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Haircutting and Hairstyling

Are you using leave-in conditioner correctly? Here鈥檚 how to get nourished, smooth hair.

If leave-in conditioner isn't already stocked in your beauty cabinet, incorporating this staple product into your hair care routine can help you attain shiny, bouncy hair.听

Whether you鈥檝e got hair that鈥檚 fine or curly, leave-in conditioner can drastically improve the聽appearance and texture of your hair. But, if applied in excess, you might experience unwanted product buildup that adds a heaviness to your strands.听

To reap the benefits of leave-in conditioner鈥檚 smoothing and softening effects, and avoid any potential mishaps, we spoke with two dermatologists to understand what leave-in conditioner actually does, and break down how to properly apply this holy grail .

What does leave-in conditioner do?

Leave-in conditioner is the ultimate hair protectant that repels 鈥渆nvironmental or heat damage, [keeps] it detangled, and provides extra moisture to the hair by adding additional hydration to the strands,鈥 says , MD, FAAD, a board certified dermatologist. It鈥檚 also great for combating frizz, she says.听

If you鈥檝e got color-dyed or , using a specialized leave-in conditioner prevents your color from fading and restores shine, according to Healthline. There鈥檚 also a range of products that offer heat and UV protection, says , MD, FAAD, a board certified dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. 聽

What鈥檚 the difference between a shower conditioner versus a leave-in conditioner?

While both products are 鈥渋ntended to help protect [and] smooth hair,鈥 the main difference between a traditional conditioner and a leave-in conditioner is the thickness and texture of the formula, says Liu.听

鈥淟eave-in conditioners are usually lighter [in] weight and do not leave as sticky of a residue, allowing them to be tolerated without being washed out,鈥 Mislankar adds.听

There are two main types of leave-in conditioner 鈥 creams and sprays. Whichever one you choose comes down to personal preference, but in general, 鈥渃ream formulas tend to be heavier and therefore tend to be more hydrating and moisturizing,鈥 explains Mislankar. This type of product is great if you have dry or damaged hair, or are experiencing frizz, she says.听

How do you properly use leave in conditioner?

When applied properly, leave-in conditioner can transform your dry, damaged strands into nourished, healthy hair. Leave-in conditioners should always be applied after you鈥檝e gotten out of the shower, Mislankar says. Whether you plan to use a cream or spray, prep your hair for application by gently patting it down to get rid of excess moisture, she says. However, make sure to leave your hair , per WebMD.

If you鈥檙e going to apply a leave-in conditioner cream, place the product in your hand and gently rub it in, due to the 鈥渇ragility of wet hair,鈥 Mislankar recommends. In terms of how much cream product you should be using, it鈥檚 important to consider your hair length and volume. However, generally speaking, all you really need is a 鈥渄ime-sized鈥 amount, says Liu.听

When using a spray, position the bottle toward the middle to bottom ends of your hair, spritz the product, and lightly brush it in, Mislankar adds.

Can you overuse leave-in conditioner?

As for how often you should apply leave-in conditioner, once a week is a good place to start. But, if you have curly, damaged, or dry hair that鈥檚 in need of a little extra nourishment, you鈥檒l benefit from using leave-in conditioner , per Healthline.听

What are some common leave-in conditioner mistakes?

When using a leave-in conditioner, the last thing you want is to experience product buildup on your strands. To avoid any mishaps, always make sure to use a leave-in conditioner that鈥檚 correctly formulated to your individual hair type, Liu says.听

If your hair is curly, you鈥檒l benefit from using a cream leave-in conditioner that鈥檚 infused with , according to Healthline. However, if you have fine hair, you may want to steer clear of using cream products, as they can weigh your hair down, Liu notes. Instead, try using a spray, as spray products tend to be more light-weight, she says.听

More:How often should you wash your hair with shampoo? We asked the experts.

Using a leave-in conditioner also doesn鈥檛 mean you should skip your shower conditioner, Liu says. Additionally, don鈥檛 apply leave-in conditioner to your roots. Instead, focus on applying it from the mid-shaft to the ends of your hair, Mislankar says.

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