Best Conditioner: The 2023 List Beauty Awards

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Decades of primetime Pantene ads and viral hair cycling trends dominating TikTok have contributed to a cultural obsession with luscious, bouncy hair. What's more, hair has been a long-time signifier of overall health and status, with thinning, brittle locks indicating vitamin deficiency or maybe a few too many chemical treatments. In this age of internet-famous products and celebrity endorsements, it can be hard to differentiate between legitimately good brands and those with pop culture prestige. When it really comes down to it, many of us are guilty of judging hair care products by their covers — or bottles, in this case. 

That's why The List sorted through the sea of conditioners currently on the market, from CVS finds to Sephora's bestsellers. Starting with a pool of 10 popular products, I washed my hair thoroughly — and then rinsed it some more — to determine the best of the best. Throughout this very hydrating process, I considered long-term efficacy, volume-boosting qualities, and scent. This is The List's annual Beauty Awards, and here are the five best conditions for healthy hair in 2023. So, turn on your nozzles, and get your towels ready.

Read more about the 2023 List Beauty Awards methodology and all the top picks here.

Best overall: Redken Extreme Conditioner

Redken is one of the most well-respected hair care brands on the market today. Established in the 1960s by the actress Paula Kent and her hairdresser, Jherri Redding, Redken's first mission was to repair dry and damaged hair — it was the era of peroxide blondes, after all. Sixty years later, Redken is still one of the best remedies for fried strands. 

After shampooing, I applied Redken Extreme Conditioner to my (very split) ends, avoiding the top of my head to prevent unwanted build-up. "Since the scalp produces natural sebum to nourish the roots, applying conditioner on the scalp will further make the roots too greasy and flat," celebrity hairstylist Kanta Motwani outlines for Vogue India, explaining that hair should be treated with the same amount of care as your skin. With this in mind, I gave my grown-out and previously box-bleached strands some TLC, letting the conditioner sit for a couple of minutes before gently rinsing. Just as advertised, I found that Redken works its magic immediately. My hair felt softer and noticeably more hydrated after it air dried. On top of all that, it smelled great for hours after I showered. At $25 for a 10.1 fluid-ounce bottle, this conditioner is not only worth the price if you have super dry hair like mine, but it's earned the top spot for 2023.

Purchase the Redken Extreme Conditioner at Ulta for $25.

Best budget buy: Aussie's 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner

For just $3.99 at Target, treat your hair to salon-worthy conditioning. Whether you're applying Aussie's 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner in the shower or making do with a wash in the sink, it's important to let it absorb for — as the name suggests — three minutes or more. Otherwise, it won't fully work its magic. While you wait, try out a body exfoliator, soap up, are belt your favorite song — I can confirm that acoustics are always better in the shower.

What's more, this conditioning treatment is free of parabens, making it better for the environment, and it's free of sulfates, meaning it won't dry out your hair in the long run. Aussie's conditioning treatment works on all hair types, but it's especially beneficial for wavy and curly hair. This is likely due to one of the formula's key ingredients: jojoba oil. As cosmetologist and hair expert Ghanima Abdullah outlines in a conversation with Byrdie, "Chemically, jojoba oil has almost the exact same structure as human sebum. This makes it ideal for dry hair and curly hair." She goes on to note that, "With curly textures, it's difficult for nourishing sebum to make it midshaft—much less to the ends of your hair. So jojoba oil can fill in for sebum in these cases." 

After rinsing out Aussie's conditioner and scrunching my hair dry with a tee shirt, I found the formula cut back on frizz and added plenty of natural bounce. For just $3.99, it's a must-have.

Purchase the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner at Target for $3.99.

Best splurge-worthy conditioner: Kevin Murphy Angel Rinse

Australian hairdresser Kevin Murphy has been a standout in his field for decades, partnering with big-time fashion publications, working with celebrity clients like Clate Blanchett and Vanessa Hudgens, and even lending his expertise behind the scenes of the box office hit "Moulin Rouge," per Kevin Murphy. He also owns his own line of hair care products, which first took the market by storm in 2003. In the two decades since, Kevin Murphy's pastel bottles have become a salon staple not only for their high-quality contents but also for their minimal environmental impact. They're designed to use as little plastic as possible, which is always a plus in the world of beauty products. 

I tried the brand's Angel Rinse conditioner, which, at $36 for 250 mL, is definitely a splurge. However, just as the bottle advertised, the formula was perfect for my super dry post-winter hair, nourishing it without leaving behind a tacky residue and weighing me down. If you have a natural curl to your hair, Kevin Murphy's Angel Rinse can also work to define wave patterns, keeping your locks glossy without adding unwanted grease

Purchase the Angel Rinse conditioner at Kevin Murphy for $36.

Best for damaged hair: Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner

Olaplex is no stranger to internet fame, and #olaplex has amassed over two billion views on TikTok since it first went public in 2021. It's been reviewed by celebrities and hair care professionals alike, with A-listers like Kim Kardashian and Drew Barrymore speaking openly about their Olaplex routines. Although the brand started as an in-salon treatment regimen, it's grown in recent years to include products for at-home use. 

I tested one of Olaplex's most popular products, their No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner, a formula most often paired with their Bond Maintenance Shampoo (aka Olaplex No.4). Although it's not cheap, totaling $30 on the brand's website or Amazon for just 8.5 fluid ounces, a little bit goes a long, long way. A small bottle can last you a few months, depending on how often you wash your hair. If, like me, you wait too long between haircuts and have perpetual split ends, I recommend applying conditioner halfway down and focusing on those dehydrated tips. The product can re-link broken bonds, repair split strands, and even help with future hair growth. Although it's not quite as effective as getting a trim, it should leave your hair looking fresher after just a couple of washes.

Purchase the Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner at Amazon for $30.

Most luxurious scent: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Joia Strengthening + Soothing Conditioner

If you want your hair to smell (and look) like you've come straight from the salon, you can't go wrong with Sol de Janeiro's Brazilian Joia Strengthening + Soothing Conditioner. You may recognize the brand's trademark orange packaging from their viral Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, which has been recommended by everyone from Hillary Duff to Selena Gomez since it first hit shelves in 2016. After testing, I can confidently say that Sol de Janeiro's conditioner smells just as good as its other viral products. Plus, the scent is long-lasting, meaning that you'll get compliments for hours after you wash your hair.

After scrunching with a soft tee-shirt and air drying my freshly-conditioned strands, I noticed that my waves were more defined and silkier. Nice. Plus, this conditioner reduces frizz, something I've been struggling with since the weather changed from dry to humid. Priced at $26 for 295 mL, Sol de Janeiro's sweet-smelling conditioner isn't cheap — especially if you buy alongside their shampoo as recommended by the brand. However, given the long-lasting, luxurious scent, it's worth the investment, at least during the most humid months of the year.

Purchase the Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Joia Strengthening + Soothing Conditioner at Sol de Janeiro for $26.