When I was younger, I remember my mom giving me a kid-friendly leave-in conditioner that smelled like watermelon. It always left my strands feeling silky smooth and helped her work out all the tangles from long days at the pool. As an adult, I don’t give my hair as much love as it deserves. But with so many kinds of natural leave-in conditioner, that’s about to change.
You can find natural products for your hair in stores, but making your own is easy. With the help of two hairstylists and a doctor who specializes in hair rejuvenation, we found several options for a natural leave-in conditioner that you can make right at home no matter your skills and preferred level of investment.
The best DIY hairs masks, according to experts
Each of the following mixes is made with ingredients that do everything from combat frizz and split ends to up the shine and strength. Essential oils and adaptogens even make an appearance with their numerous benefits. And if you’d rather skip the DIY, that’s fine. We’ve got you covered with the best products you can buy for healthier, silkier hair.
3-ingredient natural leave-in conditioner
Expert: Marina Perkovic, stylist at Eliut Salon
2 oz pure coconut water
2 oz distilled water
1/2 tsp vitamin E (D-alpha-tocopherol)
Mix together your ingredients and pour everything into a glass spray bottle, then use it as needed. This mix also works great in reshaping and refreshing the curls.
Why it’s a must-try
“Pure coconut water is rich in proteins, minerals, and vitamins, and vitamin E gives you an antioxidant boost,” says Perkovic. “If you would like to preserve your leave-in conditioner and add a scent, use 1 to 3 drops of sweet orange and/or lemon essential oil. Citrus essential oils suppress the growth of many bacterias. Limonene, a monoterpene that’s found in the citrus peel, is a strong antibacterial and anti-fungal agent. Other essential oils that can be used as preservative are: rosemary, clove, thyme, tea tree, lavender, and neem.”
5-ingredient natural leave-in conditioner
Expert: Michelle Cleveland, celebrity hairstylist and owner of Hair Addict Salon
2 Tbsp aloe vera gel
1/2 Tbsp vegetable glycerin
2 Tbsp distilled water
4 drops of rosemary essential oil
4 drops any other essential oil of your choice (sunflower/wheatgerm/almond)
Begin to mix all ingredients together, leaving the essential oils for last. Put all ingredients into the spray bottle and start spraying after your normal shampooing routine. Focus on the roots and work your way down. Use this each time you wash your hair to combat frizziness. Be sure to keep it refrigerated.
Why it’s a must-try
Aloe is the key ingredient in this conditioner because it contains enzymes, which repair dead skin cells on the scalp that help your hair become shiny and smooth while also promoting hair growth. The vegetable glycerin will help with any breakage in your hair that was caused by rough winter weather.
7-ingredient natural leave-in conditioner
Expert: Keith Durante, MD, hair rejuvenation expert at The Ash Center
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp aloe vera
1 tsp turmeric with black pepper
1 tsp jojoba oil
1 tsp eucalyptus oil
1 tsp sandalwood shavings
1 tsp ashwagandha
Start with a lymphatic massage to remove toxins in the extracellular matrix. This will help prepare the scalp for the infusions of the nutrients. Then, massage a quarter size amount of the paste into your scalp—more or less can be used depending on hair type. Use it two to three times a week for the first two months, then once a week after that. It’s best done as an overnight treatment and washed off in the morning.
Why it’s a must-try
This leave-in conditioner contains coconut oil, which is an anti-inflammatory and helps alleviate irritation, as well as aloe vera, which increases blood supply, promotes hair growth, reduces shedding, and restores the natural pH balance of the scalp. There’s also turmeric and black pepper, which is shown to decrease inflammation and help improve hair follicles and hair growth, jojoba oil to prevent dandruff and flaking, eucalyptus essential oil to stimulate blood circulation on the scalp and encourage hair growth, sandalwood shavings to promote hair growth and improve the fragrance, and—last but not least—ashwagandha, which helps stimulate circulation, has antioxidants to strengthen the hair shaft and minimize breakage, and reduce itchiness of the scalp and dandruff.
No time for DIY? These are the best natural leave-in conditioners you can buy
This leave-in conditioner from Klorane repairs and prevents split ends, makes your hair soft and shiny, and makes you smell like mangoes. It’s an all-around win.
If frizz is a constant problem, Living Proof’s leave-in conditioner is here to help. It gives an extra boost of lasting moisturize, keeping strands in place, even in super-humid weather.
Green tea and calendula amp up the health of your hair in this alcohol-free, airy leave-in conditioner that’s made for refreshening your strands between shampoos.
The water-based formula in EVOLVh’s natural leave-in conditioner has a secret ingredient: raw lecithin, a natural extract that does wonders in helping strengthen weak stands and preventing breakage. The vegan formula also contains flax for fullness, rice bran and cumin seed oil for protection against heat and UV damage, and bergamot fruit oil to soften and detangle.
It’s a triple-threat. This natural leave-in conditioner that’s infused with essential oils and vitamins works as a detangler, heat protector, and hair reviver.
Photo: Original Sprout
You know when a natural leave-in conditioner is safe enough for babies, it’s safe enough for you. Original Sprout’s version is free of estrogenic plant and animal-derived oils, DEA, colors, and dyes, and it promises to leave your hair soft and never weighed down. Another bonus? You’ll also never have that icky greasy residue leftover.
If you close your eyes while using this leave-in conditioner spray, you might be fooled into believing you’re on a tropical island. Aside from the soothing scent from the coconut milk, you’ll also wind up with super soft and moisturized hair thanks to argan oil, plant-sourced keratin, and aloe leaf juice. No parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or synthetic fragrances needed.
Dry and brittle hair is no match for this leave-in conditioner. Not only does the formula moisturize and detangle. It also has thermal protectors that fights against damage from UV rays and hot tools. All you need to do is spritz it onto wet or towel-dried hair for it to start working its magic. Better yet, it also has a color-safe complex, so you won’t need to worry about any fading going down.
Leave-in conditioner is just the beginning of your healthy haircare must-haves. You can also try this adaptogenic blend that targets stress-induced hair shedding, as well as CBD shampoo and conditioner for the ultimate softness.
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