What's the Deal With Clear Conditioners? You'll Be Glad You Asked

Amy Lawrenson

Hair conditioners, as we know them today, were originally invented to soften, smooth and nourish the hair after shampooing, but now clear gel-like conditioners—that look like shampoos—have been popping up. Back before we had a choice as to whether or not our shampoo contained sulfates (and before formulations became both more effective and kinder to hair), a conditioner was imperative to balance out any damage caused by harsh shampoos. This year, clear conditioners have been causing a stir in the hair world, but why exactly would you want a conditioner that looks like a shampoo? Keep scrolling to find out all you need to know about clear conditioners and whether you need one in your bathroom.

Should I use a clear conditioner?

Both Redken and L’Oréal Paris offer variations of clear conditioner, and while the brands claim they are good for all hair types, anyone with particularly thick, coarse or frizzy hair is likely to need a creamier conditioner. Clear conditioners are more lightweight than traditional versions, so they are especially effective at preventing fine or flat hair from becoming weighed down.

What results can I expect from a clear conditioner?

These conditioners are formulated to give the hair a weightless finish. Redken Diamond Oil High Shine Conditioner (£13) uses camelina oil to soften and apricot oil to impart shine. L’Oréal Paris Elvive Fibrology Air Conditioner (£2) uses seriously lightweight cetyl esters, a very lightweight emollient. Redken’s Volume Beach Envy Conditioner (£13) is perfect for anyone who wants to enhance their natural waves, as latex polymers retain the hair’s movement but add a softness.

I have thick hair so I definitely don’t need a clear conditioner, right?

Not all the time, no, but you know how updos always work better on day-old hair? Well, if you want to style clean hair into an updo but don’t want hair to be too slippery and soft, then this is where clear conditioners come into their own for thicker hair types. Try Redken’s Volume Beach Envy Conditioner (£13) for this.

Do I use a clear conditioner in the same way as a regular conditioner?

Yes, you still want to concentrate the conditioner through the mid-lengths and ends.

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