The 18 Best Leave-In Conditioners of 2022

Our top picks from Christophe Robin, Ouai, Lolavie, and more

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Byrdie / Amelia Manley

With all the hairstyling options available today, it’s easy to forget the humble leave-in conditioner. But the truth is that a great leave-in is one of the best ways to detangle, add moisture, and smooth hair with minimal effort. 

The thing is, not all leave-in conditioners are created equal. If you use something too rich, you’ll weigh your hair down; if it’s too light, it won’t make a difference. Scent, texture, and ingredients are also things to consider. To help you find the right product for your hair type, we spent hours researching the top options available now and surveyed Byrdie editors to get their tried-and-true recommendations.

Here are the best leave-in conditioners, from drugstore finds to five-star formulations.

In This Article

Best Overall: Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave-In Mist

Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave-In Mist

Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Detangles

  • Won't irritate the scalp

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

Who else recommends it? Vogue, CNN, and The Strategist all picked Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave-In Mist With Aloe Vera.

French favorite Christophe Robin rarely gets it wrong (the brand's iconic Salt Scrub is fantastic), and this lightweight mist is no exception. Silicone-free and formulated using ingredients of 98% natural origin, it hydrates and detangles hair without weighing it down. It's also free from parabens, silicones, oxidants, and phthalates, making it great for anyone prone to scalp irritation.

Hair Type: Dry, dull | Size: 5 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $39

Best Budget: Garnier Fructis Intensely Smooth Leave-In Conditioning Cream

Garnier Fructis Intensely Smooth Leave-In Conditioning Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Adds shine

  • Holds up in humidity

What We Don't Like
  • Bottle can be hard to squeeze

Thick, dry, or frizzy hair types will go weak at the knees for Garnier's rich buttery formula. It delivers moisture and shine and is loaded with citrus protein, vitamins, and argan oil. It works great in hot, humid weather, too—just comb it through damp hair before styling.

Hair Type: Dry | Size: 10.2 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $4

Best for Frizz: Lolavie PERFECTING LEAVE-IN

Lolavie PERFECTING LEAVE-IN

Lolavie

What We Like
  • Vegan

  • Suitable for all hair types

  • Tames frizz

What We Don't Like
  • Can weigh hair down

She created one of the most iconic hairstyles in history, and now Jennifer Aniston has her own haircare line, which includes this frizz-fighting leave-in. In addition to conditioning, it also pulls double-duty as a heat protectant. Formulated with bamboo essence instead of water, it's 100% vegan, safe for color-treated hair, and suitable for all hair types.

Hair Type: All | Size: 5.0 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $29

Best for Dry Hair: Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-In Conditioning Spray

Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-In Conditioning Spray
What We Like
  • Seals the cuticle

  • Lightweight

  • Detangles

What We Don't Like
  • Results aren't drastic

Dry hair needs all the moisture it can get. This pick from Briogeo contains a unique blend of oils (rosehip, coconut, and argan oil) to seal the cuticle and lock in all the good stuff. Frizz and flyaways will be tamed, and hair will feel softer. Who doesn't want that? 

Hair Type: Dry, frizzy, damaged | Size: 1.75 oz or 5 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $25

Best for Fine Hair: Drunk Elephant Wild Marula Tangle Spray

DE tangle spray
What We Like
  • Detangles

  • Provides heat protection

  • Volumizes

What We Don't Like
  • Small amount

Crowd skincare favorite Drunk Elephant recently moved into hair care, and the results are pretty damn remarkable. This leave-in mist contains nourishing plant oils—like sacha inchi seed, pracaxi seed, marula, and argan—to soften knots and protect against high temperatures. Thin hair types will also benefit from its volumizing perks and the absence of silicone.

Hair Type: All | Size: 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $25

Best for Thick Hair: Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother Reparative Styling Creme

Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother Reparative Styling Creme

Sephora

What We Like
  • Tames frizz

  • Safe on chemically treated hair

What We Don't Like
  • Might weigh down fine hair

Hair pros swear by Olaplex because it strengthens hair from the inside out. Olaplex No. 6 conditions and repairs hair without increasing density, making it ideal for those with thicker tresses. In addition to creating a protective barrier between hair and heat styling tools, it also reduces drying time.

Hair Type: All | Size: 3.3 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $30

Best Drugstore: Marc Anthony Super Fast Strength Leave In Conditioner

Marc Anthony Super Fast Strength Leave In Conditioner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Prevents breakage

  • Paraben-free

What We Don't Like
  • Spray dispenser doesn't work well

This wallet-friendly buy is full of caffeine and ginseng, and the brand claims it can help prevent hair breakage and may even encourage growth. Try it on damp hair after shampooing or rehydrate dry strands from mid-lengths to the ends.

Hair Type: All | Size: 8.4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $9

Best for Damaged Hair: Vernon François Leave-In Conditioner

Vernon François Leave-In Conditioner

Courtesy of Sally Beauty

What We Like
  • Adds shine

  • Strengthens hair

  • Smells good

What We Don't Like
  • Can leave a greasy residue

If you're prone to breakage or split ends, Vernon François's keratin-packed mist can help. The formula detangles, adds shine, and strengthens weak, brittle, or colored hair without feeling heavy. Plus, it smells incredible and works equally well on damp and dry hair.

Hair Type: All | Size: 6.8 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $17

Best for Color-Treated Hair: R+Co SUN CATCHER Power C Boosting Leave-In Conditioner

R+Co Suncatcher Leave-In Conditioner

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Protects hair from environmental stressors

  • Safe for color-treated hair

  • Detangles

What We Don't Like
  • Small amount

Vitamin C, collagen, and hyaluronic acid might sound straight out of a face serum. Still, this trio works together here to protect the hair. According to the brand, the formula can help shield color-treated hair from the environment (think pollution, UV rays, chlorine, and the like) that can contribute to fading. Try it over the summer months to preserve fresh highlights, or use it before your salt spray to create perfectly undone waves.

Hair Type: All | Size: 4.2 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $32

Best Scent: Ouai Leave-In Conditioner

4.9
Leave-In Conditioner

 Courtesy of Ouai

What We Like
  • Detangles

  • Provides heat protection

  • Smells good

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

This light, milky spray can ease knots and leave hair feeling soft and contains a blend of tamarind seed extract, hydrolyzed proteins, and panthenol. It also offers heat protection, so it's great for those who commit to a stringent hair-washing and blow-drying routine. But the best part is the scent. It draws on the brand's North Bondi fragrance: a soft, light white floral that perfectly captures the Australian coastal paradise. Think fresh bergamot, violet, and warm white musk. Your hair will smell sweet and salty (without the crunch).

Hair Type: All | Size: 1.5 fl. oz or 4.7 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $28

Best for Curly Hair: Oribe Priming Lotion Leave-In Conditioning Detangler

Oribe Priming Lotion Leave-In Conditioning Detangler

Amazon

What We Like
  • Detangles

  • Defines curls

  • Smells good

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

This super-lush lotion (it is Oribe, after all) is formulated specifically for curls. Avocado, olive, and jojoba supremely moisturize, while murumuru, mango, and cocoa seed butter soften unruly waves and bends. Slather it through damp hair after washing, then detangle with a wide-tooth comb. Expect smoother, more defined curls (plus that signature Oribe floral fragrance).

Hair Type: Curly | Size: 8.5 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $38

Best for Relaxed Hair: SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner

SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner

Ulta Beauty

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Prevents breakage

  • Detangles

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

This rich cream is rich in Jamaican black castor oil and shea butter, so it can help nourish, support elasticity, and resist breakage when detangling. Explicitly designed for curly or kinky hair that's been heat-styled, it will add back moisture and restore softness.

Hair Type: Damaged, kinky, curly, wavy | Size: 16 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $10

Best for Natural Hair: Pattern Leave-In Conditioner

Pattern Beauty Leave-In Conditioner

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Defines curls

  • Safe for color-treated hair

  • Recyclable packaging

What We Don't Like
  • May weigh down fine hair

Anything Tracee Ellis Ross touches turns to gold, and this delicious leave-in treatment is no different. Curly or coiled hair is more porous by nature, so the more nourishing ingredient, the better. The Pattern leave-in contains oils (like jojoba, castor seed, and avocado) and honey to seal in moisture while giving curls serious bounce and definition. Apply to soaking wet hair at the beginning of the drying process.

Hair Type: Curly, coily, textured | Size: 3 fl. oz, 9.8 fl. oz, or 25 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $25

Best for Wavy Hair: Verb Curl Leave-In Conditioner

Verb Curl Leave-In Conditioner

Amazon

What We Like
  • Prevents breakage

  • Lightweight

  • Safe for color-treated hair

What We Don't Like
  • Not as hydrating as other options

Creamy formulas can often feel too much, but not this one from Verb. Instead, it's light but seriously nourishing, thanks to coconut, shea butter, and sunflower seed oil. It's designed for curly and wavy hair and works best when applied to damp strands before styling. Those with thinner hair types should apply from the mid-lengths to the ends only.

Hair Type: Curly, fine, coily, thick, wavy | Size: 6 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $18

Best Luxury: Balmain Leave-In Conditioning Spray

balmain-hair-couture-standard-leave-in-conditioning-spray

Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

What We Like
  • Smells good

  • Adds shine

  • Protects hair from environmental stressors

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Balmain's luxury iteration is made for you if your bathroom habits are more bougie than basic. Aside from smelling like a dream, it delivers on its promise of moisture and shine, smoothing hair thanks to a blend of silk protein and argan oil. It's also formulated with UV filters to help protect your locks from environmental damage. Expect glossy shine and extra swishiness.

Hair Type: All | Size: 1.69 fl. oz or 6.76 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $50

Best Value: It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Detangles

  • Nourishes with green tea and sunflower extracts

What We Don't Like
  • Has a strong scent

It's A 10 has the formulation of a high-end leave-in with a drugstore price. In addition to nourishing silk amino acids, the brand's Miracle spray contains keratin, which makes hair smoother, glossier, and easier to style.

Hair Type: All | Size: 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $18

Best Overnight: Kérastase Nutritive 8H Magic Night Serum Hydrating Treatment

Kérastase Nutritive 8H Magic Night Serum Hydrating Treatment

Sephora

What We Like
  • Product won't transfer to pillow

  • Repairs split ends

What We Don't Like
  • Fragrance may be too strong for some

If you consider yourself a Kérastase loyalist (and many of us), this overnight leave-in is for you. Apply the serum to damp or dry hair—avoiding the roots and focusing on mid-length to ends—before bed and wake up to find it soft, shiny, and strengthened. To ensure frizz-free results, pile your hair into a loose top knot or braid before you drift off.

Hair Type: All | Size: 3.04 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $58

Best Innovation: Augustinus Bader The Leave-In Hair Treatment

Augustinus-Bader-Leave-In-Treatment

Courtesy of Augustinus Bader

What We Like
  • Packed with nourishing ingredients

  • Fast absorbing

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Like the brand's luxury skincare line, this leave-in treatment contains TFC8, a complex containing natural amino acids, vitamins, and synthesized molecules. The proprietary formulation supports hair growth, minimizes breakage, and boosts thickness. It also repairs, protects, and soothes the scalp.

Hair Type: All | Size: 50 ml or 100 ml | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $50

What to Look For in a Leave-In Conditioner

Nourishing and Protective Ingredients

When shopping for a leave-in conditioner, hairstylist Kelly Macedo recommends looking for a formula containing nourishing and protective ingredients, like our best budget pick from Garnier Fructis. ”I would look for some sort of oil, such as almond, coconut, jojoba, argan, or roucou oil,” she says. “All are super moisturizing and will help to soften the hair shaft.” Another must? An ingredient that will help protect against breakage and damage is hydrolyzed protein. Lastly, she recommends a formula containing antioxidants (or antioxidant-rich ingredients) to protect against UV damage, such as sunflower extract, guava, or vitamins A, C, and E.

The Right Formula for Your Hair Type

Leave-in conditioners aren’t one-size-fits-all, so be sure you’re shopping for the right formula for your specific hair type. If your hair is on the finer side, Macedo recommends opting for products that are lightweight in texture yet still hydrating to ensure your hair won’t be weighed down. When it comes to coarse, thick hair or curly textures, she recommends reaching for something that’s richer. “Curly hair naturally tends to be dryer, so I’d recommend a milkier leave-in with a little thickness to it,” she says.

Free of Silicones and Fillers

When it comes to leave-in conditioners—and all hair care products, for that matter—Macedo recommends avoiding formulas that contain silicones, sulfates, parabens, and formaldehyde. Our best overall pick, the Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave-In Mist, is free of silicones and fillers, making it the ideal choice for anyone with a sensitive scalp.

FAQ
  • How long can you leave in a leave-in conditioner?

    Until your next shampoo—a good leave-in conditioner will work instantly to give hair nourishment and shine and promote silky, soft strands. There's no downside to keeping leave-in conditioner in; it gives your hair added hydration and a smoother texture.

  • Do leave-in conditioners work for curly hair?

    Yes. In general, curly hair types will want to look for a lightweight formula that won't weigh down curls. Depending on your hair's porosity, you may be able to use a richer, creamier leave-in.

  • Can I use a leave-in conditioner every day?

    You can, but you might want to alternate or skip days here and there. Leave-in conditioner contains moisturizing ingredients that can lead to buildup on the hair and scalp and greasy-looking hair over time. If your hair is fine or thin and tends to experience buildup, try using leave-in conditioner once weekly or whenever you feel your hair needs extra hydration.

  • What does a leave-in conditioner do?

    Leave-in conditioners give your hair extra hydration while also helping to detangle, control frizz, and in some cases, provide heat protection.

  • How should I apply leave-in conditioner?

    Start with clean, towel-dried hair and smooth a small amount through your mid-lengths and ends. (Remember: You can always add more product if your hair is extra dry.) Brush through with a detangling brush or comb to distribute the product evenly, then dry and style it as you usually would.


  • How much leave-in conditioner should I use?

    The exact amount of leave-in conditioner you use depends on your hair type, how often you color or heat-style it, and how much product your hair can take. But generally, start with a small amount and add more if needed. It's always easier to add product rather than trying to remove excess once it's already in your hair.


Meet the Expert

Kelly Macedo is a hairstylist and the owner of Interior Hair in Los Feliz, California. Her specialties include precision haircuts with a focus on bangs, face-framing bobs, pixie cuts, lived-in layers, and enhancing her clients’ natural textures.

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. The Best Leave-In Conditioner Sprays to Hydrate and Nourish Your Hair. Vogue. https://www.vogue.com/article/best-leave-in-conditioner-sprays

  2. The 22 best leave-in conditioners to fight dryness and frizz, according to experts. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/cnn-underscored/beauty/best-leave-in-conditioners

  3. The Best Leave-In Conditioners, According to Hairstylists. The Strategist. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-leave-in-conditioners.html

  4. Dunaway S, Odin R, Zhou L, Ji L, Zhang Y, Kadekaro AL. Natural Antioxidants: Multiple Mechanisms to Protect Skin From Solar Radiation. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:392. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00392

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