How To Use Leave-In Conditioner, Benefits & More
written by nail expert Jess Rowley
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How To Use Leave-In Conditioner, Benefits & More:
Leave-in conditioners have taken the curly girl world by storm, they’re also known as no-rinse or leave-in conditioners that you use after washing your hair.
Unlike traditional conditioners, they are not washed out, they trap in moisture and help retain moisture on the ends of our hair– which is a major plus for my curlies.
But how do you use leave-in conditioners and what are the benefits?
Well for starters nearly every hair type curly or straight can benefit from using leave-in conditioners in their haircare routine.
To make things easier for you I’m here to run through all the major benefits of using leave-in conditioners and how to use them in your day-to-day routine.
Let’s jump in gang!
What Is Leave-in Conditioner?
So what even is a leave-in conditioner? Before starting the curly girl method, or even if you have straight but damaged hair, you’ve probably never heard of all these added products before caring for your hair.
Well, 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. So they’re ideal for hydrating curly locks.
They provide the hair with extra moisture and locking in moisture to the ends of your hair; since curly hair is the driest hair type, hydration is key to strengthening and protecting the 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.
Who Benefits The Most From Using Leave-In Conditioner:
Well, the long and short here is everyone, really. This is the amazing thing about leave-in conditioner, anyone benefits from it. No matter hair type or hair porosity.
Anyone can benefit from a little bit of a hydration kick, especially if your hair is particularly dry. You can buy lightweight leave-in conditioners or heavier ones if you have quite thick, porous hair.
Leave-in conditioners hydrate the hair and have major benefits such as protecting the hair from heat damage, UV rays, and even environmental damage like pollution.
Some leave-in conditioners are targeted towards certain hair types or specific issues such as damaged hair or chemically treated hair, frizzy or curly hair.
So while leave-in conditioners benefit everyone, it is super important you choose the right one for your hair.
What Are The Benefits Of Leave-In Conditioner?
There are some serious benefits of using a leave-in conditioner for your hair’s health, feel, and manageability; the results are unmatched.
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.
Protects hair from environmental damage:
We all love swimming in the summer, but too much swimming in chlorinated pools can really dehydrate the hair causing color fading and breakage.
You can apply a generous amount of leave-in conditioner before swimming, which will help keep the chlorine and salt from damaging your hair.
A Leave-in conditioner can also protect your hair from UV rays if it includes a UV ray protectant.
It can even protect your hair against extreme weather such as the cold. When we go from extremely cold temperatures to a nice snug, warm room, it can raise the cuticle and leave it feeling rough and dry.
A leave-in conditioner can be a brilliant way to tackle environmental damage, whether from the sun, humidity, or cold weather during winter.
Most 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.
Brightens colored hair:
If you’ve had your hair colored or chemically treated, the ends may be a little brittle and dry and have seen better days. Using a leave-in conditioner can help brighten your hair and leave the ends feeling hydrated and nourished.
Dullness and discoloration may be caused by chemical damage through coloring, but it can also happen when you go out in the sun without protecting your hair.
Using a leave-in conditioner can increase the vibrancy of your hair and leave your hair looking shiny and feeling soft. It also helps seal in color and makes it last longer.
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.
It makes hair more manageable:
Using a leave-in conditioner can improve the manageability of your hair, which will make it easier when heat styling with a blow dryer or flat iron.
The ingredients can enhance the styling results and help tame frizz; some products can also give curly hair more bounce and help define curls.
You can reapply during the day if you have curly hair to revitalize the curls.
How To Use Leave-In Conditioner:
There are a few different ways you can use a leave-in conditioner, and it all depends on what works for your hair; I’m here to show you a few ways:
Using after washing:
The most common way to use a leave-in conditioner is straight after washing on clear, wet hair. Many people say you should use on towel-dried hair, but I prefer to apply in the shower while my hair is sopping wet and then comb through.
This personally allows my hair to soak up more moisture and seal in the moisture to prevent it from escaping the cuticle– if you have high porosity hair, this is ideal.
You can either towel dry your hair first, but remember your hair is most fragile while wet, so I recommend using a microfiber towel or a cotton t-shirt. Gently dabbing your hair and squeezing the excess water out.
Then you can apply to the ends of your damp hair and comb through. Or… you can use my method and apply it in the shower and comb through in the shower.
I find that when my hair is soaking wet and coated in a leave-in conditioner, it combs through much easier and doesn’t tug or pull on my hair.
Remember, your hair is most fragile while wet, so use the method that has less tugging on your hair.
I will start at the tips of my hair and then gradually apply further up my hair shaft; I try not to apply too much leave-in conditioner to my root as it leaves a greasy residue.
Once I’ve applied a generous amount, I will run the comb through my hair to ensure evenly distributed and covered.
Since I have curly hair, I will then scrunch the ends of my hair to bounce up the curl and ensure each drop is absorbed into the cuticle.
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.
How often should you use a leave-in conditioner?
This all depends on you and your hair type, porosity, and condition of your hair. If your hair is particularly dry and damaged, you may benefit from using it multiple times a week whenever you wash your hair or co-wash your hair.
If you have quite thick, porous hair, you may benefit from using it every other day, especially if you have thick curly hair or coily hair. This will help hydrate your ends and protect them against damage.
The same goes for if you’ve got color-treated hair, your hair may look dull, brittle, and dry on the ends, and that’ll be a sign to use your leave-in conditioner.
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.
Is it safe to apply a leave-in conditioner to color-treated hair?
So you have color-treated hair and wondering whether you can use a leave-in conditioner in your hair care routine if you have colored hair.
Absolutely it can be used on every hair type and helps to brighten dull damaged, colored hair. Leave-in conditioners boost the vibrancy in your hair color and, therefore, are a must in your hair care.
It is probably best to use a heat protectant leave-in conditioner as this will protect your hair from heat damage and split ends when heat styling.
You should apply once a week (or more if you have dry hair) to your colored hair, and this will help revive your hair, whether you have curly or straight hair. Just be sure that you’re using a color-safe leave in-conditioner.
Will leave-in conditioner leave behind a residue?
Many people worry about the word leave-in conditioner, thinking that it will leave behind a greasy residue, and this absolutely isn’t true! It is designed to be left in your hair, after all.
Hydration doesn’t mean heavy; many leave-in conditioners have a non-greasy formula that works to keep the strands hydrated without weighing them down.
You can either apply to soaking wet hair or towel-dried hair and be done unless you have curly hair like me and need to apply a further 10 products– kidding!
It will leave your hair feeling more manageable, whether it is curly or straight.
Do you really need a leave-in conditioner?
While a leave-in conditioner is not compulsory, I’m not going to force you to get one. There are some serious benefits of having one, especially for healthy hair.
Leave-in conditioner is more than just your ordinary conditioner; it acts as a detangler; it works to nourish the ends and penetrate deeper than your regular conditioner.
It also has heat protectant factors that help lock in moisture, combat frizz, and leave your hair looking and feeling more manageable.
It takes 30 seconds to apply and will serve you a world of wonder for your natural hair; it works with every hair type and is the easier thing to add to your routine.
A leave-in conditioner is something every hair type needs.
So if you haven’t already, head down to your local drugstore and get yourself a leave-in conditioner. Just be careful to look for one that is free of all the nasties.
Caring for our precious locks is becoming easier and easier; all you need is the right products and the right technique, and you can transform your hair.
Looking for recommendations? Check out our Buyer’s Guide on the Best Leave-In Conditioner For Men’s Hair.
Or if you’re looking for a more natural option, check out my DIY leave-in conditioner recipes here.
Happy styling, ladies!
Related Post: Best Leave-in Conditioner For Curly Hair