Hair-Care Tips

The Best Leave-in Solutions for Dry Hair, Depending on Your Hair Type

Zoe Weiner

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Photo: Stocksy/Leandro Crespi

If you’re dealing with dry hair, fear not: There are a lot of products out there help to mend the situation. The bad news, though, is that having so many choices available can admittedly make it challenging to figure out which one is right for you. As far as leave-in treatments for dry hair go, you’ve got balms, conditioners, oils, serums, and masks, which are same-same-but-different when it comes to hydrating hair.

“All of these products do slightly different things but can be used on any texture hair since they all improve the quality,” says Giselle, a colorist at New York City’s Pierre Michel Salon. In order to suss out which one works best for different hair types and concerns, we chatted with stylists to give us the 411. Read on for everything you need to know.

For all hair types: leave-in conditioner

There’s a good reason why leave-in conditioners are one of the most highly recommended treatment for dealing with dry hair. “A leave-in conditioner is a hydrating cream that absorbs in your hair and helps to seal your ends that could be prone to splitting,” says Lebrecque. Plus, a lot of them also provide heat protection when you apply before styling with a dryer or iron. “Leave-in conditioner can be used by all hair types as frequently as every time you wash, and are especially wonderful for chemically-treated hair,” he says. Plus, you’ll save yourself at least five minutes in the shower.

For short or color-processed hair: hair balm

According to Giselle, hair balms are a good go-to product to help define the curls. They’re slightly heavier than the other options on the list, so may be too heavy for finer textures, but are particularly helpful on short hair and double-processed cuts and colors. Balms are best applied to dry hair, and can either be left in or washed out after 20 minutes depending on the look you want to achieve.

For curls and waves: hair oil

If your dry hair is looking extra blah, reach for a hair oil. “These are mostly for shine, and also help with protecting the hair from environmental elements,” says Giselle. If you’re prone to frizz, celebrity hairstylist Paul Labrecque with Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa adds that an oil helps to add weight in order to smooth out the situation. “They’re great for those with medium to coarser hair texture, and for those wavy to curly strands.” he says.  Natural oils, like argan have long been touted for their hair-hydrating benefits, and can be applied before or after heat styling for added moisture.

For hair that needs a little extra shine: hair serum

Your dry, dead ends–and the dullness they result in—will be no match for the right serum.  These are meant to be applied to dry hair, and function as a styling tool. “Just a small amount is needed for moisturizing dry ends and taming unruly, fly away hair,” says Giselle.

For extra-dry hair: deep conditioning mask

For strands that needs some serious love, reach for a deep conditioning mask, which is meant to be left on your hair for 20 to 30 minutes (or even overnight) in order to work its magic. For best results, apply a deep-conditioning mask this product to your mid-lengths and through the ends of your hair. For best results, Ulta Beauty Pro Team Member Sonya Dove recommends covering your hair with a shower cap to retain the heat from the head, which will “drive the treatment into the hair for extra nourishment.”

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