Hot tools can do a number on your hair — and that’s true no matter your texture, affinity for trying new colours, or the season. That’s why leave-in conditioners are a godsend, particularly for natural, curly, and colour-treated strands because they can help save you from a world of damage. While the handy product won’t make your overall routine any less time-consuming, by making your hair more manageable, it will make getting out the door in the morning that much easier.
Keep reading to see pro and staff picks for the leave-in conditioners and treatments that leave our hair as soft as can be this autumn.
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Best conditioning product for colour-treated hair: Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo, £13
Ask any colourist how to best maintain your dye job and they’ll just tell you to wash it less. Each wash can fade your colour, but that doesn’t mean you can’t condition your hair between washes. Amika’s bestselling, conditioning dry shampoo is designed to smooth, detangle and moisturise, extending the time needed between washes.
Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo, $, available at Amika
Leave it to argan oil to nourish and replenish curls even on your worst day. Safe for coloured, relaxed, and textured hair, this repair cream penetrates deep to soften strands — without a ton of fuss. Our
editors swear by it.
Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream 453g, $, available at Boots
Breakage is a pain, whether it’s from split ends or heat damage. You can fight against it with this strengthening leave-in that has proteins, ceramides, and lipids. With a few spritzes, you can worry less about leaving hair behind on your pillow, in your shower, on the car headrest… er, everywhere.
Redken Extreme Mask Strength Builder 250ml, $, available at Look Fantastic
It was only a matter of time before Olaplex put its
patented bonding technology in a leave-in formula. Not only does this cream soften strands and eliminate frizz, but it also cuts drying time, which is a major win.
Olaplex No 6 Bond Smoother, $, available at Cult Beauty
If you have thinning hair, it’s best to look for a lightweight mist that won’t weigh down your strands. This product adds natural-looking volume while giving hair a subtle shine that won’t leave hair feeling greasy at 5 p.m.
Rene Furterer Volumea Volumising Conditioning Spray, $, available at Cocoon Center
If you’re currently working with dry,
over-processed curls, this £10 leave-in spray is a must-have. Just spritz it through damp hair as a primer before adding your usual curl-defining gels, creams, or oils for a boost of softness.
Not Your Mother’s Repair + Protect Leave-In Conditioner, $, available at iHerb
Perfect for coily, kinky and very thick hair types, this leave-in conditioner boasts hydrating rice milk, nourishing avocado and castor oil and glycerin to moisturise strands from root to tip.
Camille Rose Naturals Naturals Curl Love Moisture Milk, $, available at LookFantastic
“For thick hair, it’s all about replenishing [lost] moisture,” says hairstylist Adir Abergel. He loves applying this treatment once a week.
Leonor Greyl Tonique Vivifiant (Hair Loss Spray), $, available at Look Fantastic
“I love using Iles Formula Hair Serum as a leave-in conditioner,” says
Gregory Russell, whose clients include Lily Collins, Nicole Richie, and Hailee Steinfeld. “It softens the hair without being heavy, provides a light amount of definition, and makes your hair feel hydrated. For coarser textures, be a little more liberal with the product.”
Iles Formula Finishing Serum 200ml, $, available at John Bell & Croydon
A-list celeb hairstylist
Marcia Hamilton recommends this castor oil-packed leave-in conditioner/shine gel hybrid for smoothing and adding definition. “I really love this gel for shaping all baby hairs,” she says. “It’s alcohol-free and sulphate-free, so it doesn’t cause dryness. Plus, it leaves a really nice shine.” Danielle Priano, who works with Hailey Bieber and Sabrina Carpenter, agrees: “I would only use this one if you’re going to wear your hair curly to keep the frizz out. If you have thin, straight hair, it will make it look a bit greasy.”
Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore, $, available at Look Fantastic
Three or four quick sprays of this into your hands is all you need to make my dry, knotty hair more manageable (tip: Never mist leave-in sprays directly onto hair, which practically ensures an uneven application.) It’s lightweight and never greasy, giving hair a dose of protein to make it stronger. Unlike other detanglers, as soon as you apply it, it soaks in instead of coating strands or adding a heavy feeling.
Unite 7Seconds Condition Leave In Detangler For Unisex, $, available at Amazon
This curl-friendly formula works wonders for holiday days you want to keep frizz at bay. While it works just as well on freshly-washed hair, if you need a second-day revival, just dampen curls with some water and you can reapply another pump of this — no added buildup included.
Living Proof Restore Repair Leave-In, $, available at Perfume’s Club
For those with dull, thin hair, this is a game changer. It creates adds shine, detangles, seals in moisture and can bring dull hair back to life, all while remaining weightless.
Kristen Ess Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Leave-In Conditioner, $, available at Boots
Tight coils that suffer from an extreme case of dull frizz will benefit most from this ultra hydrating leave-in formula, infused with hyaluronic acid and squalane. With a few pumps, your curls are revived to their shiniest form. Bonus: Continued use helps strengthen your hair and heal your scalp (thanks to extracts of vitamin-rich sea buckthorn and algae) so that, in the future, you might not have to worry so much about a dehydrated style.
Amika Hydro Rush Intense Moisture Leave-In Conditioner 200ml, $, available at Amika
“Leave-in conditioner is to curly hair what gas is to a car. And finding a good leave-in that gives your curls definition without weighing the hair down is a task,”
Shan Boodram, author, sexologist, and YouTuber tells us. “DevaCurl is my boo, but I only use it on the top pieces — I prefer the middle to have zero product, so I get frizzy volume goodness!”
DevaCurl SuperCream – Coconut Curl Styler 88ml, $, available at Look Fantastic
If you forget to re-twist your hair late at night, a few spritzes of this magic elixir will hydrate your curls instantly. Pro tip: Spray it directly into your hands then finger-comb it through for the best results.
Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate & Repair, $, available at Look Fantastic
“It’s super silky, but doesn’t weigh your hair down,” celeb stylist
Jenny Cho says. “It’s great for thinner hair that needs conditioning but doesn’t leave it feeling greasy.”
Sachajuan Leave In Conditioner 250ml, $, available at Sephora
Consider this leave-in treatment a multivitamin for your hair. It’s packed with bond-building amino acids that leave any texture softer, smoother, and shiner after one use.
It’s a 10 Haircare Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin, 120 ml, $, available at Amazon
Engaging in unprotected heat sessions with your hair can end in a blow-fried disaster — especially if your strands are naturally curly. If you’re giving up the heat to embrace your curls, using this leave-in will ensure that your hair is silky and frizz-free, even while it’s in recovery mode. If you’re not yet ready to give up the hot tools, you can also use some of this to protect your hair from heat up to 450 degrees.
Kerastase Hair Kérastase Discipline Fluidissime Spray, $, available at Look Fantastic
Consider this Bumble & Bumble bottle the perfect one-size-fits-all spray for your hair. Apply it before you let your waves air dry to reduce frizz and protect strands from UV rays. Or, use it as a detangler before you cocktail creams for a wash-and-go. And if you’re heat styling, you can also spritz this on damp hair to get a silky blowout that doesn’t feel greasy.
Bumble and bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer, $, available at Bumble and bumble
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