The Best Leave-In Conditioners For Bleached Hair

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by Isabella Sarlija
Elite Daily/Amazon

Bleach works by breaking down the fatty acids around the hair shaft, where it can then effectively make its way inside the shaft to lift darker pigments. This creates lighter hair, sure, but can also lead to hair dryness and, in more severe cases, limp texture and breakage. The secret to keeping your bleached hair strong and healthy? Leave-in conditioner (though you’ll also want to incorporate a great rinse-out conditioner, or hair mask, into your washing routine). According to colorist Hitomi Ikeda, who spoke to Elite Daily for this article, the best leave-in conditioners for bleached hair contain ingredients like keratin and collagen to help repair broken bonds and restore your hair’s strength and luster.

The Expert

Hitomi Ikeda is a Master Colorist at Rob Peetoom Salon in Williamsburg. Brooklyn.

How Does Bleach Damage Hair?

If you decide to give yourself an at-home bleach job and leave the bleach on your hair for too long, it can cause irreparable damage to the hair shaft, which can then lead to dryness, brittleness, and in the most severe cases, breakage. But, have no fear — bleaching in and of itself isn’t all too terrible of a beauty practice when done properly under the care of a professional. (Whether done at home or in the salon, bleach is most likely going to cause some sort of damage — but the amount of damage is significantly less when done by a professional.) When done correctly, bleach safely lifts natural pigments and hair dye to set the stage for new color. Other than lifting pigment, bleach also lifts the hair’s cuticles, leading to higher hair porosity. When hair has a high porosity (aka, it’s more porous), it’s more prone to moisture loss and, in turn, frizz.

How To Narrow Down The Best Leave-In Conditioners For Bleached Hair

According to Ikeda, “Keratin, collagen, and protein are all great ingredients to look for in a leave-in conditioner for bleached hair.” Ikeda explains that these ingredients help to build back broken bonds and restore any damage that might have occurred from bleaching. In addition, you’ll want to look for moisturizing ingredients like argan oil and coconut oil, which can penetrate deep into the cortex to restore your hair’s health.

To apply leave-in conditioner, first, shampoo and condition your hair as you normally would. Ikeda recommends using shampoos and conditioners that contain citric or lactic acid to “[rebalance] the pH levels and help re-strengthen the hair post-bleach.” After you are done, use a microfiber towel or hair wrap to wick away excess moisture. Then, apply a dime-size amount of leave-in conditioner through the mid-ends of your damp hair (or, if it’s a spray bottle, mist it on liberally) before styling as you normally would.

Shop The Best Leave-In Conditioners For Bleached Hair

In a hurry? Here are the best leave-in conditioners for bleached hair:

  1. The Best Leave-In Conditioner Under $10: Cantu Shea Butter Hydrating Leave-In Conditioning Mist
  2. The Best All-in-One Leave-In Conditioner: Pureology Color Fanatic Leave-in Conditioner
  3. The Best Luxury Leave-In Conditioner With Keratin: Virtue Labs Leave-In Conditioner
  4. The Best Budget Leave-In Conditioner With Keratin: CHI Keratin Leave-In Conditioner
  5. The Best Leave-In Conditioner With Collagen: Luseta Biotin & Collagen Leave-In Conditioner

1. The Best Leave-In Conditioner Under $10


  • Works well for people with hair types 3 and 4.
  • At under $10 for an 8-ounce bottle, it’s the most affordable leave-in conditioner on this list.


  • Some reviewers mention that this product leaves their hair feeling slightly greasy.

If you have curly hair, you might already be familiar with the trials that come along with caring for your bleached curls. Cantu’s leave-in conditioner adds a springy bounce back to your curls with ingredients like pure shea butter, castor oil, and argan oil. This formula makes sure that your bleached hair gets the serving of moisture it needs, while hair-building hydrolyzed proteins and silk amino acids work to mend split ends and add shine.

Key Ingredients: Pure shea butter, castor oil, hydrolyzed proteins, silk amino acids, argan oil Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 8 oz.

Relevant Review: “I love this and will buy it again. Smells very good — like coconut. It [has] made my hair soft [even though] I’ve bleached my hair a lot. I have curly 3A hair and sometimes I will only use this in my hair instead of adding a mouse or gel.”

2. The Best All-in-One Leave-In Conditioner & Hair Protectant


  • Specifically designed for color-treated hair.
  • Acts as a heat- and color-protectant.


  • It’s pretty fragrant — this might pose an issue for those sensitive to smells.
  • Pricey.

Taking care of bleached hair is all about restoring moisture and repairing broken bonds — but what would it look like if you could take care of your dye job at the same time? Pureology’s leave-in conditioner fills a hole in the market with its ultra-moisturizing formula that contains a patented Antifade Complex®, which helps to protect and preserve your color, whether you bleached your whole head or just got a few highlights. If that isn’t enough, this leave-in conditioner also contains vegetable proteins to build back broken bonds while simultaneously balancing your hair’s pH, protecting against heat damage, and even acting as a primer for the rest of your styling routine. Who doesn’t love a product that can do it all?

Key Ingredients: Coconut oil, xylose, camellia seed oil, olive oil, vegetable proteins Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 6.7 oz.

Relevant Review: “I just had my hair bleached and highlighted so its extremely dry and brittle. I've been experimenting with a few leave in conditioners and this one is by far the best. My hair finally no longer feels like straw.”

3. The Best Luxury Leave-In Conditioner With Keratin


  • Contains a revolutionary type of keratin that’s derived from real, ethically sourced human hair.


  • It may not offer enough moisture for people with 4A — 4C curls.
  • Pricey, especially considering that it contains the least amount of product on this list.

Virtue Labs acquires its keratin right from the source: real human hair. This leave-in conditioner contains Virtue Labs’ proprietary Alpha Keratin 60ku, which works by locating (and repairing) damage on your individual strands, resulting in hair that feels stronger and healthier. If you plan on rocking your bleached hair while out and about this summer, Virtue Labs’ Leave-In Conditioner also contains amino acids for nourishment and benzophenone-4 to help minimize UV damage.

Key Ingredients: Alpha Keratin 60ku, amino acids blend, benzophenone-4 Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 5 oz.

Relevant Review: “I really am loving this leave in conditioner. It has a wonderful smell to it. I spray it on my hair after I have towel dried, then comb it through and blow-dry. It leaves my hair so silky and smooth. At the end of the day before bed I spray it on my dry hair and brush it through. I feel like it helps condition it overnight.”

4. The Best Budget Leave-In Conditioner With Keratin


  • It contains a slow-release keratin system for an all-day treatment.
  • At under $15, it’s pretty affordable.


  • None.

Leave-in conditioners can sometimes be too heavy for people with fine hair, which can lead to a lack of volume and potential buildup over time. But, there’s not reason to be trepidatious about using styling products on your fine hair; I promise, there *are* products that will work for you. CHI’s leave-in conditioner adds structure and moisture to dry hair without any unnecessary volume-diminishing weight. This leave-in conditioner contains Keratrix, which utilizes a slow-release system technology to strengthen bleached hair with keratin, peptides, and amino acids throughout the day.

Key Ingredients: Keratin amino acids, argan oil, jojoba oil Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 6 oz.

Relevant Review: “1st time I’ve ever bought this item. Have been bleaching my pixie haircut for years! Finally I’ve found ‘the one’ product that’s a cure for the crispy fried blonde feel post-bleach job. Smells amazing. I’m buying more soon.”

5. The Best Leave-In Conditioner With Collagen


  • At 8.5 ounces, it’s the biggest bottle on this list.
  • Contains biotin, an ingredient that’s long been associated with hair growth and strength.


  • There is very little research on whether biotin causes hair growth or not — I do not recommend this leave-in conditioner as a replacement for your current hair growth routine.

You don’t have to sip on collagen-rich bone broth every day to achieve strong, shiny hair. Luseta’s leave-in conditioner contains hydrolyzed collagen, which is a broken-down version of collagen that absorbs easier into the body. While hydrolyzed collagen helps to repair broken hair, argan oil and omega-rich sunflower seed oil add moisture, as well as a glossy sheen. This also contains biotin, which has long been hailed for its purported hair-growth-encouraging abilities (though, as mentioned above, the actual science behind this claim is lacking).

Key Ingredients: Biotin, citric acid, hydrolyzed collagen, argan oil, sunflower seed oil Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 8.5 oz

Relevant Review: “This stuff is a miracle in a bottle. I have fine hair thats been bleached so it's dry. One use of this product turned my unruly hair into soft and manageable.”