Join TZR editors for Main Squeeze, the series dedicated to sharing beloved beauty products — be they bold, effective, or simply fun — that make our week just a little bit better. Ahead, Team TZR spotlights their favorite leave-in conditioners of the moment.
Shampoo, conditioner, and the occasional hair mask are hair care essentials that ensure your stands are fully cleansed, hydrated, and nourished. But when your hair is suffering from dryness and other signs of damage, adding an additional product to your lineup is necessary to revive shine. Deeply penetrating, the best leave-in conditioners stick around to fortify and restore stands from root to the tip. Unlike their rinse-and-go counterparts, these formulas lightly coat strands and offer a range of benefits that extend well beyond the shower.
Tangles and knots, for example, are a grievance that frequently comes with washing your hair, regardless of texture or curl pattern, but leave-in conditioners help get them out so you can avoid breakage and tears. They can also safeguard strands from future damage caused by overusing hot tools and excessive styling. Many are also packed with ingredients that rival your go-to skin care products, such as peptides and natural botanical extracts, to boost hair health.
If you’re new to the category or are simply looking for a fresh option to add to your current routine, there’s no better time like the present to do so. Ahead, the best leave-in conditioners TZR editors swear by for shiny, tangle-free hair.
“I'm on a multi-month mission to rehab my hair in order to bring my tight waves and the occasional spiral curl back to life, which means moisture without weight is so key. From the first time I used this Fable & Mane leave-in, I was totally hooked — it actually usurped a life-long favorite product. The spray bottle dispenser released a fine mist of product that makes my hair feel so smooth and conditioned, but it's light enough for my waves and curls to form. It might be overwhelming for some, but I'm also completely addicted to the rich, opulent scent.” —Amanda Ross, beauty editor, TZR
“After washing my hair, I often use a leave-in conditioning spray to detangle and soften my curls as I gently comb through them before blow-drying. This mist from Maui Moisture has the perfect blend of shea butter and oils, like coconut and macadamia, that nourish the strands and separate them ultimately decreasing any mechanical damage from combs (wide-tooth of course) and brushes.” —Jessica Fields, beauty writer, TZR
“A lot of my friends have been posting about Crown Affair and now I’m intrigued to try their leave-in conditioner. I do find that my strands are a bit dry, so perhaps this one, which is infused with Tsubaki Seed Oil, will hydrate and not weigh my fine strands down, which a lot of the reviews seem to suggest. It’ll be my next beauty purchase!” —Marina Liao, senior fashion news editor, TZR
“Ouai's fine fragrance-level scents always draw me in, but the formulas are why the products remain in my shower. The brand's leave-in conditioner is no exception. The creamy treatment douses my dry hair in extra moisture, leaving it silky smooth once I've blown it out. I also love that it provides slip so I can gently brush out any tangles when my hair is damp without tons of tugging or pulling.” —Erin Lukas, deputy beauty editor, TZR
“Years ago I used to go to a very too cool for school salon that carried a wealth of indie brands I couldn’t find anywhere else — this rich and creamy (and vegan!) leave-in conditioner was one of my many discoveries there. And while I believe the shop has sadly closed down, I still special order this online when my hair needs some extra TLC.” — Alison Syrett, deputy fashion editor, TZR
“Confession: Applying a leave-in conditioner is often a step I forget as I'm rushing out of the shower. However, during the summer, the rising temps coupled with a daily hot yoga workout schedule has wreaked a bit of havoc on my thick, wavy hair. Frizz, dryness, itchy scalp — all these lovely things come knocking on my door this time of year. So, I become extra diligent about applying a leave-in conditioner to fight the elements. This one has been a go-to since it launched, thanks to its fruity scent, natural, moisturizing ingredients, and lightweight texture. It leaves my hair soft, shiny, and smelling like a tropical paradise.” —Angela Melero, Executive Editor, TZR
“About every two weeks, I’ll use the K18 hair mask to restore and deeply condition my hair. It has a great light texture that never weighs down my hair, and it’s formulated to reconnect the bonds of your hair. I have the small bottle that’s lasted me about a year, so a little goes a long way!”— Kathy Lee, editor-in-chief, TZR
“I’ve never tried a leave-in conditioner because, TBH, I’m really lazy when it comes to my hair routine. However, I’m a fan of Moroccanoil, so the brand’s All in One Leave-In Conditioner is on my radar. According to the product description, the formula works to detangle and hydrate the hair while also protecting it from breakage. I’m sold.” — Kelsey Stewart, associate fashion editor, TZR
“When I was little, my mom swore by Luster's Pink Moisturizer Hair Lotion to hydrate and smooth my thick hair so she could finesse it into whatever ponytail style she came up with that day. I like to think of this milky treatment as the grown-up version. It sinks in deep to moisturize each strand and smoothes the cuticles for shiny, not greasy, hair.” — Fields
“I've already sung the praises of this leave-in but it bears repeating. The lightweight, spray-on formula is key to my hair care routine whether I'm detangling my curls, nourishing my braids, or prepping to slick my hair into a bun.”—Samantha Scott, newsletter editor & strategist, BDG