Hair health really starts from within, but the benefits of maintaining one’s external appearance still manage to sink in deeper than the surface–don’t you move differently when you know you look fly? Plenty of men from all walks of life have embraced their hair care routines as a useful ritual in honoring and cementing their innate fly-ness. While leave in conditioner for men was once a forgotten product, it’s rising to the forefront of the men’s grooming world with tons of options that nourish neglected hair and even serve as a timesaver when you don’t have time to let regular conditioner sit. Just like you need to nourish your facial hair, the hair on top of your head also benefits from attentive care. Learn more about the basics and check out our best options
What is leave in conditioner for men?
Leave in conditioner is a hair care product best used on wet hair–usually after a shower and shampoo. It has many of the same properties as regular conditioner in terms of nourishing and strengthening your stands, but as a leave-in (rather than rinse out) product, it works overtime, permeating your hair to a deeper degree. It’s a great product to protect hair from heat styling, from environmental damage, or even just to add some extra luster.
There’s two major schools of thought about leave in conditioner: oil or butter. Shea butter is one of the best known in its category, and for good reason
What does leave in conditioner help with?
Different leave in conditioners possess different capabilities suited to different hair textures and types. Across the board, however, leave in conditioner should tame hair to prevent frizz and flyaways, add shine, and provide nutrients to lend your hair extra health.
When should I use it?
The answer here depends on your hair’s texture, coarseness, and dryness. If your hair is fine in texture and prone to getting greasy, I recommend only using leave in conditioner for men after a shampoo. Anybody with slightly less greasy hair can probably get away with using it on wet, unshampooed hair. If your hair is particularly rough, you can even use leave in conditioner to tame dry hair, like I do.
Popular Ingredients in Leave in Conditioner for Men
Silicones & Glycerin
This duo is kind of the unsung heavy lifter of leave in conditioner for men. While their names lack the sex appeal of trendier ingredients on this list, it’s actually silicones and glycerin that form a chemical sheen around your strands, sealing them and enabling them to shine brighter. Glycerin especially helps with detangling and keeping hair detangled.
There’s two major schools of thought about leave in conditioner: oil or butter. Shea butter is one of the best known in its category, and for good reason–shea butter embodies the best of butter’s properties. This texturally-focused ingredient offers intense, thick moisture and even curl definition. Its thick properties, however, can overwhelm finer strands. One thing to note, though, is that while shea butter is like a gigantic protein smoothie for hungry hair, the ingredient can also leave you prone to frizzing, especially in humidity.
Oil, on the other hand, is more lightweight, more sealing, able to contribute far more on the shine end of things. Jojoba oil has proliferated the self-care industry to an extensive degree. Its popularity in hair care comes from its peculiar ability to not only nourish hair, but mimic its properties, allowing it to impart an even greater impact.
This ingredient is not as well-known on store shelves, but this observation seems incredibly liable to shift. Those who know and use baobab oil swear by it–a friend of mine once gave me a bottle from Senegal and it did things to my skin I never thought possible. Try a bottle of leave in conditioner with this oil, born of the Baobab tree, if you’re looking for a life-giving leave in conditioner for men.
Plenty of people know about aloe vera’s benefits for skin burns. However, you’ll find that aloe vera abounds across the hair care market as well, especially in leave in conditioner for men. Healthline notes that “Aloe vera contains vitamins A, C, and E. All three of these vitamins contribute to cell turnover, promoting healthy cell growth and shiny hair.” In addition, “Vitamin B12 and folic acid are also contained in aloe vera gel. Both of these components can keep your hair from falling out.”
This is another trendy hair care ingredient of late, but one that’s already thoroughly invaded the collective consciousness. You’ve probably heard of argan oil, even if you don’t know what it is. This silky, thick, sweet smelling oil adds all the lightweight shine benefits you’d normally expect from leave-in conditioner for men, but with a richness closer to the properties of butter. In terms of adding nourishment and shine, argan oil brings in the absolute big guns.
Try Our Contenders for the Best Leave in Conditioner for Men
Leave-In Hair Conditioner by VITAMAN
VITAMAN is sprucing up the neglected mens hair care market with products that are intuitive, accessible, and irresistible to every man. Their straightforward leave in conditioner for men is built step by step, on a sturdy yet innovative foundation that starts with a white tea base, and is fortified with Kakadu Plum Fruit Extract, Argan Kernel Oil, and Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, all botanicals sourced from the Australian Outback. VITAMAN’s offering is certified organic, sustainable, and cruelty-free. Most importantly though, it works. “My first leave in conditioner I’ve ever tried,” writes one reviewer. “I do notice an improvement in how my hair looks. I even substitute this for hair product when I’m going out.
damage remedy™ daily hair repair by AVEDA
If sun, sweat, pollution, heat, cold or what-have-you have left your hair in a rough spot, look no further than this highly-regarded and all-natural miracle cure from holistically-minded hair care company AVEDA. Their daily hair repair revitalizes your strands from the inside out, preventing further breakage with a blend of quinoa protein, macadamia oil and soy. Byrdie awarded this product their 2021 Eco Award for Best Leave-In Conditioner. While AVEDA errs on the side of more unisex than “manly,” their products prove unilaterally, deliciously nice smelling.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner by SheaMoisture
Do your coarse strands require maximum moisture to live their best life? Anyone in need of a little extra thickness will love this tried and true staple from household name SheaMoisture that offers serious thirst-quenching for dry hair, especially wavy, curly, or kinky natural styles. A photographer I met in Chicago today name dropped this leave in conditioner before I could even ask his advice. SheaMoisture pairs the intensely hydrating abilities of rich butter with Jamaican Black Castor Oil, adding apple cider vinegar for clarity, to prevent the moisture from overwhelming the scalp. Peppermint invigorates the scalp further while lendibg this leave in conditioner for men a bracing, masculine aroma.
Mane ‘n Tail Hair Strengthener Leave-In Conditioner
This brand was popular years back when Jennifer Aniston did an ad campaign with them and titillated the world by telling them she relied on a shampoo for horses. However, during the pandemic I started using my roommate’s Mane ‘n Tail that he left in the shower. This is a rare case where the rumors are really quite true. Everything Mane ‘n Tail makes feels like it’s industrial strength, ready to add sheen to an actual pony tail for competitive purposes. This leave in conditioner will not only make your hair look otherworldly, it also strengthen and repairs strands with ingredients like aloe vera and panthenol.
Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Leave-In Treatment by Kiehl’s
No other name rings more synonymous with luxury self-care products of a masculine bent than Kiehl’s. I mean, this is the stuff they stock in the showers at Equinox. However, the true prestige of Kiehl’s lies in the quality of their concoctions. This leave in conditioner for men with damaged, very dry hair improves hair’s quality over time, yielding stronger fibers through an interesting blend of Moringa Tree Oil, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides (the latter two are the hottest moisturizing agents of about the past five years.) Reviewers also note that Kiehl’s leave in conditioner offers these benefits without weighing hair down or causing it to look greasy.
Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Leave In Conditioner
Who says you need a luxury budget to achieve luxury hair? Garnier Fructis makes this ubiquitous leave in conditioner for men and women alike–it’s one of the rare drugstore brands to earn acclaim over and over. Imbued with that notably rich ingredient, argan oil, this thick leave in conditioner tames hair for days and offers just the right amount of scent–tangy, but understated. This is actually the very leave in conditioner I use on my hair after breezy afternoons barrelling down the highways with the windows down. Forget the endless acclaim–that alone should prove this well-loved product’s potency.
All in One Leave In Conditioner by Moroccan Oil
This is another rare company that actually lives up to its hype. Moroccan Oil offers an entire array of hair care products to suit every hairdo, but those with fine hair especially benefit from their lightweight All in One Leave In Conditioner. This product’s spray nozzle mists hair with a gentle cloud of product, keeping hair safe from greasiness while fortifying it with a powerful mix of argan oil, natural-derived sugars and pure amino acids along with superfoods like sunflower seed oil and quinoa and barley extracts. Going lightweight doesn’t mean sacrificing the full range of benefits that makes leave in conditioner for men a necessary step in your self-care routine.