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How to use a leave-in conditioner for curly hair

Leave-in conditioner: you probably heard of it, but are wondering what it is, right? It’s a very nourishing hair product that absorbs deep into the hair. It contains the right ingredients to properly nourish and hydrate your curls from within. And using a leave-in conditioner regularly will restore the natural shine to your curls. Do you want that too? Then read on!

Also read: Everything you need to know about curls

In this article:

In this article:

What is a leave-in conditioner?

As the name implies: a leave-in conditioner is formulated to be left in your hair, and isn’t meant to be rinsed out of the hair. 

Therefore, the formula is easily absorbed into strands, allowing the ingredients to penetrate deeper for a long-lasting, noticeable difference. 

Because you don’t rinse it out, it protects your curls against external influences, such as cold, heat from the hair dryer or the sun.

Curly hair is often frizzy and brittle, which is why this is a good product to add to your hair routine. You use a leave-in conditioner after washing and before styling your hair. 

It continues to care for your hair throughout the day. Just like the moisturizer you put on your face!

The benefits of a leave-in conditioner include:

  • Ensures that your hair is protected and nourished throughout the day
  • Makes your hair easier to detangle
  • Restores the natural shine of your hair
  • Can help combat frizziness
  • Protects against external influences, such as cold, heat from the hair dryer or the sun
  • Can help your curls appear healthier and more defined
  • It only takes you a minute to apply

How do you use leave-in conditioner for curly hair?

According to the Curly Girl Method, you use a leave-in conditioner while styling your hair. You do this after your washing routine, and before applying gel or other styling products. 

Smooth it thoroughly throughout your hair, while focusing on the shafts and ends. How much you should use varies from person to person. 

In general, a pea-sized amount is enough for medium-length hair of medium thickness. Do you notice that it’s too little? Then you can always add more! 

Then leave it be, no rinsing required. A leave-in conditioner nourishes and protects your hair from natural factors throughout the day.

Can you use a normal conditioner as a leave-in?

If there is no other option, you can use a normal conditioner as a leave-in. But a conditioner is generally made to be rinsed out, and a leave-in is made to stay in your hair all day. 

A leave-in is therefore much lighter than a normal conditioner, so that it doesn’t weigh down your hair. There are of course exceptions to the rule: some products are made to do both!

Also read: 5 tips for deep conditioning your hair

What is the best leave-in conditioner for curly hair?

First of all, it’s good to know that there are two types of leave-in conditioner, with different effects on your hair:

  • Cream: works best for thick, long or curly hair as it weighs down a bit.
  • Spray: better for fine or straight hair, because it’s a bit more lightweight. 

For curly hair, a leave-in conditioner with a creamy, nutrient-rich formula is better as it has hydrating properties. But you still have a lot of products to choose from.

There are leave-in conditioners with protein and leave-in conditioners without protein. To find out which leave-in conditioner matches your hair specifications, it’s useful to determine your hair characteristics. 

Find out your curl and hair type, the elasticity of your hair, and whether it has low or high porosity

With porosity you determine the extent to which hair can absorb and retain moisture, elasticity has to do with the balance between protein and hydration. 

Knowing your hair properties will tell you right away if you need a protein or protein-free leave-in conditioner.

Also read: How to dry curls the right way

Buy a leave-in conditioner

It’s also important that you choose a CG friendly leave-in conditioner, so that it doesn’t contain silicones, sulfates and parabens. All leave-ins in our shop comply with this. 

Some of our favorite leave-in conditioners include As I Am, Cantu, Curl Flo, Curls, Giovanni, Jessicurl, and Novex.

By now you should know everything about a leave-in conditioner for curly hair! Still have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments!


  1. my hair is curly, soft fly away and short shoulder length. I have thinking on the top of head. what do you recommend for this situation or problem. I am cleaning my brush or comb every day with the hair that is coming out.

  2. My hair is dehydrated and curly like the woman in the attached add. I have tried to replicate my beautician’s shingling technique (hair shines and is defined) using leave in conditioner after deep conditioning, rinsed, denman brush and light gel. I style in the shower. The style is curly for 12 hours then frizzy Afro puffed by the next day. Help!

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