Wondering, “what is hair milk?” If so, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn about hair milk, ingredients to look for, hair types that should use it, and the best five options on the market.


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Hair Milk: The Most Underrated Hair Product

For a piece on what is hair milk, a woman dumping coconut milk on her head while standing in a bathing suit and closing her eyes
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Hair milk is a leave-in product that moisturizes hair and doesn’t need to be rinsed out. In fact, it’s like a very thin leave-in conditioner. So once you apply it, you just go on with your hair care routine and go about your day. 

Since it’s so lightweight, it won’t leave the kind of product buildup heavier leave-ins can. This makes it a versatile hair product that is suitable for almost every hair type. 

If you’re thinking about adding hair milk to your hair care routine, we’ve got all the info you need to find the right one for your hair type to start seeing results. 

We’ll talk about what hair milk is, the pros and cons, who should use it, and which products are best for each hair type. Let’s start with the basics: What is hair milk, exactly?

What Is Hair Milk?

Under the heading What Is Hair Milk sits a wide-toothed comb and a bowl of hair milk against a pink background
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Hair milk is a lightweight, milky leave-in product formulated to moisturize hair and revive curls. It has a thinner consistency than a leave-in conditioner or curl cream, but offers similar benefits. 

People use hair milk for a variety of reasons. It hydrates thirsty strands, helps define and protect curls, delivers a non-oily shine, and helps detangle and smooth the hair

While it’s often used by women with curly or wavy hair, hair milk can make a huge difference in the softness, moisture level, and sheen of almost any hair type.

Hair milk can be used under styling products with hold (like gel or mousse), but alone, it has no hold. It’s primarily a moisturizing product meant to coat your strands with a thin layer of protective, hydrating ingredients that contribute to curl and wave shape while making the hair soft and shiny. 

Hair milks don’t leave hair sticky or feeling weighed down. Instead, you’ll find lots of moisturizing and nourishing ingredients in these products. Common ingredients include shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter, vitamins, and plant and herb extracts that nourish the hair. 

Hair Milk Pros and Cons

Woman standing with her hands up and opening her mouth wide with big eyes against a blue wall for a piece on the pros and cons of hair milk
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Hair milk can be a transformative product for your hair, but it’s not without its cons. If you’re thinking about working this product into your hair care routine, read through this section first. 

Pros

  • Delivers instant moisture: After shampooing, your hair is stripped of its natural oils that moisturize and protect the hair. Using hair milk after a shower while the hair is still damp locks in the natural moisture. It also provides some additional moisture to the outside of strands. 
  • Defines and shapes curls and waves: Dry curls and waves are a frizzy mess, but moisturized curls and waves look defined and shapely. By using moisturizing hair milk on curly or wavy hair, you ensure your strands bend in their natural pattern. 
  • Hydrates and softens strands: Moisturized, hydrated hair is softer and more supple than dry, brittle hair. Hair milk applied after a shower or to renew curls/waves keeps the hair feeling soft and tangle-free. 
  • Works on most hair types: Coarse and medium hair textures with straight, wavy, curly, or coily hair can all benefit from using hair milk. Fine hair is prone to being weighed down by moisturizing hair products, but a small amount of hair milk into damp, fine hair offers hydration, softness, protection, and shine.
  • Healthier hair and scalp: Dry hair is more prone to breakage and split ends, so using hair milk regularly supports healthier hair overall. The added moisture also helps moisturize the scalp (fewer flakes and irritation) and seal hydration into strands for less breakage and split ends. 
  • Lightweight formula: Hair milk is a lightweight formula, unlike heavier curl creams and gels. These products are light enough to be tolerated by fine hair but powerful enough to make a difference in coarse or thick hair without leaving behind tons of product buildup.
  • Helps repair damage: The thinner, lightweight formula of hair milk is more easily absorbed by damaged hair than heavier moisturizing formulas. It’s an easy way to ensure damaged hair is protected, nourished, moisturized, and sealed. The added vitamins and nourishing ingredients can actually help repair damage.  

Cons

  • Coarse hair may require more support: While there are hair milks formulated especially for coarse or curly hair, some of the options on the market are better suited for women with a fine or medium hair texture. They may be too lightweight to deliver enough moisture for coarse hair on their own. 
  • Doesn’t provide hold: This might not be as much of a con for ladies with straight or wavy hair, but since hair milk doesn’t provide hold, it can be a problem for women with curly hair. If you’re looking for a product to shape and hold your curls in place, hair milk won’t do it. It’s more of a treatment product that you apply after showering or to refresh curls after a day or two. 
  • Can be too heavy for fine hair: There are hair milk formulas out there just for fine hair. But if you just grab the first one you see, it might be too heavy for super fine hair. Even very lightweight formulas can weigh baby-fine hair down or create an oily appearance if too much is used. If that turns out to be the case for you, opt for a good hair mask instead. You’ll rinse it out completely so it will deliver moisture without weighing fine hair down. 

How to Use Hair Milk

If you’ve never used hair milk before, or if you’re wondering if you’re using it properly, don’t worry. This is a very easy hair product to use, and there’s less of a learning curve when determining how much product you need. 

Most hair milks have directions for use printed right on the bottle. But in general, here’s how to use hair milk for the best results. 

1. Wet the Hair

Pretty smiling Indian woman washing her hair in the shower before applying hair milk
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The first step is showering (or just dampening your hair if you’re using hair milk to refresh curls and waves). If you have dry hair, we recommend using a shampoo and conditioner duo to help deliver moisture to your hair in the shower.

Layering moisture is the best way to ensure strands don’t dry out. If you have curly hair, think of hair milk as a revitalizer you should use anytime your hair is damp.

It will reactivate and define curls and waves when you apply it to damp hair. So if you plan to wait a few days between washes, this product can keep your waves and curls on point. 

2. Apply Hair Milk

Happy young African-American woman with natural hair spraying on hair milk to her mid-length hair
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Once hair has slightly dried but is still damp, pump a quarter-sized amount of the hair milk into your hands. Some hair milks come in a spray bottle – if that’s the case, just spritz it directly onto your hair.

Apply it to your hair from the roots to the ends, trying to get a balanced amount of the product on each section of your hair. If you’re struggling with a dry or irritated scalp, try focusing on massaging some of the product directly into your scalp. It will help moisturize and soothe the scalp. 

Note: If you have very fine or oily hair, you might want to use a dime-sized amount instead and skip the root application. Apply it from the midshaft down to keep the moisturizing ingredients off your roots. Experiment to see what works best for you. 

3. Style or Air Dry Hair

For a piece on what is hair milk, an image of a woman standing using a hair dryer diffuser on her wet hair
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After applying hair milk, you can choose to layer another product on top to style and finish your hair with a curling iron or flat iron. You can use a diffuser attachment on your blow dryer to set natural curls or waves. 

Or you can finger-style and air dry your hair after applying to reduce heat damage. If you decide to use any type of heat to dry or style your hair, make sure you apply a good heat protectant all over first! 

That’s one of the things we love so much about hair milk – it’s so versatile. Use it as a protective, moisturizing layer under your usual styling products, or apply it alone for a truly lightweight style. 

Read Next: So, How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?

Best Hair Milk for Each Hair Type

Now that we’ve covered the basics of hair milk – what it is, pros and cons, and how to use it – let’s narrow the focus a bit. What’s the best hair milk for each hair type?

If you have super fine hair that tends to get oily fast, you’ll need a different hair milk than a woman with coarse, curly locks.

We’ve reviewed the top products on the market and chosen the ones with the best customer reviews, ingredients, and moisturizing properties for each hair type. Find your hair type below to see the best hair milk for you!  

Best Hair Milk for Fine Hair

Best for Fine Hair
milk_shake Incredible Milk, 5.1 Fl Oz Bottle
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While searching for the best option for fine hair, we came across milk_shake Incredible Milk Leave-In Treatment. What makes it uniquely perfect for fine hair?

It is designed to boost volume and hair elasticity for more strength (we know that fine hair tends to break and snap). Its lightweight moisture smooths the hair, repairs damage, and protects and revitalizes hair color, too.

This organic formula is made with milk protein for strength, along with vitamin A, papaya extract, raspberry extract, and Amazonian murumuru palm butter to nourish the hair deeply with moisture.

It smells just like you’d imagine – sweet, milky, and slightly fruity. With an amazing 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon and more than 2,100 reviews, users agree that this is easily one of the best hair milks you can buy.

For fine hair that needs a volume boost without feeling weighed down, dirty, or sticky, it’s the absolute best (if a little pricey). 

Best Hair Milk for Dry Hair

Best for Dry Hair
Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Refresher Spray for Curls, Coils and Waves
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Despite the name, Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Refresher Spray works wonderfully to moisturize all hair types from pin-straight to corkscrew curls. It’s not just for refreshing curls.

Users have found that applying this spray (so convenient!) while the hair is damp results in moisturized, soft, detangled hair, whether it’s straight, wavy, or curly. 

Spritz the product all over your hair to apply it (skip the roots if only your ends tend to be dry). Then, move forward with any other styling products or tools you’ll be using. any reviewers said it’s their favorite product to use when air-drying the hair.

It leaves hair so moisturized and hydrated that the texture becomes soft with lots of movement. The smell isn’t great – a bit like hairspray. But it does fade as the hair milk product dries on the hair.

All things considered, this hair milk gets a solid 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon and has more than 2,900 reviews. At under $11, it’s definitely affordable and worth keeping in your bathroom closet if you have dry hair. 

Best Hair Milk for Curly Hair

Best for Curly Hair
SheaMoisture Curl and Style Milk for Thick, Curly Hair Coconut and Hibiscus
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If you have medium to coarse, curly hair, you need a hair milk that packs a punch. It needs to deliver intense moisture while being able to help shape and define your gorgeous curls.

We’ve found that SheaMoisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Style Milk is the best in that department. This leave-in treatment is lightweight, but a little heavier than other hair milks intended for all hair types.

It’s perfect for hair with a medium to coarse texture. There’s nothing better for curls – it cuts frizz, intensely moisturizes, and leaves curls soft and bouncy.

It is powerful enough to be a standalone product for even the curliest hair. Every frizz-free ringlet becomes defined and perfectly shaped because they’re being coated in lightweight moisture.

The smell is a tropical floral blend of coconut and hibiscus. It has great reviews from women with curly hair. It gets 4.5 out of 5 stars with more than 6,800 reviews on Amazon.

Most users indicated they would purchase it again, and many said they couldn’t live without this product! It’s also very affordable at under $10. 

Best Hair Milk for Natural Hair

Best for Natural Hair
MIZANI 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner
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When it comes to naturally textured hair, there is no better hair milk than Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner for Textured Hair. This hard-hitting moisturizer is formulated specifically for coarse, natural hair that needs lots of hydration to cut frizz and define curls. 

This is a heavier-weight hair milk, but still not as heavy as a traditional leave-in conditioner. It’s called Mizani 25 because it has 25 reported benefits for natural hair. Some of the most important: 

  • It hydrates hair from the inside out and moisturizes the scalp and follicles in the process.
  • It eliminates frizz and flyaways thanks to the lightweight hydration.  
  • It results in soft, shiny, detangled hair that feels stronger and more manageable. 
  • It helps repair damage and nourishes the hair. 
  • It doubles as a heat protectant, so you can use it before blow-drying or using any kind of hot tool. But many women apply it and air-dry their hair to get beautiful, damage-free results. 

This hair milk is formulated with effective but surprising ingredients like fennel seed oil (which contains vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and iron) that actually help hair become thicker and more nourished. 

It also has heavier ingredients like coconut oil to seal the moisture in and protect hair from damage. It can even be used on weaves and wigs in addition to natural hair.

Reviewers give it 4.6 out of 5 stars, and it has more than 4,300 reviews on Amazon. If you’re looking for a hair milk designed specifically for natural hair, this is the one. 

Best Hair Milk for Damaged Hair

Best for Damaged Hair
Davines OI All in One Milk | Hair Milk Spray | Detangler + Heat Protection
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Damaged hair craves moisture and nourishment. You can give your damaged hair exactly what it needs with the popular Davines OI All in One Milk Spray. This hair milk comes in a spray bottle for easy application all over the head.

It’s one of the best for damaged hair because it’s a gentle formula designed to repair and protect. For damage repair, this spray contains vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals to nourish your hair from the inside out.

It contains nutrient-dense ingredients like Roucou oil (which is full of beta-carotene and antioxidants), sunflower seed oil, and tropical seed extracts. The intense moisture it provides means fewer tangles, split ends, and breakage, along with reduced frizz. 

It doubles as a heat protectant, so if you can’t quit your blow dryer, curling iron, or flat iron, this will help minimize the damage. In addition, it delivers the perfect amount of moisture for any hair type.

So whether your damaged hair is fine, medium, coarse, straight, or curly, this hair milk spray will work for you. Reviewers give it 4.7 out of 5 stars with more than 4,200 reviews on Amazon currently.

It’s pricier than some of the other hair milk options because it really is the best. Do your damaged hair a favor and grab this product. You won’t regret it. 

Choosing the Right Hair Milk for Your Hair Type

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If you’ve taken a look at our top picks for hair milks for each hair type, you might know exactly which one you need to grab. But you have to know which type your hair falls under to choose the right product. 

The main difference between hair milk recommendations for fine, medium, and coarse hair is the weight of the formula. 

  • Fine hair has strands that are thinner than a thread. It tends to be straight or wavy, but can be curly, too. Fine hair needs a feather-light formula so it won’t get weighed down and look greasy. 
  • Medium hair has strands that are about the same thickness as a thread. It can be straight, wavy, or curly. Medium hair can handle most hair milks, but the heavier ones might be a little too much. 
  • Coarse hair has strands that are thicker than a single thread. It can be straight, wavy, curly, or coily. Coarse hair needs as much moisture as it can get, so the more heavyweight hair milk formulas are the best option here. 

In addition to the texture of each hair strand, your hair falls under a type based on the shape of each strand, too. Is your hair straight, wavy, curly, or coily?

Hair Milk for All Hair Types

Hair milk is typically used more often in wavy, curly, and coily hair. But you can use it with great results on straight hair, too – just make sure the formula weight matches your hair texture (fine, medium, or coarse). 

Finally, the current state of your hair – such as dry or damaged – can also affect which hair milk works best for you. The condition of your hair should supersede your strand texture when choosing a hair milk. 

If you have fine hair, you’ll see that we recommended the awesome milk_shake Incredible Milk Leave-In Treatment. But if your fine hair is severely dry, you will need to use the Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Curl Refresher Spray.

Hair milk is a unique product that combines the moisturizing power of leave-in conditioners with a lightweight formulation for soft, manageable hair that is full of movement, bounce, and shine.

If you haven’t been using one, grab the recommended hair milk for your hair type and watch how it transforms your locks.

Author: Debra Carpenter

Debra is a Nashville-based content creator and strategist. As the daughter of a long-time hair stylist and salon owner, she’s spent most of her life as a guinea pig for new color and cut techniques. Writing for respected publications like Forbes and HuffPost, she’s committed to bringing her passion for great hair to the masses.