You’ve probably tried conditioner—you know, shampoo’s stubborn, impossible-to-lather companion. But you decided conditioners are for women, or for guys with long hair, and you’re certain that your shorter hair doesn’t need any “conditioning,” whatever that means.
Don’t be so certain, though: Conditioner has benefits for everyone, especially for guys who might have shorter (and even thinning) hair. It nourishes each strand, restoring volume and vitality that shampoo might wash away. Shampoo can be drying, and it can strip the hair of the natural oils and nutrients that keep it strong. Conditioner works like a moisturizer, hydrating both scalp and hair to boost circulation, flexibility, and natural shine.
“You should use conditioner every single time you shampoo,” says New York City hairstylist Oscar Blandi. (Fun fact: He’s the guy who cuts Jimmy Fallon’s hair.) “It doesn’t have to be a lot, but a little goes a long way. [Conditioner] maintains the life of your hair, the same way you would treat your skin with moisturizer.”
If you’re a guy who doesn’t shampoo every day—some guys just don’t get as oily as others—it doesn’t hurt to still use conditioner. Instead of adding volume by stripping away oils (like shampoo), it adds life by rinsing away excess oil and keeping the shafts of each hair nourished. Blandi recommends avoiding a 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner, though. That way, you can condition whenever you want, without overdrying the hair with shampoo.
He also recommends targeting the ends of the hair, which get the most dry. Bring a comb into the shower if you’re having trouble working the conditioner through all of your hair. This will help evenly distribute it—since it won’t lather—before you rinse it all away.
Here are our picks for the best conditioners to try.
The Best Hair Conditioners for Men
1. Act + Acre Moisture Balancing Conditioner
Act + Acre focuses on plant-based formulations to restore your scalp back to health. Its cold-processed conditioner uses Abyssinian oil, which can improve hair’s shine and manageability.
2. Huron Conditioner
Huron offers a simplified approach to body and hair care: The company sells kits for everything you need in the shower, from face wash to shampoo. The brand’s conditioner uses lightweight, soothing ingredients like argan oil and shea butter that’ll give your hair a no-fuss, shiny finish.
3. Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
When you need a truly repairing product, Olaplex has the answer. Though less heavy-duty than its popular hair masks, the brand’s conditioner still offers intense hydration to damaged, frizzy, dry, or color-treated hair.
4. SACHAJUAN Scalp Conditioner
Swedish brand SACHAJUAN’s Scalp Conditioner is ideal for those looking to treat dandruff, particularly if used with the accompanying Scalp Shampoo. Salicylic acid helps control flakes, while rosemary and oat oils nourish and soften hair.
5. Blind Barber Lemongrass Tea Conditioner
Blind Barber’s conditioner stands out for its fresh lemongrass scent alone, but the formulation is also enriched with many hair-strengthening ingredients, like jojoba extract, rooibos tea extract, and even hops, which can help slow hair loss.
6. Lumin Keratin Strengthening Conditioner
To help thicken hair, try Lumin’s Keratin Strengthening Conditioner. The key ingredient is in the name: Keratin, a naturally occurring protein in the hair, can help stimulate follicle growth to offset thinning manes.
7. Maapilim Conditioner
With a luxurious oud-based scent, Maapilim’s conditioner feels and smells good on your head. The formula uses jojoba and argan oils for hydration, but it’s still lightweight enough to be suitable for oilier hair types.
8. Verb Ghost Conditioner
If your hair gets weighed down by most conditioners, try Verb’s Ghost Conditioner. It’s infused with moringa oil, which is full of moisturizing fatty acids, but the lightweight formula won’t leave fine hair feeling droopy.
9. GAGE Tea Tree Conditioner
Tea tree oil is perfect for treating flaky scalps, and the addition of peppermint oil to GAGE’s conditioner leaves hair feeling hydrated and refreshed.