sure to thank you for it! Leave-in conditioner helps you manage tangles, dryness, and frizz while leaving your locks soft and hydrated, whatever hair type you’re blessed with.
Happy hair days, here we come!