The Best Drugstore Leave-In Conditioners

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Much like their in-shower counterparts, leave-in conditioners can nourish, soften, and restore dry hair. The best drugstore leave-in conditioners, however, do these jobs for well under $20. Some of them even offer added benefits, like the ability to repair severe damage, protect against heat and environmental aggressors, and give your hair mega shine. The best one for you, then, will depend on your hair type — though all of these leave-in conditioners are great for replenishing moisture and detangling knots.

Generally, hair that's curly or particularly dry will want a leave-in conditioner cream, which tends to be thicker and formulated with a mix of oils and fatty acids that provide more moisture. If your hair is finer in texture, you'll want a lightweight mist (preferably one that's silicone-free), as it's less likely to weigh your hair down or leave it feeling greasy. You can break things down a step further by choosing a formula that targets more specific hair concerns. For instance, those with color-treated hair may want to choose a product that offers UV protection, and anyone who frequently styles their hair with heat (whether it's a blow dryer or curling iron) will want a leave-in conditioner that doubles as a heat protectant. You’ll find options that do all of these things, and more, just below — so keep scrolling to shop the best leave-in conditioners under $20. (Then, check out this expert guide on how to use leave-in conditioner like a pro).

1. The Best Drugstore Leave-In Conditioner, According To Amazon Reviewers

Most leave-in conditioners are strictly meant to be applied on hair that's damp, but this leave-in cream can be used on dry hair, too, to lock in shine (and lock out unwanted frizz). This classic leave-in conditioning cream from Garnier Fructis is a longtime cult-favorite, and one of the most highly rated hair care offerings on Amazon. The cruelty-free and vegan formula uses argan oil to restore hydration, while the brand's own blend of vitamin E, plant protein, and conditioning agents further assist with promoting smoother, more moisturized hair. Take a look at the ingredients list and you'll also notice lemon peel extract, which gives hair a glossy boost. Though Garnier notes that this can be used on all hair types, because it's a cream formula, those with fine hair will want to use it sparingly, at just the ends of their hair only.

2. Best Leave-In Conditioner For Curly Hair

This rich repairing cream is perfect for those with thick or curly hair, particularly if it's extremely dry or damaged. Cantu’s Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream doesn't contain any alcohols or silicones that can secretly zap hair of its moisture, but instead, combines fatty acid-rich shea butter with canola and olive oils. To target damage caused by things like heat styling and chemical treatments, Cantu added hydrolyzed wheat protein and silk amino acids into the formula to strengthen hair and reduce breakage. For a more intense treatment, you can also use this as an overnight hair mask — just use extra product and sleep in a processing cap to prevent your pillows from getting stained.

3. Best Leave-In Conditioner For Frizzy Hair

All of the leave-in conditioners on this list will give your hair a smoother finish, but John Frieda’s Frizz Ease leave-in conditioner was specifically formulated to reduce the type of frizz that occurs from damage and humidity. The secret is the moisture-rich blend of vitamins B5 and E, hydrolyzed vegetable and wheat proteins, and olive oil, which help give hair a smoother appearance by reducing the hair's porosity and sealing in moisture and shine. Part of the John Frieda Frizz Ease collection, this leave-in also notes that it protects against heat and sun damage, and is safe to use on hair that's color and chemically treated.

4. Best Leave-In Conditioner To Reduce Breakage

If you have damaged hair that you’re hoping to grow longer, Marc Anthony's Grow Long Leave-In Conditioner combines several ingredients that are thought to help promote hair growth, like caffeine, ginseng extract, and biotin. The formula also contains coconut oil and vitamin E to provide instant nourishing and detangling benefits, while also leaving behind a nice bit of shine.

5. Best Leave-In Conditioner & Heat Protectant Cream

For maximum heat protection, this leave-in conditioner treatment from L’Oréal Paris promises to keep hair protected from hot styling tools that reach up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Featuring almond oil extract and hydrolyzed wheat protein as the star ingredients, the treatment also leaves hair feeling immediately softer while further protecting against split ends and breakage.

6. Best Leave-In Conditioner For The Beach

This lightweight leave-in spray from Sun Bum checks a lot of boxes when it comes to common hair concerns, all without being heavy or greasy. It uses coconut oil, hydrolyzed quinoa protein, sunflower seed oil, and banana pulp to provide protection from damaging UV rays while keeping hair shiny, moisturized, and smooth. As the name and packaging suggest, it has a tropical scent that makes it the perfect companion for the beach.

Studies referenced:

Modification of wheat gluten for improvement of binding capacity with keratin in hair, by Shukun Wang, Danyang Meng, Sisi Wang, Zhong Zhang, Ruijin Yang, and Wei Zhao;

Role of Caffeine in the Management of Androgenetic Alopecia, by Manish Bansal, Kajal Manchanda, and Shyam Sunder Pandey;

Red Ginseng Extract Promotes the Hair Growth in Cultured Human Hair Follicles, by Gyeong-Hun Park, Ki-young Park, Hong-il Cho, Sang-Min Lee, Ji Su Han, Chong Hyun Won,Sung Eun Chang, Mi Woo Lee, Jee Ho Choi, Kee Chan Moon, Hyoseung Shin, Yong Jung Kang, and Dong Hun Lee;

A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss, by Deepa P. Patel, Shane M. Swink,c and Leslie Castelo-Soccioa;