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Sometimes, your style needs a refresh. Your locks are looking frizzy or dry. You’ve come back from a workout and need to hop on a Zoom call right away. Or the blowout you got yesterday needs a little something to be good as new today. Enter: dry conditioner.
Dry conditioner detangles and moisturizes like a traditional conditioner but doesn’t require any water — so, no shower necessary. It can be used alone or after using a dry shampoo.
Read on to learn more about this time-saving product, plus get tips on what to buy and how to use it.
While traditional leave-in conditioner is a liquid product, a dry conditioner is a dry formula. It frequently comes in the same type of aerosolized can that dry shampoo does. However, it has a different purpose.
Dry shampoo helps refresh hair by soaking up excess oil, which adds volume to hair.
Dry conditioner, on the other hand, can contain ingredients like silicones or oils that reduce frizz and boost hydration. It gives more of a finished look to your hair.
Dry conditioner evaporates or dries on contact, so it can be used to moisturize without wetting hair or affecting how your hair is styled.
Dry conditioner can be a great product to add to your hair care arsenal. Here are some of its benefits:
- It saves time and effort. Using a dry conditioner cuts down on the time required to shower or style your hair.
- It reduces the need for heat-styling. When used with dry shampoo, you can skip washing your hair entirely, which means you won’t need to blow-dry or heat-style your hair. Heat application on hair can cause damage, and reducing the use of heat tools can support healthy locks. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using flat irons and curling irons no more than every other day.
- It moisturizes. If you have dry hair, dry conditioner can help boost hydration with moisturizing oils and plant extracts.
- It reduces frizz. Silicones in some dry conditioners coat the hair cuticle to smooth and prevent frizz.
There are also some drawbacks to dry conditioner. Keep the following in mind:
- It’s not a replacement for traditional conditioner. Though dry conditioner can help revive and restyle your hair, it won’t give you that freshly washed and conditioned look that traditional conditioner will. Depending on your hair type, you’ll still need to wash and condition your hair in the shower at least a couple times a week.
- It may leave behind a coating. Some people, especially those with darker hair, report that dry conditioners leave a white residue behind.
There are two ways you can use dry conditioner.
The first option is as a sort of finishing spray to smooth strands and reduce frizz. This can also add extra moisture if your hair texture is naturally drier.
The second option is as a follow-up to dry shampoo, much like you would wash your hair with a shampoo and then condition it in the shower.
Dry shampoo will soak up oil that can weigh down hair, and dry conditioner will help smooth, hydrate, detangle, and defrizz strands.
Similar to regular conditioner, most people find that concentrating dry conditioner on the ends of their hair works best. That way, you’ll avoid weighing down your roots.
If you’re interested in trying dry conditioner and aren’t sure where to start, look no further. Here are five great options for all hair types. We picked these based on customer reviews, ingredients, and their benefits to hair.
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$20
- $$$ = over $20
Best dry conditioner for curly hair
Drybar Detox Dry Conditioner
The other benefit to this dry conditioner is that it leaves out parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. This supports overall hair health.
Best dry conditioner for dry hair
Aussie Sleekend Warrior Dry Conditioner
Sulfate- and paraben-free, this dry conditioner is low-priced but still delivers great results. Macadamia oil smooths and detangles, while silicones add shine and help limit flyaways.
The fragrance is sweet, fruity, and tropical thanks to coconut, peach, and vanilla scents.
Some reviewers with fine or oily hair found that this product weighed down their hair. It’s best for those with drier hair that may need more moisture.
Best dry conditioner for fine hair
Waterless Weightless Smooth Dry Conditioner
If you have fine hair, you may be tempted to wash your hair every day. But with this line of dry shampoo and conditioner, you won’t have to.
It’s suitable for thinner strands. Just be sure to follow the directions and spray starting at the midshaft of your hair to the ends. Concentrating on the roots may cause greasiness.
Waterless’s mission is to save H2O by producing hair products that don’t have to be used with water. The company also uses responsible ingredients, leaving out parabens and sulfates, which is a mission that’s easy to get behind.
Best 2-in-1 dry shampoo and conditioner
Voir She’s Like the Wind: Invisible Dry Shampoo and Conditioner
This unique product functions as both a dry shampoo and conditioner. That means it can soak up grease from your roots while adding weightless hydration from green tea and wildberry extracts to the rest of your hair.
Unlike other dry conditioners, this product comes in a nonaerosolized spray bottle.
You’ll also like the protection this dry conditioner provides, with vitamin C-rich Kakadu plum extract. The product itself is small (1.4 ounces), so it’s easy to tote in your bag and bring out whenever you need it.
Best dry conditioner for all hair types
Verb Ghost Dry Oil
Verb dry conditioner is vegan, cruelty-free, and comes in a recycled bottle. It has no sulfates or parabens and works well for many hair types. Happy users love how it softens their hair, stays lightweight, and smells lovely.
Dry conditioner can help moisturize and detangle hair, fight frizz, and boost shine. It’s a dry product that’s sprayed on hair and doesn’t require water, the way a traditional hair conditioner does.
You can use a dry conditioner alone as a finishing spray to hydrate dry hair or refresh your hair midday. You can also pair it with a dry shampoo to extend your style without showering on busy days or after the gym.