The best conditioners, recommended by expert hair stylists: Olaplex, Pureology, Shea Moisture and more
We spoke to two expert hairstylists to get their views on what makes a great conditioner. They shared their tips on what to look for (and avoid) when shopping for a new conditioner.
Never underestimate the power of a good hair day. A fresh style can have you feeling ten feet tall, and an essential step in achieving healthy, luscious locks is using the right products for your hair.
Once you’ve washed the day away with a great shampoo formulated for your hair type, it’s important to replenish your strands with a nourishing conditioner that meets your hair’s needs. Now, we hear you. With so many products on the market, it can be hard to know where to start. From curl-loving thirst quenchers to innovative bond builders, the options are endless. Well, luckily for you, we’ve done our homework.
The Recommended spoke to two leading hairstylists to get their take on what to look out for and what to avoid when shopping for a new conditioner. We took their top tips and scoured the web to bring you our picks of the best conditioners for all hair types, only good hair days from here.
Jump to the best conditioners:
- Best for damaged hair: Olaplex No. 5 conditioner
- Best for curly hair: Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Rinse Out Conditioner
- Best cruelty-free conditioner: Faith In Nature Coconut Conditioner
- Best for coloured hair: Pureology Hydrate Conditioner
- Best purple conditioner: Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Repair Conditioner
- Best for volume: Living Proof Full Conditioner
- Best conditioner bar: Alter/Native Coconut & Argan Oil Conditioner Bar
- Best vegan conditioner: Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water and Mimosa Flower Conditioner
- Best hydrating conditioner: Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Conditioner
- Best strengthening conditioner: Purezero Biotin Strengthening Conditioner
Our expert hairstylists
Our experts, Henry Whittle and Courtney Housner, are seasoned industry professionals who have taken the beauty industry by storm, both in the UK and across the pond.
Based in LA, Courtney Housner is a professional hairstylist and makeup artist who has really made a splash in the entertainment industry and has previously spoken to us about the best hair straighteners to buy online. Courtney’s striking looks and stunning styles have had their share of the limelight, with her work being featured in the hallowed pages of world-famous titles, including Vogue and GQ, as well as on the heads of some of the world’s most recognisable talent, including Maddison Bailey and Gabrielle Ryan.
Henry Whittle is a freelance hairstylist and hair expert that spends his days creating bespoke styles for his adoring clients. When he does put down the styling scissors, Henry takes his extensive industry experience to social media, where he creates open, honest review content and has worked in partnership with household name brands, including Garnier and Hask, as well as previously speaking to us about the best hair curlers to buy online.
What should you look for when buying a conditioner?
When asked what to look for when buying a conditioner, Courtney told us to really consider what we are “trying to attain and what is most important to you”. Courtney told us she takes an “unconventional” approach to the subject, saying, “I imagine most people would immediately refer to the ingredient list. That’s not exactly how I work. I think every person has different needs and price points, so I think it's important to work with that”.
Henry agreed with Courtney’s individualised approach, telling us, “When looking for a conditioner, it’s best to think of A. Your hair type, and B. What is the concern you are looking to address?”. Henry continued, “[If] you have fine hair and are lacking body, you want to go for a conditioner that is more aloe-based. It’s lightweight, so you can easily achieve a big body blowout as well as deeply hydrated the hair”.
What should you avoid when looking for a conditioner?
In terms of what to avoid when shopping for a conditioner, Henry tells us to stay away from silicones saying, “Silicone is so bad for hair, and it is commonly confused with silica”. Henry told us how “silica is a natural form of silicone that breaks down with water and washes away”, whereas “silicones will build up on the hair and scalp and harden, causing breakage and will also suffocate the scalp meaning the new growth will be compromised from the root”.
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Courtney also told us to do our best to avoid the dreaded build-up that she tells us is a common side effect of using drugstore brands. Courtney explained, telling us to “imagine layering your skincare day after day without cleansing your skin and you suddenly break out from all the build-up. Drug store brands coat the hair day after day. They put a film on the scalp and hair that if it's not removed, it can cause a list of undesired results, hairless included”.
Which is the best conditioner?
When it comes to the best conditioners, Henry’s vote goes to Olaplex No.5 “It’s very rich so should be used sparingly but is for all hair types provided you adjust the amount you use. Its bonding complex has improved the texture and quality of my hair, making it supple, shiny and soft”.
Courtney also gave a shout-out to Olaplex, sharing that “my personal experience is it’s great on all hair types, and it’s super hydrating and not in a heavy way”. Courtney also recommended US brand Purezero, telling us, “It’s clean beauty. It's cruelty-free. It’s colour safe. It’s amazing”.
The best conditioners
Best for damaged hair: Olaplex No. 5 conditioner
An industry favourite
Recommended by both our experts, Olaplex No.5 conditioner claims to restore and repair damaged hair while hydrating strands and working to improve the appearance of breakage.
A favourite amongst industry professionals, Olaplex’s bond-building technology claims to repair broken disulphide bonds, repairing the hair structure, and improving manageability. When used effectively, this vegan and cruelty-free conditioner promises to replenish hair and promote shine. Suitable for all hair types, Henry recommends this product be used sparingly depending on your hair.
Best for curly hair: Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Rinse Out Conditioner
To nourish and strengthen
This curl-loving conditioner delivers on Henry’s recommendation of silicone-free products. Made with natural water-soluble silica, this product promises to nourish curls without causing build-up.
Colour-safe and sulfate-free, Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Conditioner works to reinforce brittle hair, helping to reduce the appearance of breakage. This conditioner also works to soften strands and deliver deep hydration without weighing down the hair. Its nourishing conditioner is formulated with cooling peppermint oil that promises to boost shine while stimulating the scalp to promote healthy growth.
Best cruelty-free conditioner: Faith In Nature Coconut Conditioner
Kind and conscious
Best suited to normal to dry hair, Faith In Nature’s Coconut Conditioner is paraben-free and vegan society approved as well as being silicone-free as recommended by our experts.
Formulated with organic coconut oil, this conditioner works to hydrate the hair and promote shine. Made with 100% recycled and recyclable packing, Faith In Nature is a climate-conscious option that promises to be kind to both your hair and the planet.
Best for coloured hair: Pureology Hydrate Conditioner
For vibrant volume
Working to protect your colour while adding volume, this lightweight conditioner is silicone-free and works to infuse the hair with essential hydration for improved manageability and shine.
Henry told us that a lightweight conditioner can help us achieve volume without compromising on hydration. Pureology’s Hydrate Conditioner promises to be a thirst-quenching formula that moisturises the hair while an anti-fade complex maximises colour retention for long-lasting vibrancy.
Best purple conditioner: Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Repair Conditioner
Brass, be gone
Vegan and leaping-bunny certified, Amika’s Bust Your Brass Purple Conditioner is formulated with an ultra-violet pigment that works to banish yellow hues and brighten tone.
Anyone who has bleached their hair will know the struggles of unwanted yellow tones and brassy hues. Amika’s purple conditioner promises to tone the hair, replenishing cool tones, while bond-cure technology promises to repair breakage for healthier-looking hair.
Best for volume: Living Proof Full Conditioner
For fuller-looking locks
Powered by a cocktail of powerful ingredients, this silicone-free conditioner promises to add volume to the hair while minimising breakage and repelling dirt and oils.
This volumising conditioner promises to protect and moisturise strands while adding body to the hair for fuller-looking locks. Created with an ultra-lightweight formula, this hydrating hair conditioner works to soften the hair and promote shine while improving manageability.
Best conditioner bar: Alter/Native Coconut & Argan Oil Conditioner Bar
Natural and plastic-free
Cruelty-free and suitable for all hair types, the Alter/Native Coconut & Argan Oil Conditioner Bar promises to provide a plastic-free path to healthy, shiny hair.
This vegan conditioner bar has been created using plant-based natural ingredients, including essential oils, argan oil, and ylang-ylang, all of which have been selected to moisturise and nourish strands for shiny, healthy-looking hair.
Best vegan conditioner: Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water and Mimosa Flower Conditioner
For body and strength
This lightweight conditioner has been specifically formulated for fine hair and promises to volumise the hair and lightly moisturise strands for added hydration and shine.
Made with natural ingredients, vegan certified and silicone-free, Love Beauty and Planet’s Coconut Water and Mimosa Flower Conditioner speaks to our expert recommendations while promoting sustainable practices such as using packing made from recycled plastics.
Best hydrating conditioner: Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Conditioner
Quench and replenish
Formulated with plant-derived glycerine, argan oil, and aloe vera, this hydrating conditioner promises to moisturise the hair and add body while improving strength and shine.
Once applied, it works to combat the effects of drying colour treatments, heat tools, and the elements, promising to hydrate strands while protecting against split-ends and breakage and reduce frizz for soft nourished-looking hair.
Best strengthening conditioner: Purezero Biotin Strengthening Conditioner
For strong, resilient hair
Courtney gave Purezero products a glowing review calling them “clean”, “colour-safe”, and “amazing”. The Biotin Purezero Conditioner is infused with concentrated protein for super-strong locks.
An expert favourite, Purezero’s Biotin Strengthening Conditioner promises to leave hair strong and resilient. Silicone, sulfate, and paraben-free this conditioner speaks to Henry’s recommendations while promising to deeply nourish strands for healthier-looking hair.
Want to read more expert-recommended hair care essential round-ups? Check out our hair care page for a full list of recommendations, including our guide to the best shampoos, the best hair curlers and the best hair dryers, as recommended by our hair care experts.
Isobel Nutbrown is a Staff Writer at The Recommended and works with leading industry experts to help readers make informed decisions and shop smarter online.