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16 Best Conditioners to Hydrate Dry, Coarse Hair

These picks add insane shine and moisture to even frizzy, dry hair.

conditioners for dry hair
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Dry, coarse and frizzy hair is a major beauty bummer: In fact, when we surveyed 2,100 women about their top hair woes, nearly 30% cited coarse, dry strands. Dry hair can come from "chemical damage from permanent coloring or relaxants, mechanical damage from brushing and heat damage from hot tools like curling and flat irons," all of which can affect the structure of your hair fibers, says Danusia Wnek, a chemist in the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab. Your hormones, age and ethnicity also impact your hair's health. And while shampoos remove oil, conditioners replace it in the areas where we want to add back moisture and hydration, says Blair Murphy-Rose, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York.

Our Beauty Lab experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute constantly test the latest and greatest in haircare. Our tests run the gamut from deep conditioning masks to hydrating shampoo-conditioner combos. We test products on hair swatches for variables like strength, softness and color vibrancy after use. Plus, we solicit real feedback from consumer testers who try tens of options and give their honest notes on each conditioner's color protection, volume, smoothing, strengthening and beyond.

How to find the best conditioner for dry hair

Investing in a good conditioner means getting hair that's smoother, softer, better hydrated and less prone to breakage – but it all starts with the ingredients.

Shop by buzzword. "Conditioners contain cationic surfactants that are attracted to hair so they actually coat fibers, making strands feel softer, detangled and easier to comb," says Wnek. Look for words like "moisturizing," "nourishing," "replenishing" and "softening" on the bottle.

Check for key hydrating ingredients. Along with cationic surfactants, look for emollients, oils and humectants, says Dr. Murphy-Rose. "Humectants attract and bind water. Emollients and oils lock in moisture, detangle and protect the cuticle and soften, as well as aid detangling," she says. Celebrity hair stylist Sabrina Porsche also suggests looking for proteins, aminos acids and oils like jojoba, castor, argan and tea tree as key ingredients

Check out the GH Beauty Lab's top conditioner picks below as well as ones beloved by GH editors, hair stylists, dermatologists and verified shoppers. Pair them with the best shampoos for dry hair.

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    1
    Best Overall Conditioner for Dry Hair
    Bio:Renew Coconut Milk Conditioner
    Herbal Essences
    Herbal Essences

    • Easy to dispense
    • Lightweight

    This affordable option topped our Beauty Lab's moisturizing test. Made with coconut extract and aloe, it was also a favorite among our testers. "It made my hair feel soft and manageable," said one. Another said, "It made my dry hair much more moisturized."   

    2
    Best Value Conditioner for Dry Hair
    Nutritive Solutions Daily Moisture Conditioner
    Dove
    DOVE HAIR

    • Light scent
    • Suitable for frizzy hair types
    • Highest rated by consumers

    This Dove pick was the most popular conditioner with our testers. A whopping 100% of them said they were satisfied with the product and would continue using it in their beauty routine. Comments included positive reviews about its subtle fragrance and frizz-fighting abilities.  

    3
    Best Drugstore Conditioner for Dry Hair
    Moisture Retention Conditioner
    SheaMoisture

    • Budget, drugstore buy
    • Suitable for sensitive skin types
    • Easy-to-use pump

    Keep this drugstore conditioner formulated with shea butter, argan oil and sea kelp shower-side. One pump gives the perfect amount to soften your hair without feeling greasy. It's labeled as sulfate-free, meaning colored hair types can enjoy without the worry of stripping away their latest dye job. A GH associate editor raved, "It's my tried-and-true conditioner because it always cleanses without irritating my sensitive scalp." 

    4
    Best Lightweight Conditioner for Dry Hair
    Whole Blends Replenishing Conditioner
    Garnier
    Garnier

    • Improves manageability
    • Moisturizing
    • Budget-friendly

    While some super moisturizing conditioners can feel heavy and make styling difficult, 91% of our testers said this one did not weigh down their hair. It earned high scores for conditioning, and one tester raved about the results. "I am very surprised and pleased with how much movement my hair has after drying it!" she said.  

    5
    Best Conditioner for Dry, Frizzy Hair
    Frizz Ease Daily Nourishment Conditioner
    Amazon
    John Frieda

    • Softens hair
    • Tames curly hair

    As the name suggests, curly-haired people will love this conditioner. It scored the highest for leaving hair feeling soft and hydrated, and it was also the easiest to rinse. While it wasn't as conditioning as the others, testers appreciated that it reduced frizz and tamed flyaways.  

    6
    Best Conditioner for Dry, Natural Hair
    Heavy Conditioner For Coilies
    PATTERN
    PATTERN

    • Generous amount of product
    • Deep cleansing
    • Pleasant scent

    To all the curly-haired people, this thick, creamy formula is designed to work through hard-to-untangle knots and hydrate dense hair. It's locked and loaded with shea butter to soften and avocado oils for nourishment. One Ulta reviewer said it smoothed while offering definition. "This gives you hydration for even the little baby curls."

    RELATED: 21 Best Natural Hair Products You Need in 2021 

    7
    Best Conditioner for Dry, Damaged Hair
    Super Moisture Conditioner
    Briogeo
    Briogeo

    • Deep conditioning
    • Compatible with fine hair types

    When that shower drain catches way too many stray hairs, it's time to invest in a conditioner that's specifically designed to lessen breakage and strengthen hair. It's formulated for fine, dry hair and free of sulfates, parabens and silicones. 

    8
    Best Conditioner for Thick Hair
    Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal Conditioner
    Target
    Pantene

    • Inexpensive
    • Sweet scent
    • Less comb time

    Pantene's conditioner tied with Herbal Essences for conditioning hair, and many testers enjoyed the fruity and floral scent. Of the many positive comments, this one made us excited about the potential for a speedy morning routine: "Normally brushing through my hair takes a while, but using this made it a much easier and quicker process," one tester said.  

    9
    Softening
    unwash Bio-Cleansing Conditioner Hair Cleanser
    unwash
    unwash

    • Preserves color-treated hair

    Fight color fade with the conditioner that won big in our cleansing conditioner study. In fact, 95% of testers agree that it has the best scent among all the color-treated hair conditioners we've tried. It ranked highest for leaving hair sufficiently conditioned, according to consumer tests. One tester said it made their hair "soft and healthy looking." 

    10
    Best Conditioner for Dry Hair and Sensitive Scalps
    GENTLE Conditioner
    MONDAY
    MONDAY

    • Budget buy
    • Cute packaging
    • Gentle on sensitive skin types

    It's all in the name. This budget buy uses a gentle, softening formula that offers high-end results. An associate editor at GH reports that the conditioner works wonders on her dry, sensitive scalp. "It somehow blesses me with a good hair day every time I use it," she said. "Plus, it certainly does not break the bank." 

    11
    Best Scented Conditioner for Dry Hair
    Coconut Infusion Deep Moisture Conditioner
    Suave Professionals
    Suave

    • Affordable
    • Easiest to use
    • Great for hair manageability

    Though it should definitely go on your ends, this bottle will probably end up under your nose. The "yummy" coconut scent was a plus among our testers, and it earned extra points for its price.  

    12
    Top Salon Formula for Dry Hair
    Joico Moisture Recovery Conditioner
    Joico
    Joico

    • Moisturizing
    • Smooths ends

    • Heavy

    Our lab results showed significant conditioning effects, but it weighed hair down slightly. If you're willing to pay extra, prepare yourself for majorly moisturized hair. "It left my hair feeling like silk," said one tester. "Super soft and smooth."  

    13
    Nourishing
    Miracle Deep Conditioner Plus Keratin
    It's a 10
    It's a 10

    • Prevents damage
    • Non-greasy

    While you certainly can't walk back damaged hair, this one almost seems like pressing "re-do." Winning the GH Beauty Lab's deep conditioners and hair masks test, its nourishing formula lived up to its "miracle" claims after earning a perfect score for its ability to condition hair and prevent damage in the Lab's wet-combing test. One tester said it made their color-treated, damaged blond hair "more manageable."

    14
    Best Sulfate-Free Conditioner for Dry Hair
    Full Conditioner
    Living Proof
    Living Proof

    • Volumizing
    • Rinses well
    • Smells good

    Over 16k Sephora shoppers love this Living Proof conditioner in all its lightweight, detangling glory. It aims to please by offering volume and lift even on air-dried hair. One Sephora reviewer said the sulfate-free formula still offers some "slip" and another noted "it only takes a nickel to quarter-sized amount of conditioner to coat." 

    15
    Best Leave-In Conditioner for Dry Hair
    Supershine Light Moisturizing Cream
    Oribe
    ORIBE

    • Fights frizz
    • Doubles as a styling cream

    Don't let leave-in conditioners slip under your radar, especially this highly rated detangler. This featherweight conditioning cream doubles as a post-wash treatment and as a touch-up styling cream on dry hair. GH's Beauty Director loves its taming, smoothing effect on flyaways, plus, she says "the brand's signature luxurious scent is amazing."

    16
    Best Conditioner for Dry, Curly Hair
    Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Shea Curl Defining Conditioner
    Briogeo
    Briogeo

    • Less is more
    • Deep repair
    • Minimizes frizz

    Blended with hair-loving ingredients like shea butter and rice amino acids, this Briogeo conditioner for curly hair works to revive natural textures. One Ulta reviewer, in particular, said, "my hair can't get enough protein, and had an instantly great reaction to the shampoo and conditioner! My previously limp waves were brought to LIFE."

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