Conditioner vs. Leave-in Conditioner

by Faith Cancro

Leave-in conditioner is to your haircare routine as syrup is to a sweet breakfast. Pancakes, waffles, French toast- they’re all fine without syrup, but they really need syrup to live up to their full potential. The same goes for your hair. It’s fine without the leave-in conditioner, but it’s really only good once you add the syrup. Similarly, you probably wouldn’t just have syrup without the pancakes- unless you do, in which case I’m not here to judge. Nick Mirabella of The Warehouse Salon explains it by saying “Leave-in conditioner is a tool that you add on to your haircare regimen, it’s not in place of conditioner.”


The common confusion in terms of leave-in versus regular conditioner is which to use and when. The short answer is both. Always. Often people think it’s one or the other, if you use conditioner, you don’t need leave-in, or vice versa. The reality is, both exist for a reason, and making both staples in your haircare routine will definitely prove to be beneficial.


Leave-in conditioner is often used post-wash, when your hair is still wet. Some of the facts Mirabella shares some important facts… Your hair is in its most vulnerable state when it’s wet, and it can stretch up to 1½ times its length when wet. Leave-in conditioner will help prevent that aggressive brushing, thus ripping and destroying your hair, because it will soften your hair and help with the detangling. It’s very difficult to totally avoid any damage, but with a good leave-in and Wet Brush (or any detangling utensil specifically for wet hair) the damage can be significantly lessened.  


Another benefit of leave-in conditioners is they often have heat protectant in them. A personal favorite of mine is Milk Shake Incredible Milk 12 Effects Leave-In Treatment, it not only smells great but detangles, protects from heat, and more. On top of detangling and heat protection, lots of leave in conditioners have other benefits as well. They add moisture. They aid in hair reconstruction. Some even help balance the pH of hair, which has to do with the overall health of the hair. By not rinsing out leave-in and allowing it to sit in the hair, it combats humidity thanks the maintained moisture. Leave-in conditioner and regular conditioner are not the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably, it’s important to have both in your routine. Some salon favorites are Truss Miracle Deluxe Prime Hair Reconstructor and Sudzzfx ColourFix Spray Leave-in Conditioner!


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