How To Use Leave-in Conditioner, Benefits, And Precautions

You are missing out on extra shine, hydration, and protection if you are not using it yet.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Madhuri Agarwal, MBBS, MD Dr. Madhuri Agarwal Dr. Madhuri AgarwalMBBS, MD facebook_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA Medha Deb Integrated MA linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years

We recommend you start using leave-in conditioners if you have dry hair that looks dull even after using expensive hair care products and hair treatments. Leave-in conditioners moisturize your hair, prevent heat damage, and allow easy detangling. They act as a barrier against environmental damage and add luster to color-treated hair. You can use this conditioner on any hair type. In addition, you need not rinse off leave-in conditioners hair. This article explains the benefits of a leave-in conditioner, how it is different from the regular conditioners, a step-by-step guide to how to use it, and more. Continue reading to know more!

What Is a Leave-In Conditioner?

A container of coconut leave-in hair conditioner
Image: Shutterstock

Leave-in conditioner is an added step after washing and conditioning your hair. It is usually applied to towel-dried hair before styling. It moisturizes your hair, protects it from heat damage, and offers a level of detangling to effectively style your hair. Unlike regular conditioner, leave-in conditioner is not rinsed out of the hair. You can use these no-rinse conditioners on nearly every hair type for their immense hydrating properties. You get to enjoy the benefits of a moisturizer and detangler in one product.

Check out some more benefits of leave-in conditioners in the next section!

Benefits Of Leave-In Conditioner

Woman with smooth hair as a result of leave-in conditioner.
Image: Shutterstock

What does a leave-in conditioner do, exactly? A leave-in conditioner increases the moisture level in your hair which, in turn, helps in improving the overall health of your tresses. Listed below are the benefits of using leave-in conditioners.

1. Moisturizes Dry Hair

If you have dry hair, using a leave-in conditioner is the best option. It provides intense moisture to your hair and makes it stronger. Leave-in conditioners contain humectantsi  Substances mainly found in food additives or skin lotions intended to stop moisture loss. that provide hydration to dry, fragile strands. If you want to buy a leave-in conditioner, choose a water-based formula that penetrates hair strands more easily than oil-based ones. Ensure that you apply the conditioner only along the hair length to prevent scalp irritation or infection.

2. Detangles Knotted Hair

Leave-in conditioner is the best hair care product for detangling your unruly and knotted hair. It contains ingredients that smoothen your hair. It helps reduce hair breakage and makes your hair soft. Also, it also makes it easy to style your hair.

3. Protects Hair From Environmental Damage

Environmental factors – like too much exposure to the sun – can dehydrate your hair, causing color fading and split ends. Leave-in conditioner coats every strand to protect your hair from cold and dry air. Also, apply a leave-in conditioner before hitting the swimming pool as it will prevent chlorine and salt from damaging your hair.

4. Makes It Easier To Style Your Hair

Leave-in conditioner can improve the manageability of your hair, making it easier to style with heat styling tools like curling irons and flat irons. The ingredients in leave-in conditioners smoothen your hair. Furthermore, it provides flexible hold and bounce to your curls.

5. Acts As Barrier Against Heat

To protect your hair from heat damage, apply a heat protectant before blow-drying, curling, or straightening it. Then, apply a leave-in conditioner to retain the moisture in your hair and prevent split ends.

6. Adds Luster to Color-Treated Hair

Leave-in conditioner revitalizes and smoothens damaged color-treated hair and protects it from the harmful sun rays that can lead to dullness and discoloration. It improves the appearance of your hair color and leaves your tresses with a gorgeous shine. There are special leave-in conditioners that are formulated for color-treated hair to seal the color and make it last longer.

7. Combats Frizz

If you have dry and frizzy hair, adding a leave-in conditioner to your hair care regimen will improve its condition. A good leave-in conditioning treatment provides long-lasting frizz control by locking moisture in the hair shaft. Also, these conditioners help tame the flyaways caused by static electricity.

Leave-in conditioners detangle knotted hair and moisturize dry hair. But, how do you use it properly? Keep reading to find out!

How To Use A Leave-In Conditioner

Woman applying leave-in conditioner to her hair in the bathroom
Image: Shutterstock

Leave-in conditioner is applied after washing your hair. It can replace the regular conditioner that you are used to in the shower, but you can use both if you want — especially if your hair is particularly dry or damaged. Follow our step-by-step guide on using a leave-in conditioner like a pro.

Step 1: Rinse Your Hair

Rinse Your Hair

Start off by washing and conditioning your hair. Use a shampoo and conditioner that are specifically formulated for your hair type and that coordinate with the leave-in conditioner you are going to use.

Step 2: Apply Leave-In Conditioner

Apply Leave-In Conditioner

Follow the instructions that are listed on the bottle and apply the leave-in conditioner to your hair accordingly. While applying, avoid the roots and focus more on the mid-length and ends of your hair to avoid a greasy look. Generally, a little product will go a long way. However, if you have long hair, you may need to use more.

Step 3: Comb Your Hair

Comb Your Hair

Try to use a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair while it is wet. Your hair is more prone to breakage when it is wet. So, comb your hair gently after applying a leave-in conditioner to remove all the knots and tangles.

Step 4: Style Your Hair

Style Your Hair

Your hair is now tangle-free, silky soft, and ready to style. You may now blow-dry it or let it air-dry, depending on your preference.

Not all leave-in conditioners have the same formula. So, you should be aware of the points to consider to choose the best one for your hair’s needs. Let’s find out more in the next segment. 

What Should You Look For In a Leave-In Conditioner?

Curly haired woman checking the label on leave-in conditioner products in the mart
Image: Shutterstock

This really depends on your hair type. Leave-in conditioners come in different formulas, like sprays, balms, oils, and creams.

  • If you have fine hair, use a lightweight spray that won’t weigh it down and, instead, will make it silky and smooth.
  • If you have dry and damaged hair, choose a creamy, nutrient-rich leave-in conditioner with moisturizing properties.
  • For color-treated hair, go for sulfate-free and color-safe formulas.
  • You should also look out for ingredients like botanical extracts,antioxidantsi  A compound that halts the oxidation process and shields hair from the damaging effects of the environment. , natural oils, vitamins, and heat-protectant properties.

If you want, you can also make your own leave-in conditioner at home with nourishing natural ingredients. Find a basic recipe in the next section.

Homemade Leave-In Conditioner

Try making this homemade leave-in conditioner with ingredients that are beneficial for your hair.


  • 1-2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
  • 1-2 tablespoons of glycerin
  • 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of distilled water
  • 5-10 drops of preferred essential oil for fragrance

How To Prepare

  1. Pour all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the solution on damp hair, focusing on the ends.
  4. Comb the hair to evenly spread the leave-in conditioner and style as needed.

Why This Works

Glycerin is a humectant and hair-conditioning agent that ensures lasting hydration (1). Aloe vera has soothing antifungal properties, making it great for scalp health and preventing dandruff (2). Olive oil can protect the hair from sun damage (3). Altogether, this makes for a lightweight solution that nourishes the hair without straining the scalp.

Mrs. C, a blogger with naturally curly hair prone to frizz when dry, shares her success with a homemade leave-in conditioner. She attested in her blog, “I have been using a homemade leave-in conditioner for a little while now…. It makes it [hair] soft and gives it a sheen.” Her DIY recipe includes aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, and regular conditioner in a convenient spray bottle. She advises, “It is best to shake well prior to use just to mix everything up again (i).” Mrs. C recommends applying by squirting into hands, rubbing together, and styling as desired.

Check out the next section to learn more about when to apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair.

When Should You Apply Leave-In Conditioner To Your Hair?

  • Apply leave-in conditioner after you wash and condition your hair. Since you don’t need to wash out leave-in conditioner, you can simply apply it to your wet hair.
  • If you apply leave-in conditioner before going to bed, your strands will absorb it while you sleep.
  • You can also apply it before blow-drying or heat styling your hair to protect it from heat damage.

protip_icon Quick Tip
If you need to use leave-in conditioners frequently, opt for formulas that do not have harmful siliconesi  A class of chemicals or ingredients used in hair care products to add shine and lubrication to one’s tresses. and alcohols that can damage your hair.

Leave-in conditioners are different from regular conditioners in their formulations. Scroll down to know more!

How Is Leave-In Conditioner Different From Regular Conditioner?

Close up of a professional squeezing leave-in conditioner into her palm
Image: Shutterstock

Leave-in conditioners have lightweight formulas that don’t weigh down your hair. They provide a detangling effect to help with combing and tend to be used right before you style your hair.

Regular conditioners are applied to wet hair after it has been washed with shampoo. They are also rinsed out after 3-5 minutes. Leave-in conditioners, on the other hand, do not need to be rinsed out. They can also be applied after conditioning your hair with a regular conditioner.

Listed below are some hair care tips for when you use a leave-in conditioner. Check them out!

Tips For Using Leave-In Conditioner

  • Figuring out your hair type is the first step to finding the perfect leave-in conditioner. Some conditioners are made specifically for colored hair, damaged hair, dry hair, etc. So, you need to get the one that will suit your hair type perfectly!
  • Choose a specific leave-in conditioner formula that works best on your hair type. Knowing what conditioner works for your hair type is important. A light leave-in spray will is ideal for fine hair. For medium to thick hair, a cream or gel-based leave-in product will be better to handle all the volume.
  • Don’t use leave-in conditioner every day. It may seem like daily conditioning is great for your hair, but the truth is that it can leave behind loads of build-up on your hair and scalp. Just apply leave-in conditioner once or twice a week. Furthermore, applying too much leave-in conditioner also leads to build-up on your hair and makes it dull and unmanageable.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can add 1% of essential oils like argon, peppermint, rosemary, etc., to unscented leave-in conditioners for their fragrance and nourishing benefits.

But before you start using it, should you be aware of any side effects of using leave-in conditioners? Scroll down to know more.

Precautions And Side Effects

Leave-in conditioners do run a few risks. Allergic reactions to the ingredients in the leave-in conditioners are very rare, but they can happen. Hence, do a patch test before using the product. If the product is irritating your scalp, rinse your hair immediately and discontinue use. If the product is irritating your scalp, rinse your hair immediately and discontinue use. Try not to get any leave-in conditioner in your eyes, as it can burn. People with oily hair should avoid using leave-in conditioners because it can make your hair even oilier.

Infographic: 5 Reasons Why You Need A Leave-In Conditioner

Your hair may feel dry and dull even after your regular shampoo and conditioner routine. That is why adding a leave-in conditioner to your hair care routine becomes important. It supplies your hair with extra moisture that keeps it shiny and healthy. Check out the infographic below for the benefits of adding this amazing product to your routine.

5 reasons why you need a leave in conditioner (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Leave-in conditioners are used on towel-dried hair to add moisture and volume to your hair. Incorporating a leave-in conditioner in your hair care regimen will detangle knotted hair, reduce frizz, and add luster to your color-treated hair. You can either replace your conditioner with a leave-in conditioner or use it after conditioning your hair. When searching for the right leave-in conditioner, choose the one suitable to your hair type and check for antioxidants, natural oils, or vitamins. Finally, conduct a patch test before using it. If you experience an adverse reaction, stop its usage immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I wash out Leave-In Conditioner?

Leave-in conditioner is made with ingredients that can be left on your hair. Its light texture does not weigh hair down and has good ingredients that assist in hair protection and hair repair.

Does leave-in conditioner cause hair loss?

No, most leave-in conditioners are made with hair-nourishing ingredients that improve hair health, quality, and appearance.

Can a leave-in conditioner be used as a deep conditioner?

Yes, a leave-in conditioner can be used instead of a deep conditioner. The difference between a leave-in conditioner and a deep conditioner is that the former has a lighter consistency and does not weigh down the hair. Also, it helps hair be soft and shiny and makes styling easier. On the other hand, a deep conditioner helps enhance hair elasticity, reduce hair breakage, and repair damage. It is more like a hair treatment, which can be used once or twice a week depending on hair needs. Thus, both these products help condition the hair and make it more manageable.

Key Takeaways

  • Using a leave-in conditioner regularly after drying your hair will keep it moisturized, protect it from the sun and heat, and reduce frizz.
  • Always select a lightweight spray if you have fine hair. People with damaged hair can go for creamy, moisturizing leave-in conditioners.
  • Conduct a patch test before applying the leave-in conditioner as it may cause an allergic reaction in some.
How To Use Leave-in Conditioner, Benefits, And Precautions

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Unlock the secrets of a professional-grade leave-in conditioner. Dive into this comprehensive video guide, where experts share tips and techniques for achieving nourished, luscious locks with a must-have product. Watch the video below to learn more.

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics
  2. The Review on Properties of Aloe Vera in Healing of Cutaneous Wounds
  3. Hair Oils: Indigenous Knowledge Revisited
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Dr. Madhuri Agarwal

Dr. Madhuri AgarwalMBBS, MD

Dr. Madhuri Agarwal is an aesthetic dermatologist with over 16 years of experience and the Medical Director & CEO of Yavana Aesthetics Clinic. She caters to a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds, including top names from the television and fashion fraternity, CEOs, and entrepreneurs, and delivers injectables and advanced technologies to her clients. Prior to this, she full bio

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