Surprise, surprise: Your application method will depend on your individual hair type and texture. “For fine hair, I would recommend applying it to the mid-shaft and ends,” says Warren. “For curly, coarse hair, I would recommend applying it from the roots to the ends.”
While you can technically apply some leave-ins on dry hair (namely to refresh strands and tame frizz), you’ll want to rake it through wet, freshly-washed strands to reap the most benefits.
Those with coarser hair prone to frizz will want to apply it on soaking wet strands, while those with finer locks may want to towel dry a bit to encourage extra volume. “If hair is very wet, the leave-in will slip out with the water and not bond to the hair,” notes celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein.
Generally, Fekkai recommends applying leave-in conditioner only to the lengths of your hair, no higher than the tops of your ears. However, if you have textured or coarse hair, applying leave-in on your roots can be helpful. Again, it all depends on your hair type! (Take this easy quiz to find out yours.)
After combing through your leave-in of choice, you can then style your hair as usual. Warren typically likes to follow up with an oil or gel to encourage definition. “Leave-ins usually do not have any hold. So, creating a cocktail with styling products works great,” he notes.
It may take some time to find your perfect hair care ritual, and that’s OK! Feel free to test out different routines and ratios to discover your perfect hair day.
Just remember to leave your strands alone after you’re done scrunching or raking in your final product. Try to resist the urge to run your hands through your hair as it air-dries; after all, the more you mess with your strands, the more likely your hair will frizz.
For a full tutorial on how to apply leave-in conditioner, check out this guide.