Leave-in Conditioner vs. Conditioner: What’s the Difference?

Whether you’re trying to build the ultimate hair care routine or have your grooming routine down pat, you may have a few questions about certain hydrating hair products. One common question is, what’s the difference between leave-in conditioner and regular conditioner, and how do you add it to your morning or evening grooming? 

In this article, we dive into the differences between leave-in conditioner vs. regular conditioner, how to use them, and how to find the best conditioning products. 

What’s the Difference Between Leave-in Conditioner vs. Regular Conditioner?

The main difference between regular and leave-in conditioner is that one gets rinsed out while the other stays in your hair. (You’re a smart cookie, so you probably knew that already). Here’s a more in-depth view of the two grooming products. 

Regular conditioners' main job is to rehydrate and moisturize hair after shampooing and remove excess oil and grime. They restore your hair's natural pH balance while adding moisture and closing the cuticles.

A regular conditioner uses rich, intense moisturizing ingredients and materials, which is why it should be rinsed out (instead of letting it soak into your hair all day). Allowing a rinse-out conditioner to sit on your hair would likely weigh it down, cause buildup, and make it look greasy. 

On the other side of the fence, we have leave-in conditioner, which is generally used to rehydrate hair between washes. It’s an excellent way to tame frizz or flyaways while adding shine and softness and making it easier to style.  

Leave-in conditioners work especially well for detangling or treating damage or breakup. They’re formulated with gentle, lightweight, moisturizing ingredients that can be applied to the hair without weighing it down or causing product buildup. The right leave-in conditioner will boost shine, minimize frizz, and smooth out the hair cuticle. 

Why Use Regular Conditioner and How to Use It

You can’t get the hair of your dreams without a solid hair routine that includes a stellar shampoo and conditioner. The right sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner nourish and strengthen your hair while combatting issues like frizz, flyaways, and dryness. 

How to use regular conditioner: 

  1. Before applying conditioner, wash your hair with your favorite shampoo.  
  2. After hair is washed, get a dime to quarter-sized amount of product. 
  3. Apply it from the mid-length of hair to the ends. Ensure it’s spread evenly. 
  4. Let it soak into the hair for 2 to 3 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. (Rinsing off with cool water is better for the hair and will prevent damage and encourage shine and softness). 

Why Use Leave-in Conditioner and How to Use It

You know those moments when your hair needs a little extra TLC between washes? That’s when you whip out the leave-in conditioner. The lightweight formulas make them ideal for dry hair or boosting overall hair health and manageability. 

Leave-in conditioner has other uses, like a detangling tool or frizz-buster. Apply it to damp, fine hair to prevent breakage while detangling hair. Those with curly, coily, or color-treated hair may benefit from the extra moisturizing properties that treat dryness while reducing frizz. 

How to use leave-in conditioner: 

  1. Many leave-in conditioners come in a spray bottle. Focus on the roots and spray an even amount of product while evenly distributing it throughout your hair with your fingers, a comb, or a detangling brush. 
  2. Folks with longer, thicker hair may need a few extra sprays and focus on dry areas or the end of hair. 
  3. Style hair as usual. 

How Often Should You Use Leave-in Conditioner?

How often you use leave-in conditioner depends on your hair type and problems. Men and women with oily or fine hair should use it sparingly, while those with dry, curly, coily, or thick hair may use it daily to keep hair strong and hydrated. 

Do I Need to Use Both? 

Chances are, yes! From hot styling tools like blow dryers and curling irons to styling products and harsh weather, your hair might always need a soothing, moisturizing treatment. 

Some people think they only need to use one or the other, but most would benefit from rinse-out conditioners and leave-in conditioners because they provide different benefits to the hair. 

Rinse-out conditioner is an essential part of your basic hair care routine and should always follow shampoo, while leave-in conditioner helps hair retain moisture and health in between washes. Leave-in conditioner is also a great tool to help with detangling, boosting shine, and adding an extra layer of protection. 

How to Add a Regular Conditioner and Leave-in Conditioner to Your Hair Care Routine

Here’s our step-by-step guide on incorporating both products into your everyday grooming rituals. 

  1. Shampoo your hair with a nourishing cleanser. 
  2. Apply your regular rinse-out conditioner and let it soak into your hair for two to 10 minutes before rinsing out with cool or lukewarm water. 
  3. Use a microfiber towel to dry hair, then apply your leave-in conditioner. Detangle your hair with your fingers or a brush, and distribute the product throughout your hair. 
  4. Style your hair. 
  5. You can apply leave-in conditioner whenever your hair needs a pick-me-up during your non-wash days. 

How to Pick the Best Rinse-Out and Leave-in Conditioner

Before you click “add to cart,” you’ll need to check out the ingredient list and try to avoid harsh chemicals. Look for conditioning products with safe, natural ingredients that hydrate your hair, boost shine, minimize frizz, and keep your hair hydrated and happy. 

Look for hair-supporting ingredients like: 

  • Argan oil 
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil 
  • Sweet almond oil

What’s the Best Rinse-Out Conditioner? 

Blu Atlas’s Conditioner is the ideal rinse-out conditioner to promote healthy, strong hair. It’s rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and minerals, making hair hydrated and soft. The nourishing rinse-out conditioner works well for all hair types, restoring moisture to stressed-out hair. 

At Blu Atlas, we craft products that give you the hair and skin results you want. We eliminate harsh chemicals like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates and focus on naturally derived ingredients that offer benefits for your whole body. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is regular conditioner or leave-in conditioner better for hair? 

If you’re only going to use one product, use a rinse-out conditioner. It’s essential to follow up your shampoo with a regular conditioner that adds back moisture and hydration to the hair after cleansing. 

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Leave-in Conditioner vs. Conditioner: What’s the Difference?

Leave-in Conditioner vs. Conditioner: What’s the Difference?

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