That pile of stuff on your head you call hair is basically dead, right?
Well … yes and no. Once you get past the living part, where follicles are connected to nerves and muscles, where those cells are reaching into the scalp for nourishment and growth, yeah, after that it’s pretty much done for. But because hair exists both in a living and dead state, it’s important to follow up your shampoo with a hydrating conditioner, which helps keep the scalp healthy by preventing dryness that can lead to flaky dandruff. They reintroduce moisturize post-wash and helps reduce frizz and split ends so you can prolong the time before your next barber visit just a little bit more.
Things to Consider
Like suit measurements and skincare regimens, the best conditioner for you won’t necessarily be the same as someone else’s. With that being said, the most effective conditioners tend to share a baseline of powerful ingredients that work wonders for keeping your hair and scalp in tip-top shape.
- Essential oils: Essential oils offer therapeutic properties that help you tackle the nitty-gritty of your grooming routine, and exude pleasant fragrances for you to carry out into the world afterward. Such deep conditioning oils include peppermint, tea tree, and lavender, among others.
- Carrier oils: In contrast to essential oils, carrier oils are used to help dilute powerful essential oils and make them more soluble for our skin. You’ve likely experienced them already if you use beard or pre-shave oil, but some of the best carrier oils for conditioning your hair include argan oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil. Essentially, they ensure other oils don’t clog your pores or damage your hair, scalp, or skin when cleaning up.
- Vitamins: The best conditioners tend to pack in protein-rich vitamins to help repair and restore your mane. The main vitamin to look for in a conditioner is vitamin B5 (or panthenol), which repairs damage to hair follicles and adds volume to an otherwise thin head of hair.
- Amino acids: Alongside proteins, amino acids are essentially the building blocks of life. Not only do they help protect your scalp and encourage healthy hair growth, but amino acids also help your hair retain water more effectively so you never have to fret over a dry scalp or dealing with a little humidity.
We tested several products to find the best conditioner for every hair type and concern. Ahead are some of our favorites.
Best Conditioner Overall: Seen Conditioner
We tried plenty of great conditioners that could turn even the most brittle strands into silk. Washing them off though was a problem: The majority of conditioners we tested were packed with skin-clogging detergents and silicones (hello, bacne!). That’s why the top honor for this category went to Seen, a vegan haircare line designed by dermatologists that’s non comedogenic, which means it won’t cause breakouts. The conditioner’s key ingredients are Hemisqualane and Bisabolol, a one-two punch that hydrates hair and soothes your scalp and skin. That’s why Seen is a winner of The Manual 2020 Grooming Awards.
Best Conditioner for Dry Hair: Nexxus Conditioner for Dry Hair
Nexxus’s conditioner spins dry strands into shiny locks as if you just came from the barber. Elastin protein helps lock in moisture so your hair looks silky smooth from morning to night.
Best Conditioner for Coarse Hair: Oribe Conditioner for moisture and control
If you tried a deep moisturizing conditioner and still not seeing the results you’ll like, this is the conditioner for you. A deeper-than-deep conditioner that instantly and intensely treats even the coarsest hair for damage repair and effortless detangling.
Best Conditioner for Curly Hair: Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner
Shea Moisture’s Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner is an S.O.S in a bottle. Ingredients like shea butter, sea kelp, and argan oil help detangle, moisturize, and repair hair.
Best Conditioner for Straight Hair: Ouai Fine Hair Conditioner
Like its shampoo counterpart, Ouai’s lightweight Fine Hair Conditioner gives you the softness, bounce, and volume you want, without the extra weight. Keratin and biotin strengthen while hemp extract and chia seed oil keep hair nourished so you can spend less time Facetuning your hair and more time living a “full life.”
Best Conditioner for Thin Hair: Redken High Rise Volume Lifting Conditioner
The lightweight formula includes filloxane, which infuses follicles to help them appear thicker and voluminous.
Best Conditioner for Sensitive Scalps: Jack Black Nourishing Hair and Scalp Conditioner
A cult-favorite among grooming fans, Jack Black’s conditioner is a rich formula that deeply hydrates hair without irritating your scalp thanks to natural ingredients like jojoba oil, peppermint oil, and sea kelp.
Other Conditioners We Love
Sachajuan Scalp Conditioner
Winner of our 2019 Grooming Awards for Best Conditioner, Sachajuan is still a beast at taming dry scalps and dry hair. Climbazole, piroctone olamine, and salicylic acid act as chemical exfoliants to destroy the outer layer of dry skin — flakes and all — while rosemary oil, methold, ginger extract, and oat oil soothe irritation and redness.
Peter Thomas Roth Mega-Rich Conditioner
This vitamin-rich gel smells fantastic and is highly effective.
Playa’s Supernatural Conditioner
We love this down-to-earth California brand because it’s clean, smells like the Yucatan Peninsula, and its conditioner contains super ingredients like balsam copaiba and baobab protein to smooth strands and prevent saltwater damage (perfect to use on your next beach vacation).
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