Today’s article covers the importance of leave-in conditioners, the benefits of leave-in conditioners, and the best creamy leave-in conditioners for curly hair.
What’s a Leave-in Conditioner?
So what’s a leave-in conditioner? A leave-in conditioner is the last product applied at the end of your regimen.
It is a treatment created to add extra conditioning to your hair and help lock in moisture until your next regimen day.
A great leave-in conditioner or two should be part of the product stash of every naturalista but not all leave-in conditioners are created equal.
There are two types of leave-in conditioners — creamy and liquid. Your choice depends on the style you’re trying to achieve and your hair type.
Type 1 – 3 hair may benefit from the liquid leave-in conditioners while type 4 hair may prefer the creamier leave-in conditioners.
This article will focus on creamy leave-in conditioners while the next one will focus on liquid leave-in conditioners.
Benefits of a Leave-in Conditioner
1. Moisture Retention
A good leave-in conditioner helps achieve moisture retention on hair.
Lack of moisture leads to several issues such as dryness, breakage, and split ends in natural hair.
We want to keep as much of it in our hair as possible and this is where finishing off with a great leave-in conditioner makes a lot of difference.
2. Maintain Hairstyles
Leave-in conditioners help set and maintain a hairstyle. Depending on the ingredients, they can also strengthen weak hair strands.
Hydrolyzed wheat protein is one of the ingredients to look out for in a leave-in conditioner when your objective is strengthening your curls.
3. Eliminates Frizz
Leave-in conditioners eliminate frizz and promote shine and elasticity.
4. Easier Detangling
An optimal leave-in conditioner helps to detangle hair and make hair more manageable during styling.
5. Regulates Hair pH Level
As the last step in your regimen, it will close your cuticles and return the pH of your hair to the normal level.
You can easily find out the pH of your products with test strips. The right leave-in should have a pH of somewhere from 4 – 6.
Some people prefer not to use a leave-in conditioner but, my hair feels undone when I don’t round off my regimen with a good leave-in conditioner.
Whether commercial, home-made, or a hybrid of both, I highly recommend using a leave-in conditioner every time.
Below are my top 18 creamy leave-in conditioners for natural hair — great ingredients, budget-friendly and long-lasting.
18 Creamy Leave-in Conditioners for Natural Curly Hair
Alaffia Beautiful Curls Curly to Kinky Leave-In Conditioner is made with ethically sourced shea butter from local cooperatives in West Africa.
Shea butter and coconut oil improve softness and hair elasticity while providing moisture.
Alaffia’s range of products are gluten-free and vegan friendly. BUY NOW.
AG Hair Cosmetics Fast Food moisturizes and prevents split ends while also conditioning and providing shine.
Also contains hair strengthening ingredients like amino acids and hydrolyzed keratin. Light enough to use every day. BUY NOW.
Camille Rose Naturals Moisture Milk provides shine and long-lasting moisture for all hair types.
The leave-in milk contains nourishing rice milk, avocado oil, and macadamia nut oil.
Slippery elm bark and aloe vera leaf juice provide great slip. BUY NOW.
Curl Junkie Coffee-Coco Curl Creme can be used as a leave-in conditioner as well as a styling product.
Enriched with coconut oil, babassu oil, and camellia seed oil and moisturizing ingredients like Agave nectar, aloe vera leaf juice, and vitamin B5.
This leave-in is very rich and thick and a little goes a long way. Highly recommend for high porosity hair. BUY NOW.
Design Essentials Almond And Avocado Daily Moisturizing Lotion is a rich blend of jojoba oil, olive oil, avocado oil, cocoa butter, and almond protein.
It restores hydration to dry hair and strengthens the shaft of damaged hair. BUY NOW.
Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Leave-In Conditioner hydrates and locks in moisture with coconut oil and shea butter.
It also helps with curl clumping and better curl definition. Light enough to be used daily. BUY NOW.
Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner is one of my favorite leave-in conditioners. It’s thick, rich, and creamy yet absorbs into hair quickly.
With a rich blend of botanical extracts like panthenol, aloe vera leaf juice, lavender, rosemary, and lavender, it transforms any hairstyle. BUY NOW.
KBB Sweet Ambrosia Conditioner moisturizes with jojoba oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.
Detangles and defines. Highly recommended for thick kinks or curls, relaxed, color-treated, or dry hair. BUY NOW.
Kinky-Curly Knot Today is a popular curly hair favorite.
Organic slippery elm and marshmallow root provide lots of slip while mango fruit extract provides softness.
Kinky-Curly Knot Today can be used as a leave-in conditioner as well as part of the Max Hydration Method conditioner step. BUY NOW.
Living Proof Leave-in Conditioner is enriched with a patented Healthy Hair Molecule, conditioning agents, and glycolic acid.
These ingredients work together to inhibit humidity and provide smoother, softer, and frizz-free results. BUY NOW.
Mielle Organics White Peony Conditioner is a lightweight and ultra-moisturizing leave-in conditioner.
The leave-in conditioner seals in moisture and smooths the cuticles while taming frizzies, flyaways, and protecting from heat damage. BUY NOW.
Neutrogena Triple Moisture Cream is formulated to provide intense moisture to extra-dry, over-processed, and color-treated hair.
It leaves hair softer and smoother while naturally derived extracts penetrate the hair shaft and increase moisture. BUY NOW.
Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Milk combines the goodness of shea butter, coconut oil, and silk protein to provide dry, damaged, or over-processed hair with intense moisture.
The styling milk also conditions curls and restores shine while strengthening the hair shaft. BUY NOW.
Oyin Handmade Hair Dew keeps hair moist and refreshed with castor oil and olive squalene.
The creamy formula will nourish and restore elasticity to stressed curls. BUY NOW.
Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-in Conditioner provides an added moisture boost for dry and dull hair.
This leave-in conditioner helps create a great base to layer other products over while styling your hair. BUY NOW.
Silk Elements Moisturizing Creme is a luxurious leave-in creme that softens, moisturizes, and strengthens.
It contains some great ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, and safflower oil. BUY NOW.
tgin Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer provides maximum hydration with shea butter, castor oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, wheat germ oil, and cocoa butter.
It’s light enough to use every day and promotes softer and shinier hair. It also keeps frizz at bay. Great for two-strand twists and twist-outs. BUY NOW.
Everybody’s hair reacts differently to products so you may have to go through some trial and error to settle on your best leave-in conditioners.
Tip – go for beauty subscription boxes. They offer full and sample-sized samples of popular products for curly hair.
You can find out more about beauty subscription boxes HERE.