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15 Best Leave-In Conditioners for Natural Hair
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leave in conditioner

Khadija Horton

There's always that one girl whose curls are bouncier than Lebron's dribble; the one who never has a single hair out of place, no matter the humidity levels. Spoiler alert: Behind that low-maintenance appearance is a lot of leave-in conditioner. You probably already know that natural hair needs next-level hydration to live its best life, but I'm here to tell you that your co-wash and styling cream aren't cutting it. Yup, you need that extra step—leave-in conditioners for natural hair prevent breakage, smooth down flyaways, and fend off tangles, all while keeping your curls hydrated and springy. But you can't throw just any leave-in onto your hair—you have to find the right one. Ahead, the 15 best leave-in conditioners for natural hair, no matter your hair concern.

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Best Strengthening Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair

Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture Milk


Look, I'll be the first to admit that I could be a bit gentler on my curls. Like, maybe I should tone down the excessive amounts of heat, IDK. But unlike the ladies at the hair salon, this leave-in conditioner doesn't judge my breakage. In fact, it works to repair damaged curls, while keeping its thoughts to itself, thanks to the mix of rice milk, antioxidants, and rose-hip oil. 


Best Leave-In Conditioner Spray for Natural Hair

Mielle White Peony Leave In Conditioner


This leave-in conditioner for natural hair is a life-saver 24/7, but it especially comes in handy when you're in a time crunch. Like, for example, when you wake up five minutes before a Zoom meeting with your boss. The white tea extract, jojoba oils, and silk amino acids will lock in moisture and smooth your curls faster than you can say, "Wait, can you hear me now?"


Best Lightweight Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair

Miss Jessie's Leave in Condish


This leave-in conditioner for natural hair is so featherweight, you may not even think it's getting the job done. But fear not—the formula deposits aloe leaf juice and pumpkin seed extract through your hair, leaving it super soft and springy. For real, your curls will keep their shape no matter how much you touch them (but pls try not to do that).


Best Multi-Tasking Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair

The Mane Choice The Alpha Soft As Can Be 3-In-1 Revitalize & Refresh Conditioner


It's like one day we all hated 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioners, and the next, every brand out there was releasing a hair product that could ~do it all~. I was super skeptical of these multitaskers until this leave-in conditioner came my way. Massage the biotin and tea-tree infused product through your hair for about five minutes, rinse it out, and it becomes a co-wash. Work it in from the roots of your curls to the ends and it transforms into a conditioning, detangling hybrid. And it's actually way effective when it comes to all three claims—you love to see it.


Best Leave-In Conditioner for Flat Natural Hair

Uncle Funky's Daughter Thirsty Curls


I think the only thing worse than realizing that your curls have gone flat and lifeless halfway through the day is noticing a big chunk of lettuce in the middle of your two front teeth—AKA it's not great. Thankfully, this leave-in conditioner spray will save your natural hair from that sad existence. Spritz it on and the coconut milk and rosemary-laced formula will bring your curls back to their 9AM state: plump, springy, and moisturized.


Best Detangling Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair

Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave In Detangler


Think of this leave-in conditioner as a foam roller in a bottle—with the help of ingredients like slippery elm and marshmallow roots, it releases your tangled knots and transforms them into silky curls. Also, by getting rid of all those tangles, you don't have to worry about breakage whenever you run a comb through your hair. A major win.


Best Leave-In Conditioner for Extra-Dry Natural Hair

Pattern Leave-In Conditioner


Look, Tracee Ellis Ross could sell me a tattered baseball cap that she found on the subway—but even if I wasn't an absolute fan-girl, I would still sing the praises of this leave-in conditioner. My type-4 hair needs all the hydration it can get, and this creamy blend of almond oil and honey delivers. It makes your curls pop and moisturizes your natural hair without leaving it limp.


Best Leave-In Conditioner for Defined Natural Hair

Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Leave-In Conditioner $14.95

$7.76 (48% off)

Some leave-in conditioners for natural hair make finding your curl pattern feel like a game of hide-and-seek. Instead of tolerating greasy conditioners that over-saturate your hair, switch to this lightweight, curl-defining leave-in. When the coconut oil and shea butter in this formula come together, it's like a Drake and Future collab—they work in tandem, one never overpowering the other, and it's always a hit. 


Best Leave-In Conditioner for Fine Natural Hair

Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner


If you think it's impossible to add body and moisture without dealing with gunky residue, this leave-in moisturizer for natural hair will prove you wrong. By sealing in ingredients like green tea, vitamin B5, and prickly pear extract, this conditioner boosts volume and hydration without leaving behind a trace. 


Best Leave-In Conditioner for Frizz and Flyaways

Form Beauty Multitask Leave-In Lotion


FYI there's nothing wrong with frizz, but if you're over dealing with those hairs that won't lay flat no matter how much product you apply, this leave-in conditioner is a game-changer. The marshmallow-light blend of argan oil and grapeseed oil adds moisture back into your curls, smooths the cuticle out, and makes those annoying-ass flyaways a thing of the past.


Best Heat Protecting Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair

Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner Spray


Like I said, I'm lowkey sus when it comes to multitasking hair products, but this leave-in conditioner for natural hair aced my test. The aloe vera and fruit extracts eliminate dryness, while also creating a protectant bubble around your curls to save them from heat damage.


Best Softening Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair

Oyin Handmade Greg Juice Herbal Leave-In Hair Tonic


Whenever your curls are starting to feel like the bottom of a broom, go ahead and spray on this leave-in conditioner for natural hair. It's perfect for a mid-day pick me up—vegetable-based moisturizers instantly revitalize your stiff hair. Plus, the scent is absolutely delightful and won't smell overwhelming to anyone who is lucky to come inside your 6-feet space.


Best Drugstore Leave-In Conditioner for Natural Hair

Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream


Anyone with natural hair knows that you can find so many gems in the drugstore aisle, and leave-in conditioner is no exception. This shea butter-infused formula is deeply hydrating, quenching any thirst, while also giving you more manageable curls.


Best Leave-In Conditioner for Dull Natural Hair

Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner


This leave-in conditioner is basically like lip gloss for your hair. It deposits a drizzle of hydration all over your curls and imparts a mirror-like finish that instantly perks up dull hair, no sticky residue included.


Best Leave-In Conditioner for Thick, Dry Natural Hair

Carol's Daughter Leave-In Conditioner


When it comes to natural hair that's both thick and dry, you need a leave-in conditioner that won't just sit on your curls—it needs to penetrate. The medley of castor oil, black cumin seed, and ginger round out this moisture-retaining formula, which makes its way all the way down to your roots to get (and keep) your curls hydrated. 

Ama Kwarteng Ama Kwarteng is the Beauty Assistant at Cosmopolitan, covering all things hair, skin, makeup, for both print and digital.

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