Best Detangling Conditioner For Dry Hair

I've found The One (conditioner).
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I've found The One (conditioner).

If I had to pick one product I couldn’t live without, it’d probably be lotion (my grandmother instilled a fear of getting ashy in me at a young age), but hair conditioner is a very close second.

My springy sort-of-curls rapidly become a matted, tangled mess without it and my hair feels even worse than it looks. It’s a bad scene.

You’d think when it comes to something this integral to my beauty process, I’d have found The One ages ago. The truth is, it's been a long road. I’ve probably tried 200 different conditioners in my quest for the perfect one.

Recently, I decided I’d had enough fooling around. At 30, I feel like it's time to settle down! So I renewed my efforts and tested more than 20 different conditioners. I set some requirements for myself: The conditioner had to be paraben- and sulfate-free, available in New York, come with a scent I could live with, and cost less than $35 a bottle. It goes without saying the conditioner would also have to hydrate and detangle my desert-dry hair. The following are some of the highlights of my search.

1. Ojon Rare Blend Moisture Therapy Conditioner, $30

ojon rare blend moisture therapy conditioner

Texture: Very thick & stiff
Scent: Herbal, bordering on medicinal 

ojon rare blend moisture therapy conditioner swatch

This conditioner is so thick! It's more like a mask than a conditioner.

This super-rich conditioner did a good job of moisturizing my hair, but wasn’t a great detangler. Because of its crazy-thick texture you have to use quite a bit to coat the hair, and with such a small tube (only five ounces), I think I’d end up replacing it every other week.

Verdict: Not the one

2. Wen Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner, $32

wen cleansing conditioner

Texture: Creamy 
Scent: Minty

wen cleansing conditioner swatch

Even though the instructions tell you to use as many as 32 pumps of product on long hair, a little goes a long way.

I didn’t expect this to work as well as it did for me; I’ve always needed products specifically formulated for dry, coarse hair. I was delighted to be wrong. This conditioner was a great detangler and left my hair moisturized for two days. I didn’t love the scent (I didn’t even like it really), but that’s honestly the only bad thing I can say about it.

Verdict: Not the one but would definitely use again

3. L’Oreal EverSleek Reparative Smoothing Conditioner, $7

l'oreal eversleek reparative smoothing conditioner

Texture: Creamy, yet stiff
Scent: Strong and powdery

l'oreal eversleek reparative smoothing conditioner swatch

This one starts out very thick, but is still easy to work into the hair.

This product was a totally solid option. It was a great detangler, a decent moisturizer (though by day two my hair was kinda dry) and easy to use. The scent is pretty aggressive, which didn’t bother me, but if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, you might want to steer clear.

Verdict: The Budget One

4. Aveda Damage Remedy Restructuring Conditioner, $28

aveda damage remedy restructuring conditioner

Texture: Thick but not creamy
Scent: Herbal and pleasant

aveda damage remedy restructuring conditioner swatch

Even though it’s pretty thick, it doesn't have the creaminess you'd expect.

This is a pretty spectacular conditioner. It’s a great detangler and it leaves my hair moisturized without weighing it down. It contains quinoa protein to help build strength over time, and I have to say, during the week that I used it I had a lot less breakage than normal. Still, I think after a while my hair would miss the heavy-duty moisture I’m used to.

Verdict: Almost The One, and it could be for you if your hair isn’t as dry as mine.

5. Ouidad Curl Quencher Moisturizing Conditioner, $18

ouidad curl quencher moisturizing conditioner

Texture: Thick but not super creamy
Scent: Sweet and kind of fruity

ouidad curl quencher moisturizing conditioner swatch

This stuff really holds its shape and does a great job of coating the hair.

I love this conditioner! It has so much slip that my hair basically detangles itself when I use it and it really does lock in the moisture. There’s no difference in hydration level from day 1 to day 2 whatsoever. The scent is a bit sweet for my taste, but it fades quickly. Also, at less than $20 a bottle, I don’t have to feel guilty about how much I’m spending on a beauty staple.

Verdict: THE ONE.

  • Do you like playing the field when it comes to conditioner, or are you looking to settle down?
  • More importantly, did I miss any must-try conditioners that will get my search going again?