No, it’s not a serum.
A leave-in conditioner, means just that – a conditioner you leave in your hair.
A creamy, water-based product that you apply post shower to help your curls remain hydrated, frizz-free, bouncy and defined. It’s like a moisturizer, but for hair!
It is a pity that even with a majority of Indian hair being the curly/wavy type, there are so few drugstore products that come to our aid. Even those which are around can be misleading – like serums labelled as leave-in conditioner.
Now, if you’ve seen my Pocket-Friendly curly hair tutorial, you will have noticed that I use my Loreal smooth intense conditioner as a leave-in as well! The challenge was to have a routine in just 500 bucks.
And did it work? You can watch the video for the results 😉
Is that a safe step? Yes! SO many curly girls who’ve shared their routines tell me that to save money, they simply use the conditioner again outside the shower as a leave in ( Dove & Tresseme conditioner are top favourites). Some girls don’t rinse out the conditioner completely and skip the leave in part all together!
(Do remember that if you are following a CG Friendly routine, make sure your conditioner that you are doubling as a leave in does not have silicones.)
How well this hack works depends on your own hair texture. With time you’ll figure out the amount of product that works just right for your hair. Though it goes without saying that some leave-in is better than no leave-in at all.
Since a leave-in conditioner is usually thinner than a conditioner, it doesn’t make your hair feel limp and weighed down. Ladies with lighter waves and curl pattern should make sure their leave-in is light too.
There are 3 different kinds of leave in’s in the market:
1. Milk/Leave-in spray/Mousse – These are super light & work well for wavy and soft curls like 2b, 2c & even 3 a curly hair patterns.
Eg: Devacurl volumising foam, Dove whipped curls mousse, John Freida Air Dry Waves Mousse, Sheamoisture curl & style milk etc.
2. Creamy leave-in conditioners – these have a thicker consistency & are perfect for curl patterns from 3a onwards!
Eg: Cantu Curl Activator Cream, Garnier sleek and shine intensely smooth, As I am leave in conditioner..
3. Hair Butters – These are super thick & have a higher fat, lipid content. These are fantastic if you have really coarse hair, usually 4a, 4b curl types.
Eg: Organix Quenching Plus Coconut Curls Curling Hair Butter
Now that you’ve narrowed down what type that will suit your hair, here’s how to apply it.
You can use a leave in conditioner in 2 ways
1. Scrunching After Squish to Condish
Squish to Condish is a conditioning method. You can watch this video to learn how to do it if you want to preserve your curl clumps. After you have done so, when the hair is still sopping wet, take a palm sized amount of leave in and scrunch up your curls, squeezing upwards & removing excess water. This encourages the curl pattern & helps in the formation of big curl clumps. Some curly girls swear by this method as it reduces frizz drastically.
2. Rake in / Comb It In
This is my preferred method to style my hair. Since I have thinner hair & I like my curl clumps to be small & more defined, this gives me more volume that method 1.
I section my hair into 2 sections, take a generous amount of my leave-in & smooth it on my strands in a praying motion. I then take a wide toothed comb & comb the strands starting from the bottom, always. I then take a narrower comb & repeat because i get tiny knots. Plus this makes them so defined!
You can watch any of my tutorials to see how I’ve done this step.
If you want recommendations in India, check out this extensive list I’ve compiled of products you can buy online, separated under different budgets!
As always, follow me on my social media to learn more about my curly hair journey, tips and tricks! If you have any queries, drop a comment below or message me on Facebook or Instagram @thecuriousjalebi!