Thick vs “Lite” Leave-in Conditioners?



I am currently on a light (lite) conditioner kick at the moment.  I know, I know!

For a while, my hair didn’t really respond to lite DIY mixes and preferred heavier, thicker and more substantial DIY and store-bought leave-in conditioners.  

DIY mixes with ingredients like shea butter, and with higher percentages of BTMS and cetyl alcohol, worked very well for me.  These types of leave-ins can be classified as ‘thick’ conditioners depending on the percentages used.

Thick conditioners often work to add and/or seal in moisture.  I used to think a conditioner HAD to be thick in order to moisturize my hair well.  Well, that’s turning out not to necessarily be the case.

Don’t get me wrong!  My hair still loves shea butter and responds well to thicker DIY leave-in mixes.  

Its hard to use anything which will moisturize your hair longer than a store-bought leave-in or DIY mix which contains a fair amount of butters and oils.  

PROS for Thick Leave-ins

  • # Often contains more nourishing, substantial butters
  • # Doesn’t generally slide out of your hand during application
  • # Can be used as a sealer depending on the percentage of oils in the mix

CONS for Thick Leave-ins

  • # Can  weigh down the hair of those with much looser curl patterns or straight hair
  • # May sit on the hair for a noticeable period of time before it absorbs

A Few Thicker DIY Recipes

# Red Rosemary Conditioning Leave In

# Creamy Olive Leave In v.3

# Hibiscus & Nettle Leave in Conditioner w/ Castor oil

However, I’ve noticed I have very soft hair using the lite formulas I’ve been recently creating.  As long as the percentage of the conditioning ingredient is sufficient, my hair remains light and well-conditioned for period of time despite it not being thick or heavy.

If butters are not your thing or you don’t really care for the way that butters can sometimes “weigh down” your curls, lite conditioners can be blessing…. so long as they’re formulated well.

One of my mixes which I’m loving right now is the DIY Aloe and Avocado Hair Milk v2.  LOVE it.  My hair is always soft after I use it.  Its so soft, though, that my hair can feel more fluffy than I’m used to. LOL.

The Aloe and Avocado Hair Milk v2 is light, pourable, contains Aloe vera juice, a softener, a humectant, a natural emollient, an anti-frizz-based emulsifier, along with a smaller percentage of oil than I usually use.

Another plus for using a hair milk (or lite formula) is its ability to be spread very well throughout the hair in a shorter period of time.   Normally, lighter formulas don’t just sit on the hair, either, because of the percentage of water it contains.

In addition, because of the high percentage of water/aloe in the Aloe and Avocado Hair Milk v2, those types of mixes can work very well on bone dry hair.  

When my hair gets very dry — either because I’ve been a bit too lazy in the past couple of days, or because I tried something that didn’t work — I have no problems adding the Aloe and Avocado Hair Milk throughout my hair.  And I immediately feel the results.  That mix is about 75% water so it does absorb well.

PROS for Lite Leave-Ins

  • # Super easy to apply throughout the hair to get more or all the hair strands
  • # Often contains a higher percentage of water to add moisture to the hair

CONS for Lite Leave-Ins

  • # May not be substantial enough for people who like thick creams
  • # Some of them, like the hair milks, can be a little runny during application

A Few Lite DIY Recipes

# Aloe and Avocado Hair Milk v2

# HiRoG Tea Softening Leave-in (Hibiscus, Rosehips, Horsetail and Green Tea)

# Rosemary Coconut Milk Lite Leave In w/Agave
(lite feeling, but slightly thicker than a pourable hair milk)

Don’t be put off by hair milks or thinner leave-in conditioners just because they’re lite.  And don’t automatically think a thick leave-in will make your curls flat and lifeless.  Create many formulations until you achieve the level of sustained moisture you’re looking for!


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