The 19 Best Conditioners of 2022

Olaplex Bond Maintenance Conditioner is our pick for best overall

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Best Conditioners

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

Billy Madison may have famously debated whether shampoo or conditioner is better (remember the bathtub scene with the battling bottles?), but we’d like to argue that they’re equally important. Sure, shampoo does the cleansing, but conditioner is paramount for re-introducing lost moisture back to your hair. And more moisture ultimately equals strands that look smoother and shinier, not to mention are much easier to comb through and generally feel stronger and healthier. So consider conditioner to be your shampoo’s unfailing sidekick, a must-use any time you wash your hair.

Looking for a good one? Check out the best conditioners, below.

Best Overall

Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner

5
Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
What We Like
  • Little goes a long way

  • Softens the hair

  • Adds shine

What We Don't Like
  • Very thick consistency

  • May be drying for some

Who else recommends it? The NY Post, Self, and The Strategist all picked the Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner.

What do buyers say? 92% of 52,900+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Byrdie Editorial Director Hallie Gould sings the praises of this conditioner—as well as the accompanying shampoo and treatment—time and time again. The entire line targets broken protein bonds in the hair caused by things such as coloring, chemical processing, and more. In a nutshell, it’s choice for strands that need a little (or a lot) of extra TLC. Just a quick FYI, because it is very thick, Gould says it’s best applied only on mid-shafts to ends, especially for those with fine hair.

Price at time of publish: $30

Hair Type: All | Size: 8.5 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget

Dove Nutritive Solutions Conditioner Intensive Repair

Dove Nutritive Solutions Conditioner Intensive Repair

Target

What We Like
  • Moisturizing

  • Softens the hair

  • Reasonably priced

What We Don't Like
  • Overpowering smell for some

If you’re anything like us and like to really load up on conditioner, opting for a wallet-friendly option, like this one, is always a good move. It works equally as well as its pricier counterparts, nourishing strands from the inside out, delivering both immediate smoothing benefits but also improving the condition of your hair over time, too.

Price at time of publish: $5

Hair Type: Dry and Damaged | Size: 12 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Drugstore

Hair Food Avocado & Argan Oil Smoothing Conditioner

Hair Food Avocado & Argan Oil Smoothing Conditioner

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Prevents breakage

  • Softens the hair

  • Full of natural ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Might dull some hair

As a general rule, we heart pretty much all of the conditioners (and shampoos, for that matter) found at the drugstore, but this one really stands out. The namesake ingredients work to tamp down frizzies, hydrate, and prevent breakage, and the formula also happens to be sulfate-, paraben-, and dye-free. We’re partial to this variant, but don’t miss the four other options, all of which boast delicious scents.

Price at time of publish: $12

Hair Type: Frizzy | Size: 17.9 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Hair

OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Conditioner

OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Conditioner

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Smells great

  • Adds shine

  • Thoroughly cleanses

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't provide a lot of lather

As the name suggests, the star of the show here is Moroccan oil, one of the best oils for hair there is. (Packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-6 fatty acids, it’s naturally deep conditioning.) This luscious and thick formula is ideal for those with extra-parched hair, leaving it unbelievably silky after even just one wash.

Price at time of publish: $7

Hair Type: All | Size: 13 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Runner-Up, Best for Dry Hair

Nexxus Humectress Ultimate Moisture Conditioner

3
nexxus humectress conditioner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Smells good

  • Adds shine

  • Smooths and softens the hair

  • Gentle on the hair

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't lather much

  • Greasy feel

This conditioner works by targeting—and strengthening—your hairs’ natural protective barriers. Translation? Moisture gets locked in for up to 24 hours. Fortified with caviar and a special protein complex, the formula works hard to leave your stands ultra-silky smooth, all in a formula that never feels greasy or heavy, even if you have fine hair.

Price at time of publish: $31

Hair Type: Dry | Size: 33.8 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

nexxus humectress conditioner

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi 

What Our Testers Say

"After testing the Nexxus conditioner for the first time, I let my hair air dry about 80% and then finished up with a blow-dryer. Afterward, my hair felt softer than normal and laid smoother then it does when I use my usual conditioners." Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

Best for Fine Hair

Matrix Total Results High Amplify Conditioner

Matrix Total Results High Amplify Shine Rinse

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Shines hair in 8 seconds

  • Has a water-like lightweight constitution

  • Can be used daily

  • Smells good

What We Don't Like
  • Might not give results desired for some

Conditioning can prove to be slightly tricky for those with fine hair. Choose too heavy or too rich of a formula and you risk it weighing down your strands, leaving your fine hair looking even flatter. While this newbie may not technically be called a conditioner, it’s the perfect conditioner sub for anyone with limp locks. The water-like formula boasts a special technology that penetrates the hair cuticle to leave hair nourished and with a mirror-like shine…and, according to the brand, does it all in just eight seconds.

Price at time of publish: $21

Hair Type: Fine | Size: 6.8 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Curly Hair

Miss Jessie's Crème de la Crème Conditioner

Miss Jessie's Crème de la Crème Conditioner

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Moisturizes the hair

  • Detangles adeptly

  • Smells light and fresh

What We Don't Like
  • Might be drying for some

Fun fact: Curly hair is naturally more likely to be dryer than straight hair. (The shape of the hair makes it harder for oils from the scalp to make it all the way down the hair shaft.) In other words, conditioner is arguably even more of a non-negotiable for those with curly hair. Enter this creamy formula, specially formulated to moisturize, smooth, and detangle curly and wavy textures, yet without ever weighing down the hair.

Price at time of publish: $11

Hair Type: Curly, Wavy, Thick, Coily | Size: 8 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Thinning Hair

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Foam Conditioner

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Foam Conditioner

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Weightless texture

  • Moisturizing

  • Smells good

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Not only is this an airy foam conditioner with a lightweight texture to ensure thinning hair looks full and voluminous, but it also boasts ingredients to help improve the density of your strands. Namely, Indian gooseberry (or amla) and red clover, two herbs known for boosting hair thickness and strength. Pair it with the accompanying Alterna shampoo and scalp treatment in the line if you’re dealing with unwanted shedding.

Price at time of publish: $38

Hair Type: Fine | Size: 8.5 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Colored Hair

Pureology Hydrate Conditioner

Pureology Hydrate Conditioner
What We Like
  • Improves texture of hair

  • Detangles

  • Smooths

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • The smell

This salon brand has been a staple in the industry for two decades but recently got a revamp and now has new packaging and even more exceptional formulas. We’ve long been fans of this color-protecting conditioner; while it’s always been sulfate-free, it’s now also free of mineral oil and parabens. What it does contain is a patented antifade complex comprised of sunflower seed and vitamin E to ward off color-fading culprits, think UV rays and pollution. The formula is also super concentrated—you get over 70 uses from one bottle—and the scent is delightful, an invigorating herbal and minty combo.

Price at time of publish: $35

Hair Type: Thick, Dry, Color-Treated | Size: 9 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for All Hair Types

Briogeo Be Gentle, Be Kind Banana + Coconut Nourishing Superfood Conditioner

Briogeo Be Gentle Be Kind Banana + Coconut Nourishing Superfood Conditioner

Courtesy of Briogeo 

What We Like
  • Very hydrating

  • Full of antioxidant-rich fruit ingredients

  • Protects hair

What We Don't Like
  • Thick consistency

Team Byrdie loves this conditioner, a surefire pick for pretty much anyone and everyone. The lightweight cream works on all hair textures, and thanks to a line-up of hair-loving ingredients (banana, coconut, and acai, to be exact), it's chock full of nourishing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Taking a cue from those active ingredients, the juice bottle-inspired packaging and sunny yellow hue are sure to make you smile.

Price at time of publish: $30

Hair Type: All | Size: 12.5 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Leave-In

Unite Hair Leave-In Conditioner

Unite 7 Seconds Condition Leave In

Courtesy of Unite 

What We Like
  • Smells good

  • Detangles

  • Locks in color

  • Provides UV protection

What We Don't Like
  • Might not detangle enough for some

For those looking to step up his or her conditioning game—and/or whose hair isn’t in the best shape—following a wash-out, using a leave-in conditioner is like the cherry on top of the good hair sundae. Here’s one foolproof pick, great for all hair types, and offering detangling, heat-protective, moisturizing, and reparative benefits with every lightweight spritz.

Price at time of publish: $33

Hair Type: All | Size: 8 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Mask

Verb Ghost Hair Mask

Verb Ghost Hair Mask

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Very lightweight

  • Moisturizing

  • Adds shine and softness

What We Don't Like
  • Might feel only fairly nourishing to some

At least once per week, you should swap your standard conditioner for a hair mask. As a face mask does for your complexion, it’s a quick and easy way to notably improve the condition of your mane; think of it as a regular conditioner on steroids. More specifically, stock your shower with this mask. It works on all hair types and textures, from stick-straight and fine to coarse and curly, and imparts mega hydration and shine, yet has a surprisingly lightweight feel.

Price at time of publish: $20

Hair Type: All | Size: 6.3 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

For the best results, leave it on for at least five minutes before rinsing (our move is to apply it before shaving our legs).

Best for Damaged Hair

Davines OI Smoothing Conditioner

Davines OI Smoothing Conditioner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Leaves hair super soft

  • Won't weight down fine strands

  • Suited for all hair types

What We Don't Like
  • The botanical scent may be too strong for some

Everything about this buttery cream feels pampering, including the impressively soft and shiny results. It’s thick and rich scooped out of the tub, but melts into a blanket of softness as you apply over damp hair, so it won’t weigh down even the finest hair. It’s formulated with the brand’s signature Roucou Oil, which is loaded with beta-carotene and vitamin A that nourishes and conditions dry or itchy patches on the scalp, and protects and silkifies strands. Unlike some conditioners which require some extra patience in the shower, this one works its hair smoothing magic in less than three minutes and rinses to reveal beautiful salon-worthy glossiness. 

Price at time of publish: $44

Hair Type: All | Size: 250ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Coily Hair

Pattern Beauty Intensive Conditioner

Pattern Beauty Intensive Conditioner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Protects hair

  • Full of conditioning coils

  • Glossy finish

What We Don't Like
  • Might be too rich for some

This conditioner is the richest in Tracee Ellis Ross’ lineup of curly hair product perfection, and that’s precisely what makes it so special. It’s especially effective at penetrating tight, coily strands and conditioning the heck out of drier hair with low porosity. Plus, it doubles as a repair treatment mask if you let it work with the steam of the shower and it sits on hair for 10 minutes before rinsing. It’s free of all the questionable stuff like parabens, formaldehydes, and phthalates which tend to leave hair coated and heavy, and chock full of all the good stuff, like safflower seed oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil which keep curls glossy and bouncy. Heck, even the sweet floral scent of neroli, rose, and patchouli feel like a treat to your senses. 

Price at time of publish: $32

Hair Type: Curly, wavy, coily | Size:  13 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Wavy Hair

R+Co Atlantis Moisturising B5 Conditioner

R+Co Atlantis Moisturising B5 Conditioner

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Smooths frizz

  • Strengthens hair

  • Very moisturizing

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller bottle

This bottle works more like a deep moisture treatment than a basic conditioner thanks to the intensely hydrating blend of vitamins and extracts. A mix of Vitamin B5, prickly pear stem extract, and rice bran oil help to deeply penetrate strands, smoothing and taming pesky frizz and flyaways, and nourishing the scalp to treat hair at the root. The antioxidant-rich formula is enough to pamper the heck out of dry or damaged hair, and equally as effective at keeping wavy hair looking glossy, with that fresh-out-of-the salon bounce. It strikes the perfect richness that leaves hair looking and feeling noticeably silkier, without feeling greasy or coated.  

Price at time of publish: $34

Hair Type: Wavy | Size:  8.5 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Oily Hair

Rahua Voluminous Conditioner

Rahua Voluminous Conditioner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Adds volume

  • Good for co-washing

  • Pleasant spa-like scent

What We Don't Like
  • May not be rich enough for dry hair types

This bottle is packed with calming herbal goodness like lavender, eucalyptus oil, lemongrass, green tea, and rosemary which treat your hair and your senses to a spa-like conditioning experience. The formula is lighter than most in this lineup, but that is precisely what makes it suitable for oily or finer hair types, and an ideal product for co-washing. Lemongrass works double duty, combating excess oils on the scalp while also restoring bounce and shine, so you don’t have to compromise volume for silkiness. It’s also packed with the brands signature Amazonian rahua nut oil which is celebrated for its nourishing benefits that condition deep within the hair shaft to lock in moisture and give hair that gorgeous, glossy finish. 

Price at time of publish: $38

Hair Type: Fine | Size: 9.3 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Thick Hair

Ouai Thick Hair Conditioner

Ouai Thick Hair Conditioner

Sephora

What We Like
  • Detangles long, thick hair

  • Softens coarse strands

  • Light floral citrus scent

What We Don't Like
  • Too rich for finer hair types

While thick hair complaints may be considered champagne problems in the hair world, finding the right products that can actually penetrate and condition dense, sturdy strands is hard to come by. That’s where Jen Atkin answers thick hair prayers with a vegan formula packed with rich conditioning ingredients like avocado oil, shea butter, and marshmallow root extract. The hair-softening trifecta effectively detangles and hydrates the thickest heads of hair leaving strands smooth and more manageable post shower. The formula is rich and luxurious which makes for a pampering conditioning experience, and leaves behind a rejuvenating floral citrus scent that will boost your mood. 

Price at time of publish: $38

Hair Type: Thick | Size:  10 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Sensitive Scalp

Necessaire The Conditioner

Necessaire The Conditioner

Sephora

What We Like
  • Gently cleanses and hydrates scalp

  • Detangles hair

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Lightweight texture

Leave it to one of the Internet’s buzziest brands to have us break cardinal beauty rules, applying conditioner directly to our scalp, instead of just mid-lengths to ends. The unique formula features a blend of hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, which you’re more likely to find in your face moisturizer than your conditioner. The powerful blend treats the scalp to a dose of TLC, gently removing any buildup or flakes, and conditioning the scalp to help prevent future dryness or itchiness. The moisturizing formula also does a number detangling the lengths of your hair without weighing them down, so you can comb through root to end- with that satisfying glide of beautiful silky, refreshed hair and scalp.

Forewarned if you’re expecting a thick conditioner, this has a lighter weight, milky texture. Some hair types found this wasn’t thick enough for their preferences. The fragrance-free formula is also great if you’re sensitive to scents, but some users missed that scented shower experience.

Price at time of publish: $38

Hair Type: Sensitive Scalp | Size:  8.4 oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Chemically-Treated Hair

Amika Conditioner for Damaged Hair

Amika Conditioner for Damaged Hair

Sephora

What We Like
  • Good for dry, brittle hair

  • Strengthens hair

  • Prevents breakage

What We Don't Like
  • May weight down finer hair

This cheerful mint green bottle delivers a much-needed boost to dry, damaged, over-processed hair that needs it most. It’s spiked with the brand’s proprietary blend of plant-based proteins and plant butters that deliver bond-repairing benefits that strengthen hair from the root. As with all Amika products, the super fruit sea buckthorn berry delivers a shiny coat  that leaves frazzled hair looking salon-fresh. It’s an impressively hydrating formula that any hair type can benefit from and reap the smoother, stronger, polished results.  

Price at time of publish: $31

Hair Type: All hair types | Size:  9.2 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Meet the Expert

Kristen Shaw is a celebrity hairstylist and men’s groomer based in New York and Los Angeles. 

What to Look For in a Conditioner

Formula type

When shopping for a conditioner, celebrity hairstylist Kristen Shaw says it’s key to find a formula that works with both your hair type and the type of shampoo you’re using. “For example, if you have curly, dry hair, it would be great to use a curly shampoo that will specifically add moisture to your hair and then use a smoothing conditioner to help lock down any frizz,” she says. If your hair is on the oily side, you’ll want to opt for a conditioner that’s more lightweight, pairing it with a gentle cleansing shampoo that will combat excess oil without stripping the hair or scalp.

Moisturizing and nourishing

All conditioners aim to, of course, condition your hair. Still, Shaw really stresses the importance of a formula that’s deeply nourishing and moisturizing (even if it's lightweight), which is especially a must if your hair is on the damaged or dry side. “This also enables you to leave your conditioner on longer and turn it into a healing hair mask!” 

Avoid silicones

Finally, Shaw recommends avoiding silicones when possible. “These make your hair super shiny, but they don’t actually help the hair at all,” she explains. “In fact, silicones often break down your cuticle over time and cause more damage, essentially masking the problem until it’s too late.” 

FAQ
  • How often should you use conditioner?

    You should condition your hair every time you shampoo it. Shampooing hair removes dirt and oils and opens the hair shaft. Conditioning seals those shafts and locks in nourishment, which can help strengthen and moisturize your hair.

  • How do you apply conditioner?

    Always apply conditioner to wet hair. Evenly distribute the product throughout your strands, starting from the mid-length all the way to the bottom. For hair that gets oily easily, only apply to the ends of your hair. If you have curly hair, apply the conditioner closer to your roots and distribute down your hair to lock in moisture. Feel free to let the product sit in your hair for a few minutes to let the ingredients work their magic. Thoroughly rinse the product out of your hair before drying and styling.

  • Does conditioner expire?

    Yes, conditioner will expire. Depending on the ingredients, an unopened conditioner can last for up to three years. Oftentimes, the expiration date of the product is stated on the bottle toward the bottom. You can also tell if a shampoo has gone bad if the texture starts to change and becomes clumpy, discolored, or doesn't seem to be working how it used to.

Why Trust Byrdie

Melanie Rud is a contributing writer for Byrdie where she covers all things beauty—from buzzy ingredients to acne advice. Lindsay Colameo is a seasoned freelance beauty writer and editor with over a decade of experience contributing to leading print and digital publications including InStyle, Byrdie, Real Simple, and more. 

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. We tested 28 conditioners to find the best for many hair concerns in 2022. New York Post. https://nypost.com/article/best-conditioners-for-every-hair-type-review

  2. The 21 best conditioners that will hydrate your hair, according to experts. Self. https://www.self.com/story/best-conditioner-for-hair

  3. The 12 very best conditioners. The Strategist. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-conditioners.html

  4. Yu JY, Gupta B, Park HG, et al. Preclinical and Clinical Studies Demonstrate That the Proprietary Herbal Extract DA-5512 Effectively Stimulates Hair Growth and Promotes Hair Health. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:4395638. doi:10.1155/2017/4395638

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