12 Best Leave-In Conditioners For Curly Hair To Buy In 2022

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Sweater weather is synonymous with a lot of things; snowy streets, warm teas, and Uniqlo Heattech shirts are just a few of them. On the flip side, scorching cold winds, sunlight deprivation, and zero moisture come with the season as a package deal. Out come the space heaters and hot water, along with frizzy hair and itchy scalps. 

"Hair dries out in winter from not having enough moisture in the indoor air, which is when a good conditioner comes in handy," celebrity hair colorist James Corbett tells Self. This is especially true for curly hair. According to dermatologist Francesca Fusco, "a strand of hair receives sebum on its exterior from the secretion of the sebaceous gland. Sebum is not evenly distributed along curly hair resulting in drier hair" (via Allure). 

The LCO method is a popular acronym in the curly hair community and refers to any haircare routine that includes a Liquid (water-based product), a Cream (thin moisturizing agent), and an Oil (thicker agent to seal moisture). Most of the time, a leave-in conditioner is the cream-based extra step you should add post-shower to combat dryness. Many leave-in conditioners have detangling and heat-protecting qualities that you should "leave in" your hair, per Healthline.

Not all curls or leave-in conditioners are made equal, though. Based on great reviews, curly community recommendations, and types of curls, we've curated a few of the best ones out there.

How we selected the leave-in conditioners

Celebrity stylist Andre Walker started the conversation on hair typing, revealing the wide range of curls and textures that need to be factored in while styling (via Byrdie). Straight hair is classified as Type 1, looser waves are Type 2 curls, Type 3 includes tighter curls, and Type 4 curls are coily. According to MadameNoire, curls were later classified further to include various nuances. 

Most of the leave-in conditioners we've listed here cater to all curl types, but we've also specified products that retain curl integrity for Type 3 and Type 4 hair. The products also take porosity, dryness, and volume into account so that you can pick the leave-in conditioner based on the hair concern you have — whether your hair needs something that doesn't weigh it down or a formula that moisturizes thoroughly. All of these products have great reviews on curl community forums, Amazon review boards, and editor "Best-of" lists — they're essentially ultra-curated products that you can pick up without hesitation!

Best overall leave-in conditioner

This leave-in conditioner isn't a curl-specific product, but it's still plastered on seemingly every curl community website and Amazon review that mentions the words "curly hair." The Davines OI All in One Milk spray has a multitude of functions packed into a little black bottle. Its lightweight formula works to build volume, reduce frizz, and detangle your hair — all while providing heat protection from styling. The formula is also enriched with roucou oil and amino acids, keeping you a spray away from achieving UV-protected, moisturized hair. Suddenly, the $35 it retails at doesn't seem like a bad deal.

The milk-like consistency is perfect for those with finer hair but is also buildable for those with thicker locks. One reviewer on Naturally Curly mentions that they don't usually use leave-in conditioners as it weighs their hair down, but the Davines formula wasn't heavy at all: "Perfection. It gives quite a bit of slip which makes detangling super easy and gives me just the right amount of conditioning." Another reviewer declares: "This stuff is literal magic."

If you want to bring the magic home for yourself, Davines OI All in One Milk is priced at $35 on Amazon.

Best drugstore leave-in conditioner

It's almost impossible to create a list of the best curly hair products without including SheaMoisture. The Black-owned brand dominates the natural hair market with offerings like stylers, shampoos, and treatments that fly off Target shelves. You can choose from a variety of leave-in treatments from the brand, but the SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Grow Leave-In Conditioner should be on top of your list.

Jamaican black castor oil, which is derived from Jamaican castor beans, is known to promote hair growth by moisturizing and removing toxins from the scalp (via Byrdie). SheaMoisture's leave-in conditioner champions this ingredient to help in the recovery of damaged, heat-styled, and chemically straightened hair. It also works well for those who want to keep their hair moisturized and curly. One reviewer said, "My hair is super thick, but this wonder of a leave-in makes detangling a breeze and cuts styling time in 1/2 for my 4c hair." However, the texture of the product may be heavy for fine hair to bear and many reviewers suggest accommodating the amount used for your hair.

But regardless of hair type, the SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Grow Leave-In Conditioner ($8) is worth a trip to the drugstore.

Best leave-in conditioner for frizz


Last year, the cult-favorite haircare brand Living Proof launched "Curl," a seven-piece collection that includes curl enhancers, oils, shampoos, and conditioners (via Allure). Until the launch, however, one of the brand's products did all the work. 

The Living Proof No-Frizz Leave-In Conditioner highlights the brand's patented Healthy Hair Molecule, which helps to repel dirt, resist humidity, and protect each strand — everything you want in a leave-in conditioner. The 14,000 people who favorited it on Sephora agree.

A reviewer with "thick 4a-b hair that coils when wet" said, "I just tried this out today and I already know it works for my hair. It seems to actually get into my hair and not just sit on it." Another called it "a lifesaver" and explained, "My hair is extremely dry and extremely frizzy. This completely fixed my hair after one use! Plus it doesn't flatten or take away any volume!" Touted as a leave-in conditioner for all hair types — curly, kinky, wavy, and straight — the reviews definitely check out. Many also claim that the conditioner especially helped with color-treated hair.

The only real downside might be the $27 you'll have to spend on a bottle, but if you have finer hair, the Living Proof No-Frizz Leave-In Conditioner may be a worthwhile investment.

Best volumizing leave-in conditioner

Many leave-in conditioners are notorious for weighing hair down, leaving it greasy and limp. This is definitely not ideal, since you can't wash the product out. However, the It 12-in-One Volumizing Amazing Leave-In Hair Treatment is everything it tells you in its name. Making a hefty list of promises, the conditioning treatment helps your hair with breakage, split ends, frizz, and detangling — all the while thickening and volumizing your hair. Infused with raw avocado, sunflower oil, and keratin proteins, the treatment is intensely hydrating.

The lightweight formula is especially great for fine hair, but it works hard at taming thicker curls. As one reviewer said, "This product makes my dry curly hair feel moisturized and silky smooth. It is a miracle worker and smells incredible. I always get compliments for how well my hair smells and am able to brush right through it after putting it on my hair." Another reviewer on Amazon mentioned how well it thickened her fine hair "I've been using it for 3 years and won't stop," she wrote.

Get the It 12-in-One Volumizing Amazing Leave-In Hair Treatment for $17.

Best thickening leave-in conditioner

Color Wow remains a favorite in many hairstylist's bags, and for good reason. The brand has come out with too many cult favorites to count — one of them being the Coconut-infused Dream Cocktail, which celebrity stylist Joseph Maine called his favorite, per Elle. The treatment's counterpart for thickening is the Carb-Infused Thickening Dream Cocktail, a hydrating must-have for anyone with fine, thin, or color-treated hair who's looking to add volume.

You should note that this particular treatment is heat-activated through styling but contains three different kinds of heat protectants. The formula also contains a carb-based complex made up of cellulose, starch, and oat bran that bonds itself to hair strands, according to the brand. This creates a thickening effect that you may even see in the first use. On Amazon, the product has 4.3 stars out of 5 from around 1000 reviewers; most have "thin hair," according to the keywords displayed. "This stuff is a game-changer. I have 3c curls. This is my product," one reviewer claimed.

You can get the Color Wow Dream Cocktail Carb-Infused Thickening Leave-In Treatment for $26 on Sephora.

Best leave-in conditioner for dry hair

The Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In should be in your arsenal for combatting winter dryness. But this isn't a seasonal product to dump before summer, as its formula also blocks humidity like a pro. That's probably because the brand is about as pro as it gets – Ouidad has been churning out curl-centric products since 1984. This particular leave-in conditioner is one of its best-sellers, popular amongst professionals and consumers alike. Stylist Deycke Heidorn told Allure that it was the perfect primer for naturally curly hair as it helps achieve "a frizz-free, smooth definition."

Made with botanical extracts from prickly pear cactus and arnica as well as antioxidants like green tea and Vitamin B5, the leave-in conditioner nourishes and moisturizes curls. The brand also claims that the product is "a hero moisturizer for low porosity hair," helping with breakage and hydration at the same time. A reviewer on Ulta said, "I'm a 4a hair type. The Moisture Lock is a GREAT leave-in. Keep my hair moisturized and I have no problems with detangling my hair. I know it is a little pricey but worth every penny."

For $26, you can bring the Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In home.

Best multitasking leave-in conditioner

The Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-in Conditioner has 4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 3,500 reviews across the web. The reviewers all seem to spotlight a different benefit the product offers; some talked about how soft and shiny their hair felt after using it, a few believed their hair looked healthier, and others hyped its curl holding ability. One person with 3a/3b hair called it their "holy grail!" As one of Mizani's bestsellers, this leave-in conditioner racked up pretty much entirely good reviews.

Made with coconut oil and fennel seed oil, the product emphasizes hydration as any good priming hair product should. It also reduces breakage while protecting your hair from heat and UV rays. Stylist Lyonisha Sanders told Byrdie that the leave-in conditioner "has so many nourishing factors that the hair needs and it's also helpful with detangling." The only apparent downside seems to be its strong scent and the fact that coconut oil doesn't penetrate low porosity hair very well, according to Loved By Curls. Regardless, the formula is loved by all textures, styles, and types of curls as a basic nourishing primer.

Get the Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-in Conditioner for $23 on Amazon.

Best reparative leave-in conditioner

If your hair is in dire need of damage reversal, the Carol's Daughter Monoi Repair + Moisture Star Strength leave-in conditioner might be one to consider. It promises to leave you with hair that's moisturized three times more than it was before. Made with Monoi oil, which is coconut oil infused with Tahitian Tiaré flowers, the leave-in conditioner can help restore your hair health by hydrating and nourishing it.

The Black-owned brand has great reviews across curl community websites but it's been favorited by beauty editors, too. Carol's Daughter has won Allure's Best of Beauty Awards, and the leave-in conditioner has been included in the editor of Vogue's hair routine. It also comes recommended by April Franzino, the Beauty Director at GoodHousekeeping. "After use, my damaged strands feel silky and stronger and the bend of my waves is boosted," Franzino said. A reviewer on the brand's website agreed, writing, "My hair was breaking off when I started to use this product. Just like the package says I saw immediate results. I added this to my weekly washday treatment."

If you'd like to add it to yours, get Carol's Daughter Monoi Repair + Moisture Star Strength for $23.

Best leave-in conditioning spray

For those who have fine hair or hair that can't lift the weight of a creamy conditioning treatment, a lightweight spray could be the solution. Leaning more towards the "liquid" part of the LCO method, a conditioning spray is great for adding moisture back during hotter months, too. Vernon Francois' leave-in conditioning spray is one that's found it's way on many recommended lists.

A quick spritz will deposit goodness from the African tulip tree, known for its antioxidant properties, as well as protein-building amino acids. The light mist also helps define curls of all kinds without becoming too sticky. Most of the user reviews agree; one reviewer with type 4c hair said, "I love that I can spray it to evenly distribute it throughout my hair and that it doesn't leave my hair feeling heavy or greasy." But many reviewers also claim the product works better on textured hair — and that it should be used sparingly.

If you're a fan of Academy Award-winning actor Lupita Nyong'o's red-carpet hair, getting this bottle crafted by her stylist might be the easiest way to let life imitate art. Buy the Vernon Francois Leave-In Conditioner for $18.

Best leave-in conditioner for Type 3 curls

Decoding your curl type (or a combination of curl types) is the first step in understanding how to style your hair. According to Naturally Curly, Type 3 curls range from bigger, looser curls classified as Type 3A to springier Type 3B curls and more tightly coiled Type 3C curls. As there is a significant difference between these three types, a single product for them may be too simplistic. However, many Type 3 reviewers believe the Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave In Detangler works for their hair.

The leave-in conditioner is a moisturizing cream infused with mango extract, marshmallow root, and slipper elm — all ingredients that hydrate, remove knots, and leave your curls intact. While you can rinse the product out if it feels too heavy, most reviewers have seen a difference with it on. 

On Naturally Curly, where the product has won the Best Of The Best award, some Type 3 users commented on its benefits. One explained that its lightweight and non-greasy formula was "simply the best for 3a curls." Another said that "it has the best slip of anything I've ever tried on my super frizzy, low porosity 3, a,b,c hair." Some reviewers with a combination of Type 3 and Type 4A hair also loved it for detangling without messing with the integrity of their curls.

You can find the Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave In Detangler for $12.99.

Best leave-in conditioner for Type 4 curls

Type 4 hair is denser more coily than Type 3 hair. It can also be more fragile and may be prone to dryness more than any other curl type, per Curly Nikki. For consistent rehydration, you can look to the Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Leave-In Conditioner. The creamy conditioner was made specifically for Type 4 curls, with the brand promising to "lock in extra moisture, [provide] long-lasting hydration" while detangling kinkier curls. The formula has a blend of babassu oil, which is loaded with fatty oils and antioxidants, and citrus extract that can boost hair growth.

One reviewer called it "a blessing to my kinky, coily curls" while another noticed, "my hair is softer, more manageable, curls more defined and it smells AMAZING!" A reviewer on Amazon also said, "Wonderful leave-in, highly recommended for low porosity hair."

If you're ready to take the plunge, get the Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Leave-In Conditioner for $12.34.

Best leave-in for all curl types

The renowned "Curly Girl Method" was created by Lorraine Massey, who explained to Newsweek that it's "a simple three-step curly hair routine, which entails no brushes or combs, using three to four products (max) that must be plant-based, botanically infused, fully water-soluble and rich in natural emollients that deliver true hydration when coupled with water." The curl community adopted Massey's method and — unsurprisingly — trusted her brand, too.

DevaCurl has a range of popular products for curly-haired people and one of them is the Leave-In Decadence, which is a quick-absorbing, hydrating leave-in conditioner that "quenches dry, coarse curls" and helps with frizz and shine. As previously mentioned, it can be hard to have one product that fits all curl types. However, this leave-in conditioner seems to appeal to most. Mainly made for coarse, textured hair, the product can be used in smaller amounts for finer hair — it gives you a boost of moisture, regardless of curl type. It contains quinoa as its protein-building ingredient, fatty pequi tree oil, and chufa milk to rehydrate your hair. Most users seem to agree with this review: "Works great, smells great, but it is a bit costly!"

You get an 8 fl. oz bottle for $26, which is definitely steep. But if you're ready to trust the reviews and splurge, get your hands on a bottle of DevaCurl Leave-In Decadence.