As anyone who has ever had a really good – or worse, really bad – fade will tell you, good hair matters. And yet, beyond a bit of styling product, men often neglect their hair like it’s a universal hobby. Then 30 comes along, the crown starts appearing, the quiff starts thinning, and panic ensues.
Instead of intervention, prevention might be the way to go. Haircare is the fastest-growing category in men’s grooming, with serums, milks, masks and oils being introduced by brands faster than you can say high and tight. Which is why one shampoo just doesn’t cut it anymore.
In the same way your skincare kit routine should include a cleanser, toner, serum and moisturiser, your haircare should involve more than one simple step. This is where conditioner comes in.
What Is Conditioner?
“Conditioner is used following shampoo to improve the feel, texture and tone of the hair,” says Jordan Garrett, renowned stylist at A-list hair salon Hershesons. “It first gained popularity for its ability to soothe the friction between strands, meaning that brushing, combing or blow-drying hair became infinitely easier. Essentially, conditioner helps repair your hair, loading it with hydration and moisture.”
Should Men Use Conditioner?
Despite being typically associated with the kind of 10-step Korean skincare routine used by the fairer sex, men have even more reason to use conditioner, insists Garrett. “Men’s hair is more susceptible to loss, their scalp is more susceptible to the elements (having traditionally shorter hair) and they often use products like gels or waxes that can build-up, creating unnecessary oil and congestion.”
Why Should You Use Conditioner?
A bad hair day is just a bad day, but the chances of that happening can be minimised with the right products. “Conditioner is so important to the condition your hair,” says Garrett. “While shampoo is great for getting rid of dirt, pollution and excess oil, it’s conditioner that provides the nourishment needed for full, healthy locks.”
The Best Hair Conditioner Ingredients
“While the hero ingredients in many shampoos are astringents that strip away oil and dirt, conditioners are the opposite,” explains Garrett. “They are normally packed with emollients, humectants, vitamins and minerals; like a green juice for your hair.” The best conditioners have a richer, thicker texture than shampoo, which comes from natural oils like argan, coconut and general fatty acids.
How To Use Conditioner
Even if you think you’ve got the whole showering thing down, you could be using conditioner wrong. “A good rule of thumb is to use about three tablespoons worth,” says Garrett. While it’s standard practice to massage the product in and leave it on in the shower for a few minutes, conditioners can be kept in longer if you have the time. Just make sure to wash it off if it says so on the instructions, otherwise you might find your hair weighed down and your scalp coated in product.
The Best Conditioner For Every Type Of Hair
Best Sustainable Conditioner
Haeckels Bio Energiser Conditioner
British firm Haeckels is so sustainable that the team collects sea kelp on the Margate beach that fronts its shop. The brand’s Bio Energising conditioner takes the best of sea (and shore) to detox, nourish and strengthen hair. It’s a pretty solid conditioner for all hair types and is one of the rare hair care products that look great on the bathroom shelf too.
Best Conditioner For Curly Hair
Aveda Be Curly Conditioner
Curly hair can be a nightmare to deal with. It’s also one of the most overlooked categories in the market, even now. Given that definition, dryness and frizz are the main issues here, a conditioner that strengthens and hydrates the hair is key. Aveda’s Be Curly formula uses a wheat protein and organic aloe blend to deal with all three, making it ideal if you want a tight curl or even a looser wave – just leave it in for a little less time.
Best Conditioner For Natural Hair
Aesop Nurturing Conditioner
Even if you refrain from dyeing your hair, wearing a cap or being heavy-handed with the styling products, your crown still takes a beating from the environment; think pollution, think UVA damage, think hard water in your shower. To keep it from appearing dull, dry or thin you need the hair equivalent of a multivitamin. Aesop’s Nurturing Conditioner is just that, packed with nourishment for truly healthy hair.
Best Conditioner For Thick Hair
Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Conditioner
With sustainably sourced manketti oil at the heart of most of her formulas, Charlotte Mensai has long been heralded the queen of thick hair – particularly afro hair. Considered the new coconut oil, manketti is loaded with vitamin E and minerals like calcium, magnesium, protein, zinc and copper. Leave this conditioner on for a while, ensuring it gets everywhere with a generous head massage.
Best Conditioner For Frizzy Hair
Kiehl’s Superbly Smoothing Argan Conditioner
Frizz can come from many things – dehydration, sun exposure, even aggressively rubbing wet hair with a towel, so a good conditioner is essential for smoothing out any flyaways. Formulated with argan oil, Kiehl’s conditioner will coat the follicle and weigh it down with moisture so it isn’t standing to attention. Don’t be afraid to use it as a treatment, either. Simply work a small amount through your hair during the day or even sleep with it on.
Best Conditioner For Bleached Hair
Malin+Goetz Intensive Hair Conditioner
For chemically damaged or severely dry hair, this intensive conditioner from Malin+Goetz is an overnight saviour. The formula, which mixes natural oils with fatty and amino acids, has the consistency of melted butter, so make sure you sleep on a towel if you do an overnight job.
Best Cleansing Conditioner
Christophe Robin Cleansing Mask With Lemon
Is it a shampoo? Is it a mask? Is it a conditioner? Who knows. What is clear is that Christophe Robin’s formula is the perfect hair detox. The addition of lemon (a naturally gentle acid) also helps remove any dead skin and free up clogged follicles. If you run a little oily or overindulge on heavy styling aids, this is worth the investment.
Best Shampoo And Conditioner
Harrys 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner
Having conquered men’s faces, everyone’s favourite shaving subscription business has headed north. This two-in-one product from New York brand Harrys is quick, hydrating and free of both sulphates and parabens (unusual in hair products). Definitely something to add to cart when you order your next razor refill.
Best Scalp Conditioner
Hanz De Fuko Natural Conditioner
Our mate Hanz makes a great hair clay, so it’s no surprise the brand’s conditioner is just as good. A blend of 10 amino acids and 16 natural oils, the product claims to stimulate microcirculation in the scalp to rev up follicle production and help dissolve excess oil. If you are a dandruff sufferer, start with a scalp scrub and follow with this.
Best Conditioner For Thin Hair
Sachajuan Thickening Conditioner
No conditioner will give you a thick thatch overnight. That, sadly, can only be done with a hair transplant or PRP (where a doctor microneedles plasma from your blood into your scalp). What a conditioner can do, however, is fill up your current hair follicles with moisture, giving the appearance of a fuller, healthier barnet. Sachajuan does just that, reinvigorating your hair from root to tip.
Best Conditioner For Oily Hair
Grown Alchemist Detox Conditioner
Men have naturally oilier hair (and skin) than women, so a specific shampoo and conditioner combo is often necessary. Grown Alchemist, a much-loved grooming brand, strips the hair of free radicals (basically pollution that derails antioxidants in your body) and detoxes the scalp of any unnecessary oil.
Best Conditioner For Hair Loss
Patricks CD1 Stimulating And Thickening Conditioner
It’s pretty much impossible to stop male pattern baldness with a topical product. Still, the innovative team at Patricks is giving it a go. The brand’s Recovery Compound, a complex made up of plant-derived proteins, works to minimise hair loss and encourage growth. If nothing else, the fresh scent and sleek packaging is worth well worth it.
Best Conditioner For Dry Hair
Mauli Rituals Grow Strong Intensive Conditioner
Packed full of herbs and botanicals, Mauli Ritual’s conditioner is said to harness centuries-old eastern remedies that nourish both head and hair. One of the key ingredients, turmeric, works as an antiseptic, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent all in one. Talk about a multi-tasker.
Best Conditioner For Damaged Hair
Hair Ritual by Sisley Regenerating Hair Mask
This sub-brand from skincare supremo Sisley has been taking over the market with wonders such as its Hair Serum. The Hair Mask, a nourishing mix of natural oils, is no different. Designed to act on damp hair, work this in from roots to end if your strands need some serious salvation.
Best Leave-In Conditioner
Rahua Leave-In Treatment
Just a few years old and already boasting the kind of celebrity following most brands dream of, Rahua takes its name (and primary ingredient) from the amazonian nut that is rich in Omega-9 .This is an easy, versatile treatment that can tackle dehydration, dryness, frizziness or even just lacklustre locks that need some oomph.
Best Conditioner For Coloured Hair
Josh Wood Colour Renewing Conditioner
Well known in London as the king of colour, it was with a collective sigh of relief to everyone who shades their hair when Josh Wood brought out his colour-bolstering conditioner. In four variations (blonde, brunette, frizzy and fine), this helps soften and smooth your locks while binding, toning and upping your colour. At £10, its far cheaper than popping into the barber for a top-up and gives you close to the same results.