Can you put leave in conditioner on dry hair?

By: | Last Updated: May 4, 2023

If you have curly hair, then you know how it can feel dry and frizzy if you don’t give it enough moisture after washing it.

But on days when you’re rushing out the door, you can sometimes jumble up your hair routine and forget that you haven’t applied leave-in conditioner in the right order. 

So now you’re conflicted on whether you should brave out the elements without a moisturizing product or apply it on completely dry hair.

To help you solve your conundrum, this article will explore whether you can apply a leave-in conditioner to dry hair. 

What is a leave-in conditioner?

A leave-in conditioner is a type of moisturizing hair product that you don’t need to rinse out after. It locks in moisture in your hair strands to improve detangling and protects against frizz

Depending on the formula, it can also help repair and nourish dry and damaged hair to help you achieve naturally healthy strands.

Though you shouldn’t replace your conditioner with a leave-in conditioner, it’s still considered an underrated product because many take it for granted. 

Although curly, wavy, and thick hair can greatly benefit from using it, all hair types should take advantage of adding a boost of moisture.

If you also have the habit of styling your hair by blow-drying, curling, or straightening it daily, applying a leave-in conditioner can help protect it from damage by acting as an extra barrier against the heat.

How often should you use a leave-in conditioner?

Applying leave-in conditioner on your hair every day isn’t necessary, but it’s advised that you use it every time you wash it. The porosity of your strands can also play a part, so it’s essential to determine it.

For instance, low-porosity hair has trouble absorbing moisture since it has tightly packed cuticles. 

While high-porosity hair has the ability to absorb moisture, it can also release it just as quickly because of its open cuticles. 

Consider yourself lucky if you have medium porosity hair because it can absorb and hold onto moisture to maintain healthy strands.

To know how often you should apply a leave-in conditioner, refer to the quick guide below:

  • Low-porosity hair – you can get away with applying it 1-2 times a month. But make sure to wet your hair with warm water to help open up your cuticles.
  • Medium porosity hair – you can apply it on damp hair after cleansing or whenever it needs an extra boost of moisture.
  • High porosity hair – apply on wet hair whenever you cleanse with shampoo and conditioner.

Is it better to put leave-in conditioner on wet or dry hair?

Now that you’re aware of the benefits of using a leave-in conditioner, you might be wondering about the proper way to apply it.

It’s recommended that you use it on damp hair to allow your strands to absorb its hydrating benefits and prevent moisture from escaping.

To apply, towel-dry clean hair until it’s damp, and dab a pea-sized amount of product. 

Make sure to distribute the conditioner evenly on your hair, and use your fingers or a wide-tooth comb to detangle any knots. Once satisfied, you can let your hair air dry or use a blow dryer to style it.

Can you put leave-in conditioner on dry hair every day?

oils that strengthen hair – Curling Diva

Although it’s best to apply a leave-in conditioner on damp hair, there is an exception where you can use it on dry hair

If you don’t like the greasy feeling that some hair serums or oils can leave on your hair, you can use a small amount of leave-in conditioner instead to smooth out any flyaways or frizz from appearing.

But the question is, can you put leave-in conditioner on dry hair every day?

As discussed above, the frequency of applying a leave-in conditioner can depend on the porosity of your hair. So if you use the product to dry low-porosity hair daily, your strands will feel heavy and greasy because it won’t absorb it. 

Although most leave-in conditioners have a lightweight formula, if you keep adding it to dry hair, it will only accumulate on the surface, and your hair won’t get any of its hydrating benefits. 

Ultimately, you’ll only be wasting product and go through each day feeling like you’re having a bad hair day.

Can you put leave-in conditioner on dry hair overnight?

If you want to get the most out of your leave-in conditioner by applying it overnight, it’s best to use it on damp hair instead of dry. 

Wash your hair a few hours before bedtime, apply your favorite leave-in conditioner, and let your hair air dry.

This way, your strands can absorb the product, and you’ll wake up with soft and shiny hair the next day! 

Bonus points if you tie your hair loosely or wrap it inside a bonnet since this will keep it away from tangles and friction while you sleep.

Can you use a leave-in conditioner without washing your hair?

Your hair may feel its best after cleansing it with shampoo and conditioner. But if you want to freshen it up in between washes, you can also apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner.

To ensure your strands absorb the product, you can spray your hair with water to dampen it before applying it. 

But if you want to use it on dry strands, opt for a leave-in spray since this will be lighter on your hair. Just check its label to see if it’s applicable for dry hair since every leave-in conditioner has a different formula.

Can you put Cantu leave-in conditioner on dry hair?

Cantu Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream with Argan Oil, 16 oz (Packaging May Vary)*
  • NEW & IMPROVED FORMULA: more moisturizing formula with pure argan oil, natural oils, and no drying alcohol or…
  • STRENGTHEN OVER-HEATED/STYLED HAIR: add elasticity to relaxed, natural, and color treated hair
  • PROTECT & ENHANCE: protect damaged hair and reveal natural shine
  • HYDRATE 3 WAYS: daily use on damaged areas, rinse-out conditioner, or absorbing leave-in treatment
  • CRUELTY-FREE: absolutely no testing on animals
Cantu Leave in Conditioning Cream with Shea Butter for Natural Hair, 12 oz (Packaging May Vary)*
  • SHEA BUTTER & ESSENTIAL OILS: deeply condition with 7 essential oils
  • SOFTENS & HELPS REPAIR: moisturizing formula softens & helps repair natural curls, coils & waves
  • GREAT FOR: Type 3 curls & Type 4 coils
  • NO HARSH INGREDIENTS: formulated with no mineral oil, sulfates, parabens, silicones, phthalates, gluten,…
  • CRUELTY-FREE: absolutely no testing on animals
Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioner Repair Cream 16 Ounce (473ml) (3 Pack)*
  • 3 Pieces – 16 Ounce (473ml)
  • Formulated For Damaged, Dry Or Coarse Hair,
  • Leaves Hair Soft And Manageable,
  • Provides Intense Moisture

* Prices and Images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on 2024-04-30 at 19:14  

Cantu is one of the top go-to brands when it comes to maintaining and repairing curly hair because they have an impressive line-up of nourishing and hydrating products.

Many adore their Shea Butter Leave-in Conditioning Repair Cream because of how well it can make your hair soft and manageable. If you want to try their leave-in conditioner, Cantu recommends applying it on damp hair. 

But, out of curiosity, this user experimented using it on mostly dry hair. Although she usually applies it on wet hair, she was happy with how hydrated her strands turned out while still maintaining their shape and structure.

Can you put Shea Moisture leave-in conditioner on dry hair?

SheaMoisture Leave in Conditioner, 100% Pure Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore for…*
  • VITAMIN E MOISTURIZER: Jamaican Black Castor Oil is a rich source of Vitamin E, known for its benefits as a…
  • SMOOTHER HAIR WITH APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: Apple cider vinegar is in this leave in conditioner to help make hair…
  • DEEP CONDITIONER WITH ORGANIC SHEA BUTTER: Organic Shea Butter deeply conditions dry hair and scalp, seals in…
  • PEPPERMINT MAY PREVENT HAIR LOSS: Peppermint can help improve hair growth and may prevent hair loss. It also…
  • LEAVE IN CONDITIONER INSTRUCTIONS: For best results, apply a generous amount of product to clean, towel-dried…

* Prices and Images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on 2024-04-30 at 19:14  

Shea Moisture is another note-worthy curly hair care brand because it focuses on creating natural ingredients and nourishing products.

Their Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner is one of their best-selling products, and Shea Moisture recommends applying it on clean and towel-dried hair. 

But this user tried using it on dry strands and immediately noticed how soft her hair turned out. If you want to get rid of the white cast, applying the product on damp hair would be best since it’s more absorbent.

Can you put Aussie leave-in conditioner on dry hair?

Aussie Conditioner Hair Insurance Leave-In Spray 8 Ounce (236ml) (3 Pack)*
  • INSTANTLY TAMES AND SOFTENS: 8 fluid ounce of Aussie Hair Insurance Leave-in Conditioner
  • FORMULATION: Jojoba oil and sea kelp-infused; Instantly tames, leaving it bouncy and strong
  • PERFECT: For every hair type; Softens and smooths hair
  • KISSED: With the scent of citrus, florals and musk; Leave-in Conditioner that is style with the scent of…
  • CONVENIENCE: Spray it on damp hair without rinsing for a carefree style that’s good to go; Can take anywhere…

* Prices and Images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on 2024-04-30 at 19:14  

Aussie is an established Australian haircare brand known for its 3-Minute Miracle line. But their Hair Insurance Leave-In Conditioner is also proven to show results on all hair types.

Aussie recommends using their product on damp hair, but this user finds it also effective on dry hair when you’re in between washes. 

Since their leave-in conditioner is in spray form, you don’t have to worry about it weighing down your hair, even if you have fine or thin strands. It will make your hair silky and soft and leave a lasting sweet and flowery scent.

Final thoughts

Leave-in conditioner can be an underrated product because many tend to skip this step in their hair care routine. 

Even though you’ll still need to apply conditioner, adding a good quality product to your process can give your hair a noticeable boost in hydration. 

If you have curly, wavy, thick, or dry hair, a leave-in conditioner is essential since it will help lock moisture inside your strands, so it’s softer and more manageable.

Most brands recommend you apply their leave-in conditioner on damp hair. But if you’re in between showers and want to refresh your strands, using a small amount on dry hair can be effective. 

Results will also depend on your hair type, so the best way to find out is to try it on your own hair. If your strands feel weighed down and greasy, it’s best to use only it on freshly-washed hair.

Our Top Picks for Leave-In Conditioner

Bestseller No. 1
Marc Anthony Leave-In Conditioner Spray & Detangler, Grow Long Biotin – Anti-Frizz Deep Conditioner…*
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  • How To Use: Spray onto wet or damp hair from roots to ends, comb through and leave in; do not rinse. Style as…
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SaleBestseller No. 2
Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Leave-In Conditioning Cream for Frizzy, Dry Hair, Plant Keratin +…*
  • Garnier Sleek and Shine Leave In Conditioner: Nourishing hair cream with argan oil penetrates into frizzy, dry…
  • Fight Frizz with Sleek and Shine: Tame your frizz with styling sprays, creams, and mists that give your look a…
  • Nourish and Style with Garnier Fructis: From Mega Full to Anti Frizz hair products Garnier has shampoos, leave…
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  • Inspired By Nature: Garnier carries an array of products for your hair and skin care needs, from shampoos,…
SaleBestseller No. 3
SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave In Conditioner For Damaged Hair 100% Pure To Soften And…*
  • SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave In Conditioner is a reparative leave-in conditioner that softens…
  • Leave in conditioner that is perfect for those who regularly straighten, perm or heat style their hair, as…
  • SheaMoisture leave-in conditioner, formulated with Jamaican Black Castor Oil and fair trade Shea Butter, helps…
  • This conditioner for damaged hair, kinky hair and straight hair, provides a protective layer that improves the…
  • All SheaMoisture hair products, including this paraben-free conditioner and leave in conditioner, are…
Bestseller No. 4
Tea Tree Hair and Body Moisturizer Leave-In Conditioner, Body Lotion, After-Shave Cream, For All…*
  • Multitasking moisturizer can be used as a leave-in conditioner, body lotion and after-shave cream
  • Soothes, cools, rejuvenates and moisturizes skin, strands
  • Ideal for all skin and hair types
  • Tea tree, peppermint and lavender leave hair and skin smelling great
Bestseller No. 5
OUAI Leave In Conditioner & Heat Protectant Spray – Prime Hair for Style, Smooth Flyaways, Add Shine…*
  • Leave In Conditioner for All Hair Types – A multitasking deep conditioner mist for every occasion. It protects…
  • Feeling Knotty? – Unlike other anti-frizz hair products, our leave in conditioner spray uses a powerful amino…
  • OUAI Means Yes – In that casual Parisian way. OUAI is about being better IRL. It’s about having honest…
  • Made For Effortless Routines – All OUAI hair care products including this multitasking hair conditioner and…
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Bestseller No. 6
Moroccanoil All In One Leave in Conditioner, 5.4 Fl Oz*
  • Moroccanoil all in one leave-in conditioner instantly hydrates and detangles hair, while protecting against…
SaleBestseller No. 7
Cantu Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream with Argan Oil, 16 oz (Packaging May Vary)*
  • NEW & IMPROVED FORMULA: more moisturizing formula with pure argan oil, natural oils, and no drying alcohol or…
  • STRENGTHEN OVER-HEATED/STYLED HAIR: add elasticity to relaxed, natural, and color treated hair
  • PROTECT & ENHANCE: protect damaged hair and reveal natural shine
  • HYDRATE 3 WAYS: daily use on damaged areas, rinse-out conditioner, or absorbing leave-in treatment
  • CRUELTY-FREE: absolutely no testing on animals
Bestseller No. 8
Pureology Color Fanatic Leave-in Conditioner Hair Treatment Detangler Spray | Protects Hair Color…*
  • Multi-Benefit Leave-In Spray: Color Fanatic vegan Leave-In Conditioner spray with 21 benefits primes and…
  • Multi-Tasking Formula: This moisturizing and detangling mist preps hair for all styling needs; Olive Oil adds…
  • Key Benefits: Moisturizes dry, damaged hair, strengthens and repairs damage, protects against heat damage and…
  • Suggested Use: Use as your first styling step that primes and protects; mist all over clean, damp hair and…
  • Trusted by salons and Professionals, Pureology’s Color Fanatic Leave-In Conditioner Spray is vegan and…
SaleBestseller No. 9
Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Leave-In Conditioner, Moisturizing Curl Primer and Detangler,…*
  • NATURAL & ORGANIC TREATMENT: Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Leave-In Conditioner fuses pomegranate…
  • LIGHTWEIGHT LEAVE-IN FORMULA: Our weightless, nutrient-rich leave-in conditioner smoothes and soothes dry,…
  • FRIZZ-FREE SHINE: This daily replenishing protectant quenches even the unruliest Type 4 hair, taming stubborn…
  • EASY TO USE: Our deep moisture serum is gentle enough for daily use, deeply penetrating damaged hair for…
  • BY WOMEN FOR WOMEN: Mielle Organics aims to empower women of all hair types and styles with powerful products…
SaleBestseller No. 10
L’Oréal Paris Sulfate Free Moisture 21-in-1 Leave-In Conditioner for Dry Hair, EverPure, 6.8 fl…*
  • Moisturizes, protects, and perfects color treated, dry hair with 21 essential benefits
  • Moisture 21-In-1 Leave-In Conditioner replenishes dry hair with essential moisture, luminous shine, softness,…
  • 21-In-1 multi-benefit moisturizing leave-in conditioner for color treated, dry, dehydrated, and frizzy hair
  • Formulated without sulfates, parabens, added phthalates, gluten ingredients, DMDM Hydantoin, and dyes
  • Deeply moisturizes, preps and protects color treated, dry hair, for styling, use Moisture 21-In-1 Leave-In…

* Prices and Images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on 2024-04-10 at 04:22  

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