8 Easy Recipes for DIY Leave-in Conditioner

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Leave-in conditioner can help dry and frizzy hair, naturally curly hair, and any hair type that's in need of moisture, softness, and a little extra TLC.

There are plenty of benefits to using a natural leave-in conditioner. You can use it as a detangler before you wash your hair, while you are combing it out to remove dirt and dead hair. If you use a leave-in conditioner after washing your hair, it will hydrate, protect, and soften hair.

You can also use a leave-in conditioner when you don't have time to wash your hair but want to freshen it up. Simply dampen your hair with a spray bottle of water and apply some of your homemade leave-in conditioner, or you can spray your liquid conditioner directly on.

Explore the following recipes for DIY leave-in conditioner and pick your favorite!

1
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Basic Leave-in Conditioner

Aloe vera leaves and cosmetic dropper on the wooden table
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This basic recipe will work for a variety of moisture-needing hair types and is fairly light, meaning it won't weigh down hair as much as some of the other highly moisturizing recipes. It's applied via a spray bottle, making it a convenient hair refresher as well as hydrator.

Stored in the fridge, this leave-in conditioner will keep for two to three weeks.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups aloe vera gel
  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 3 teaspoons jojoba oil
  • 4 drops lavender, orange, or lemon essential oil

Steps

  1. Measure out each ingredient and add it to a spray bottle that's big enough to hold four cups (or half the recipe if your bottle is smaller).
  2. Use whatever essential oils you prefer to scent it (or none at all).
  3. Shake well before each use and spray on liberally. Then, comb or brush it through, or spray and scrunch if you have curly hair.
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Honey Coconut Conditioner

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Made with honey, this recipe will help fortify and strengthen hair, while coconut oil will also help prevent breakage and smooth hair.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons aloe vera gel
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon sweet almond oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 drops vanilla extract (optional)

Steps

  1. Make sure that your coconut oil is liquid (it will be if it's over 75 degrees, but if it's not, heat it a bit to melt it). Add honey to the warm coconut oil and mix until the honey is dissolved in the oil.
  2. Pour aloe vera gel, water, and vanilla extract into a spray bottle and mix.
  3. Add sweet almond oil and the coconut oil and honey mixture to the spray bottle. Mix again.
  4. Your leave-in conditioner is now ready to use. Spray it on—go lightly at first and work into hair. Depending on your hair thickness, you might not need too much of this.

Remember to always shake before using. If the coconut oil solidifies, you'll need to warm it up again (and mix) to use. An easy way to do this is to put it on the edge of the tub or shower while you are showering; the heat from the shower should be enough to melt the oil.

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Coconut Milk Conditioner

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Coconut milk is richer and fattier than coconut water and can often be found in a can. This leave-in conditioner is a great way to use up coconut milk that you may have leftover from a recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup water (you can use less for a thicker spray)
  • 2 teaspoons jojoba oil
  • 4 drops grapefruit essential oil

Steps

  1. Warm coconut oil if it's not in a liquid state.
  2. Add coconut milk, water, and jojoba oil to a spray bottle. Then, add coconut oil and grapefruit essential oil. Shake well.
  3. Apply to hair by spraying it on; start with ends (you may or may not want something this heavy on your roots, so see how it works at the bottom of your hair, which is drier, first).

This spray should last about 10 days without refrigeration, but keep in a cool, dry place.

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Light Rosewater Conditioner

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This is the lightest leave-in conditioner recipe on the list: It's ideal for those with thinner, oiler, or less-frizzy hair.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rose water
  • 1/2 cup aloe vera gel
  • 1 teaspoon sweet almond oil
  • 3-4 drops rose essential oil

Steps

  1. You can buy rose water but making it is very easy: Simply gather organic rose petals from 5-7 flowers and add them to a pot with 4-5 cups of distilled water. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the rose petals lose their color. Cool and strain petals out and voila.
  2. Add rose water to aloe vera gel in a spray bottle. Shake to combine
  3. Add the sweet almond oil and rose essential oil and shake again.
  4. Spray generously to refresh hair and lightly condition.

Keep the spray bottle in the fridge and it will last for several weeks. Be sure to shake well before each application.

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Enriching Hair Balm for Dry Hair

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This is a thick balm that doesn't contain water and gets applied with the fingers rather than a spray bottle. It's best for drier or frizzier hair, as it's very rich and will weigh down lighter hair types.

You can opt to use any type of essential oil to scent this leave-in conditioner (or none at all); warm and woody scents will work best—think sandalwood, rose, ylang-ylang, or geranium.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw shea butter
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4-6 drops ylang-ylang essential oil

Steps

  1. In a double boiler on the stove or in the microwave, melt the shea butter and coconut oil.
  2. Mix the two oils well.
  3. Drop in the ylang-ylang (or other essential oil of choice) and mix again.
  4. Pour into your storage container and put in the fridge so it hardens up into a solid.
  5. Use by rubbing a small amount on warm hands and smoothing over hair.
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Repairing and Defrizzing Leave-in Conditioner

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The vitamin E and argan oil in this whipped leave-in conditioner will help repair hair, and the geranium is a bright, fresh scent—ideal accompaniment to this conditioner if you choose to add the essential oils (always optional).

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw shea butter
  • 3 tablespoons aloe vera gel
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons argan oil
  • 3-4 drops geranium essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil

Steps

  1. Melt the shea butter and coconut oil together in a double boiler on the stove or using the microwave and make sure they are well-mixed. Remove from heat.
  2. Add argan oil and vitamin E oil and let it cool a bit.
  3. Carefully pour oil mixture into a blender and put the lid on.
  4. Blend on low for a few seconds. Then, adjust to a high speed and mix for a minute.
  5. Open the lid insert and slowly pour aloe vera gel into the mix. Blend another 3-4 minutes. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the blender a couple of times. You should end up with a creamy mixture.
  6. Add essential oil and pulse a few times (or blend on low for 15 seconds)
  7. When finished, transfer to a storage container.
  8. Use a quarter-size amount all over for drier hair, or a dime-sized amount only on the bottom of your hair to repair split ends.
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Conditioner Bar for Most Hair Types

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Use a little bit for a light condition or more for hair in need of more moisture. Here you'll use the freezer to keep ingredients combined (without it they will separate after they are mixed).

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons cocoa butter
  • 1 tablespoon shea butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon argan oil
  • 1 tablespoon beeswax
  • 10 drops orange or bergamot essential oil

Steps

  1. Melt the beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, and coconut oil together in the microwave or using a double boiler.
  2. While mixing the warm oil combination, drop in the argan oil and essential oil of choice.
  3. Pour into a silicone mold or paper baking cups and place in the freezer.
  4. To use, rub into the palms of your hands to melt and rub onto hair.
  5. Keep in a cool place (not the bathroom) otherwise this bar will melt. Consider keeping it in a tin or other small container in the fridge.
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Grapefruit Seed Leave-in Conditioner

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Grapefruit seed extract may help soothe your scalp, while the remaining ingredients create a rich and creamy combination that will moisturize and defrizz hair.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons shea butter
  • 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel
  • 4 ounces water
  • 1/2 tablespoon grapefruit-seed extract
  • 6-8 drops grapefruit essential oil (optional)

Steps

  1. Melt shea butter and essential oil together in a double boiler on the stove or microwave.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in grapefruit seed extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine water and aloe vera gel.
  4. Blend water and oil mixtures on high for five minutes.
  5. Scoop out mixture into a bowl or silicone mold and put in the fridge to harden.
  6. Store it in the fridge or a cool area.
View Article Sources
  1. Tsutsumi-Arai, Chiaki, et al. "Fungicidal Activity of Grapefruit Seed Extract Against the Pathogenic Candida Species Causing Oral Candidiasis." Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Medicine, and Pathology, vol. 33, no. 6, 2021, pp. 626-632., doi:10.1016/j.ajoms.2021.03.001