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If you have natural hair, conditioning your strands is so, so necessary. Plus, if you’re trying to revert your curls to their natural state after too much heat damage or you're transitioning to natural hair, conditioner helps restore vital nutrients while strengthening your hair follicles to prevent future breakage.
To keep your natural hair in the best possible shape, you'll want to look for a conditioner free of sulfates and parabens. It should have one or more hair nourishing oil or butter, as well as a boost of antioxidants. And while it may be tempting to steer clear of ingredients that go in a salad, whole food ingredients ranging from avocado to green tea are excellent additions to conditioners.
Since there are so many options out there, we asked celebrity hairstylists about the conditioners they rely on—and mixed in a few of our favorites—to help you pick the right one for you.
Read on for the best conditioners for natural hair.
Best Overall: Moroccanoil Curl Cleansing Conditioner
"Moroccanoil Curl Cleansing Conditioner is great because you can use it in place of a daily shampoo and conditioner," explains Moroccanoil's artistic director and celebrity hairstylist Kevin Hughes. "This will leave more moisture in your hair without feeling like it's too strong of a cleanser. I love it for beach vacations—instead of washing your hair every day to remove salt water, you can bring one product and cleanse your hair while conditioning it."
Best Budget: Schwarzkopf Gliss Express Repair Conditioner
This budget-friendly, oil-rich conditioner will leave behind a healthy shine. If you're dealing with breakage, it should be your go-to because it's formulated to strengthen split ends. "I love this conditioner for natural and textured hair because the natural oils in the product keep curly hair moisturized and revived since it tends to be drier," explains Schwarzkopf celebrity stylist Larry Sims.
Best Drugstore: Pantene Gold Series Moisture Boost Conditioner
This sulfate- and paraben-free conditioner's star ingredient is argan oil—one of the most moisturizing properties on the map. If you haven't tried out Pantene's super-affordable Gold Series haircare line yet, I highly recommend you give them a whirl. I have an arsenal of luxurious, high-end products on my hair shelf but always reach for this. Maybe it's the fact that I know it took over 10 years to formulate this collection by hundreds of African-American scientists dedicated to the natural hair community.
Best for Heat Damage: Carol's Daughter Almond Milk Ultra-Nourishing Hair Mask
You can always depend on Carol's Daughter products to have nourishing ingredients that'll bring your strands back to life. "This conditioner helps with daily wear and tear to the hair strands," explains curl expert and Carol's Daughter lead stylist Stephanie McLemore. "If there's an excessive amount of heat styling, coloring, or just exposure to external elements, the Almond Milk Ultra-Nourishing Hair Mask will help replenish proteins and restore hair back to good health. I love this conditioner because I see instant results—soft, shiny, and smooth cuticles."
Best for Chemically Treated Hair: Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Conditioner
"I recommend using Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Conditioner to replenish hair with the essential nutrients and vital moisture it needs," suggests Hughes. "This is so important for anyone who chemically treats their hair, colors, or straightens it. The highly concentrated, reparative formula restores hair's health, moisture, and elasticity with antioxidant-rich argan oil, reconstructive keratin, and fatty acids."
Best Oil: Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil
This vegan bond multiplier will help restore ends and add moisture to dry textured hair. It's a hybrid product and can be used on wet or dry hair, and is recommended post-wash.
What Our Testers Say
“The product excels at taming flyaways, whether you're leaving your hair down or styling it in a slicked-back ponytail.” — Melony Forcier, Product Tester
Best with Algae: Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioning Mask
Wait until you hear what this little container is packing: pure blue-green algae; 65 vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; and unrefined cocoa and mango butters. It's basically heaven for your hair with this powerful cocktail of ingredients that'll potentially renew your locks.
Best Non-Oil: Sebastian Twisted Elastic Treatment
Infused with Flexi Alg Complex, this non-oily curl mask nourishes, strengthens, shields against humidity, enhances curls, and doesn’t leave hair heavy. You'll apply this mask generously to hair, wait three to five minutes and then rinse. Use it once or twice per week for the best results.
Best Leave-In Treatment: Curls So So Smooth Vitamin C Leave-In Conditioner
With a mix of vitamins A, B1, B6, and C, this leave-in treatment is set to refresh, condition, and soften curls.
Best Scent: DevaCurl One Condition Original Daily Cream Conditioner
You'll immediately become entranced by this enticing lemongrass scent. But once you see how shiny and bouncy your curls look after lathering the creamy conditioner through your head, you'll be even more hooked. Made with olive oil, this conditioner will aid in adding moisture and controlling frizz.
Best for Hair Growth: The Mane Choice Green Tea & Carrot Deep Strengthening & Restore Mask
Looking to grow your locks longer? Try this conditioner that's packed with the secret to longer hair: biotin. We've already proven that biotin works wonders when it comes to hair growth. It also restores hydration to your hair shafts with green tea, carrot oil, and vitamins.
Best Cruelty-Free: It's a 10 Haircare It's a 10 Silk Express Miracle Silk Hair Mask Deep Conditioner
"This cruelty-free mask leaves hair soft and silky, adds incredible shine, has color-protecting properties, walls in and maintains moisture levels," says celebrity stylist and curl expert Ona Diaz-Santin of 5 Salon & Spa in New Jersey,
Best Hydrating: Mizani Moisture Fusion Intense Moisturizing Mask
Hydrating cupuaçu butter, argan oil and honey in this hair mask will help to add moisture, control frizz, increase bounce, and leave hair feeling rich.
Best Detangling: Unite 7Seconds Detangler
"This lightweight hybrid product is perfect for all hair types. It quickly dissolves in the hair while keeping the hair moisturized all day," says Jake Tafoya, stylist and founder of The Mod Labb. "It’s perfect on damp hair before styling and on second -day ends prior to any thermal tools."
Best for Scalp Health: Honey Baby Naturals Honey & Ginseng Energizing Hair Masque
Ginseng and mango butter come together in this intense moisture hair mask to deliver deep hydration, restore elasticity, and stimulate the scalp, potentially resulting in natural healthy hair growth.
What to Look For in a Conditioner For Natural Hair
Oils and Butters
There is a nearly limitless list of oils and butters that help add shine, manageability, and overall goodness to hair. From olive oil to cocoa butter, nourishing natural hair by adding moisture through this ingredient category is the easiest possible way to condition your hair. Argan oil may be considered a gold standard for hair, but there are many others that offer big benefits, too.
Sulfate- and Paraben-Free Formula
Sulfates are used to help products like shampoo get sudsy, so while they're occasionally found in conditioners it isn't terribly hard to avoid them. Parabens, however, are preservatives, which many hair products contain in some amount to keep the formula from going bad. Rose Ovensehi, founder of Flora & Curl Botanical Haircare, told us it's best to avoid parabens by seeking products with "alternative preservatives, including sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate."
Whole Food Ingredients
Honey, green tea, avocado, and garlic are just a few of the food-grade ingredients you'll find in conditioners for natural hair. Know that these are all these for a reason: because they can improve your hair's health and/or shine. For example, honey hydrates hair, soothes the scalp, boosts moisture, and may reduce dandruff.
What products should I use in my natural hair?
Which oil is best for hair growth and thickness?
There are a number of oils that can help with the growth and thickness of natural hair. Maisha Stephens of Bibi Salon, NYC told us that "rosemary oil is such an underrated oil for hair growth... I always recommend it to my clients because it has anti-inflammatory qualities and improves circulation for a healthy scalp—and a healthy scalp always equals healthier hair."
How do I seal moisture in my hair?
To keep moisture in your hair, you'll want to use a product with an occlusive—that's an ingredient that helps to create a moisture barrier, keeping the oils you've applied to your skin or hair in their place, rather than dissipating. One popular occlusive is coconut oil.