Deep Conditioner Vs Leave-in Conditioner [Which is Better & Why?]

The most important thing your hair needs to be healthy and lustrous is optimum moisture. How can you get that? Many of us are already used to washing our hair regularly in the shower with shampoo and an ordinary conditioner.

This habit is not prohibited, but you ought to take a step further to maintain well-nourished hair. 

Whether your hair texture is fine, coarse, or natural, regular conditioning treatment is highly recommended. Most people get confused by what leave-in conditioning and deep conditioning entail.

 If you want to find out how and when to use either deep conditioners or leave-in conditioners, all you need to know is in this post. 

Deep Conditioner vs Leave-in Conditioner

The benefits of each of these two treatments are outstanding. You can make a great hair growth regimen by applying one after the other if you wish.

Usually, since the deep conditioner is meant to be rinsed off after application, you can still go on to apply your leave-in subsequently. The deep conditioner has about 20% more nutrients packed into it compared with a regular conditioner.

Meanwhile, a leave-in is only about 2% rich in hair nutrients but can be used daily or after deep conditioning. Their benefits are almost the same, but since their methods of application vary, it is wise to highlight the slight differences between them. 

Here is an outline of the differences between a deep conditioner and a leave-in conditioner. 

Deep Conditioner Leave-in Conditioner 
Deep conditioning treatments work to restore weak and damaged hair from excessive heat and chemicals previously applied. Leave-in conditioners help to detangle your strands by working their way through your hair making it look well kept and attractive. 
A deep conditioner can help your hair in retaining moisture when you begin to notice how dry and brittle it has become. Applying a leave-in can control frizz and reduce flyaways on your hair. It smoothes your hair texture and eliminates roughness. 
To prevent your hair from breakage and dead/split ends, a deep conditioner will be the best choice. Leave-in conditioning softens your hair, adds luster, and shine. It locks in extra moisture without a heavy feel due to its light consistency. 
Deep conditioning helps to strengthen your hair and make it more manageable.  It treats every strand of your hair and can be done once every week after shampooing. With a leave-in conditioner, your hair growth is assured and there is no issue of insufficient hydration. Dryness and split ends are totally eliminated and your scalp gets adequate nourishment. 

Which is Better, Deep Conditioner or Leave-in Conditioner?

There isn’t a definite answer to the question. The reason is that both deep and leave-in conditioners have their distinct benefits when applied to the hair. 

You may decide to deep condition your hair a couple of times monthly or once weekly depending on how much time you have. It could also be because of the extent of the damage that your hair is suffering.

If you are experiencing major issues with your hair, the waiting time after applying a deep conditioner should be longer before rinsing it out.

Since deep conditioners contain more conditioning ingredients than leave-in conditioners, the nourishment tends to sink in as you let it stay in your hair longer. 

Deep conditioners come fully packed with hair growth nutrients and high protein levels that help to restore required moisture in the hair. There are several products in the market which are very good and effective after a few applications.

Most times, deep conditioners come in cups/tubes because of their thickness. You have to dip into the container to fetch and apply to your hair after dividing it into sections. 

Here are a few deep conditioning products you can compare before making your choice according to your budget:

On the other hand, you may choose to apply a leave-in conditioner briskly on alternate days especially if you are the busy type.

Leave-in conditioners as the name implies are meant to be left in your hair without rinsing off. They are prepared with a lighter consistency than deep conditioners.

A leave-in is usually a diluted version of a regular conditioner and has less concentration of conditioning ingredients. It is so because it can be applied daily and to prevent clogging your strands, the texture has to be lighter than a deep conditioner. 

Leave-in conditioners come in bottles with pumps for easy dispensing. Just a little amount is enough for each application.

Rub the conditioner in both palms of your hands and massage through your hair by spreading it evenly all over from your scalp to the tip of your hair.

Comb your hair after applying your leave-in conditioner and style as desired. You can blow dry a little if you feel your hair is a bit wet from the application. 

Below, I have listed a couple of good quality leave-in conditioning products that you may like to buy:

When to Use Deep Conditioner over Leave-in Conditioner?

Deep conditioning helps to balance your hair pH and rebuild the already compromised hair protein structure. This makes it the best solution to chemically damaged hair and colored hair.

When you are battling with dry, weak, and severe hair loss, then a deep conditioner is the correct option. Leave it in for about 20 to 30 minutes after application.

If you have poor porosity, you can use heat treatment to further enhance the penetration ability of your hair. You can do that by wearing a waterproof cap and sit under a hairdryer or using a steaming cap that connects to electricity. 

Repeat twice or once weekly depending on the severity of the damage. Rinse it off and let it dry naturally or use the cool air setting on your dryer. Too much heat from the dryer can cause over dryness that may lead to an irreversible condition. 

Let your hair still be slightly damp if you wish to apply a leave-in conditioner after the deep conditioning process. Comb through to remove tangles and style either with or without drying. 

When to Use Leave-in Conditioner over Deep Conditioner?

We don’t recommend that you choose a leave-in conditioner over a deep conditioner. Deep conditioning helps to repair damaged hair. Therefore it is used as a treatment plan for hair breakage. Unlike the leave-in conditioner, deep conditioners are used only a few times monthly. 

The best leave-in is water-based and must be applied in small quantities to avoid a buildup in your hair.

For daily use, when you need to keep your hair in shape, leave-in conditioning is recommended. But that doesn’t rule out deep conditioning once every week or fortnight.

Leave-in conditioners give you the added shine and maintain the curls in wavy hair. It helps you manage your hair and keeps your style looking neat and beautiful with no frizz. Conditioning between shampoos is achieved with a leave-in. 

Final Thoughts:

Know your hair type and condition before you choose a product for deep conditioning or leave-in. You can also opt for a 3-in-one product with shampoo, deep conditioner, and leave-in conditioner.

Watch your hair, see how it responds to your choice of conditioner, and then enjoy healthier hair.