Is Hair Serum Better Than Conditioner? Which Best Provides Safe Care?

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Is hair serum better than leave-in conditioner?

Hair serum and leave-in conditioner are two different products on your hair care routine and they carry out different functions to help give you beautiful, lush hair. Therefore, hair serum is not better than leave-in conditioner, nor the other way around.

Hair serums are viscous hair styling products that help to keep the hair sleek, moisturize and enhance your curls. Leave-in conditioner, on the other hand, is used post-shampoo to condition the hair and aid detangling without putting pressure on the strands.

This article details the differences between a hair serum and a leave-in conditioner. Continue reading to see these differences and other information that will help you choose between the two products.

What Is Hair Serum Used For?

Hair serums are hair styling products that nourish your hair with vitamins and minerals necessary to repair damaged strands and prevent future damage. Hair serums also contain silicones that layer over your hair strands and shield them from damage.

A hair serum moisturizes your hair and prevents dryness, flaking, and hair breakage. It also softens your hair and aids in detangling your hair after washing. The silicone deposits on your strands protect your hair from the possible damage of heat tools.

Furthermore, some hair serums are formulated for hair strands and some are made for the scalp. Hair growth serums contain growth factors and other ingredients that can extend the growth phase of your hair and result in hair growth.

If you battle frizzy hair, you can use a hair serum to control future damage, repair split ends, and prevent breakage. As a styling product, hair serum helps gather flyaways and give your hair a reflective look.

Moreover, the silicone deposits improve the appearance of limp hair and add volume to your hair. Applying serum to your hair can serve as a sunscreen to shield your hair strands from sun exposure which can make your strands dry out, brittle and prone to breakage.

What Is Leave-in Conditioner Used For?

While you may want to believe that washing your hair is the best way to hydrate it, that isn’t the case. To hydrate your hair, what you need is a leave-in conditioner. A leave-in conditioner is good for every hair type but dry, frizzy hair benefits the most from this product.

The conditioner locks in moisture and keeps your hair hydrated over a long period. It softens your hair and aids in detangling post-wash.

Leave-in conditioners are formulated differently but essentially, they contain fragments of protein that help to strengthen your hair strands. They increase resilience against environmental factors that can cause frizzy hair, split ends, and breakage.

Most conditioners are lightweight; therefore, they do not weigh hair down. On the flip side, they add vibrancy to your curls, define them and make them shine. Also, a leave-in conditioner keeps your hair clean in between wash days.

This way, they help you maintain a healthy hair care routine. Other extra benefits of using a leave-in conditioner include protection from heat styling, sun exposure, chemicals from hair treatments, damage from tight braids and hairstyling, and hair dyes.

Hair Serum vs Leave-in Conditioner

Although they have so many similarities, some features differentiate hair serums from a conditioner. To start with, they come in different packaging. You’ll find hair serums in small glass bottles with a viscous or gel-like consistency.

Leave-in conditioners, on the other hand, come in bigger bottles and could be in the form of liquids, creams, or hair mists.

Based on function, hair serums can help seal your hair cuticles and prevent the strands from soaking up water which can consequently lead to hair porosity.

Moreover, there is a limit to the use of hair serums. They are not permanent hair care products. They come into your routine when you have issues with frizz, hair breakage, or mild cases of thinning hair.

You can use a conditioner almost anytime, not necessarily because your hair is damaged. It can help cleanse and hydrate your hair on your non-wash days.

Is Hair Serum Better Than Leave-in Conditioner?

Hair serums have an edge over conditioners but it doesn’t make them better. They play different roles in your hair care routine and are separately important.

They share similarities in functions and including their protective and reparative functions that foster healthy hair growth. Hair serums carry out most of their functions on the surface of your hair while conditioners can penetrate your strands and supply moisture.

The moisture supplied by conditioners lasts longer than the hydrating benefit of using a hair serum. In essence, the effects of hair serums are short-lived.

Each product must be rightly applied if you’ll keep enjoying the benefits. Overusing them or applying too much at a time can lead to product build-up and this can be counterproductive.

Is Serum Better Than Leave-in Conditioner for Hair Growth?

While there is no proven hair treatment that can make your hair grow, some hair care products can stimulate the hair growth cycle. Hair growth serums, as mentioned earlier, can extend the growth phase of your hair. This can lead to hair growth.

Conditioners help hair growth by keeping the hairs on your head healthy, making them resilient against factors that can cause hair fall.

However, the hair growth and thickness seen with using hair serums only lasts for as long as you’re using the serum. When you stop using serum, the growth phase returns to normal.

Both products stimulate circulation which is necessary for the growth of healthy, thick, and shiny hair.

Can You Use Hair Serum Instead of Leave-in Conditioner?

Hair serums can also hydrate your hair strands but they cannot always replace hair conditioner. They are not similar products. They both aid in detangling and help protect the ends of your hair but a serum is not a conditioner.

You can skip a hair conditioner if it doesn’t fall to its routine day, but you should not use a serum in its place. Moreover, the best results come with the correct use of your products for what they are meant for.

Can You Use Hair Serum and Leave-in Conditioner?

Yes, you can. You should use a hair serum and conditioner on your hair for the best hair results. Both products work together to improve the appearance and texture of your hair. They are both hydrating and can help soften your hair.

More so, while the effects of hair serum are temporal, that of a conditioner lasts longer. Therefore, when you use both products, you can enjoy long-lasting hydration and smooth hair.

Also, the glossy effects of applying hair serum don’t last long. When you apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair, you can enjoy a long-lasting natural shine.

Leave-in conditioners may be too much for fine hairs but serums can help give thin hairs a thicker appearance and make them resilient.

Overall, both products support each other in your routine. Most importantly, you should be sure that your hair can take both products before you use them.

How to Use Serum With Leave-in Conditioner

  • If you’ll like a pre-poo treatment, apply hair oil to your hair before shampooing. This will help protect your hair strands from the harsh chemicals in shampoo and from absorbing too much water which can make your hair dry
  • Afterward, apply a sulfate-free shampoo to your scalp and gently lather it in with your fingers
  • Rinse off the lather and apply a regular conditioner to your stands and rinse it off as well
  • Towel dry your hair gently to prevent breakage since your hair is moist
  • Then, apply a leave-in conditioner to the length of your hair and detangle using your fingers or detangling brush
  • Allow the conditioner to absorb into your hair for a few minutes
  • Thereafter, pump out some of the hair serum
  • Release drops of the serum onto the length of your hair and style it as desired
  • Apply hair oil to seal in moisture


Should you apply a leave-in conditioner or hair serum first?

Apply leave-in conditioner before hair serum. Serum work best on damp hair. It needs this moisture to aid the distribution of the product and amp hydration.

Does conditioner help hair growth?

A hair conditioner does not directly make your hair grow. It stimulates your scalp to begin the hair growth cycle and can keep already grown hair healthy and prevent hair fall.

Can you use rinse-out conditioner instead of leave-in conditioner?

You can use a regular conditioner as a leave-in conditioner if you’re in a pinch. However, you should use about half the portion you would use if you were to rinse out the conditioner.

In addition, you can dilute it with water and dispense it with a spray bottle to avoid product buildup.

Can you use hair serum daily?

It is not advisable to use a serum in your hair every day. It is best to leave the application of hair serums to your wash days and maybe for a special routine. This will help prevent product build-up or hair fall.


No one product is one-size-fits-all. This is why a comparison of products that perform different functions may not always be great. All products need another product on your routine to enhance their effectiveness.

Hair serum and conditioner are very similar in functions and you may want to choose to save time and a few cents. However, you shouldn’t have to make a choice. You can have both products on your routine for better results.

In conclusion, hair serum is not better than leave-in conditioner, nor is leave-in conditioner better than hair serum. Know their functions, similarities, and differences. This will better inform your choice.

Thanks for reading.

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