Leave-in conditioners can be misunderstood by curlies, coilies, or wavies. A lot of curlies do not know the difference between a moisturizer and a leave-in conditioner. Understanding its place in your hair care routine is not the issue but rather if it is even needed at all or what it is. Do you really need a leave-in conditioner? A leave-in conditioner is not the same as a daily conditioner, also known as a rinse-out conditioner. They are formulated differently. Leave-in conditioners are light and more watery than the daily conditioners because rinse-out conditioners are designed to have specific ingredients that stick to your tresses after rinsing it out. This can lead to buildup if left in.
Leave-in conditioners typically contain humectants that attract moisture into your strands to make them more flexible and stronger. Its main objective is to keep your tresses moisturized, so a water-based leave-in is essential for it to work properly.
TréLuxe Untie the Knot Nourishing Leave-In Conditioner
This gentle, lightweight leave-in was a 2018 Editor's choice pick for type 2 hair. It has a botanical formula including coconut milk, aloe leaf juice, and olive extract to detangle and moisturize without giving wavies a weighed-down look.
DevaCurl One Condition
Water, fatty acids, behentrimonium chloride (conditioning agent), glycerin, and glycol distearate (increases thickness or viscosity) come together to make up this 2013 Best of the Best. An ultra-creamy daily leave-in that will provide maximum hydration to your strands with its super-rich consistency.
Elucence Moisture Balance Conditioner
This moisture balancing leave-in has panax ginseng root extract, Irish moss extract, brewer’s yeast extract, gingko biloba extract, and anise fruit extract to give it its dual-purpose formulation. It provides continuous moisturizing suppleness to your dry strands.
Karen's Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia Leave-In Conditioner
You get purified water, jojoba oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and vegetable wax in this leave-in conditioner. This will detangle and define your tresses within minutes.
Oyin Handmade Hair Dew
This leave-in is chock-full with castor seed oil, olive oil, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, and fatty alcohols that make this creamy, conditioning leave-in bring life to your hair. Perfect for second day hair as it wakes your strands up with moisture.
Kinky-Curly Knot Today
I listed this one first for two reasons. 1) It is loved by many curlies and was 2013 Best of the Best and 2012 Editor’s Choice. 2) It does not have water listed but does have mango extract, slippery elm, marshmallow root, lemongrass, and a fatty alcohol. It dissolves tangles, smooths the cuticle, and does not flake up.
Curl Junkie Curls in a Bottle
This product is packed with water, hydroethylcellulose, agave nectar, propylene glycol (humectant), and polysorbate 20 (emulsifier). A lightweight solution that controls frizz, adds shine, and is great for all hair types. Your curls, coils, and waves will pop!
Jane Carter Revitalizing Leave-in Conditioner
Purified water, extracts from aloe vera, watercress, myrrh, and panthenol make up a revitalizing leave-in that will protect your strands from heat styling and sun damage. It can be used daily as a hydrator, so just mist in the morning and evening. Great for roller setting too.
Curl Junkie Coffee-Coco Curl Creme
Distilled water, fatty alcohols, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, and vegetable glycerin come together to create a superior moisturizing leave-in with the hold of a light styling gel. Add weight to your curls without flaking and buildup.
AG Hair Cosmetics Fast Food
Water, behentrimonium methosulfate (mild detangler), fatty alcohols, amodimethicone (silicone) and cetrimonium chloride (emulsifying or conditioning agents) create a nourishing moisturizing leave-in conditioner to restore your dull, lifeless strands. Ultra-light formula helps prevent split ends and adds shine and vitality.
Mielle Pomegranate & Honey Leave-In Conditioner
This thick, sweet-smelling formula was the 2018 Editor's Choice leave-in conditioner for type 3 hair. Besides ensuring softness and locking in moisture, this product fights frizz by smoothing down the cuticle of each strand of hair, making it ideal for tighter curl patterns.
LuvNaturals Love Me & Leave-In Conditioner
Slippery elm juice, fragaria vesca distillate (strawberry fruit essence), behentrimonium methosulfate (detangler), fatty alcohol, and slippery elm extract bring love to your tresses by releasing knots, tangles, and shed hairs. It is pH balanced to help cuticles lay flat while sealing in moisture and adding shine.
Living Proof No Frizz Leave-In Conditioner
Water, emulsifying wax NF, polyfluoroester, ethoxydiglycol oleate (emollient), and behentrimonium methosulfate (detangler) make up revolutionary hydrating treatment that has new anti-frizz technology. Here is an intensively moisturizing formula that restores your thirsty curls and creates an invisible shield onto your hair to lock in moisture-proof smoothness.
SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Leave-In Detangler
This is the 2018 Editor's Choice leave-in for type 3c hair. Detangle protect & control frizz with this lightweight milky leave-in treatment that softens hair and improves styling manageability without leaving behind product buildup. This restorative formula rehydrates hair detangles and acts as a barrier against heat while reducing frizz.
Giovanni Direct Leave-In
With water, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, rosemary oil, nettle, and thyme extract, this leave-in will restore the strength and luster back into your tresses. Gain nourishment and moisture, as this builds body back into your hair and works wonders for tangles.
Camille Rose Naturals Fresh Curls Fresh Curl Revitalizing Hair Smoother
With a light blend of fruits and oils, this product is a perfect nourisher for after wash day. It can also be applied as a daily refresher to activate sleepy curls on day 2, 3, and etc. The natural ingredients such as avocado oil, castor oil, peach, and guava in this formula promise to keep hair detangled and fresh all week long.
SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Hold & Shine Moisture Mist
This mist is the 2018 Editor's Chouce leave-in for type 4 hair. It is a special blend of nourishing silk protein hydrating coconut & neem oils that restore moisture & body while providing curl control for bouncy healthy curls. The coconut oil hydrates and protects hair while reducing breakage and the silk protein smoothes hair for a soft silky feel.
Neutrogena Triple Silk Touch Leave-In Cream
Water, cyclopentasiloxane (provides slip), dimethicone (silicone), behenyl alcohol (fatty alcohol), and glycerin bring softness to your tresses in this silk touch leave-in. Gain exceptional manageability with UV filters.
Silk Elements MegaSilk Leave-In Hair Moisturizing Crème
Gain moisture in this little jar with the water, fatty alcohol, coconut oil, cyclopentasiloxane (provides slip), and cetyl esters (lubricant). It helps to restore your hair’s natural moisture and balance.
Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner
Water, glycerin, fatty alcohols, and dimethoicone (silicone) are the first five ingredients in this lightweight hydrating leave-in. Awesome as a daily conditioner (if you like cones) and perfect for a styling product.
This article was originally published in 2017 and has been updated in to reflect newly released products and the 2018 Editors' Choice Award winners.