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Best leave-in conditioner 2023: The top products for hair that shines

Hair not as healthy and shiny as it could be? The best leave-in conditioners will work wonders on your locks

Frizzy, dry and unruly hair doesn’t need to be the bane of your life. By getting yourself the best leave-in conditioner for your hair type, you can give your hair the loving treatment it needs.

Leave-in conditioners are designed to provide your hair with all the nourishment and extra moisture it requires to be healthy, shiny and generally in tip-top condition. They can also protect your hair from damage caused by heating products (such as straighteners) and pollution, and can help to detangle strands for smooth, silky locks without breakage. Whether your hair is curly, straight, coloured or natural, applying a good leave-in conditioner can have many benefits.

The beauty of leave-in conditioners is that your hair will have a longer time to soak up all the nutritious ingredients. The more time it has to work its magic, the better the results. There are leave-in conditioners made for each hair type, so you can find the perfect match for your tresses.

Below, we’ve put together a roundup of the best leave-in conditioners on the market, alongside a helpful buying guide that lays out exactly what to look for in a leave-in conditioner and how to find the best one for you.

READ NEXT: The best products for frizzy hair

Best leave-in conditioner: At a glance

How to choose the best leave-in conditioner for your hair

Not all leave-in conditioners have the same ingredients or formulas, so the right one for you will depend on your hair type and condition. By looking at your hair texture from the roots and the way your hair strands fall, you will be able to decide which category you fall into.

What type of leave-in conditioners is best for my hair type?

There are generally three types of hair porosity levels (this refers to the amount of moisture the hair can absorb without looking weighed down or greasy). These are fine, medium and thick.

  • Fine: If you have fine or flyaway hair, you will want a light formula (preferably a spray) that will coat the hair evenly without too much saturation in one area. Anything too heavy will weigh this type of hair down, so look for products that are lightweight and fortified with nourishing oils that also help to detangle hair and tame flyaways.
  • Medium texture: Hair with medium texture (not too thin and not too thick) can still be weighed down with too much product. Again, a leave-in conditioner that is on the lighter side will help keep these strands in good shape. If your hair tends to frizz, a leave-in creme can keep the fuzz at bay – just be careful not to apply too much of it. A spray or mist is also great for this hair type, but for extra protection and care, it’s always good to go for nourishing, vitamin-rich ingredients.
  • Thick/very textured: Coarse hair that is thick with a lot of texture can easily get tangled and is highly prone to frizz. It’s also very absorbent, so strands need extra moisture. Finding a creamy leave-in conditioner that is rich and hydrating with added proteins and smoothing formulas is best for thicker hair.

What other features should I look for in a good leave-in conditioner?

For the best results, it’s worth investing in a good-quality leave-in conditioner. It could be that the formula contains a blend of nourishing oils, or that it can protect your hair against heat damage: a bonus if you’re going to be heat styling. Silicones and sulphates usually get a bad rap, and you may prefer a lighter, chemical-free formula. On the other hand, they can sometimes be helpful for taming unruly hair, leaving it shiny and feeling super soft.

How we test leave-in conditioner

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. To test the leave-in conditioners we review, we use products comprising various combinations of ingredients on different hair types, tracking the results of regular use. Where leave-in conditioners are recommended for a particular hair type or use case, we test the conditioner appropriately to ensure we make an accurate recommendation.

To test products effectively, we follow the instructions, evaluating overall ease of use. We consider the overall quality of the product and its effects on the hair following regular use. We also note its performance on different hair types. Finally, we confirm the amount of the product.

READ NEXT: Best hair oil for growing and restoring shiny, healthy hair

The best leave-in conditioner to buy in 2023

1. Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-in Conditioning Spray: The best overall leave-in conditioner

Price: £29 | Buy now from Briogeo

This fantastic leave-in conditioning spray from Briogeo contains largely natural ingredients (98% naturally-derived, according to Briogeo), so your hair can be replenished with all the earthy goodness it needs. It has the perfect formula for frizzy, dry, damaged and even coloured hair that’s in need of some extra TLC. With the powerful combination of rosehip oil, coconut oil, argan oil and vitamin E, you can wave goodbye to frizz and knots and say hello to soft locks that are strong and tangle-free.

It comes in the form of a spray bottle, and you should spritz it evenly from root to ends for even coverage. For best results, use this leave-in conditioner on damp hair. It works well on most hair types – you’ll just have to judge how much product to apply, depending on how thick, thin or thirsty your strands are.

Key specs – Size: 147ml; Form: Spray; Sulphate-free: Yes; Paraben-free: Yes

Buy now from Briogeo

2. Curlsmith Weightless Air Dry Cream: The best leave-in conditioner for medium textured hair

Price: £22 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

This hydrating leave-in conditioner from Curlsmith is ideal for locking in moisture without leaving a heavy build-up of product in the hair, which can weigh it down. A great alternative to richer leave-in conditioners, this light and breathable formula is designed for hair that has a medium texture. It leaves the scalp feeling fresh, with curls and waves that are thriving and bouncier than ever.

This product’s unique blend of nourishing ingredients, including castor oil and hyaluronic acid, provides much needed hydration from roots to ends and enhances curl texture, leaving a soft and supple finish with no frizz. For best results, simply apply this weightless leave-in conditioner all over, comb through and allow your hair to air-dry if you’re not in a hurry.

Key specs – Size: 237ml; Form: Cream; Sulphate-free: Yes; Paraben-free: Yes

Buy now from Look Fantastic

3. Vitamins Keratin Nourishing Cream: The best leave-in conditioner for fine, flyaway hair

Price: £19 | Buy now from Amazon

This nourishing cream leave-in conditioner from Vitamins is best for hair that’s thin and fine in texture and prone to flyaways and frizz. It delivers maximum hydration and restores and strengthens dull hair in need of a boost. Infused with keratin (renowned for smoothing locks and providing a silky salon finish), this product offers protection to fine hair without weighing it down.

Thanks to its nourishing ingredients consisting of proteins and antioxidants, you can even repair and restore those annoying split ends, too. The protein-rich formula is also great for hair that has been coloured and extremely damaged from heat and overstyling. A little goes a long way with this leave-in, so you only need a small pea-sized amount to cover the hair – perhaps even less if your hair is very fine.

Key specs – Size: 250ml; Form: Cream; Sulphate-free: Yes; Paraben-free: Yes

4. Coco & Eve Like A Virgin Hydrating and Detangling Leave-In Conditioner: Best leave-in conditioner for thick, highly textured hair

Price: £22 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

With glowing reviews, and before-and-after photos that speak for themselves, this Coco and Eve leave-in has become a cult beauty go-to for all hair types. However, it’s particularly effective on tight curls and textured hair, defining curls and leaving them beautiful and bouncy. With a powerful blend of three intensely moisturising and repairing ingredients (including coconut extracts, avocado oil and rice proteins), it can deeply nourish and revitalise damaged hair. Another unique ingredient in this formula is moringa seed extract: an antioxidant that protects hair from UV damage and other environmental factors.

It comes in the form of a cream that you can slather all over your locks. And as an added perk, it smells gorgeous. For best results, apply 2–3 pumps on damp or dry hair and comb through to the ends. Then dry and style as you normally would.

Key specs – Size: 150ml; Form: Cream; Sulphate-free: Yes; Paraben-free: Yes

Buy now from Look Fantastic

5. Oribe Moisture & Control Priming Lotion: Best leave-in conditioner for coloured hair

Price: £34 | Buy now from Niche Beauty

What with all it’s been through, coloured hair is particularly delicate and will need extra care. Oribe’s Moisture & Control Priming Lotion is a product that will deeply nourish and protect coloured hair, replenishing it with much needed goodness from the inside out. It’s also safe to use on hair that has been keratin-treated. Enriched with moisturising oils from avocado, olive and jojoba, your hair colour will be protected from fading as well as UV damage, leaving it shinier than ever.

This leave-in requires minimal effort to use: just comb through after washing your hair with a wide tooth comb, then dry as usual. While this leave-in is slightly on the pricier side, it offers protection against thermal damage and conditioning in one, so it’s a perfect option for anyone who often styles their hair using heat.

Key specs – Size: 250ml; Form: Lotion; Sulphate-free: Yes; Paraben-free: Yes

Buy now from Niche Beauty

6. Ouai Leave-In Conditioner: The Best leave-in conditioner for unruly and frizzy hair

Price: £12 (45ml), £24 (140ml) | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Hair that is frizzy and unruly is often very damaged and crying out for hydration. Ouai’s leave-in spray conditioner is formulated with a blend of repairing amino acids and proteins that will strengthen hair structure and provide it with the nutrients it has been lacking. Infused with a mix of hydrating tamarind seed extract, panthenol and vitamin E, the formula will soften hair and tame frizz.

It comes in the form of a handy spray bottle for ease of use. Simply spritz evenly over your mane and comb through before drying and styling. It’s also available in a small 45ml travel size bottle, which is perfect for popping in your handbag, or to get your hair in a quick and chic styled bun when on the go.

Key specs – Size: 45ml, 140ml; Form: Spray mist; Sulphate free: Yes; Paraben free: Yes

Buy now from Cult Beauty

7. Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer: The best leave-in conditioner for sun and heat protection

Price: £27 | Buy now from Boots

A good leave-in conditioner can also provide a protective barrier against sun and heat damage, and this leave-in conditioner from Bumble and Bumble – highly rated amongst professionals and influencers alike – is a great addition to any hair styling routine, particularly if you’re styling with heat.

Boasting a sweet and fruity fragrance and infused with six hydrating oils that swear to protect your mane, locks are left lustrous and not weighed down or dull. Formulated to detangle and nourish hair whilst combating unruly frizz, this leave-in conditioner will also protect hair against breakage. For beautiful locks after styling, use on damp or dry hair.

Key specs – Size: 250ml; Form: Spray; Sulphate free: Yes; Paraben free: Yes

Buy now from Boots

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