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Best conditioner for all hair types and budgets

20th February 2022 | Author: Nina Nagel

While there is an ongoing debate about whether you should use shampoo or not, due to the fact critics believe it can strip essential oils from your hair, few experts will deny the need for using the best conditioner.

Below we’ve picked our favourite conditioners from the best conditioner for dry hair to the best luxury conditioner and the best vegan and cruelty-free brands to hopefully suit all budgets.

If your hair is particularly dry or lifeless, you can also give your conditioner a helping hand with a weekly hair mask – check out our best hair masks guide for recommendations – or alternatively, an overnight hair mask can help revitalise your locks.

What does conditioner do?

While the best shampoos will cleanse your hair of dirt, impurities and excess sebum and grease, it’s your conditioner that leaves it looking and feeling its best.

Conditioners contain ingredients designed to flatten and seal your hair’s cuticle. This protects the shaft from damage and pollution, it gives your hair its shine, it also stops the individual strands from rubbing against each other creating friction and leading to frizz.

The best conditioners don’t just coat the hair in silicone (or similar). Instead, they target weak spots and work to prevent damage while helping strengthen the hair and its protein structures.

Beyond all of this, better-conditioned hair is easier to manage and style so even if you’re lucky enough to have healthy hair, using a conditioner should still be a given.

FURTHER READING: What does shampoo and conditioner actually do to your hair?

Which conditioner suits my hair type?

Not all conditioners are created equal and, depending on your hair type, you’ll likely need a different type of conditioner. The best way to know which is the best conditioner for you is to check the ingredients.

  • Thick and natural hair: Look for conditioners labelled hydrating and moisturising
  • Thin and/or flat hair: Volumising conditioners are your best bet
  • Dry/damaged hair: Conditioners labelled strengthening and fortifying are great for all sorts of damage, including over-processed, highlighted, weak, and brittle hair
  • Curly hair: Buying products designed specifically for curly hair are often more expensive but are game-changers for these hair types. You need products that moisturise and reduce frizz
  •  Straight hair: These hair types suit smoothing conditioners

If you’re not sure what hair type you have, check out our What type of hair do I have? guide.

How to use conditioner

No matter what hair type you have, conditioner should only ever be applied to the lengths and ends. Never the roots.

If you have short hair, or layers, it can be difficult not to get it on the roots when you’re applying in the shower or bath but, if you can, we highly recommend taking a wide-tooth comb into the shower.

After shampooing, remove the knots and brush your hair into a centre parting. No smooth small amounts of conditioner to just the lengths and ends. This makes it easier to avoid the roots but also means that every strand – or as close to it as possible – is coated because they’re not bunched up after shampooing.

We also like to use a lightweight leave-in conditioner after the fact, too. To add to the hydration and protection.

FURTHER READING: Best leave-in conditioner: Our fave hair treatments that are part-conditioner, part-mask, and all-round hair saviour 

Best conditioner

    1. Editor’s Pick/Best all-rounder: Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner– £24
    2. Bargain Buy: Herbal Essences Hello Hydration – £3
    3. Luxury Buy: Kerastase Resistance Fondant Extentioniste – £24.80
    4. Best for dry hair: Toni & Guy Cleanse Dry Hair Conditioner £6.50
    5. Best conditioner for thin/lifeless hair: Grow Gorgeous Intense Conditioner£18
    6. Best conditioner for natural hair: KeraCare’s Humecto Crème£14.40
    7. Best vegan conditioner: Garnier Ultimate Blends Coconut Water – £3.99
    8. Best cruelty-free conditioner: Aussie Miracle Moist£6

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Best shampoo | Best conditioner | Best curly hair products | Best hair dryer | Best hair dye | Best hair removal cream | Best hair mask | Best products for curly hair | Best products for straight hair | Best purple shampooBest hairbrush| Best dry shampoo | Best straighteners | Best hair dryer | Best cordless straightener | Best hair waver

1. Editor’s Pick: Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner 

£24 | Buy now 

Why we love it: This product is currently Amazon’s #1 conditioner and it’s clear why.

All the Olaplex consumer products – there are eight for everyday people and two for licensed cosmetologists – contain its patented and proprietary bond-building science.

This means the Olaplex No.5 conditioner will repair your split ends by relinking broken bonds in your damaged hair and, having used it exclusively for the past few weeks, we can confirm our hair has never looked and felt so good. The product is colour-safe, benefits all hair textures and will leave your hair stronger than ever!

The only, very small downside, is that the formula is quite thick so you only need a very small amount and if you typically have greasy, flat hair, make sure you’re only using this conditioner on your ends.

FURTHER READING: The ultimate Olaplex guide | K18 vs Olaplex: Is Olaplex No. 3 or the K18 hair mask better for repairing your hair?

Buy now from Cult Beauty

2. Budget Buy: Herbal Essences Hello Hydration

£3 | Buy now

Why we love it: Let’s face it, when it comes to smell, Herbal Essences’ products are the crème de la crème. You can tell right away if someone has washed their hair with these products and the Hello Hydration Conditioner is no exception.

It is packed with coconut essence, which on top of immediately teleporting you to Hawaii does wonder for your hair.

The formula also contains orchid flower that restores moisture to dry hair. Say hello to super soft hair without it feeling heavy as the texture washes off easily and leaves no residue.

Buy now from Boots

 3. Luxury Buy: Kerastase Resistance Fondant Extentioniste 

£29.50 | Buy now

Why we love it: Kerastase is the hair salon brand par excellence, and you can’t go wrong with any of its products. This Resistance Fondant Extentioniste conditioner was created to strengthen your hair and make it look healthier.

Filled with a blend of ceramides and maleic acid, this creamy goodness will detangle your locks and fortify the natural hair fibre from the inside out, improving elasticity and encouraging growth.

The price is on the more expensive side and isn’t that much more than our Olaplex Editor’s Pick, but trust us when we say, it is a great investment. You don’t have to use much, so a little goes a long way in making your money stretch further.

It’s also more lightweight than Olaplex’s version so if you can stretch to the extra money, and you have flat hair, this should be the option you go for.

Buy now from Lookfantastic

4. Toni & Guy Smooth Definition 

£7 | Buy now from Amazon

Why we love it: Whether you prefer sleek, defined curls or shiny straight hair, the Toni & Guy Smooth Definition Conditioner will tame your frizz and moisturise your mane.

It gives your dry hair the intense nourishment it needs for a smooth and silky look and gives your locks definition and high shine from root to tip by smoothing the hair fibre.

Toni & Guy products are inspired by the catwalk backstages of London’s top fashion events, so the brand really knows what it’s talking about.

Improve your hair’s manageability like a pro and feel catwalk-ready.  

Buy now from Amazon

5. Grow Gorgeous Intense Conditioner

£18 | Buy now

Why we love it: The Grow Gorgeous Intense range is ideal for fine and thin hair.

It’s full of ingredients that add volume and density and make your hair look thicker. It’s particularly great if you’re going through menopause and your hair is thinning, or you’ve recently had a baby and your hair is falling out. This range will help to restore it.

The ingredients include biotin, which is renowned for its hair benefits; niacinamide to help support the scalp’s natural protective barrier and caffeine to wake up the roots.

There is then the addition of rice protein, which improves manageability, shine and visibly increases volume alongside amino acids.

These are a vital component of keratin which is found naturally in your hair. By replacing these acids, it helps to promote healthy-looking hair.

FURTHER READING: How to manage hair loss and make hair grow faster: Expert tips, advice and what NOT to do

Buy now from Lookfantastic

6. KeraCare’s Humecto Crème Conditioner

£14.40 | Buy now

Why we love it: Natural hair is typically thick with varying levels of curl so it needs a conditioner that detangles and relaxes the hair without weighing it down.

KeraCare’s Humecto Crème Conditioner ticks all the boxes, infusing natural hair with long-lasting hydration that soothes and protects your hair against breakage.

It particularly helps correct and prevents moisture loss caused by chemical and thermal styling, making it easier to manage and softer to the touch.

FURTHER READING: Curly hair products 101: The must-have products for curly hair types to fight the frizz and tame their tousles

Buy now from Lookfantastic

7. Garnier Ultimate Blends Coconut Water 

From £2 | Buy now

Why we love it: Garnier’s Ultimate Blends range is perfect for curly and frizzy hair.

It is an ultimate treatment for dehydrated hair containing coconut water and aloe vera, which also gives it that holiday-in-a-bottle smell.

This blend of ingredients will leave your hair feeling soft, smooth, and full of shine, without weighing it down.

To top it off, the bottles are 100% recyclable and the products are produced in factories committed to sustainable production as well as having an all-vegan formula.

Read more in our pick of vegan makeup brands and the difference between vegan and cruelty-free

Buy now from Boots

8. Aussie Miracle Moist Conditioner

£3.99 | Buy now 

Why we love it: Australia is home to some of the world’s leading beauty brands, from Pump Haircare to Sand & Sky, and one of the most popular in the UK is Aussie.

This miraculously moisturising conditioner is packed with Australian Macadamia Nut Oil, making your dry locks become a long-forgotten memory.

The all-Australian, all-natural ingredients leave your hair intensely conditioned and hydrated.

What’s more, this bottle contains 25% recycled plastic, is 100% recyclable and Aussie never tests on animals being proud to be a PETA certified cruelty-free brand.

For an extra dose of hydration, you can use the Aussie Deep Treatment 3 Minute Miracle Moist Hair Conditioner Treatment (£4.99).

Buy now from Boots

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