Best Leave-In Conditioner For Curly Hair [Review] in 2021
written by nail expert Jess Rowley
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Anyone with curly hair knows the struggle of trying to hydrate your curls; sometimes, it feels like a losing battle. Curly hair is the driest hair type and choosing the right products for your curls is so crucial.
But what should you look for in leave-in conditioners?
Well, for starters, you should firstly look at your curl type along with your hair porosity. Once you’ve worked out these two things looking for your styling products and this guide, leave-in conditioners will be a breeze.
It’s not as easy as picking up a leave-in conditioner from your local store and jobs a gooden; there are ingredients you need to avoid, such as harsh chemicals that are a no-no for curly hair filled in cheap shampoos, conditioners, and leave-in conditioners.
But don’t let that put you off…
To make things easier for you, I have done all the research for you, looking for high-quality leave-in conditioners that are safe for curly hair and dodging all the harsh ingredients which kill curls.
Say goodbye to silicones, sulfates, and other harsh chemicals, and say hello to top-notch leave-in conditioners that hydrate curls, leaving them looking nourished and defined.
No matter how you style your curls, you need your trust products by your side, so stay tuned for the good stuff!
the Best leave-in conditioners for curly hair
Moroccanoil All-in-One Leave-In Conditioner
Coming in hot at number one is a brilliant leave-in conditioner which is a personal favorite of mine. It is ideal for curlies and coilies with untameable, dry hair that detangling is a whole separate challenge.
Morrocanoil is an absolute lifesaver; this All-In-One Leave-in Conditioner instantly hydrates and detangles hair. You can say goodbye to snagging, tugging, and pulling as you try to detangle your curls while wet; the comb will be gliding through.
But that’s not even the best bit.
Moroccanoil has gone so much further than just hydrating and detangling; it also protects your hair against thermal damage and breakage. So you can whip your diffuser out and not have to worry about it drying out your ends.
It is powered by a lightweight formula with a nourishing blend of ingredients that moisturizes the hair’s end and gives it a little TLC it needs.
The Antioxidant-rich Argan Oil is also packed with fatty acids, which help keeps tresses conditioned and protect them against any potential breakage. The naturally derived sugars also deliver an anti-dehydration veil to parched hair.
You can guarantee softness for up to 72 hours, thanks to the milky texture and multi-tasking capabilities. It will be left silky, shiny, and resilient, enhanced with protection against thermal damage.
This leave-in conditioner will be an absolute staple in your curly girl routine. It will leave your curls looking shiny and healthy without leaving your hair greasy or weigh down your curls.
You have to give it a go!
- Hydrates and nourishes the hair strand
- Rich antioxidant argan oil
- Gently detangles hair
- Offers thermal protection
- 72 hours of softness
Latest deal: Moroccanoil All-in-One Leave-In Conditioner
OUAI Leave-In Conditioner
Looking for a super versatile leave-in conditioner that offers superior hydration whether you have straight, wavy, curly, or coily hair? Fine, medium, or thick hair, this leave-in conditioner is designed to hydrate all.
We love a powerful multitasking leave-in conditioner for every occasion. Us curlies need as much care as we can get. OUAI is here to answer your prayers; it protects hair from heat or UV damage, smooths split ends and frizz, detangles, AND conditions.
Thermal and UV protection or up to 450°F/232°C? Yes, please!
Just a few sprays will leave your curls looking hydrated and shiny. OUAI uses a holy grail of products, including an amino acid blend, tamarind seed extract, and vitamin E to protect your luscious locks.
All products are carefully crafted to cut down styling time and nourish your healthy curls; they only put the good stuff in and keep the bad stuff out without sacrificing quality.
Thousands of curly girls rave about this product for combating frizz and leaving their curls looking refreshed and hydrated. There’s nothing a curl loves more than hydration. Your curls will look like never before!
Luxury at affordable prices, what more could you want?
- Thermal and UV protection up to 450°F/232°C
- Amino acids, tamarind seed extract, and Vitamin E
- Combats frizz
- Ideal for all curl types
- May not work for all hair
Latest deal: OUAI Leave-In Conditioner
SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave In Conditioner
Now I can only imagine the struggle of trying to nourish 4c curls, I have 3c curls, which is a challenge in itself, but for 4c curls, moisture is not your best friend. This is why you need a heavy, reparative leave-in conditioner, and Shea Moisture does the job.
This leave-in conditioner gently softens, repairs, and detangles hair while controlling frizz. It is formulated with Jamaican Black Castor Oil and fair trade Shea Butter, which helps nourish, moisturize and support elasticity to resist breakage.
Since coily hair struggles to retain natural oils from the scalp due to the twists and turns in the texture, it is in much need of a hydration boost. Having a hydrating leave-in conditioner in your routine is a must if you have super curly or coily hair.
As if that was enough, here’s more!
This leave-in conditioner provides a protective layer that improves the appearance of dry split ends and helps strengthen brittle ends. The peppermint extract also stimulates the scalp to promote healthy hair growth.
Although it specifies to apply to towel-dried hair, I tend to apply all my styling products on sopping wet hair. So once you’ve rinsed out your conditioner, apply to the ends and comb through– I find this seals in the moisture and prevents frizz.
I love Shea Moisture because all their products are sustainably produced, and profits are reinvested into local African communities. Their products are also cruelty-free, which is a huge bonus in my eyes.
This leave-in conditioner and all SheaMoisture products are also Curly Girl Method Approved as they are free of sulfates, parabens, silicones, phthalates, mineral oil, and petrolatum.
It is a must-have for thick, curly, or coily hair– it kicks out frizz for days to come.
- Peppermint stimulates the scalp
- Hydrates nourish and moisturizes ends
- Sustainably produced and cruelty-free
- Free of all the nasties
- Odd smell but not noticeable
Latest deal: SheaMoisture Leave-In Conditioner
As I Am Leave In Conditioner
best leave in conditioner for natural hair
Now I am a personal fan of their co-wash, I use it every few days to refresh my curls, but I’ve heard brilliant things about their leave-in conditioner too!
This leave-in conditioner softens curls and coils, leaving hair feeling moisturized and looking shiny; it prepares your curls for styling and makes detangling a dream. It gently eases tangles and prevents snagging or pulling.
It uses coconut, amla, sugar beetroot, green tea, and sugar cane extracts, which strengthen, hydrate, and nourishes your curls. This leave-in treatment seals the cuticle layer by creating a smooth base for styling, which eases wet combing.
Moisturized and shiny curls, here we come!
All you need to do is apply liberally to clean, wet hair. Distribute well throughout the entire hair from root to tip and comb through to evenly distribute the product and gently detangle.
It leaves hair feeling super soft and not frizzy; it will leave your hair feeling and looking much healthier and happier. It is ideal for coarse hair that needs a little hydration kick.
To top it all off, the formula is vegan, making it an absolute winner in my eyes.
- Coconut, amla, sugar beetroot, green tea, and sugar cane extracts
- Gently detangles and eases wet combing
- Strengthens, hydrates and nourish curls
- Vegan and natural formula
Latest deal: As I Am Leave-In Conditioner
Briogeo Farewell Frizz Leave In Conditioning Spray
Whether you have the coiliest of curls or even just a loose wave but suffer from whirls of frizz, then you need to give this Fareweel Frizz Leave-In Conditioning Spray by Briogeo a go.
It is ideal for frizzy, dry, and damaged hair. It was designed for all hair textures and types, straight, wavy, natural, or curly hair; it is even the best leave-in conditioner for men!
But let’s talk natural oils:
For starters, this conditioning spray contains rosehip oil which protects the hair from free-radical damage. It provides the essential fatty acids to help tame frizz and promote hydration.
Briogeo also contains argan oil, an essential source of Vitamin E, and essential fatty acids, which thoroughly condition and help tame dryness, damage, and frizz.
Finally, this leave in-conditioner also contains coconut oil which helps seal in moisture, protect against breakage, environmental impurities, and excess heat. Coconut oil is a brilliant natural heat protectant.
Now I know this may not apply for those with naturally curly hair, but this leave-in conditioner is also safe for keratin and chemical-treated hair; it prevents frizz and helps promote your hair’s natural shine.
The cherry on top of the cake is a 6-free hair care product making it super safe to use on your natural curls. It is even cruelty-free and vegan! Say goodbye to frizz and hello to luscious curls!
- Argan oil, rosehip oil and coconut oil
- Tames frizz and hydrates curls
- Ideal for all hair types
- Vegan, cruelty free and 6-free hair care
- Issues ordering through Amazon
Latest deal: Briogeo Farewell Frizz Leave-In Conditioner
Pattern Leave In Conditioner
This one is for my curlies, coilies, and tight textures. It is designed for. When curls need an everlasting hydrating and definition, it is the holy grail of curly hair leave-in conditioners.
Pattern’s leave-in conditioner treats curls with a refreshing and restorative hair pick me up. Once you’ve finished washing and want to seal in moisture or further detangle, this lightweight formula is what you need.
This lightweight formula is the perfect caress to curls; it adds hydration while giving a soft curl pattern definition; the heavenly oils and honey leave hair feeling nourished and hydrated.
But wait, here’s more!
Pattern Leave-in Conditioner is not only ideal for adding hydration after washing but it can also be used to seal in moisture before putting your hair into protective styles before you sleep.
It keeps away frizz and leaves hair feeling soft, plus the addictive floral essence of Neroli, Rose, and Patchouli will have you smelling your curls all day.
This one is for my curlies; it will leave your curls looking bouncy and full of life.
- Nourishes and hydrates
- Seal in moisture before putting into protective styles
- Keeps away frizz and leaves curls soft
- Refreshing and restorative
- Issues with leaked product on arrival through Amazon
Latest deal: Pattern Leave-In Conditioner
Living proof No Frizz Leave-In Conditioner
I think the biggest thing we curly girls suffer from is frizz; we all try our hardest to prevent it by smothering our hair in frizz-taming products, only brushing our hair while wet, and not using heat, but sometimes it’s inevitable.
The top causes of frizz are heat damage and humidity, so protecting our precious strands from these top two causes is a brilliant first step. Investing in a high-quality leave-in conditioner is what you need– Living Proof is what you need.
This hydrating treatment gives an extra boost of conditioning and frizz protection.
It is powered by their patented Healthy Hair Molecule, conditioning agents, and glycolic acid, which works together to block humidity and leave hair looking smoother, feeling softer, and more manageable.
This promotes healthy strands and protects your hair from frizz. If you live in a humid climate and struggle to find a product that will tame your fuzzy curls, then this product is the ticket.
The product is quite lightweight, making it ideal for fine hair or wavier curls. Those with frizzy type 2b to 3b will benefit most from using this leave-in conditioner. It works well to tame and define curls too!
This frizz-taming leave-in conditioner is a game changer!
- Patented healthy hair molecule conditioning agent with glycolic acid to block humidity
- Lightweight formula that tames without weighing down
- Curls feel smoother, softer, more manageable
- Ideal for humoid climate
Latest deal: Living proof No Frizz Leave-In Conditioner
Best Leave-In Conditioner For Curly Hair-- A Buyer’s Guide:
A leave-in conditioner is a staple in your curly hair routine; it helps rehydrate your curls and lock in moisture. It can also provide a protective layer against heat damage, along with easing knots and tangles for easy combing.
Since we have no choice but to comb and style our curly hair while wet, using a leave-in conditioner while detangling is a must! I have my trusty leave-in conditioner in the shower; once I’ve rinsed off my conditioner or co-wash, I apply generously to my hair and comb.
Don’t be scared to apply generously from the root to the tip; this will restore any moisture lost through heat, environmental factors like humidity, or chemically treated hair.
Whether you have curly, coily, or just wavy hair, applying a leave-in conditioner will help transform your curls; bouncier curls are more hydrated curls. Your curly locks lap up moisture, leaving your hair looking more defined and less frizzy.
The top cause of frizz is dehydrated hair, humidity, and heat damaged hair. Your hair craves moisture, so it seeks it from the environment, which inevitably causes frizz as it causes the cuticle to swell.
But don’t worry, I’m here to help you with everything you need to know when buying leave-in conditioners and how to get the best results for your curls. Stay tuned; you won’t want to miss this!
What Is Leave-in Conditioner?
Leave-in conditioners are also known as no-rinse or leave-on conditioners; they are applied after you wash your hair before you style it. They are loved amongst the curly girl community as, unlike regular conditioners, they are not washed out.
They provide the hair with extra moisture and lock in moisture in the ends of your hair. Curly hair is the driest and most fragile hair type of them all, so a leave-in conditioner is a must to strengthen and protect ends.
Some leave-in conditioners even offer thermal and UV protection to your hair so you can style and go out with confidence that your curly locks are protected.
Since curly girls can only detangle and style their hair while wet, many leave-in conditioners have detangling properties which help ease wet combing and prevent snagging or pulling on strands. They also add elasticity to the hair to prevent breakage.
Despite having the most benefits on curly hair, all hair types can benefit from using a leave-in conditioner, especially if the hair is dry or damaged. It helps lock in moisture and combat frizz.
Leave-in conditioners have some serious benefits.
What Does Leave-In Conditioner Do?
So now we know the basics of what a leave-in conditioner is; I will now cover what exactly it does for your hair and why you absolutely need it in your hair care routine– especially if you have curly hair.
Firstly the most obvious benefit of a leave-in condtioner is that it conditions every strand of hair to restore moisture and softness and prepares your locks for styling, whether diffusing or plopping.
Those that benefit the most from using a leave-in conditioner are those with dry, frizzy, curly hair that has been overprocessed and damaged over the years, or just dry in general.
Here are the top benefits of a leave-in conditioner:
Moisturises dry hair:
Since curly hair is the driest and most fragile of them all, this is a huge plus and a must. The main purpose of leave-in conditioners is to provide intense moisture and hydration to your hair.
They are ideal for kinkier, coily hair types or tight curls that need more moisture than your regular conditioner can provide. They tend to contain humectants which help to soften dry strands and make them more elastic and stronger.
Humectants are key moisturizing agents that help absorb moisture and retain moisture on your curly strands.
Our hair is most fragile while wet and most susceptible to breakage. Since curly girls have no choice but to brush their curls while wet, this is a crucial thing to consider, and luckily the majority of leave-in conditioners have detangling features.
This means that the comb slides through the hair without any issues; this prevents tugging or snagging and weakening strands or causing unnecessary breakage. It also makes styling much easier.
The majority of leave-in conditioners nowadays also have heat protectant features to protect your curls from thermal and UV damage. You may be thinking, but I don’t use heat? I use a diffuser on low heat, but that is all?
While yes, using a diffuser is brilliant, evenly distributes airflow, and doesn’t cause heat, you should still use a heat protectant as you are still exposing your curls to heat. This will prevent drying out your curls and help keep them nourished.
Using a leave-in conditioner with a heat protectant is brilliant as it saves you from buying an extra product; be sure that it protects against the temperature of your hair dryer or styling tool.
Since curly hair is the driest hair type, it also means that it is the most prone to frizz. A good leave-in conditioning treatment offers everlasting frizz control.
Since the top cause of frizz is un-nourished or dry hair, maintaining a deep conditioning treatment and applying leave-in conditioner regularly can help tame frizz.
It also helps tame flyaways and will leave your curls looking defined and hydrated.
How To Use Leave-In Conditioner:
There are many different ways to apply a leave-in conditioner, and it’s all about working out what works for you. There are two different ways I tend to use my leave-in conditioner to get the best results:
Apply to soaking wet hair after washing:
Whenever I wash my hair, I always apply my leave-in conditioner. I tend to wash my curls once a week and co-wash in between washes when my curls need reviving or are looking a little dry.
Once I have washed my hair like usual, two washes, then condition the ends. I will comb through the ends of my hair while the conditioner is on to help ease any initial tangles; it also helps evenly distribute the conditioner, which helps hydrate.
I will then rinse off my conditioner and apply my leave-in conditioner to my soaking wet hair. Some people will tell you to towel dry your hair first, but we want the most moisture absorption possible, and this is how you do it.
Plus, with curly hair, you can only style while wet. So once you’ve combed and detangled your hair using the leave-in conditioner, I get out of the shower, sit in front of the mirror, and section my hair, soaking each section with a water spray, then applying my styling gel or cream and use my styling brush to define the curl.
Once I’ve styled each section of curls, I will then scrunch my hair with my microfibre towel or cotton t-shirt but not a minute before. This helps prevent frizz and ensures all the hydrating products are absorbed.
Apply before putting your hair into a protective style:
Another method I love using with my leave-in conditioner is applying it before I tie my hair up in a protective style before bed. I will either do this before wash day or when my hair is looking a little dry.
I apply the leave-in conditioner generously, mainly focusing on the mid-lengths and ends, where my hair gets particularly dry. I will comb it through with my wide tooth comb and then tie my hair up in a pineapple or bun and go to sleep.
When I wake up, and if there’s a little hard casting on the outside, I will scrunch the crunch, and my curls will look revived snd hydrated.
Check out my full guide of how to use leave in conditioner, benefits & more here.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How often should you use a leave-in conditioner?
As a general rule of thumb, you should really only apply leave-in conditioner once a week when you wash your hair. However, if your hair is particularly dry or damaged, you can apply it when you co-wash in between shampoos.
You can apply however much you would like and however much works for your hair. If you have thick, coarse, dry curls, then applying frequently will help with the condition of your hair.
If you have fine hair, then once every week or two will be enough as otherwise, you may notice a greasy residue on your curls.
Why use a leave-in conditioner?
Leave-in conditioners are brilliant for nourishing and rehydrating the hair. If you have curly hair, you should definitely have a leave-in conditioner in your routine, as it will help moisturize the already dry ends.
Leave-in conditioners can also combat frizz and help protect your hair against heat and UV damage. Curly hair is the most fragile hair type and most prone to frizz; just adding a leave-in conditioner to your routine will make a world of difference for your curls.
How much leave-in conditioner should you use?
You should start at the ends and work your way up to the roots, you don’t want to apply too much to the roots as this may leave a greasy residue, but it’s all a bit of trial and error.
Apply more than you think you need, and the next time you wash your curls, you can judge whether you need to add less or more to hydrate your curls. If you have dehydrated curls, then more will probably be best.
Can you make your own leave-in conditioner?
Absolutely! It’s quite straightforward too, all you need is a couple of ingredients from your local store and a glass spray bottle or glass jar to mix them all together in. It allows you complete control of the ingredients you put in and the benefits.
Check out my full guide of my top leave-in conditioner recipes here.
So now you get the importance of having a leave-in conditioner in your curly hair routine? Brilliant! Like with all new products you try, it may be trial and error but be patient. Some brands may offer samples, and if they do, try them first!
You’ll notice that your frizz is more manageable, curls look refreshed and more defined, and overall bouncier after using a leave-in conditioner; if you have split ends, then these may be less visible. All in all, your hair will feel happier and healthier.
It’s time to up our hair game, ladies!
Cheif Editor & Nail Technician Expert
Jess Rowley, a veteran nail tech, has been studying beauty over the last 11 years and has completed the nail technology program in California. Watching the latest trends in beauty, Jess searches for the highest quality products that make your nails feel loved.