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You’re deep conditioning weekly, getting regular hair trims, and sleeping on satin pillowcases so you can finally have the hydrated, defined, and frizz-free curls of your dreams. So why are they still dry, dull and damaged? Your hard work may feel pointless because you’ve yet to get familiar with a leave-in product for natural hair. And we see no better time than now to change that.
Simply put, leave-in conditioners, primers and treatments make hair less prone to breakage by allowing the hair to hold on to more moisture for longer periods of time. And like styling products for natural hair, there are enough options to leave you feeling so overwhelmed, that you never make a decision. So to help us nail down the best of the best, we turned to Kendall Dorsey, celebrity hairstylist to Solange, Lizzo, Usher, Nicki Minaj, and Cutler Salon senior stylist, Mike Martinez.
Here, they explain their favorite leave-ins for those who regularly put their hair through the wringer and loathe product build-up, and even offer suggestions for those looking for a quick refresher.
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1. Bumble and bumble Tonic Lotion
Modeled after old school barber elixirs, this primer hydrates and de-tangles all types of hair. “It goes on wet or dry, but the real charm is that you can’t use too much of it,” says Martinez. “It layers well with just about any other product and the tea-tree is a nice touch on the scalp.”
2. Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Leave-In Conditioner
Give your curls some TLC with this mix of wheat protein and pro-vitamin B5 that fortifies your curls so they are healthier and won’t break when detangling. If you’re a sucker for floral scents, the lavender and Japanese honeysuckle notes will instantly put you in a trance.
3. Davines OI All In One Milk
We love that this lightweight multi-purpose milk can be used as a primer or a leave in. It also prevents and controls frizz while also softening the hair. “Some clients swear they don’t even need a conditioner with this because this milk de-tangles so well,” says Martinez.
4. Redken Frizz Dismiss Rebel Tame
The secret to this cult-favorite leave-in conditioner? It also doubles as a heat protectant. “Unlike other leave-in conditioners, this one blow dries into the hair really well,” says Martinez. “And, don’t be afraid to just let it air dry as well.”