Best leave in conditioner for dry hair and cheap options on a budget

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

13th September 2023 | Author: Jenny Tai

We’ve handpicked our favourite leave-in conditioners if your hair is dry and damaged, or you’re just trying to keep it looking healthy

Our hair changes with the environment. As the seasons change, our hair can enter a state of flux that leaves it feeling dry or undernourished – whether that’s from the cold winds, and heating, or the sun of summer and its more humid air. This can drastically impact moisture levels in the hair and you may find yourself needing a leave-in conditioner.

Obviously, as the name suggests, this is a conditioner that you apply to the hair but leave on. You don’t rinse it off. You can use it after a rinse-off conditioner, or on its own (depending on your hair type, hair porosity, and the conditioner you’re using). You can also use extra as a hair mask overnight if you’ve been swimming or recently coloured your hair.

They’re highly versatile and there is something for all hair types. Below we’ve listed what we consider to be the best leave-in conditioners for coloured hair, afro hair, fine, medium and thick hair, as well as naturally dry hair.

If you’re unsure what your hair type actually is, take our hair porosity test to find out.

FURTHER READING: What is your hair porosity? Take this testHow to protect your hair from pollutionWhat type of hair do I have? | Do you have combination hair?

Best leave-in conditioner

Before we dive into our list of the best leave-in conditioner for each hair type, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use leave-in conditioner. Just in case the idea seems confusing to you.

  1. Wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner, like usual
  2. Towel dry your hair by gently patting your hair to remove excess water. mamabella tip: Don’t rub your hair when it’s wet, this causes damage because your hair is weakest when wet
  3. Apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner to the ends of your hair. Some conditioners can be used on your roots, but as a rule, conditioners of all kinds should be reserved for your hair shaft only
  4. Use a wide-tooth comb and brush your hair to detangle any stray knots. A wide-tooth comb means you’re less likely to pull or break the hair as you brush it
  5. Style as normal

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

Which leave-in conditioner do you need?

Not all leave-in conditioners are created equal. Click on the links next to each recommendation below to jump to the best leave-in conditioner for your specific needs.

♥︎ Bleached/coloured hair: Olaplex No 6 Bond Smoother

£26 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Why we love it: It’s a well-known fact that bleaching and heat styling can make your hair dry and damaged. Olaplex’s formula seeks out broken bonds within the hair and repairs them, making even bleached hair look shinier.

It keeps hair smooth, it keeps frizz at bay, and what’s more important is that it keeps all hair types intensely hydrated. Apply a very small amount to damp or dry hair, concentrating product on your mid-length to ends. Comb through and style as desired.

FURTHER READING: What hair colour suits me? | K18 vs Olaplex: Is Olaplex No. 3 or the K18 hair mask better for repairing your hair?

Buy now from Cult Beauty

♥︎ Fine hair: Noughty Thirst Aid Conditioning & Detangling Spray

£6.99 | Buy now from Boots

Why we love it: When it comes to fine hair, putting too much product on can weigh it down. Using a spray leave-in conditioner is a great solution because it’s lightweight and it keeps fine hair cared for. This conditioning spray will help battle damaged, split ends and tangled hair.

It’s made of almond extract, shea butter and argan oil to detangle and condition your hair. Just squeeze out excess water, give the bottle a good shake and spray evenly on damp hair. Then comb through and style.

FURTHER READING: Best hair moisturiser UK: Top-rated hair moisturisers for all hair types

Buy now from Boots

♥︎ Medium to thick hair: R+Co HIGH DIVE Moisture + Shine Crème

£24.50 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Why we love it: This is actually a personal favourite leave-in conditioner of ours, not only does this leave our hair soft, shiny and tangle-free. The smell is so dreamy – it contains a mix of Juniper berries, blood orange, rhubarb and leather accord. We also love that this is vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, paraben, and sulfate-free and it doesn’t contain petrolatum or mineral oil.

High Dive is best suited for medium to thick hair but it gives a lightweight feeling. It’s very hydrating and all you have to do is work this moisturising crème on towel-dried hair to leave your locks looking smooth and frizz-free.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

♥︎ Afro hair: Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner

£12.75 | Buy now from Beauty Bay

Why we love it: Afro hair can be more on the dry side and needs extra TLC. This repairing leave-in conditioner contains shea butter to helps nourish, moisturise and reduce breakage. While the Jamaican Black Castor Oil strengthens and restores the hair from the inside out. We love this conditioner. It works hard to soften and detangle hair and improves the appearance of split ends as well as controlling frizz. An all-in-one that will suit all hair types.

Buy now from Beauty Bay

♥︎ Dry hair: Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food Banana 3-in-1 Mask Treatment

£3.49 | Buy now from Boots

Why we love it: Dry hair can sometimes seem like it has no life and is just flat. It’s also up to four times more likely to break. Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food has created a wonderful food hair mask to treat dry hair. This is a vegan formula and it’s blended with banana and shea.

We love that you can use this as a normal conditioner, as a hair mask as well as a leave-in conditioner. In the latter case, apply to towel-dried hair and style.

Buy now from Boots


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