Caring for our curls takes time, patience, and many times trial and error. Everywhere you look there are a ton of products on the market that we can use for our curls. From shampoos, conditioners, stylers, gels, and creams it can be a bit confusing on what all of these products do for our hair and if they are similar. I will admit that when I first went natural, I had a ton of questions about the products that I was using in my healthy hair regimen. One of my biggest questions specifically was, "What's the difference between a leave in conditioner and a moisturizer?" Well if you were wondering like me, keep reading to find out how they differ, how they are used, and some benefits they both provide.


When should you use a leave-in conditioner?

The purpose of a leave-in conditioner is to help to fortify the hair strands with strength and also to add moisture. Leave-in conditioners are typically used on damp hair directly after shampooing and are generally water based. Leave-in conditioners are one of the best products designed to give your hair hydration, elasticity, and manageability.

You should use a leave in conditioner if you:

  • have low porosity hair
  • need help with detangling
  • like to spruce up second or third day hair

Low-porosity hair is very hard to moisturize and water based leave-in conditioners work wonders because they help to penetrate your hair shaft. Leave-in conditioners are also great for helping to detangle your hair. Leave-in conditioners that have some slip make a world of difference when detangling the hair. Some of my favorite leave-in conditioners include EDEN BodyWorks Coconut Shea leave in, Treluxe Untie the Knot Leave-in Conditioner and Jane Carter Revitalizing Leave-in.

When should you use a daily moisturizer?

Daily moisturizers are used to help keep the hair moisturized and manageable between washes. You can use a daily moisturizer on wet or damp, or dry hair. Daily moisturizers are on the richer side, so they resemble creams, butters or lotions.

You should use a daily moisturizer if

  • your hair is dry
  • you like to moisturize your hair on a daily basis to keep your curls bouncy

Some moisturizers are heavier while others are lightweight. If you have high porosity hair, a heavy moisturizer or sealant would be great to use.  Jane Carter Solution Nourish and Shine is an amazing heavy butter that is also good to use as a daily moisturizer. The NaturallyCurly community voted Oyin Handmade Hair Dew as their favorite moisturizer in 2016 in the annual Best of the Best awards.

Do you know your porosity?

There are three levels of porosity: low, medium, and high. Low porosity hair takes a long time for water to penetrate and saturate the hair, and it also takes a long time to dry. High porosity quickly becomes wet when water touches the hair, and it also dries quickly. If you don't know your hair's porosity level, here are 3 quick ways to figure it out.

Your porosity will be a big determining factor in which products and what kinds of products react well to your hair, so it's important to have a basic understanding of this. For curly girls with low porosity hair, lightweight leave-in conditioners work wonders. Heavier creams and moisturizers don't work well for low porosity hair but work really well for those with high porosity hair because they are heavier.


Which one do you prefer or do you prefer both? Share with us below, we'd love to hear from you.

If you want to learn more about the differences in ingredients between leave-ins and moisturizers, read here.

Looking for a leave-in? Here are a few of our favorites.  

Follow us on Facebook to see what we're talking about right now.
For more helpful articles like this, sign up for our newsletter!