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Let’s be real: most men don’t get much guidance about hair conditioner growing up.
And that’s a real shame, because the best conditioners can be the difference between fine and great hair.
Not only does it make your hair look better, it actually makes it healthier, too.
It’s just difficult navigating the crazy number of choices you have these days.
So we’ve put together this review as a way of narrowing down your options and making sure you only buy the very best conditioners there are.In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
And that’s not all:
We’re also going to give you an illustrated guide to using conditioner and explore the important distinctions between conditioner and shampoo.
Before we begin, let’s look at the 4 key factors you need to consider when buying a conditioner.
|Baxter of California Daily Fortifying Conditioner for Men||Check on Amazon|
|Nia Restructuring Conditioner||Check Best Price|
|Redken High Rise Volume Shampoo||Check on Amazon|
|Redken Brews Daily Conditioner For Men||Check on Amazon|
|K & S Men’s Hair Conditioner||Check on Amazon|
|PURA D'OR Biotin Original Gold Label Anti-Thinning Shampoo & Conditioner Set||Check on Amazon|
|Woody’s Daily Conditioner for Men||Check on Amazon|
|It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner||Check on Amazon|
Before you buy: 4 Things to consider when purchasing a conditioner
Like shampoo, conditioner is not a one-size-fits-all type of product.
Yes, all conditioners are designed to add moisture to the hair and scalp, as well as soften the hair and increase its luster, but they come in different types, and some are better for certain kinds of hair than others.
1. Let’s start by looking at the three main types of conditioners:
- Rinse-Out Conditioner
This type is the most common of all conditioners. You know the type: you apply it in the shower after washing your hair and then rinse it off when you’re finished. This type of conditioner is the middle ground between a deep conditioner and a leave-in conditioner.
- Deep Conditioner
Deep conditioners provide more intensive treatment for your hair and work to get to the root of your hair follicle. In most cases, deep conditioners are left on your hair for 10 to 30 minutes and require you to wear a shower cap after you’ve applied it in the shower.
As a general rule, deep conditioners should be applied two to three times a week for maximum effectiveness.
- Leave-In Conditioner
You apply this type of conditioner after your shower and, as its name implies, is meant to remain in your hair throughout the day.
Leave-in conditioner both conditions and detangles your hair and often contains a heavy oil mixture. It works much like a facial moisturizer by nourishing your hair. Some leave-in conditioners include sunscreen to protect your hair from sun damage.
2. Key Ingredients
Hair conditioner is no different than many other men’s grooming products in that you’ll find products with all-natural ingredients and some with a mix of natural and man-made. Here are some ingredients to look for:
- Cetearyl Alcohol
Cetearyl alcohol is a “fatty” alcohol that won’t dry your skin like other types of alcohol. Instead, it acts as a natural emollient to soften your skin and hair.
- Carrier Oils
You’ll find carrier oils in many men’s grooming products, including beard oil, shaving cream, and more. Carrier oils are effective because they mimic the (sebum) oil that’s excreted by the glands along the root of your hair follicle and moisturize your skin and hair.
Jojoba and argan are the mildest of oils and have a mild scent that’s often masked by other fragrances found in a particular brand of conditioner.
You’ll find vitamin B5 in virtually every conditioner on the shelf because it helps repair damage to your hair follicles.
3. Your Hair Type
What type of hair you have is one of the most important considerations when buying a conditioner.
- Oily, Flat Hair
Men with hair that stays oily or greasy often don’t use conditioner, but others do because they overly shampoo their hair to rid it of its greasiness. That said, stay away from conditioners that claim to provide extra hydration and moisture.
Instead, look for brands that strengthen, volumize, or balance your hair.
- Dry Hair
Excessively dry hair often becomes damaged and brittle, making your choice of conditioner of even greater importance.
Shop for conditioners that moisturize, hydrate, smooth, or balance hair, while avoiding volumizing, strengthening, and fortifying conditioners that won’t provide enough moisture to your hair.
- Normal Hair
Suppose you have normal hair, congratulations. In your case, the options for buying a conditioner are many, indeed, and you’re able to focus on a conditioner that simply feels good or works the best for you.
- Fine Hair
If you have fine hair, choose a volumizing conditioner that gives your hair more body and a fuller-looking style.
- Thin Hair
If your hair is thinning, look for a conditioner that increases the size of hair strands to give the illusion of thicker hair. There are also hair loss conditioners that stimulate the scalp to support hair growth.
- Sensitive Hair/Scalp
If your scalp is sensitive and easily irritated, look for a conditioner that’s sulfate-free (and therefore gentler).
4. Do I Need It?
Lastly, the question of whether men should use conditioner may be in the back of your mind. The better question, perhaps, is why you need it:
- Your hair follicles become damaged due to brushing, blow-drying, adverse weather, excess sun, etc. Shampoo does a great job in cleaning your strands of hair but doesn’t lock in moisture and may leave your hair looking – and feeling – dry and brittle.
- Conditioner treats your hair with nutrients but also makes it more manageable for styling purposes.
OK, now let’s take a look at the best conditioners for men.
The 8 best conditioners for men
Baxter of California has a long-standing reputation for truly premium grooming products, and their Daily Fortifying Conditioner for Men will do nothing to change that.
Ideal for men with sensitive skin, this is about as good a condition as men will ever find, and you do inevitably pay a little extra for that premium quality, it is more than worth it.
Consider its ingredients:
- Coconut extra nourishes the scalp
- Wheat protein strengthens the hair
- Vitamin E provides shine and smooths
- Glycerin hydrates and moisturizes
Overall, the effect is truly invigorating, leaving your hair feeling stronger, sleeker, and more healthy. There’s also a gentle minty scent that adds to that freshness and makes this a lovely conditioner to finish your wash with.
This stuff will help detangle particularly tough hair, as well as making it easier to style and leaving a wonderful, natural-looking shine. And that is why we believe this is truly the best overall conditioner for men.
And looking at the sea of 5-star reviews it’s received, it would appear a lot of people agree with us.
Who’s it for: Men with sensitive skin
- Natural formula that’s great for your hair
- Moisturizes and strengthens the hair
- Smells great
- It’s a little expensive
A simple but exceptional conditioner that does what it’s supposed to better than anything else.
If there’s one thing you can count on with DS Laboratories’ products, it’s the backing of high-tech innovation, clinical research, as well as the endorsements of leading dermatologists around the world.
They’re all reasons why you should give serious consideration to DS Labs’ Nia Restructuring Conditioner, which combines science and research to create a product that many customers love.
It also has hair-healthy ingredients such as Honey Bee Moisture Complex, which nourishes the scalp and hair; panthenol, which improves that flexibility and elasticity of hair follicles while also creating a nice shine.
There is also tocopheryl acetate, a source of vitamin E that helps stimulate hair growth.
In short, it does everything you’d expect a quality conditioner to do: it repairs split ends, hydrates the hair with long-lasting moisture, reduces damage while giving it a lightweight, soft feel that lasts throughout the day.
The Nia Conditioner is suitable for all hair types and safe enough to use if your hair has had a lot of sun exposure, or damaged by styling or color treatments.
It also features DS Labs’ unique Nanosome delivery system, which allows the conditioner’s active ingredients to penetrate the scalp to the desired depth. The nanosomes, which encapsulate the ingredients, release their contents in a gradual, systematic manner.
You can also use it in conjunction with the Nia Restructuring Shampoo for a powerful one-two solution for keeping your hair healthy.
Who’s it for: Men with all hair types
- Provides long-lasting hydration
- Reduces damage to hair
- Helps make hair more manageable
- Few, if any
The Nia Conditioner by DS Labs is an innovative product that will help your hair’s overall health while making it softer, silkier, and more manageable.
Thin hair can be a real problem, especially for men as they get older and start to see that hairline recede along with it.
While there are plenty of options – some semi-permanent – to make your hair appear thicker, the right conditioner can be surprisingly effective, and one of the best we’ve found for that purpose is Redken’s High Rise Volume Shampoo.
Its formula is built from a blend of filloxane and silicone polymers, which combine to soften and lift the hair while adding more texture and volume. The effect is a pretty immediate boost to even the thinnest hair, leaving it looking beautifully full and giving it a truly revitalized, thick appearance.
And it’s not just great for adding volume: it also cleanses the hair very well and gives it an added sheen. It also refreshes the roots, to give it a healthier appearance over time.
The formula is largely natural, avoiding the nasty stuff like parabens. And you get a huge amount in each bottle – it’ll last you for months.
Who’s it for:Men with thin hair
- Hair volume boost
- Softens and cleanses
- Some find the liquid a little too thick
A natural, healthy conditioner that will add much needed thickness to your hair.
Redken Brews clearly know a thing or two about conditioners, as evidenced by their multiple entries on this list. This, their Daily Conditioner for Men, is inspired by the barbershops of New York City, and is infused with beer malts, which explains its awesome bottle design.
As far as its actual formula, it is lightweight and great for everyday use. It helps detangle, tackle dandruff, and generally make your hair more manageable and easier to style. Many reviewers note that they had unruly hair before using this stuff, and have had not a single problem.
While the formula is light, it’s also highly concentrated, meaning you can use just a small amount and get great results. And this means that, despite the fairly high price, you actually get lots for your money here because a bottle goes such a long way.
It also doesn’t make your hair too slick or oily, which many reviewers note as a major highlight. And while some find the scent a bit much, most seem to really love it.
Who’s it for: Men of all hair types
- Nourishes and detangles hair
- Tames unruly hair
- Great for dandruff
- The fragrance isn’t too everybody’s taste
A cool conditioner that’s terrific for unruly hair.
You’ll see the phrase “warrior grade” associated with Krieger and Sohne products because the word “Krieger” means warrior. That’s part of the reason why they believe their products will unleash the warrior within you.
Now, whether a conditioner is truly capable of that is open for debate, but you have to like the K & S spirit. We also know that they have excellent products for your hair, including their stylist-level conditioner. This stuff answers the bell in true warrior fashion.
Let’s break it down:
- The peppermint oil difference
The K & S Men’s Hair Conditioner is infused with peppermint oil, which helps soothe your dry scalp while reducing dandruff and further skin irritation. Peppermint oil also relieves stress while giving your overall mood a boost. Nothing wrong with that.
- Healing qualities
If you’ve experienced dry, broken hair in the past, you know the frustrations that come with it, but the K & S Men’s Conditioner is designed to alleviate all that negativity and frustration.
Its list of ingredients includes tea tree oil, a substance used in healing ointments, and aromatherapy. Simply put, it’s good for your hair’s overall health and helps make the K & S Conditioner the best conditioner for damaged hair.
- And there’s more
Another ingredient you’ll find in Krieger & Sohne’s conditioner is burdock extract. This product claims to purge toxins from your hair while stimulating new cellular growth.
- Nice scent
The K & S conditioner has a minty smell that is subtle and perfect for a man. You’ll notice it – and others may, too – but it won’t overpower anyone.
- Leaves a nice shine
Another thing we like about this conditioner is that it leaves your hair shiny and smooth but without the greasy feel, and look, of lower-quality conditioners.
- The guarantee
K & S offers a hassle-free money-back guarantee on all of its products, which we know you’ll like. If you’re not happy with the product for any reason, simply send it back for a refund.
Who’s it for: Especially good for men with dry, damaged hair
- Heals damaged hair
- Soothes a dry scalp while reducing dandruff
- Money-back guarantee
- Some reviewers say it’s hard to get the conditioner out of the bottle
Krieger & Sohne has an excellent conditioner to pair with its top-quality shampoo. Their conditioner restores and replenishes your hair while making it easy to manage. You’ll like its scent, as well.
PURA D’OR’s Anti-Thinning shampoo and conditioner set is a genuine marvel: rarely will you ever see so many natural ingredients in a single product, let alone so many that are specifically great for reducing hair loss and damage!
And they’ve got proof: in randomized trials, after 8 weeks of daily use, people who washed with PURA D’OR showed significantly less hair loss in their brush as well as generally increased volume and reduced breakages.
So how is it they’re achieving this?
Well, there are 24 different ingredients and 17 DHT blockers in there. And we’re not going to go into the intricacies of every different one. But the most important are:
- Biotin (often known as Vitamin B because it’s so vital to hair growth!), which supports healthier and thicker hair
- He Shou Wu, which promotes better circulation of blood, helping hair grow faster
- Nettle Extract, which is a DHT blocker and helps promote healthier hair growth
- Argan Oil, which is brilliant for keeping your hair naturally moisturized without greasing it up
- Vitamin E, which helps keep your scalp moisturized, promoting hair growth
- Niacin, which is important for circulating nutrients that the follicles need to grow effectively
And that really is just a sample of them.
The net result is a head of hair that is fuller and thicker, with less hair loss and a healthier, cleaner appearance. And it keeps your scalp healthy, too!
It’s also worth mentioning that this is not only a shampoo for the already follicly challenged – it’s also a great way for all men to protect themselves against the tragedy that is thinning hair!
Who’s it for: Men with dry hair
- Scientifically proven to mitigate and prevent hair loss
- The huge list of natural ingredients is very reassuring
- Smells great, too!
- There aren’t any, really!
Whether you already have thinning hair or not, this is a great bulwark against the balding and will keep your hair and scalp super fresh and healthy.
Like Jack Black’s Nourishing Hair and Scalp Conditioner, Woody’s Daily Conditioner is made in the USA and takes full advantage of the many qualities of tea tree oil, but it stands on its own, as well, while being good for men and women.
It’s also strong stuff.
People who’ve tested Woody’s Daily Conditioner advise that you leave it in for less than a minute after applying it to your hair. It’s advised that you leave other conditioners in for at least a couple of minutes before rinsing it away.
Part of its strength comes from the aforementioned tea tree oil, which also reduces the dryness and itchiness of your scalp.
You’ll notice the tea tree’s “kick,” which is refreshing to most users, but this isn’t a conditioner that leaves your hair feeling heavy and weighed down.
While Woody’s Daily Conditioner packs a punch, it’s still good for daily use, and it’s good for men with all hair types (but works best for men with normal hair).
This conditioner contains both natural and synthetic ingredients, including jojoba oil, vitamin B5, wheat germ oil, peppermint oil, and more.
Again, Woody’s formula has men in mind, but their conditioner works perfectly well for women, too.
In either case, it gives your hair more volume and makes it easier to style.
Who’s it for: Men with normal hair
- Strong but gentle enough for daily use
- Nice scent
- Adds volume to your hair
- Will leave your hair feeling weighed-down if you leave it in too long
Woody’s is another company that isn’t on everyone’s radar but delivers quality products that outdo those of many big-name manufacturers. You’ll like how this conditioner makes your hair look and feel.
Perhaps the real miracle is all the things It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Conditioner can do: from repairing dry and damaged hair to making your coffee in the morning.
OK, so it can’t really deliver your caffeine fix, but there’s no doubt that this is an extremely versatile product that, besides being the best leave-in conditioner, is also the best men’s conditioner for curly hair.
But it’s also a conditioner that works well no matter your hair type.
While its name makes you think of something that’s a perfect 10 (does anyone remember Bo Derek?), it actually references the 10 things that it can do. While not every item applies to men – it is, after all, a unisex product – it’s worth listing them:
- It repairs dry and damaged hair
- It adds shine to your hair
- It gets rid of tangles
- It controls frizziness
- It helps protect and seal hair color
- It prevents split ends
- It stops hair from breaking
- It creates a silky feel
- It enhances your hair’s natural body
- It also acts as an iron spray and thermal protector
If your hair is curly, It’s a 10 Leave-In Conditioner is particularly effective after rinsing your shampoo and regular conditioner away. Simply add this leave-in conditioner at the end, and you’ll better manage and style those luscious waves, coils, and kinks.
Furthermore, you can use any other hair styling product in conjunction with the It’s a 10 Leave-In Conditioner. In either case, you’ll manage your hair more effectively while also giving it excellent body.
So, what makes this conditioner so good – beyond its many functions, that is?
As with most quality grooming products, it all starts with ingredients, and It’s a 10 Leave-In Conditioner has several that enable it to do what it does.
Green tea leaf extract is one of those ingredients and benefits your hair by shielding it from environmental damage, while vitamin B5 (panthenol) both strengthens and softens your hair.
What else? Well, silk amino acids help repair damaged hair, while Camellia Sinensis leaf extract also aids in softening your hair while curbing breakage.
So, who is It’s a 10, anyway?
Based in the U.S. (Florida), It’s a 10 is a sought-after brand by many salons and professional stylists. It was several years in the making – with long research devoted to finding the best formulas for its products – before hitting the market with rave reviews.
They’re also a socially-conscious company that’s heavily involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Right Action for Women, a group devoted to helping women with breast cancer.
Who’s it for: Men with wavy/curly hair
- Versatile, multi-faceted product
- Excellent for curly hair
- Protects your hair from damage
- It doesn’t add exceptional volume
This is a go-to option if you’re looking for a conditioner that stays with you the entire day. It has a long list of benefits, including that it protects your hair from damage. Plus, you can share it with your wife or girlfriend.
Choosing the best conditioner for men
Our reviews of products like conditioner, shampoo, shaving soap, beard oil, essential oils for thick hair – i.e., things you apply to your beard, face, and hair – usually take into consideration a few similar things.
That includes ingredients – the more natural ingredients, the better – price (we strive to find products that fit every budget), user reviews, and even versatility and scent.
But it all comes down to performance, and if products don’t deliver in the performance category, then they aren’t included in any “best of” reviews. To that end, we think all of the products listed here make the grade, and we certainly think they’ll serve you well.
The right stuff: How to use a conditioner in 7 simple, illustrated steps
There’s no need to overly complicate what’s not an overly complicated process, but applying conditioner, like applying shampoo, does have a right way and a wrong way. Let’s look at the right way:
1. Know your hair type
Your first step is knowing your hair type and choosing your conditioner accordingly.
2. Applying the conditioner
Apply conditioner in the same way you would shampoo: squeeze a small amount into the palm of your hand and then spread it through your hair by using your fingers. Most hair experts suggest that you start at your neck and work your way up.
3. Apply away from the roots
Experts also urge you to apply conditioner away from your hair roots and scalp.
4. Let it sit
After you’ve spread the conditioner evenly throughout your hair, let it sit for a couple of minutes – or more – before you rinse it out.
Rinse your hair with warm, not hot, water to get all of the conditioner residues out. Conditioner takes a bit longer to rinse out than shampoo. Some say rinsing it with cold water adds extra shine.
6. Dry it, carefully
Blot your hair with a towel to dry it, rather than squeezing it dry. Tugging and squeezing will damage hair follicles.
7. Or, leave it in
There’s no rinsing if you use a leave-in conditioner. Just apply it as you would other types of conditioner but leave it in until the next time you shampoo.
Conditioner, shampoo – It’s all the same, right?
No, it’s not.
And while many shampoo manufacturers offer a 2-in-1 benefit by adding conditioner to their for formulas, shampoo and conditioner are different things.
The basic difference isn’t hard to figure out: shampoo cleans your hair while conditioner adds body and helps strengthen it.
But there’s more – namely science.
First, conditioners are the we-got-your-back solution for when shampoos may strip your hair of natural oils. Conditioners, normally applied after shampoo, make up for the loss of natural oils.
Whether they’re moisturizing, deep, color protectant, or acidifying conditioners, they perform the same basic function.
- But how do conditioners work?
Here’s where we’re going to get a bit scientific.
First, when your hair starts to look frizzy or limp, it’s because the cuticle layer of your hair/scalp is worn down. The cuticle layer protects the inner layers of a hair strand. When the cuticle layer of flakes fits snugly together, your hair looks its best.
As the invisible, molecular bonds that hold cuticle cells together weaken over time, individual hair strands tangle and may break off.
However, the key ingredients in conditioners – known as cationic surfactants – bind with hair strands and cover them, as well as covering the cuticle flakes, to provide a nice nest of protection.
The small amount of acid found in conditioners is then able to make the cuticle flakes fall tightly together to give your hair the smooth feeling – even after you rinse the conditioner out.
OK, that’s enough science, although we should mention that conditioners include Cetearyl alcohol, a chemical agent designed to reduce evaporation on the skin.
Meanwhile, emollients keep the skin moist and also reduce evaporation on the skin (while also restoring vitamins and minerals lost during shampooing).
Conditioners have a higher pH level than shampoo because the extra pH provides a balance that helps develop amino acids, which make your hair shinier and full of body.
- A quick word about leave-in conditioners
While you rinse most conditioners out of your hair after applying them and working them deeply into your hair and scalp, leave-in conditioners – a.k.a. leave-in hair treatment – remain in your hair until the next time you shampoo.
Leave-in conditioners represent a third step during the grooming process that follows shampooing and the use of typical conditioners you rinse out of the hair. They come in many forms, from spray to liquids to creams.
There are many benefits to leave-in conditioners, including
- They add additional moisture and keep hair hydrated throughout the day. They’re great for hair types that need more moisture than a regular conditioner provides.
- They help detangle knotted hair while making it easier to brush.
- They help make hair more manageable and responsive to styling
- They provide further protection from environmental damage – such as the sun, excess chlorine, or winter weather extremes.
Shampoo has been around longer than conditioner. While humans have used cleaning agents in their hair since, well, the era of the great pyramids, commercial shampoo first emerged onto the grooming scene at the turn of the 20th century.
In fact, shampoo comes from the Hindi word “champo,” which means to massage the head with hair oil.
The easiest way to describe shampoo is to think of it as a detergent for your hair and scalp. It contains detergents and surfactants – chemicals that produce lather and cleanse oil and dirt from your hair.
The primary purpose of shampoo is to remove the particles that build up in your hair, not the least of which are dandruff and environmental pollutants. It also removes dead skin cells that build up on your scalp and attach themselves to hair follicles.
While most shampoos include a nice-sized list of ingredients, water makes up 70-80% of their entire formula. The rest consists of cleaning agents, oils, anti-dandruff agents, etc., but the agents are typically mild.
- Do you need to shampoo every day?
That remains open to debate, but most people choose to make shampooing part of their daily grooming routine.
However, deciding not to shampoo for even a couple of days may have a host of negative consequences, including thinner-looking hair, a musty smell, and even in-grown hairs on your scalp.
And you know how aggravating in-grown hairs are on your face (and under your beard). They’re not any fun on your scalp, either.
Do you have a favorite conditioner that you think should be on the list? Or questions and comments about those we’ve listed here? If so, we’d love to hear your comments and suggestions! We promise to respond promptly.
Until next time, friends.