Women with relaxed hair understand that they now need to keep their tresses as healthy as possible. Still, most people are usually looking for ways to maintain lightweight, bouncy hair. It can be easy to weigh down straightened locks, especially if your mane is already fine or semi-fine. When it comes to product picks, choosing the best ones for relaxed tresses often means looking for lightweight options.
Look at ingredient labels to make sure you avoid heavy ingredients like petroleum/petrolatum and mineral oil. You might also want to steer clear of too many sulfates and parabens. While many women already know that sulfate-laden products are drying, they can also lead to protein breakdown, which is the last thing relaxed hair needs. Parabens may be linked to harmful hormonal activity, so it's best to avoid them too.
We've rounded up some of the best, most lightweight products that won't weigh down relaxed hair—everything you'll need, from leave-in conditioners to finishers like sheen sprays and serums.
It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner
Enhances natural body
A good leave-in can help you maintain the moisture levels you so desperately need. This one, by It's a 10, also contains keratin to help to strengthen your hair. Keeping your tresses strong is crucial when they've gone through the process of relaxing. The added protein helps to fill in gaps in your hair cuticles, reducing frizz and increasing shine. This spray-on conditioner is light though, so a little goes a long way—you don't have to use much to notice its effect. We recommend it for people with high-porosity hair, as low-porosity hair is sensitive to protein and it could do further damage.
Price at time of publish: $40
Active Ingredients: Keratin, Panthenol, Sunflower Seed Extract, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Silk Amino Acids, Citric Acid | Scent: N/A | Size: 2, 4, or 10 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner
Prevents split ends
Infuses strands with conditioning proteins
Can make the hair feel heavy
This leave-in conditioner by Ouidad is another lightweight option, and can be used in the shower. Prickly pear extract helps soak moisture out of the air and into your mane. Not only does this leave-in work as a moisturizing conditioner, it also performs multiple duties as a detangler and a light heat protectant.
Price at time of publish: $26
Active Ingredients: Prickly Pear Cactus Extract, d | Scent: N/A | Size: 8.5 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Moroccanoil Treatment Original
When it comes to oils, you have your choice of products that range from extremely light to very heavy. Steer clear of castor oil and olive oil unless you're doing a hot oil treatment or oil rinse, and look for lightweight, clean formulas. Argan oil is a common favorite for people of every hair type. It's light, smells heavenly, and is really good for your hair. It works well on a finished hairstyle, too, adding sheen and reducing frizz. If you focus on the ends of your hair, regular use should lead to growth retention and healthier locks overall.
Price at time of publish: $48
Active Ingredients: Argan Oil, Linseed Extract | Scent: Amber Musk/Floral | Size: 0.85 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Hair Sheen Spray
Adds shine and movement
Makes hair feel greasy and weighed down
If avoiding bad ingredients is important to you, Carol's Daughter is a solid go-to—after all, the brand has a storied history of creating products designed to maintain healthy hair. This sheen spray is perfect for creating a finished style with shine and lots of movement. The convenient size makes it portable enough to stash in your handbag for midday touch-ups if you need them. Containing just a handful of ingredients, including almond and soybean oils, the Black Vanilla line is a favorite for many due to its amazing scent and its promotion of healthy locks.
Price at time of publish: $12
Active Ingredients: Sweet Almond Oil, Shea Butter | Scent: Vanilla | Size: 4.3 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
DevaCurl Styling Cream Touchable Curl Definer
Bright zest of a scent
Softens yet defines hair
Might be sticky
DevaCurl's styling cream will basically have your hair doing anything you want it to, which is perfect for relaxed hair. The thing that makes it even more perfect is that it will hydrate and nourish your strands while helping you fix them in place. The styling cream utilizes tapioca starch to help tame any frizz that might get in your way, while still keeping hair healthy.
Price at time of publish: $18
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Tapioca Starch | Scent: Lemon and Lime | Size: 5.1 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Davines Oi Oil
Protects from styling and environmental factors
Strong antioxidant ingredients
Another way to create a beautifully finished hairstyle, this spray oil adds a sheen, and a dose of environmental protection, to relaxed hair without leaving hair feeling heavy. Best applied to hair pre-styling, it protects your strands and adds the perfect finishing touch. Don't expect hold, just sheen and protection. While sprays are perfect for getting your style finished at the start of your day, they're also a very light way to add manageability when putting your mane up for the night.
Price at time of publish: $24
Active Ingredients: Roucou Oil | Scent: Signature Ol | Size: 1.69 oz | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Nourishing & Conditioning Styling Foam
Locks in moisture
Moldable, medium hold
Might create frizz for some
When creating hairstyles with wet sets, you want light products that give a lasting hold. This Carol's Daughter styling foam does exactly that. It's been a fan-favorite for a while, and whether you create a roller set or use flexi-rods, expect flexible-but-defined curls. The best part, though, is how moisturizing it is—and relaxed hair needs moisture.
Price at time of publish: $12
Active Ingredients: Nettle, Rosemary, Macadamia Oil | Scent: N/A | Size: 5.85 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum
Maintains body and volume of hair
Smooths the hair
This inexpensive option is a great way to add shine to relaxed hair while maintaining lots of body and volume. Plus, it's a frizz fighter. Remember that a little goes a long way when it comes to serums. Start with a tiny amount and only add if needed. This smoothing product from Garnier can work on straight or curly relaxed styles. Expect lots of shine and softness. Like many serums, this one contains silicones, which help repel frizz. Some tresses can tolerate "cones" better than others. If you know your mane is sensitive to silicone products, you'll probably want to avoid serums and stick to sheen sprays instead.
Price at time of publish: $7
Active Ingredients: Dimethiconol | Scent: Sleek & Shine | Size: 5.1 oz | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
What to Look For in Lightweight Products for Relaxed Hair
Petroleum (or petrolatum), mineral oil, castor oil, and olive oil are heavier ingredients to avoid when you’re looking for lightweight products for relaxed hair.
Is reducing frizz a top priority? Are you looking to increase shine? Is heat protection important to you? Look at the different properties of lightweight products you’re considering for your relaxed hair to ensure all of your needs are met.
Method of Application
Lightweight products for relaxed hair come in different forms—sprays, oils, creams, foams, etc. Depending on your individual preferences, look at the consistency of each product and how they are meant to be applied, before making a decision.
What types of lightweight products work best for relaxed hair?
Moisture is important for relaxed hair since relaxers can strip away natural oils. Therefore, you should consider applying a lightweight hair oil or leave-in conditioner every day. This will help to prevent breakage. If you find that your hair isn’t very dry, you might not need to use hair oil or leave-in conditioner as frequently.
How often should you use lightweight products for relaxed hair?
When it comes to relaxed hair, sticking to a set routine is important. This means washing your hair with a moisturizing shampoo and following with a moisturizing conditioner once a week. Then, you’ll want to appropriately deep condition your relaxed hair, depending on how dry it tends to be. Then, you’ll want to use lightweight moisturizing products on your relaxed hair daily, again considering your hair’s dryness.