Why You Need to Start Using a Leave-In Conditioner
There’s a new, better way to hydrate your hair—and it's not happening in the shower.
We don't wash moisturizer off our faces a minute after applying it, so why do we rinse out hair conditioner?
“We shouldn’t,” says Mairi Scott-Dickins, a global product development manager at Unilever. “That sends most of the hydrating ingredients down the drain.”
The latest conditioning method is to use only shampoo in the shower, towel-dry hair but leave it damp, then apply a conditioner that’s designed to stay. (Check out Hailey Beiber's $9 leave-in conditioner pick.)
Why You Need a Leave-In Conditioner
Just like traditional conditioner, these no-rinse versions rely on silicones, ingredients that coat the hair to keep it silky, protected, and tangle-free. But because you apply them on halfway-dry hair and don’t wash them off, all the formula stays on your hair, Scott-Dickins says. They’re also lightweight, so the conditioner doesn’t build up, which can make strands dull and flat.
Another win for team leave-in: The method is less likely to damage your strands. “Hair is at its most fragile when it’s wet,” says Britta Cox, the founder of Aquis hair care. “As strands soak up water, they swell and stretch, making them more prone to breakage and dullness.” By skipping conditioner in the shower, you limit your exposure (and consume less water too). (Save water by Getting the Most Out of Your Dry Shampoo.)
How to Pick the Right Leave-In
It depends on your hair texture. (Related: 8 Hair-Washing Mistakes You May Be Making)
- If you have fine or thin hair, look for a foam or a spray like Aquis Prime Restorative Leave-In Conditioner (Buy It, $26, sephora.com).
- If you have dry, thick, or wavy hair, it likely prefers an oil, milk, or cream such as the Good Stuff Intensive Nourishment Cream No-Rinse Conditioner (Buy It, $9, ulta.com).
- If you have curly hair, go for a balm or a butter like Oribe Styling Butter Curl Enhancing Crème (Buy It, $46, dermstore.com), but also use a hair mask in the shower once a week, says celebrity colorist Angela Cosmai.