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For deep hydration and supreme softness.
Though we typically associated moisturizers with skincare, your hair needs moisture, too. But we’re not just talking about slapping on some conditioner. Whether you opt to use a leave-in cream, spray, or fortifying mask, experts say choosing one of the best hair moisturizers to revitalize dry hair ultimately depends on a few factors, including its type—fine, thick, textured, color-treated, and more—and the moisturizer’s formulation. “For those with finer hair, I recommend using a leave-in conditioner spray, as it won’t weigh hair down,” celebrity hairstylist Laura Polko—who counts stars like Vanessa Hudgens and Maude Apatow as clients—tells BAZAAR.com. “These sprays also offer a nice distribution of product thanks to their built-in applicators that prevents users from over-saturating their strands. Those with thicker, curly, and textured hair types can benefit the most from using a heavier leave-in cream, since their hair can traditionally handle more product and fully absorb its hydrating benefits.” When it comes to hair creams, Polko advises working them into your hands first, and then distributing it evenly throughout the hair.
Since not all hair moisturizers are created equal, celebrity hairstylist Ashanti Lation advises those with dry hair to keep an eye out for specific ingredients, like aloe vera, avocado, honey, and olive oil, when searching for their next holy-grail product. “I absolutely love aloe vera juice, because it contains proteolytic enzymes that hydrate and moisturize, helps hair maintain a healthy pH balance, and improves hair elasticity,” she explains. “Honey and glycerin are also two of the best moisturizers around; they’re natural humectants that bind to water to lock in moisture. And when you’re looking for real moisture, it’s hard to go wrong with shea butter. It’s great for your hair, scalp, and skin, since it’s rich in zinc, vitamins A and E, plus other essential fatty acids. Lastly, quality oils, like avocado and olive, can also help seal in moisture, increase elasticity, and fight frizz. I recommend that my clients to use oil to seal their ends on a daily basis.”
Using tools like a hooded dryer and thermal bonnet with hair moisturizers can be the one-two punch dry hair needs, since these tools help your product of choice better absorb into the cuticle. Lation often uses a hair steamer on clients with lower porosity hair to help moist heat to lift and open their follicles. Experts advise, however, being mindful of hot tool use on hair that is already damaged, as it can actually make its texture even drier. “If the hair is already damaged and the cuticle is open, heated tools can cause more harm than good because they can strip hydration,” says Polko. “Instead of using heat, I often recommend using a leave-in conditioner or mask overnight and letting it sit on your ends. This gives hair ample time to reap in the hydrating benefits without speeding up the hydration process with heat.”
Outside of using the right conditioning products for your hair, professionals also suggest taking your daily lifestyle habits into account to keep it well-balanced. “There are a number of things you can do to help maintain hair hydration after using conditioner,” adds Lation. “Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase and using scrunchies made with the same material can make such a big difference. Polko agrees, adding that a healthy diet and overall water intake can really make a difference in the appearance and softness of your hair. “As a baseline for maintaining consistent hair hydration, it’s important to consider diet, water intake and minimizing alcohol consumption which can be drying,” she says. “Outside of that, I highly recommend using filtered water in the shower whenever possible, which benefits hair, skin and encourages product penetration into the strands.”
To make it simple to improve your hair’s shine and hydration on wash day and beyond, we’ve rounded up some of the very best hair moisturizers worth adding to your rotation for long-lasting moisture, body, and strength.
This salon-quality conditioner from the experts at Fekkai features shea butter as a main ingredient to minimize frizz and tangles while strengthening the hair barrier and mending split ends.
Here’s popular leave-in conditioner from Sienna Naturals (a brand entrepreneur Hannah Fallis Bronfman swears by) that’s ideal for all hair types. It’s especially great for textured hair though, since it works overtime to define your curl pattern as it hydrates.
“Those who bleach their hair regularly tend to have coarser hair, so I would recommend using a deep conditioner,” says Polko. “These formulas work well to rebuild, hydrate, and soften hair.” This deeply nourishing hair mask is best used after a shampoo, and contains a subtle honey and floral scent that isn’t overpowering.
Many of our editors count Briogeo as one of their absolute favorites for hair care. This gentle conditioner from the brand is not only hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested, but also fragrance- and essential oil-free.
Use this hydrating mask on wet hair to reap its full aloe vera benefits, which are enhanced with a blend of additional ingredients like amino acids and flaxseed oil to help plump and moisturize it.
With nearly a five-star rating and over 2,700 customer reviews, Amazon shoppers are raving about this honey-based leave-in conditioner, with one writing, “I have low porosity hair, and this product is a game-changer. Leaves hair feeling soft, but holds the curls together.”
This beloved moisturizer combines olive and avocado oils to deliver serious hydration while improving your hair’s strength and elasticity once it’s rinsed away.
Polko often uses this conditioner from Aquage in her own hair as a daily in-shower treatment. After applying it from root to tip, she leaves the conditioner in for around 60 seconds, then rinses it out with cool water to lock in hydration.
To keep her clients’s color-treated hair its healthiest, Lation reaches for this fortifying keratin mask, which aims to create new hair bonds for added strength while enhancing blonde tones.
Here’s a hair moisturizer that’s powered by olive oil and essential fatty acids to boost moisture while adding shine to dull, dry hair.
“This leave-in product from my line is water soluble therefore absorbs quickly into the hair cuticle,” adds Lation. “It also makes my clients’s hair easy to detangle since it softens and moisturizes their hair.”