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The Right Way to Use Leave-In Conditioner For Healthy Hair

This article comes from Byrdie.

The Right Way to Use Leave-In Conditioner For Healthy Hair

When I first discovered the concept of leave-in conditioner, I had a lot of questions. How long do I “leave” it in for? Do I apply it in the shower? Do I need to wash it out afterward? Or do I just… leave it in?

It really isn’t a difficult concept to grasp, I know, but I wasn’t well-versed in hair care products at the time—and simply searching for a solution for my suddenly drier, more brittle hair. (Goodbye, effortlessly lustrous locks of my youth.) Either way, once I realized the benefits of an amazing leave-in formula (of which there are many), I never looked back.

What Is Leave-In Conditioner?

Think about it: Between blow dryers, curling irons, towel updos, the wrong pillowcases, brushing, and potentially bad dye jobs, we put our hair through a lot. Leave-in conditioner is like calling in for backup.

It shouldn’t replace the conditioner you use in the shower post-shampoo, nor should you use it everyday—rather, it’s there to give a little extra TLC: When your hair feels dry and unruly or needs some love, leave-in conditioner is the best possible reinforcement.

Unlike regular conditioner, you don’t rinse it out when you use it. Leave-in conditioner is formulated to be—as the name implies—left in your hair to lock in moisture and drench your strands in nutrients, leaving your tresses soft, healthy, silky, and nourished. No rinsing required—like the moisturizer you put on your face, you don’t want that going down the drain.

Leave-in conditioner has detangling properties, too, and protects hair from heat damage—making it the perfect product to use before styling. (See why you should have one in your arsenal?)

Which Hair Types Can Benefit From Leave-In Conditioner?

In short: All of them. Every single hair type can benefit from the right leave-in conditioner. (If you don’t think you could benefit from an extra boost of hydration, think again.) Leave-in conditioner protects hair from a multitude of factors, including the sun, environmental damage, heat damage, and pollution.

Of course, when it comes to more particular hair conundrums, not every leave-in conditioner is created equally. Some formulas will target specific issues associated with different hair types (like color damage or split ends) better than others.

Essentially, there’s a leave-in conditioner for every hair type, whether you’re dealing with damage, frizz, fine hair, or major coarseness.

What Should I Look For in a Formula?

It really depends on your individual hair type, and leave-in conditioners come in an array of formulas, like sprays, creams, oils, balms, and more. If you have naturally fine hair, choose a lightweight spray or foam that’ll leave your hair silky rather than greasy. If you have dry, damaged, or over-processed hair, it’s a good idea to find a creamy, nutrient-rich formula with hydrating properties. For color-treated hair, go for one that’s sulfate-free and color-safe.

Generally speaking, though, there are some key, hair-boosting ingredients you’ll want to look out for, like vitamins, antioxidants, natural oils, botanical extracts, and heat-protectant properties just to name a few.

When to Apply Leave-In Conditioner?

It’s easy: after the shower. (Not in it.) Since you don’t need to wash leave-in conditioner out after, you can simply apply it to your wet hair before bed, for example. Let your strands absorb it while you sleep, or use it before blow drying or using heat styling to offer a layer of protection.

How to Apply Leave-In Conditioner

When your clean hair is damp or towel-tried, smooth it thoroughly throughout while focusing on the shafts and ends of your hair. Brush through with a detangling brush or comb to disperse it evenly throughout your hair, then leave it be—no rinsing required. If you have curly hair that you prefer not to brush through, try a leave-in conditioner cream that you can scrunch into your ends.

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