13 Best Drugstore Leave-in Conditioners for Silky, Smooth Hair

Written by Alvira Dsouza, Hair Expert
Updated on May 14, 2024
best drugstore leave-in conditioner
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Amidst tales of bad hair days and styling mishaps, grappling with unruly manes and locks is a daily battle we all have faced! To ease your hair from being tugged anymore, I have hand-picked the best drugstore leave-in conditioners that help with common, day-to-day “hair-nundrums”.

For those with wavy, curly, or frizzy hair seeking deeper nourishment and protection, I believe the beauty aisle at every local drugstore offers some drugstore products that are really good and really underrated. Especially leave-in conditioners are products where one can truly save a fortune while still providing their hair with sublime moisturization benefits. 

While intensive hair masks and deep conditioning products are painstaking to use and are occasional treats for the mane, a leave-in conditioner is a reliable friend for everyday use. Whether available in the form of a spray, mist, serum, or cream, leave-in conditioners are super-easy to use. And, unlike rinse-off products, these formulations grant the haircare ingredients enough time to penetrate the mane and work their magic. 

So, say goodbye to hair troubles and hello to your best hair days yet — with my handpicked list awaiting below!

13 Best Drugstore Leave-In Conditioners

Marc Anthony’s leave-in conditioning spray doesn’t just condition the hair but also refreshes the strands using the properties of infused caffeine, ginseng, and vitamin E. These key ingredients work synergistically to invigorate the scalp and catalyze healthy hair growth, whereas the overall formulation diminishes the risk of hair breakage and dullness (studies conducted by the Skin Pharmacology And Physiology and the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology).

After testing it, I observed that this formula replenishes dry and brittle hair, and even aids in reducing split ends. This product is suited for all hair types, and it barely takes a few spritzes and seconds to work its magic!

Pros
  • Imparts shine
  • Affordable
  • Smells amazing
  • Makes strands softer
  • Lightweight formula
  • Convenient use
  • Phthalate-free
Cons
  • The sprayer could be better
  • Leaves hair slightly greasy
  • Best for Long Hair

    Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Leave-in Conditioner

    Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Leave-in Conditioner
  • When the first pick in my list impresses, it sets a high bar for the next — and the Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Leave-in Conditioner certainly rises to the challenge. This drugstore hair moisturizer boasts an exclusive blend of Active Fruit Protein, citrus extracts, and enriching vitamins B3 & B6, all aimed at fortifying the hair for a stronger, healthier appearance. 

    Infused with Moroccan argan oil, it deeply penetrates frizzy, dry, and unmanageable hair, delivering long-lasting smoothness. Remarkably, it keeps frizz at bay even in excess humidity, ensuring your hair remains fresh, sleek, and manageable.

    Pros
    • Brings smoothness and shine to hair
    • Makes hair lustrous
    • Invigorating formula
    • Replenishes individual strands
    • Cruelty-free
    • Vegan
    Cons
    • Not for fine, low-porosity hair
  • Best for Thick, Coarse Hair

    Paul Mitchell The Conditioner

    Paul Mitchell The Conditioner
  • This celebrity hairstylist-approved gem, Paul Mitchell The Conditioner, has been a positive upgrade for my hair care routine. Its unique blend of ingredients, including Hawaiian awapuhi, works wonders in smoothing the texture of coarse hair, making it soft and touchable! Moreover, it wards off dehydration and keeps the locks nourished. 

    Having tried it out, I discovered that this leave-in conditioner doubles up as an excellent skin moisturizer during trials. It was a delightful bonus. It is suitable for all hair types, and I personally feel that its refreshing herbal scent — comprising notes of lavender, rosemary, and leafy greens — is the cherry on top.

    Pros
    • Ideal for daily use
    • Suitable for all hair types
    • Color-safe
    • Vegan
    • Paraben-free
    • Gluten-free
    Cons
    • Could weigh down very fine hair types
  • Best Spray-on Formula

    Daily Dose Leave-in Conditioner

    Daily Dose Leave-in Conditioner
  • Daily Dose’s leave-in conditioner has truly revolutionized my hair care routine with its easy-to-use formula. It's a game-changer for any hair type — wavy, curly, coily, fine, dry, damaged, and even bleached hair like my own. What I adore about this product is its simplicity; the spray system makes application a breeze, ensuring even coverage and deep nourishment. 

    Its power-packed ingredients effortlessly detangle and moisturize, while also preventing breakage and safeguarding my color-treated locks. The best part? It leaves no greasy residue behind, and most reviews I've come across agree with this.

     

    Pros
    • Excellent detangler
    • Great for all hair textures
    • Award-winning product
    • Cruelty-free
    • Gluten-free
    • Vegan
    Cons
    • Some users dislike the scent
    • Bottle nozzle could clog over time
  • Best for Natural Hair

    As I Am Classic Leave-in Conditioner

    As I Am Classic Leave-in Conditioner
  • This formulation boasts the goodness of coconut, saw palmetto, gooseberry, green tea, and fruit extracts for deep nourishment and antioxidant protection. The formula improves the hair texture impressively by softening it and restoring its vitality and bounce. 

    While still a great styling product for almost all hair textures, the rich, moisture-drenched formula of this drugstore leave-in conditioner is ideal for curly and coily hair. Also, its dark packaging shields it from harsh sun exposure, preventing an early expiration. If there's one area for improvement, it would be its consistency — a little lighter, and it would be perfection in a bottle.

    Pros
    • Cruelty-free
    • Vegan
    • Organic formula
    • Clean scent
    • Detangles curls
    • Eases wet combing
    Cons
    • May make straight hair frizzy over time
  • Best for Tangled Hair

    The Honest Company Nourish Conditioning Detangler

    The Honest Company Nourish Conditioning Detangler
  • Crafted from naturally derived ingredients, this conditioner ‘honestly’ stands out as a solution for detangling knots and taming unruly strands. It is composed of ingredients like coconut, jojoba, Moroccan argan oil, and shea butter, which offer a plethora of haircare benefits (studies by Scientific Reports, the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, and the American Journal of Life Sciences). These goodies, in addition to the extracts of chamomile and calendula richly moisturize the hair and invigorate it with antioxidants. 

    Besides, the formula is so light that I use it very liberally! A fantastic feature — it comes in four awesome fragrances, namely sweet almond, citrus vanilla, lavender, and sweet cream. Each scent promises to leave your locks smelling divine, day in and day out.

    Pros
    • Hypoallergenic
    • Cruelty-free
    • Gluten-free
    • Made in USA
    • Protects from oxidative stress
    • Dermatologist-tested
    • Paraben-free
    • Gentle for babies
    Cons
    • Less in quantity for value
  • Best for Fine Hair

    Kristin Ess Hair Weightless Shine Leave-In Conditioner

    Kristin Ess Hair Weightless Shine Leave-In Conditioner
  • Taking the top spot for the best drugstore leave-in conditioner has to be the Kristin Ess Hair Weightless Shine Leave-In Conditioner. Its blend of panthenol, hydrolyzed pea protein, sunflower seed oil, mango seed butter, avocado oil, and castor oil boosts moisture in the hair and has a restorative effect on it (study by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences).  And, it doesn’t weigh the hair down.

    Suitable for variant hair types like straight, frizzy, dull, and curly kinks, it works wonders in detangling the hair and boosting shine. Plus, the fragrance of The One Signature in the conditioner — combining ambrette seed, magnolia, and sandalwood — is simply divine in my books.

    Pros
    • Paraben-free
    • Smells amazing
    • Cruelty-free
    • Makes hair stronger
    • Unisex
    • Even application
    • Easy to store
    Cons
    • May cause hair fall for delicate hair types
  • Best for Damaged Hair

    L'Oréal Professionnel Absolut Repair Molecular Leave-in Mask

    L'Oréal Professionnel Absolut Repair Molecular Leave-in Mask
  • The L'Oréal Repair Molecular Mask is an ‘absolute’ winner choice for those constantly battling hair styling demands, like models and influencers. This professional-grade leave-in treatment aims to restore hair strength to color-treated hair while offering heat protection up to 450°F. At first, the vanilla and floral scent was what sealed the deal in testing this product, but what got me to stay was its lasting results.  

    With peptides, bonders, and amino acids present in its formulation, the product aims to smoothen, nourish, and ultimately repair hair fiber that has been through a lot of heat damage. Many reviewers vouch that this leave-in mask ultimately delivers results based on consistent use over time and mention how its scent is a chef’s kiss!

    Pros
    • Creamy texture
    • Smells good
    • Ideal for all hair types
    • Boosts hair elasticity
    • Best for damaged color-treated locks
    • Recyclable packaging
    Cons
    • Not hypoallergenic
  • Best Scented Leave-in Conditioner

    Saints & Sinners Velvet Divine Leave-In Conditioner

    Saints & Sinners Velvet Divine Leave-In Conditioner
  • On trying it out, the Saints & Sinners Velvet Divine leave-in conditioner surpassed my expectations as it made my hair a lot more manageable without weighing it down, which is a bit uncommon Its cream-to-mist design makes your ringlets and strands manageable and offers protection, making it perfect for all hair types, including mine. 

    With ingredients like rapeseed oil, aloe leaf juice, ascorbic acid, and citric acid, the formula nestles antioxidants and hydration into the mane without any harsh chemicals. I love the shine it adds, and the fragrance it leaves behind while the nozzle design ensures easy application and value for the health it brings to my locks.

    Pros
    • Paraben-free
    • Innovative formula
    • Luxurious fragrance
    • Natural ingredients
    • Adds a polished shine to hair
    • Easy and even application
    Cons
    • Not ideal for curly hair
  • Best for Daily Use

    Aluram Leave-In Conditioner

    Aluram Leave-In Conditioner
  • I've finally found my holy grail in the Aluram Leave-in Conditioner. This silicone-free conditioner spray almost feels like a fluffy cloud that injects the hair with intense hydration and shine. Its rich blend of quinoa and nettle extracts strengthens my strands, while marula oil ensures they're deeply moisturized and soft (research by the Clinical, Cosmetic, And Investigational Dermatology, Biotechnology Reports, and the Journal of Ethnopharmacology).

    I'm amazed at how it also provides a protective shield against heat damage and UV rays, keeping my color looking vibrant. I suggest this charming pick for non-treated hair and color-treated hair to ultimately enhance its elasticity and leave it glowing like a star after each wash.

    Pros
    • Offers thermal protection
    • Hydrates the hair
    • Color-safe formula
    • Vegan and cruelty-free
    • Sulfate-free
    • Paraben-free
    Cons
    • Not ideal for dry/drier hair
  • Men Solutions By Great Clips Leave-in Conditioner

    Men Solutions By Great Clips Leave-in Conditioner
  • Men Solutions By Great Clips Leave-in Conditioner is the best conditioner for men seeking “stud-worthy” hair. Packed with potent ingredients like hydrolyzed rice proteins, keratin amino acids, biotin, jojoba oil, and extracts from thyme, sage, nettle, rosemary, and peppermint, this moisturizing conditioner glides through the hair like butter, making it an ideal choice for those battling dryness. 

    After application, it shows another trick by adding a subtle texture and hold, ensuring your hair stays stylishly in place. Given its effectiveness and the positive buzz it's generated among the hair community, I'm confidently awarding this product a solid 4.5 out of 5.

    Pros
    • Contains natural extracts
    • Moisturizes the hair
    • Easy to use
    • Immediate effect on hair
    • Good quality and quantity for value
    Cons
    • Very light hold
  • ABBA Complete All-in-One Leave-in Spray

    ABBA Complete All-in-One Leave-in Spray
  • I recently gave the ABBA Complete’s conditioning spray a try, and I must say, it's been a delightful addition to my hair care routine. With the formula being infused with Abyssinian, coconut, and watermelon seed oils, this rich concoction works like a key to your dry locks. It ticks the mark for being lightweight and moisturizing as it improves comb-ability and minimizes breakage. 

    The thermal protection is a bonus, ensuring one’s hair remains undamaged from heat styling. Moreover, as a vegan product, it also aligns with not mine but many people’s lifestyle choices. Contrary to what the name might suggest, I find it exceptionally effective for my fine, easily tangled hair.

    Pros
    • Great smell
    • Works with knots
    • Easy to apply
    • Great value
    • Cruelty-free
    • Gluten-free
    Cons
    • Not ideal for excessive heat styling
  • Virtue Purifying Leave-In Conditioner

    Virtue Purifying Leave-In Conditioner
  • For post-shower detangling, I've found a virtuous pick that stands out for its thoughtful blend of ingredients. It's enriched with amino acids to nourish hair deeply, while benzophenone-4 acts as a light stabilizer, minimizing UV damage. 

    I was swayed to give this one a go by a reviewer who shared how effectively it leaves her hair soft, silky, and shiny. The conditioner’s texture felt light and ideal for fine and straight hair, and while trying it indeed enhanced the natural luster with consistent use. So, I give this one a rating of 4.4 for its ability to deliver results without causing more harm to your locks.

    Pros
    • Deals with flyaways
    • Gluten-free
    • Vegan
    • Safe for color-treated hair
    • Easy to use and store
    Cons
    • Not silicone-free

    Now let's read the following buying guide to help you find the best drugstore leave-in conditioner for your locks without any guesswork.

    What to Search in Drugstore Leave-in Conditioners?

    When you're standing in the hair care aisle of your local drugstore, staring at rows upon rows of bottles promising to transform your locks, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. But fear not, because finding the perfect leave-in conditioner doesn't have to be a daunting task. Here's a friendly guide on what to look for in drugstore leave-in conditioners to ensure you're getting the best bang for your buck.

    1. Ingredients Matter: Look for natural moisturizers like coconut extracts, shea butter, mango seed butter, and olive oil, as well as other plant-based oils and butters that can offer long-lasting nourishment through a leave-in formulation. 

    In addition, humectants such as panthenol, glycerin, and fruit extracts, are great for providing lightweight hydration, and bond-repair ingredients like keratin, elastin, plant proteins, and silk amino acids are great for replenishing the hair.

    2. Hair Type Compatibility: Consider your hair type when selecting a leave-in conditioner, like you would for any other haircare product. If you have fine hair and an oily scalp, opt for a lightweight formula that won't weigh your hair down. On the other hand, if you have high-porosity hair that is thick and curly, you may benefit from a richer, creamier formula for extra moisture and definition.

    The product label itself would guide you a lot through this process 

    3. Frizz Control: Frizz can be the bane of many of our existences, especially on humid days. Look for a leave-in conditioner that offers frizz-control properties. Ingredients like glycerin and silicone can help smooth the hair cuticle, reducing frizz and leaving your hair looking sleek and shiny.

    4. UV And Antioxidant Protection: A leave-in conditioner that offers UV and antioxidant protection would be an excellent investment, an would save yoru expenses on a heat protectant. To ensure that your leave-in conditioner provides sun protection — look for UV filters — such as titanium dioxide, and well as natural oils — like sunflower oil — with UV-blocking properties can help keep your hair healthy and vibrant. 

    Moreover, essential oils such as rosemary and tea tree, as well as argan oil, green tea, nettle extracts, and vitamins A, B, C, and E, have excellent antioxidant properties and protect your hair from oxidative stress.

    5. Detangling Power: If you struggle with knots and tangles, a leave-in conditioner with detangling properties is a must-have. Look for formulations specifically designed to ease the detangling process, making combing or brushing your hair a breeze. Ingredients like silk proteins or keratin can help smooth the hair cuticle, reducing tangles and breakage.

    6. Scent: It’s always nice to have a haircare product that smells really good. Choose a leave-in conditioner with a fragrance that appeals to you and fits your personal preference. Whether you prefer floral, fruity, or fresh scents, finding a product that smells delightful can make your hair care routine a more enjoyable experience.

    How to Use a Drugstore Leave-in Conditioner?

    Using a drugstore leave-in conditioner is a straightforward process. So, to lay it out for you in a simple manner, I have a step-by-step guide on how to incorporate it into your hair care routine:

    1. Start with Clean, Damp Hair: After shampooing and conditioning your hair, gently towel-dry it until it's damp but not dripping wet. Your hair should be clean and free of excess water before applying the leave-in conditioner.

    2. Dispense the Product: Depending on the formulation of your leave-in conditioner (spray, cream, or serum), dispense an appropriate amount into your palm. For shorter hair, a dime-sized amount may suffice, while longer or thicker hair may require more product.

    3. Apply Evenly: Rub the leave-in conditioner between your palms to distribute it evenly. Then, starting from the mid-lengths to the ends of your hair, apply the product, focusing on areas that are prone to dryness or damage. Avoid applying the conditioner directly to your scalp, as this can weigh down your hair and make it appear greasy.

    4. Comb Through: Use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to gently comb through your hair, ensuring that the leave-in conditioner is evenly distributed from root to tip. 

    5. Style as Desired: Once the leave-in conditioner is applied, you can proceed with your usual styling routine. Whether you prefer to air-dry your hair or use heat styling tools, the leave-in conditioner will help protect your hair from damage and keep it looking healthy and hydrated.

    6. Use Throughout the Day (Optional): Depending on your hair's needs, you can also use a leave-in conditioner as a touch-up product throughout the day. Simply apply a small amount to dry or frizzy areas to refresh your hairstyle and add moisture as needed.

    7. Avoid Overuse: While leave-in conditioners are great for adding moisture and nourishment to your hair, using too much product can weigh down your hair and make it look greasy. Start with a small amount and adjust as needed based on your hair's texture and length.

    Conclusion

    As much as one wants the luxe treatment, nothing compares to the simplicity of the best drugstore leave-in conditioners for hair care. They are not only affordable but garner love from various people for their quality too. After exploring numerous options, the Marc Anthony Grow Long Leave-In Conditioner Spray and the As I Am Classic Leave-In Conditioner stand out as the best drugstore finds. Both offer unique benefits tailored to different needs, ensuring your hair remains healthy and vibrant. To understand your specific hair needs better, ensure you go through our buying guide before making a purchase. Happy shopping!

    FAQ's

    Can I use a leave-in conditioner every day?
    Yes, you can use a leave-in conditioner daily. It's lightweight and helps maintain hair hydration without causing buildup, making it suitable for everyday use.
    Are there any leave-in conditioners specifically designed for color-treated hair?
    Yes, there are leave-in conditioners designed for color-treated hair. They help maintain color vibrancy and provide extra moisture and protection against fading.
    Can one use a leave-in conditioner on oily hair?
    Yes, but choose a lightweight, non-greasy formula for oily hair. It can help manage frizz and detangle without adding extra oil to your scalp and strands.
    Can one use a leave-in conditioner on dry hair?
    Absolutely, leave-in conditioners are ideal for dry hair. They provide essential moisture and nutrients, helping to hydrate and revive dry, brittle strands throughout the day.
    Can sensitive scalps use a leave-in conditioner?
    Yes, there are hypoallergenic leave-in conditioners formulated for sensitive scalps. Look for products free from harsh chemicals, fragrances, and dyes to avoid irritation.

    Why Trust Pinkvilla

    Alvira, our in-house hair care expert, has meticulously curated this list of the best drugstore leave-in conditioners. Drawing from her extensive knowledge, research, and experience with product texting, she has selected products that nourish, protect, and revitalize the hair. These products are excellent investments for everyday hair care, and are more pocket-friendly and democratic compared to high-end hair masks. 

    Our product experts study the specifications of every product we suggest and try them out to bring what’s proven to be worthy of your money, time, and energy. We also have subject matter experts from various fields like Fashion, Skincare, Haircare, Home Decor, and Health and fitness on board to make sure our suggestions are credible and trustworthy. You can trust Select to be your faithful shopping guide for all the right reasons!

    Author BIO
    reviewer
    Alvira Dsouza
    Hair Expert

    With a keen eye for detail and a passion for hairstyling, Alvira is a certified Hair Expert who brings the latest tre More