A leave-in conditioner is one of the most important products when it comes to moisturizing transitioning or natural hair. It is the “L” in the LOC and LCO methods of moisturizing hair, which is a tried-and-tested technique for layering hair products to ensure maximum hydration. The best leave-in conditioner for transitioning hair should be able to keep the two hair textures moisturized to prevent dryness and breakage.
It should also be able to help in detangling the line of demarcation (this is the point where your new natural hair growth meets the relaxed part of your hair).
This line tends to be weak and susceptible to breakage. It, therefore, needs to be knot-free and well-moisturized until you are ready to cut off the relaxed ends.
Here are my top three picks for the best liquid leave-in conditioner for transitioning hair:
- Davines OI All in One Leave-In Milk
- Alikay Naturals – Lemongrass Leave-In Conditioner
- Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-In Treatment
My top three picks for the best creamy leave-in conditioner for transitioning hair are:
- Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner
- Living Proof No Frizz Leave-in Conditioner
- Lustrasilk Moisture Max Keratin Amino Acid Leave-In Creme Conditioner
Best leave-in conditioner for transitioning hair
A leave-in conditioner should be on the list of everyone’s transitioning products because of its great moisturizing ability that leaves your mane soft and manageable.
Leave-in conditioners are usually liquid or creamy. Choosing to use either a liquid or creamy form depends on things such as your hair type, your current weather conditions, whether you are in a protective style and your general preference.
Best liquid leave-in conditioners
During the transitioning period, a lot of ladies choose to be in protective styles such as braids and cornrows.
It’s easier to use a liquid leave-in conditioner at this time to allow for easier absorption into the hair strands.
I’ll usually add a liquid leave-in conditioner in my spray bottle which also has filtered water and grapeseed oil – a light oil perfect for low porosity hair.
Light leave-in conditioners are also good for people with fine hair strands.
This reduces the chances of your hair looking limp, as a result of the conditioner weighing down your hair.
The following liquid leave-in conditioners all have water as the first ingredient and are great for people who are transitioning from relaxed to natural hair.
Davines OI All in One Leave-In Milk
This lightweight hair product has several benefits to transitioning hair.
It helps to hydrate and soften your hair while acting as a detangler. In addition, it helps to tame frizz and protect your hair from heat.
It contains Pro-Vitamin B5 which gives the product its hydrating power. The product is also enriched with roucou oil which has antioxidants and helps in strengthening your hair.
Roucou oil is a favorite of ancient Amazonians for protecting their bodies from the harsh sun. It also protects hair against environmental damage, such as extreme heat.
For best results, use this conditioner on clean, towel-dried hair.
Alikay Naturals – Lemongrass Leave-In Conditioner
This leave-in conditioner contains lemongrass oil which helps to repair the hair by strengthening the hair follicles.
This effectively prevents hair breakage, which is a great concern to people who are transitioning.
The product also prevents shedding and leaves your hair shiny, soft and easily manageable.
Aloe vera juice, another key ingredient, helps to moisturize the strands and smooth the hair cuticle.
The product also contains silk amino protein that strengthens and rebuilds the damaged hair cuticles.
This leave-in conditioner works well in harsh weather conditions to keep the hair looking healthy.
Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-In Treatment
This leave-in treatment is great for dealing with split ends and damaged hair. It helps to repair and revive damaged hair, as well as smooth the appearance of split ends.
In case the relaxed part of your transitioning hair might have chemical damage, this leave-in treatment might come in handy to help rebuild the surface and strengthens the hair’s core.
The unique composition of ingredients such as proteins, ceramides, and lipids contributes to strengthening the hair cuticles.
The product provides moisture for the hair, ensuring little or no friction when brushing. This reduces the risk of mechanical damage to the hair.
It also protects the hair against the harmful effects of heat styling appliances.
The leave-in treatment leaves the hair soft, shiny and easy to handle.
Jane Cosmetics Carter Solution Revitalizing Leave-in Conditioner
This leave-in conditioner increases the hair’s ability to hold moisture through the use of humectants.
It also works as a heat protectant and helps to detangle knotted hair.
The product is formulated to work on all types of hair and textures. One of the key natural ingredients in this product is aloe vera.
The plant is known for its ability to help hair retain water and moisture – which is what transitioning hair needs the most.
Panthenol – another ingredient contained in the product – helps to lock in moisture, therefore improving the hair’s manageability.
This product is not greasy, has no build-up and does not weigh down your hair after use.
It works great on children’s hair and can also be used as a second-day refresher.
As I Am Coco Shea Moisturizer Spray
This all-natural CocoShea spray gives the hair a healthy-looking glow. It is no wonder that the two major ingredients this product contains are shea butter and coconut oil.
We all know that these two oils can be challenging to work into the hair.
As I Am uses the submicron technology to blend these rich emollients to make it easy to spray the moisturizer and easily massage it in.
This moisturizing spray also contains vegetable glycerin as a key ingredient.
Shea butter helps to prevent scalp dryness, thus keeping flakiness and dandruff at bay.
Coconut oil – on the other hand – helps to seal in moisture, thus deeply moisturizes the hair to leave it soft and shiny.
This product also helps to protect your hair against UV damage.
Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier Leave-In Conditioning Spray
Do you find yourself in a crazy scratch frenzy? That itchy hair is no good.
This Taliah Waajid product helps to soothe your scalp (including the sensitive ones) and has a cooling effect after a crazy itch.
It contains natural soothing ingredients like aloe vera, olive oil, menthol crystals, and eucalyptus oil.
The conditioner helps to eliminate split ends and breakage by infusing the hair strands with much-needed moisture. It can also be used as a refresher.
This daily leave-in conditioner is great for comb-outs and can be used on either wet or dry hair.
It also works great on color-treated hair and leaves your mane shiny and soft for easy handling.
Curls Quenched Curls Daily Leave-In Moisturizer
With this product, you can get all the moisture your curls deserve. Curls need moisture to maintain their healthy look and stay in shape.
This well-formulated daily leave-in moisturizer hydrates, conditions and revitalizes the hair to maintain the beauty of your curly hair.
This product infuses transitioning hair with adequate moisture, thus helping to revive dry and brittle hair strands and restoring hair strength.
The curl moisturizer is formulated with organic ingredients full of hair goodness.
Its potent moisturizing power ensures that it is effective in harsh climates.
It can also be used as a second-day curl refresher.
Best creamy leave-in conditioners
I wouldn’t recommend creamy leave-in conditioners on protective styles because there’s a good chance this would leave some kind of build-up on your hair.
Creamy leave-in conditioners are however perfect for comb-outs. They are also good if you have kinky, coily type 4 hair.
The following seven products work great for people who are transitioning to natural hair.
Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner
This moisturizing conditioner lets in vital proteins into the hair strands, therefore strengthening your hair.
It also encourages curl formation associated with natural hair.
The cactus extract lets moisture into the individual hair strands and locks moisture in for the best possible conditioning of the hair.
Antioxidants and vitamin B5 protect the hair from harm mechanical and environmental effects and helps the hair maintain a healthy shine.
The arnica extract helps promote hydration and helps seal the cuticle layer.
This effectively prevents frizz and encourages the growth of new healthy natural hair.
The product can be used on damp hair or to refresh dry, second-day curls.
Living Proof No Frizz Leave-in Conditioner
The search for a quality leave-in conditioner comes to an end when you try out this product.
It works to add moisture back into your hair, nourishing it in the process.
Not only does your hair benefit from the conditioning properties that leave it soft and smooth, but frizz is also tamed.
The leave-in conditioner helps guard all the hair strands from the effects of high humidity.
For best results, use this product on damp hair preferably after you’ve washed it with a good shampoo.
A little of the leave-in conditioner goes a long way so it lasts longer.
This product has a weightless formulation that leaves no residue on your hair.
You can use it even if you have dyed your hair.
The product leaves your hair soft, smooth, and shiny. It also has a nice scent.
This leave-in conditioner is free from sulfates, silicone, phthalate, and parabens that strip moisture from the hair.
We’ve also listed this product as one of the best anti-humidity hair products for natural black hair.
Lustrasilk Moisture Max Keratin Amino Acid Leave-In Creme Conditioner
This leave-in conditioner is enhanced with keratin protein that helps to repair damaged hair.
For someone who is transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, this is something you might want to get your hands on.
This is because of the line of demarcation where the two textures meet can weaken and sometimes actually break due to dryness and mechanical damage.
The conditioner will help to repair the damaged area while strengthening the hair at the same time.
It also refreshes dry and brittle hair and provides extra moisture to the strands before drying and styling.
How this works is that keratin protein and deionized water combine to penetrate the hair follicle and replenish moisture and luster to your transitioning hair.
This hydration helps to reduce further hair breakage.
Apart from repairing and moisturizing your hair, this leave-in conditioner also detangles your hair.
Good detangling also helps to reduce the chances of hair breakage.
For best results, massage the conditioner into cleansed, wet hair. Don’t rinse it out.
Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner
Did you just get rid of your braids and extensions? Now your hair is messy and all tangled up. This Kinky-Curly leave-in conditioner might just be what you need.
It’s specially formulated to take care of tangles, knots, and snarls in the hair.
The creamy herbal conditioner evens out the cuticle to effectively rid your hair of the tangles.
It’s a perfect leave-in conditioner for thicker and curlier hair types.
Having ingredients like organic mango extracts, and other fruit extracts and herbs helps to naturally moisturize into your hair strands.
This product provides great slip and doesn’t leave your hair feeling gummy and weighed down.
It can also help to define your natural curls.
Giovanni Direct Leave-In Treatment Conditioner
This leave-in conditioner leaves your hair weightlessly moisturized and nourished.
It is not heavy on application and provides the best conditioning for your hair.
This product provides restores some luster to dull-looking hair. It helps to smooth hair strands for easy combing and styling.
Additionally, it infuses individual hair strands with moisture using certified organic ingredients and is free of harmful substances like paraben.
It’s also color-safe, cruelty-free and free from sulfates.
The product protects the hair from damage caused by heat and a harsh environment.
Suitable for all hair types, this conditioner builds hair volume by creating a texture that feels thicker on your hair.
It is perfect for detangling and can be used daily to style hair, keeping it looking healthy and bouncy all day long.
Oyin Handmade Hair Dew Daily Quenching Hair Lotion
This leave-in hair lotion is packed with organic ingredients to ensure that the hair is well nourished and moisturized after every treatment.
It prevents hair breakage by keeping the strands well-moisturized and refreshed.
The creamy conditioner is also a great detangler that will leave your name soft, shiny and easy to style.
The leave-in conditioner is great for refreshing your hair between washes.
The ingredients contained in this product – castor oil and olive squalane – help in moisturizing your hair and make it easily manageable.
In some cases, transitioning hair tends to look lifeless.
This leave-in conditioner reinvigorates dry and dull-looking locks and leaves them healthy and supple.
The conditioner can be applied to dry, damp, or wet hair that has been cleansed.
Mielle White Peony Leave-In Conditioner
Mielle White Peony leave-in conditioner is formulated for deep and effective hair moisturizing that smoothes each individual strand.
This thoroughly hydrates the hair and makes it easy to style.
The conditioner is suitable for daily use and can be used on all hair types.
It also protects your tresses from heat damage.
It has a lightweight formula that helps in taming frizz and flyaways, as well as sealing in moisture.
The organic ingredients contained in this product help to improve the general health of your hair.
One key advantage of using this leave-in conditioner is that it doesn’t leave any residue.
The product is color-safe and free from sulfates.
For best results, use this conditioner after washing hair and do not rinse out.
Benefits of using a leave-in conditioner
With all the hype about leave-in conditioners and countless reviews, you get that they are good for the hair.
However, you might not know all the in-depth goodness that leave-in conditioners get to offer – all in one package.
So have you been giving it a thought? Like, apart from hydration, how else do I benefit from using leave-in conditioners?
As the name suggests, the “leave-in” in the leave-in conditioner means that it should be left in (and not rinsed out!) until the next wash day.
This helps to keep moisture in and make hair look glossy.
Protection from heat and harsh weather conditions
Do you fear that intense heat might have an adverse effect on your hair? You don’t have to feel uneasy over your hair being exposed.
Using leave-in conditioners will help you stay confident about your hair during any weather conditions.
The ingredients contained in the leave-in conditioners help to protect the hair from UV rays as well as protection against hot styling tools that could easily cause damage to your mane.
So, you can stay safe and feel confident by simply using a leave-in conditioner.
Detangling your hair
Have you ever faced frustration as a result of tangled, knotted hair that just won’t behave?
Yeah, it’s not a great experience, but that’s one of the things that a good leave-in conditioner could help to get rid of.
The ingredients of the leave-in conditioner smoothen your hair strands individually and unlock the tangles in your hair.
This makes it easier to comb and style as desired.
When a leave-in conditioner helps in detangling your hair, it effectively also helps you to prevent breakage.
This helps your hair to grow long without damage.
Makes your hair manageable
Now that that the tangles are gone, what’s next? It’s styling your hair, right?
A leave-in conditioner infuses moisture into the hair strands, which makes your mane become softer.
As a result, the hair becomes easy to manage and you can style your hair comfortably.
The released knots and tangles allow combs and hairbrushes to move smoothly along the hair shaft to give you the desired style.
The softer hair makes your hair bouncy and also provides a flexible hold for your curly hair.
Common ingredients in leave-in conditioners
Leave-in conditioners contain humectants; these allow moisture into the hair.
One example of these humectants is glycerin. Its major function is to bind water to the hair, locking in moisture.
It helps keep the hair moisturized.
Some leave-in conditioners might use panthenol which is a form of Vitamin B5.
It acts as a moisturizer that hydrates the hair strands.
Remember that leave-in conditioners are great at detangling the hair.
Some of the ingredients found in these conditioners work well at making the hair knot-free.
According to CurlyNikki, the following are some active ingredients that are contained in leave-in conditioners: amodimethicone, propylene glycol, panthenol, botanical extracts, cyclomethicone, glucose/sucrose, panthenol cetrimonium chloride polyquaternium-11 and fatty alcohols.
Can you use leave-in conditioner every day?
Can you eat food every day? If yes, then you can use a leave-in conditioner every day.
This is why: leave-in conditioners shouldn’t be mistaken for rinse-out conditioners.
While it is not advisable to use rinse-out conditioners everyday, leave-in conditioners are safe for everyday use.
Think of it as food for natural and transitioning hair which keeps it looking healthy, shiny and also protects it from heat.
Can you use a regular conditioner as a leave-in conditioner?
Regular conditioners cannot replace leave-in conditioners. Regular conditioners coat the hair heavily and are used less frequently.
There’s something hydral fatigue where the hair cuticle gets damaged as a result of excess moisture.
This can be caused by the frequent application of regular conditioners.
The leave-in conditioner, on the other hand, gives you an opportunity to add extra protection and maintain the moisture and shine of your hair until the next wash day when you can use regular conditioner and follow it up with a leave-in conditioner if desired.
A leave-in conditioner is an important product to have when you are transitioning from relaxed to natural hair.
It helps with keeping your two hair textures moisturized, prevents breakage, helps with styling and protects your locks against harsh weather conditions.
My parting shot would be this: the best leave-in conditioner for transitioning hair is one that fits your hair type, works well when you are in a protective style, and one that won’t make you uncomfortable in any way during extreme weather conditions.