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Conditioner Buying Guide

Buying Guide: Finding The Right Conditioner

The right conditioner can help your hair look healthier, smoother and shinier, while preventing breakage and preserving color. Look for conditioners and ingredients that will bring out the best in your hair type.

Notes on Usage

Todd DiPietro, co-owner of the famous diPietro Todd Salon in San Francisco, CA says that one of the top reasons why people don't like certain conditioners is because "they use them incorrectly. If a conditioner's instructions say to leave it on for three to five minutes, do it." That said, if you don't get results by following directions, try leaving the conditioner in for a minute or two less if it weighed your hair down, or add time if your hair felt dry after the first try . Also, make Make sure to work conditioner through with a detangling comb to cover every single strand.

Hair Type:

Fine or Thin Hair

Fine, thin hair does need conditioning, but stick to lightweight, volumizing formulas that rinse out. You want to boost body and shine and control flyaways, which can occur when your hair isn't properly moisturized.

There are also some ingredients to look for that will help thicken and strengthen fine hair without weighing it down like biotin, caffeine, panthenol and amino acids. If you have fine hair, avoid applying conditioner to the crown area. Start about two inches from the roots, concentrating on ends which need more hydration. Try Warren-Tricomi Style Volumizing Conditioner or Blow Up Daily Volumizing Conditioner, or one of our other great volumizing conditioners.

Normal or Medium Hair

Balanced hydration helps maintain normal hair's healthy texture. You know your hair is normal if you have no specific hair issues, and hair is shiny and doesn't break often. Healthy hair ingredients like vitamins A, C and E, eucalyptus and wheat proteins will maintain moisture levels and preserve your hair's vitality and strength. Look for formulas intended for daily use such as Sally Hershberger Conditioner for Normal to Thick Hair, or Nick Chavez Nourishing Conditioner.

Curly Hair

Curly hair needs moisturizing conditioners to add shine and essential nourishment to hair. Natural scalp oils don't make it past the first few inches of hair, leaving ends dry and frazzled.

Stylists recommend that super curly, kinky hair types should use a conditioner that's high in protein (i.e. listed as one of the first ingredients). Other moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, olive oil and glycerin boost hair hydration, promoting curl elasticity and overall hair health. Check out Liquid Keratin Leave-in Conditioner or Smooth 'N Shine Miracle Leave-In Treatment Conditioner.

Thick Hair

Thick, full strands can often look fuller on the bottom instead of at the roots, and if hair is coarse wayward strands need to be tamed. Softening ingredients such as avocado oil and soy milk will help add weight, create silky texture and smooth out volume. Try Leonor Greyl Masque Orchidee Conditioner or GHD Replenish Conditioner.

"I love using leave-in conditioners. They're especially good at making thick, bushy hair more manageable - it's an extra step, but totally worth it." Hair authority Philip B.

Hair Needs:

Oily Hair

Ironically, a dry scalp causes oily hair. To soothe the dryness, oil glands in the scalp produce an abundance of oil, which causes your hair to look and feel greasy. Conditioner should only be used on the ends of oily hair, and used sparingly, to promote healthy moisture balance. Try weightless formulas such as Abba Pure Basic Conditioner. It seems contradictory, but a weekly oil treatment such as AETO Botanica Scalp De-toxer Oil or Phyto Huile D'ales Intense Hydrating Oil Treatment can help balance your scalp for cleaner, shinier hair.

Dry, Damaged, or Chemically Treated

Hair that is excessively dry or damaged needs the hydrating surge of an intensive treatment such as Jonathan Product Hydrating Mask or leave-in conditioner like ApHogee Pro-Vitamin Leave-in Conditioner to transform parched hair into silky, manageable strands. Moisture from enriching ingredients like argan oil help fill in damaged areas of the cuticle, making your hair smoother, stronger and softer. If your hair is chemically treated, it's a good idea to see if there's a conditioner designed to work with your treatment like Keratin Complex Vanilla Bean Deep Conditioner or Barex Shock Treatment .


There are conditioners formulated for highlighted and color-treated hair, with ingredients designed to seal the cuticle, preserve and protect color from rinsing down the drain. Look for ingredients like amino acids, sunflower extract and UV filters to prevent fading. Try Barex ColourLife Conditioner or one of our other color-conscious conditioners.

Hair Loss:

For hair that's thinning, support growth by adding a specially formulated hair loss shampoo to your regimen. Stimulate the scalp and hair follicles with Revivogen Thickening Conditioner or Tricomin Restructuring Conditioner.

Sun and Swim Protection:

While you may love the great outdoors, sun, sand and swimming can wreak havoc on your locks. Find a protective conditioner that includes sunscreens, and other moisturizing ingredients to keep hair shiny, healthy and free from damage. Try Barex Sun Essentials Conditioner.

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