Whether you have thin, fine strands or curls and coils, we found the right leave-in formula for you, courtesy of two experts.
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Woman with conditioner in her wet hair
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Getting smooth, soft hair requires more than simply using the right shampoo and conditioner combination for your hair type or safe hot tool practices. It also involves establishing an effective post-wash hair care routine—which should center on applying a leave-in conditioner. Different from regular conditioners (you wash those off in the shower after you shampoo) and hair mask treatments (which are ultimately rinsed out), leave-in conditioners are multitasking products that make hydrating your strands a breeze.

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How does a leave-in conditioner benefit your hair?

"They're designed to nourish the hair and provide detangling benefits," says Chris Jones, a Virtue Labs ambassador and the founder of Salon Bugatti. "When the hair is wet, it's in its most fragile state. A leave-in conditioner will provide slip and protect the hair when brushing out tangles," as well as improve manageability, reduce flyaways, and protect against UV damage. These formulas can also deliver essential nutrients to you hair, adds Nai'vasha, a celebrity curl expert and the founder of Curl Queen. For best results, look for formulas with nourishing amino acids, advises Jones.

How often should you use a leave-in conditioner?

Nai'vasha recommends applying a leave-in conditioner once or twice a week, on the days you wash your hair. After towel drying and before styling, either spritz on or work in the product—and you should be all set (it's that easy). While this product does add another step to your routine, it is a simple, straightforward, and effective one.

How can you choose the right leave-in conditioner for your hair type?

While some affiliate this type of product with specific hair types (like thick, coarse, and curly), anyone can use a leave-in conditioner. It simply comes down to choosing the right formula for your strands. To help you get started, both Nai'vasha and Jones shared several of the best options to consider for every hair type and concern. See their picks, as well as some of our own, below.

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Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

Best Overall: Kérastase Discipline Anti Frizz Smoothing Spray

$39, sephora.com

"This is my absolute favorite leave-in conditioner," says Nai'vasha. "It isn't just an amazing humectant spray, but it's also great for a day three refresh—and it smells heavenly." Best of all? This product from Kérastase is suitable for all hair types and contains lipid and softening agents for extra-smooth strands.

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Credit: Courtesy of Target

Best Budget: TRESemmé Pro Pure Leave-In Conditioner

$7.69, target.com

Nai'vasha says that this pick is the best budget-friendly option: It works as both a conditioning and detangling product. "It's clean and pretty pure," she adds, noting that the formula is free from silicones, dyes, and parabens and goes on lightweight, so it won't make hair feel or look limp.

Hair balm on solid background
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

Dry Hair: IGK Mistress Hydrating Leave-In Conditioner Hair Balm

$29, sephora.com

If your hair is dry and you're hoping to boost hydration, turn to this balm-style leave-in conditioner, which is packed with shea butter and argan and coconut oils for extra moisture.

Leave-in conditioner on solid background
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

Damaged Hair: Virtue Labs Refresh Purifying Leave-In Conditioner

$32, sephora.com

With ingredients like amino acids and white horehound extract, this formula nourishes hair and protects it from pollutants. But what sets it apart from the pack is the alpha keratin, which Jones explains is an ethically-sourced form of the human keratin protein; it strengthens hair better than most ingredients. "Its molecule is the same exact size as our own, making it instantly recognizable by our bodies. It seamlessly fills in and repairs damage in each strand of hair," he says.

Detangling product on solid background
Credit: Courtesy of Follain

Color-Treated Hair: Rahua Hydration Detangler + UV Barrier

$34, follain.com

Made with the brand's signature rahua oil and other nourishing ingredients like sacha inchi seed and morete fruit oil, this detangling product (which also offers UV protection) locks in color and moisture, while also protecting against environmental aggressors.

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Fine, Thin Hair: Gisou Honey Infused Leave-In Conditioner

$34, sephora.com

This product is an incredible multitasker, thanks to ingredients like mirsalehi honey, argan oil, and boabab extract. It's also incredible for thin hair, since it can hydrate, repair, and strengthen delicate strands.

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Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

Wavy Hair: It's A 10 Miracle Leave-In Product

$40, ulta.com

Nai'vasha says that leave-in conditioners are often universal for most hair types (simply apply more or less depending on your texture) and her pick (and one of her most "trusted favorites") is the It's A 10 Miracle Leave-In formula. "I enjoy it because it detangles, moisturizes, adds extra protein, and leaves a beautiful shine," she says. It also contains nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, green tea and sunflower seed extracts, and silk amino acids to keep hair hydrated and enhance its bounce—making it perfect for virtually everyone, but especially for those with wavy strands. The reason? It imparts both hold and volume; it defines those half-curls without weighing them down.

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Naturally Curly Hair: Camille Rose Naturals Moisture Milk

$15.49, target.com

The Camille Rose Naturals Moisture Milk is packed with antioxidants and nourishing ingredients like rose hip oil; it calms your scalp, improves strand hydration, and offers protection against environmental aggressors. For these reasons, this is Nai'vasha's go-to leave-in conditioner for naturally curly hair. "It adds a bit more moisture—and natural hair tends to thirst for more product," she says. "You can also use it to style, which I love."

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Type 4 Curls: Olaplex No. 0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment

$28, sephora.com

Nai'vasha explains that type 4 coils tend to be more delicate and require the most attention. Enter the Olaplex No. 0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment: It rebuilds broken bonds in the hair, which makes it stronger and less prone to damage. "This rich, bond-building protection is my favorite," she says.

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