Having a stellar hair day is a rare occurance even for a person who doesn’t have a kid hanging from them all day. Throw a few babies into the mix and not only do moms have to deal with some freaky, inherent hair changes — science says our hair changes as we get older — but our own haircare tends to fall to the wayside. And let’s be honest, a luxurious, conditioning hair mask isn’t easy to get to.
F*ck that. Moms, we’re taking our haircare back. Sure, we may not have time to apply a 20-minute mask or pay for a blow-out every other day, but that’s where leave-in conditioners come in. All it takes is a few pumps, a spritz or two, and both short-term and long-term, your hair will thank you for the TLC.
And because we appreciate and understand that curly hair needs a different formula than say, straight or wavy hair, we’ve taken into consideration all hair types. From curly and frizzy to thin and wiry, these are the 9 best leave-in conditioners for all the hair types you’ve got going on.
Shea Moisture is one of the top-searched leave-in conditioner brands and while the brand has a few different formulas, you’re 10-out-of-10 going to love this treatment made with 100% virgin coconut oil. The virgin coconut oil and creamy coconut milk blend detangles harsh knots in your hair, keeping it tangle-free after every shower. Made with the unique texture of coils and curls in mind, this inexpensive leave-in treatment also adds shine and moisture, thanks to the hydrating ingredient acacia Senegal. It hydrates and softens hair without stripping it of its natural oils, which is key to keeping hair moisturized and frizz-free. This coconut oil-based treatment may restore the necessary oil back to your scalp, but it also targets the ends of your hair, too, saving you money in the long run. If your strands are in distress and (unfortunately) prone to split ends, this treatment actually seals the open split ends shut, giving them a chance to heal and restore. You know what that means, Mom. Less trims and less cost!
Have you ever noticed that like, every teenage girl has this It’s a 10 Haircare Miracle Leave-In Product in their bathroom? No? Well, maybe you’re not around teenagers too often, Mom. (Don’t worry – you will be soon, if you aren’t already. Time really flies!) Anyway, teens love this UV protectant formula and if it’s good enough with the good-haired high schoolers, then it’s good enough for us mamas, too. Here’s what you will come to love about It’s a 10: just a few pumps works hard to eliminate frizz, detangle knots, and restore the natural shine you didn’t even know you had. With vitamin C, linseed extract, aloe Vera, and sunflower seed extract, post It’s a 10, your hair will not only smell amazing, but it will also look commercial-worthy, too. You’ll love how the linseed extract soothes a damaged scalp and softens hair texture while adding volume and body. And you’ll also love the natural sunscreen the sunflower seed extract provides. This is especially important for color-treated hair that requires protection from color fading and that yucky brassiness we’re all scared of. If it’s good enough for the teens, it’ good enough for us.
New hair, who dis? That’s exactly what you will be saying once you try Mixed Chicks Curl Defining & Frizz Eliminating Leave-In Conditioner. One of the best leave-in conditioning treatments for textured hair, this large bottle, curl-defining formula is super-inclusive and says it best on the bottle. The label reads, “Whether you’re black, white, Asian, Latin, Mediterranean, or any glorious combination of the above, you’ll love the way this paraben-free, non-sticky lightweight product leaves your hair inviting to touch as it defines and locks moisture into every curl”.
If the brands’ inclusivity is not enough to get you on board, you’re sure to be mesmerized by what the formula can do. Made to protect your hair from daily damage – whether that’s coloring, chemical treatments, heat styling tools, sun exposure, or low humidity – Mixed Chicks Curl Defining & Frizz Eliminating Leave-In Conditioner uses jojoba oil, evening primrose oil, and silk amino acids to add shine, condition, promote hair growth, and bond to natural keratin in your hair to repair damage and form a protective layer moving forward.
There’s a damn good reason why OUAI Leave-In Conditioner is one of the top-searched leave-in treatments. Great for hair that is either straight, wavy, curly, coiled, or even tightly coiled, OUAI is beloved for the unique way it primes hair for styling, protects against heat, and smooths flyaway hairs in addition to reducing frizz. OUAI is one of the only leave-in treatments that multitasks so flawlessly. It provides protection from frizz, detangles and conditions strands, and smooths hair while adding a noticeable shine. And Mom, we could use the help when it comes to achieving that glossy shampoo commercial shine, right?! Once you become a parent, it feels more likely to find half-chewed gum and a Barbie doll arm in your top bun than it does to have flawless, shiny hair. OUAI might be on the pricier side, but along with the undeniable hair benefits, the price point speaks to what you’re not getting, too: no parabens, no sulfates, and no phthalates.
Whether you have wavy, curly, or coily hair – explained in the Cantu description as Type 2, Type 3, and Type 4 hair – get ready to feel seen, heard, and understood AF. Cantu is the self-described “texture-loving curlfriend” for a reason. If you have curls (whether they’re Type 2, 3, or 4), Cantu is one of the best leave-in conditioners you can find on a budget. Just $6, this Cantu Hydrating Leave-In Conditioning Mist is ideal for texturized, colored, and permed hair, as well as for medium to thick textures. Just a little spritz adds a natural-looking shine, hydrates and conditions dull and dry hair, and restores moisture to brittle tresses. Made with pure Shea butter, you’ll never have to worry about damage or breakage if this little bottle of curl-approved perfection is sitting on your bathroom counter. After just a few uses, you’ll notice stronger, healthier hair and don’t be surprised if your loved ones start noticing.
F*ck you, frizz. If you have curly hair, then you know how difficult it can be to have a good hair day when your hair tends to err on the frizzy side. And hot days? They’re a freaking nightmare! Well, if you invest in these 4 fluid ounces of anti-frizz perfection, there will be no need to ever fear a blistering summer day ever again. And sure, the price point is a little hefty, but as we all know, you can’t put a price on a good product that actually gets the job done. Living proof uses their patented Healthy Hair Molecule – AKA a mixture of special conditioning agents and glycolic acid – that work together to give humidity the metaphorical hand, as well as smooth and soften hair. All in all, what you’ll be getting after even just one use of this Living proof leave-in, is calmer, more manageable hair.
A lot of haircare products are formulated with nasty additives and preservatives that aren’t exactly the best for us. Couple that with the fact that there is a lot of plastic in the haircare industry and springing for a leave-in conditioner is not exactly an easy decision for the chemical-conscious environmentalist. But the Moisture Leave-In Conditioner by Seed Phytonutrients is an alternative you can feel good about. Formulated with only the best all-natural and vegan ingredients like organic meadowfoam seed oil, shea, and mango butters, this eco-friendly leave-in adds moisture to even the driest strands of hair. Made to help your hair restore its natural moisture, all it takes is one to two pumps of product massaged into damp or dry hair from the hair ends to the scalp to strengthen and hydrate your locks. The black tea and ginger scent, and the bottle made mostly out of compostable paper are just added bonuses to this hydrating leave-in formula.
Now, hold on, Mom. Before you get lost trying to pronounce this brand name, just hear us out. This leave-in conditioner from SACHAJUAN has amassed four out of five stars and nearly 4,000 “loves” on the Sephora website. That’s because though this formula may be pricey, it’s also light, oil-free, and most importantly, it gets the job done. Designed specifically to moisturize, volumize, and add shine to finer hair, SACHAJUAN uses Ocean Silk technology to add body, detangle knots, and provide weightless moisture to a struggling scalp. You won’t just notice shinier and healthier hair; using SACHAJUAN on the regular also leads to easier styling of your hair. No more knots, tangles, and that yucky straw-like feeling we may get from the cheap sh*t. Use as a primer spray on straight, wavy, or curly hair – texture fine to medium – and you will soon fall in love with this weightless haircare product. You know what else you’ll love? No parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, mineral oil, or synthetic fragrances and SACHAJUAN also comes in recyclable packaging.
If dry hair is more your issue, a leave-in conditioner that hydrates and restores moisture to your scalp is a must-have. This trio by OYIN Handmade – The Juices – features three natural tea-based hair tonic sprays that are as delicious-smelling as they are good for your hair. Juices & Berries, Greg Juice, and Frank Juice condition and refresh hair, stimulating the scalp with natural ingredients like aloe Vera, horsetail, and nettle. For just $14 each, you’ll get all the necessary moisture without the unnecessary buildup. With a varying pH level of 3.5 to 4.5, this acidic formula helps close and seal the cuticle layer of your hair. This is crucial to tightening hair cuticles and protecting the hair from the damage that can come from styling and heat tools. And because The Juices trio is specifically formulated for women of color, it makes the perfect daily refresher for braids, twists, and locs. One of the best leave-in conditioners for curly hair, OYIN Handmade also offers a sustainable alternative to buying bottle after bottle. Any 33oz refill order comes with an additional spray cap that fits your already-purchased Juices bottle, so instead of racking up plastic bottles, you can just refill the old one.
Once you’ve chosen your new leave-in, check out some more of our favorite beauty must-haves!