Stress, split ends, and dyes can put your tresses through the wringer. In these trying times, there’s no better way to unwind and treat your hair at the same time than by indulging in a hair mask. The best hair mask is a surefire way to take your self-care routine up a notch and your strands will thank you for it. Here are my top picks for lustrous, nourished hair.
Everything You Need to Know About Hair Masks
Hair Mask Benefits: Why You Should Use Hair Masks
Hair masks are just like your regular conditioners but packed with more intensive ingredients. Letting your locks marinate in this leads to a host of benefits. Here are some reasons why you should consider adding a mask to your haircare arsenal.
- Smooths down your mane
The oils and hydrating elements in a hair mask make hair look shinier. If your strands have been looking really lacklustre, a deep soak with the right treatment mask can tamp down frizzies and polish the cuticle. The results: glossy, smooth hair.
- Addresses damage
Heat styling and environmental pollutants damage yout strands in tiny ways every day. Masks containing restorative elements help reverse some of the damage your locks have incurred, especially if your cuticle has started fraying.
- Strengthens locks
Masks contain vitamins, minerals, and proteins that prevent more damage by making hair stronger. When given enough time to penetrate the cuticle, these nourishing ingredients can make hair more resistant to split ends, heat tools, friction, and frizz.
- Acts like a drink of water for parched tresses
Hair that doesn’t hold moisture easily is a good candidate for masks. Masks hydrate and moisturize which leads to healthier-looking hair with continued use.
- Great for times when you can’t make it to the salon
Masks are easier on the budget than a full-blown salon treatment. Sometimes, you just don’t have the time for keeping regular appointments. Integrating a treatment mask into your beauty routine makes you feel pampered for a fraction of the cost.
How to Choose the Best Hair Mask for Your Needs
For a dry or frizzy hair type, a mask with deeply moisturizing ingredients and smoothing properties is best. You should look for ingredients like plant-based oils, like coconut or shea oil, and glycerin, an effective hydrator.
Colour-treated and heat damaged hair
If you needs a break from heat styling, bleaching, or colouring, a restorative mask enriched with proteins naturally found in hair is best. This type of mask will condition strands and replace the lost proteins. There are also masks made for blond or coloured manes which prevents the hues from fading or turning brassy.
Rebalancing masks will eliminate greasiness and imbue a healthy shine to your mane. These often have ingredients like clay and rice which mop up excess sebum. Avoid thick and heavy masks which will only weigh down your locks.
Curly or coarse hair
Go for a mask that’s moisturizing, as curly tresses tend to be dry, too. Moisturizing masks will go deeper into the strand and inject a shot of moisture.
Thin or fine hair
Avoid masks that contain silicone because it’s too heavy for fine, thin hair. Choose a lightweight formula with strengthening ingredients.
The Best Way to Use a Hair Mask: Tips and Tricks
To start with, use a mask once a week then scale up or down as needed. Increase your usage to two or three times a week if you have damaged or dry tresses.
Check the instructions
Read the directions on the label for guidance as not all masks are made equal. This product usually replaces your conditioner and is applied on wet strands after you rinse out your shampoo. However, some formulas can be applied on dry hair or used after conditioner.
Avoid mess and stains
It’s more convenient to apply a hair mask in the shower but if you must take it outside, be sure to wear a shirt that you don’t mind being stained.
How to use a hair mask:
Distribute the product through the lengths and massage it in, concentrating on the ends. You can also section your tresses for even application.
Brush a wide-tooth comb through your locks. Cover your head with a shower cap, followed by a hot towel. Feel free to skip this part, if your time or energy doesn’t permit it.
Then, wait for the mask to do its magic. Waiting time can vary so check the directions. You generally need to let the mask sit for three to five minutes.
How long should I leave the mask on for?
If your locks are damaged, dry, or dehydrated, you can leave the mask on for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Masks applied on dry tresses can be used overnight because it won’t absorb moisture as quickly as wet strands.
Lastly, rinse your hair well, ideally with cold water. Let it dry or follow up with a conditioner, if indicated in the instructions.
The 6 Best Hair Masks to Revive Damaged Locks
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask
This cheekily-named product is a much-raved-about treatment conditioner and one of the best hair masks for lifeless or damaged locks.
The Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask is chock-full of nourishing goodies like plant-based oils and B vitamins. It brings life back to the locks and reduces dryness and brittleness from chemical treatments.
The deep conditioner contains Briogeo’s own NOVA Complex, which is their blend of algae, almond oil, rosehip oil, argan oil, and B vitamins, including biotin. These work synergistically to repair the locks and strengthen it from further damage.
The natural oils add shine and control frizz while the algae and vitamins fortify the strands. Rosehip oil has essential fatty acids, almond oil seals down the cuticle, and argan oil conditions and softens.
This deep conditioning mask instantly makes your mane smooth and silky. It has a dense consistency that rinses off easily (no gunky residue!). It’s a formula that’s great for dry or thin hair that can get weighed down with rich masks.
Briogeo makes products with naturally-derived substances. This deep conditioner is gluten-free, cruelty-free, paraben-free, silicone-free, and sulfate-free, which is a big plus. This is best for colour-treated, thin, or dry hair. It will be too heavy for oily strands, even though it rinses well.
A drawback to the product is its size. It comes in a small container, which may make it unattractive to consumers looking for a bang-for-the-buck mask.
- For damaged, dry and thin hair
- Contains a blend of plant oils and nourishing B vitamins, plus strengthening algae extracts
- Makes strands soft and shiny
- Feels rich but rinses out well
- Naturally-derived and made without gluten, parabens, silicones and sulfates
- Not for oily hair
- Might be too expensive for the amount you’re getting
Davines Nounou Hair Mask
Davines is a small family-owned brand that originated in Italy. The first thing I noticed with their products is their minimalist packaging. It looks like an ordinary tub that’s clear so you see the honey-coloured product inside. This subdued container is meant to be reused and upcycled, a move that’s reflective of Davines’s commitment to sustainability, as a whole.
This mask is made for brittle and chemically-treated tresses. If you have coloured hair, highlights, a perm, or just have brutally dehydrated hair, this one will address your concerns.
It has a texture that reminds me of body butter but it washes out easily without weighing down hair so you won’t be left with tacky strands. A little goes a long way, which is great because the container is a bit teeny.
This deep conditioner has a scent that’s perfumey. It’s described as a “citrus, spicy, and aromatic note” so if you’re sensitive to fragrance, you may want to steer clear.
This has three nourishing active ingredients, namely Fiaschetto tomato extract, olive butter, and vitamins E and C. Olive butter is an effective emollient that revives parched locks. It also gently detangles strands. Tomatoes in hair products may raise some eyebrows but they contain biotin, lycopene, vitamins, and minerals that are very nourishing and invigorating. It also contains vitamin C and proteins that can repair the mane.
The Nounou mask is a bit expensive but you only need to a little to cover your entire mane. An unfortunate drawback to the plastic packaging is that it’s not as durable and you have to take care to close it properly so it doesn’t get exposed to bacteria.
- From a family-owned Italian company with a focus on sustainability
- Best for dehydrated, chemically-treated hair
- Moisturizes with emollient olive butter
- Contains tomato extract that has vitamin C and proteins
- Has vitamin E for its antioxidant properties
- You only get a small amount of product for the price
- Comes in a plastic packaging that doesn’t look durable
Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment
This repairing treatment by Olaplex is tiny but mighty, like a deep conditioner on steroids. It’s surpassed cult fave status and is a staple of bleached hair culture, famed for reviving brittle, damaged hair. The Hair Perfector No. 3 is a bond-building treatment, which means it works by repairing the disulfide bonds in your hair and it’s made to be used before and after chemical treatments.
It’s not just a hydrator and moisturizer because it works on a deeper level to treat damage of all types, whether it’s from heat, colour, chemical treatments, mechanical factors, and pollutants. It will leave your hair noticeably softer and smoother.
The formula is light and creamy so it’s easy to spread on the hair. Olaplex No. 3 is one of the best hair masks for damaged hair but it’s suitable for every hair type, both colour-treated and all-natural. However, you shouldn’t overdo it. Follow the instructions and don’t go beyond the prescribed waiting time of 15 minutes.
Overuse may also lead to drier hair, so apply it around once a week or as needed in between chemical treatments. Also, it has to be said that this product is expensive for the amount you get in the bottle but others swear by it. If this sounds like a good deal to you, definitely check the Olaplex Hair Perfector.
- A bond repair treatment that’s well-loved in beauty circles
- Great for damaged hair
- Penetrates the hair strand for longer-lasting effects
- Strengthens hair so it withstands all types of damage
- Light and creamy
- Shouldn’t be left on for a long period or used too frequently
- You only get a small amount for the price
Verb Hydrating Mask
This hydrating mask is great for hair care beginners who want to make every day a good hair day. With its moisturizing ingredients and lightweight feel, it’s just the thing for parched, stripped strands.
The mask contains the active ingredient babassu oil. Babassu oil is similar to coconut oil and is made from the nuts of the Babassu palm. It contains omega fatty acids and vitamin E which explains why it polishes the hair and makes it voluminous and bouncy.
This also has glycerin, a naturally derived ingredient that softens hair and locks in moisture.
This lightweight yet effective mask can be used in place of a regular conditioner. It’s colour-safe and free from harmful sulfates. It rinses out easily and can be used overnight.
The product is stored in a squeeze tube, which is quite convenient and hygienic, especially if you hate dipping your fingers in a tub of conditioner. It’s also travel-friendly and has a fresh scent.
The Verb mask is formulated with silicone so it might weigh down fine or thin hair. It’s best for coarse, oily, damaged, and dehydrated hair types. If your hair is very dry, damaged, or brittle, this leave-in mask may leave you craving more moisture as it’s really closer to a conditioner than a deep treatment.
- A lightweight treatment mask that can replace your regular conditioner
- Contains babassu oil that smooths and volumizes hair
- Contains glycerin which softens and moisturizes
- Colour-safe and made without harmful sulfates
- Comes in a convenient and travel-friendly packaging
- Contains silicones so it’s not for fine, thin hair
- Not great for dry and damaged hair
Oribe Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque
Treat your curls right with this Oribe Deep Treatment Masque made especially for curly hair between type 2C and 4 (in layman’s terms, from deep waves to tightly coiled tresses). The mask feels very thick and concentrated. It contains coconut and almond oils which keeps your curls looking healthy and hydrated.
The treatment masque is formulated with Oribe’s Signature Complex, a blend of watermelon, lychee, and edelweiss flower extracts that shield your hair from pollutants, UV rays, and keratin deterioration. Murumuru and mango seed butter seals the cuticle for smooth-looking locks, coconut oil gives added moisture and polish, almond protein strengthens, and a host of butters and seed extracts condition and soften.
The Oribe Treatment Masque is dermatologist-tested so it’s safe on the skin and scalp. It’s color and keratin-treatment safe so even chemically treated hair can benefit from its moisturizing effects.
The hydrating masque feels very luxurious to use and will leave your curls looking soft, bouncy, and more manageable. It conditions without leaving hair feeling heavy. The price is steep for a hair mask but you only need to use a little at a time.
- A masque that’s best for type 2C to type 4 curls or wavy to tightly coiled tresses
- Coconut and almond oils nourish and hydrate
- Contains a blend of fruit and flower extracts that defend hair from damage
- Contains butter, proteins, and seed extracts that strengthen and condition
- Dermatologist-tested and colour-safe
- The price tag
Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask
This hair mask for damage repair only needs 5 minutes to work its magic. It has antioxidant-rich argan oil which fortifies the hair with vitamin E and essential fatty acids. The shea butter makes this a creamy, thick concoction that’s very emollient and nourishing.
This also contains Caryocar brasiliense fruit oil and keratin proteins which plump up the locks, tamp down frizz and make hair shiny.
This hydrating mask is excellent for moisturizing dry strands, restoring colour-treated hair, and strengthening damaged tresses.
Since this hair mask is enriched with protein, it sloughs off dead skin cells on the scalp and adds a layer of protein to compromised hair, which has a softening effect. After the hair is exfoliated, moisture can sink in more effectively, resulting in a fuller-looking, healthy look.
The hair mask prevents damage by depositing hydrolyzed protein into the hair which toughens up the cuticle. This has a thick and creamy formula so you only need about a tablespoon for full coverage. With regular use, you will see improvements in hair texture, strength and shine.
It has its ardent fans but you have to be willing to pay the price as it doesn’t come cheap. This product needs to be followed up with a conditioner to seal in the moisture, otherwise, you will experience dryness.
- An intensive hair mask made for damage repair
- Contains essential fatty acids, vitamins, argan oil, fruit oil, and shea butter
- The keratin proteins make your mane soft and strong
- Safe to use on colour-treated hair
- You won’t need that much product because of its dense formula
- It’s expensive
- You need to condition your hair after rinsing out the hair mask
Whether you have thick hair, natural hair, or strands so parched they feel like straw, there’s probably a hair mask out there for you. This is the best, most highly-rated masks in the beauty community, product beauty editors love and vouch for. My personal pick is Olaplex No. 3 because it lives up to the hype and is great for all hair types. It will make your hair feel as soft as a cat’s bushy tail and it works from the inside of the strands to repair any damage that has incurred. You’ll be tempted to use it every day but a weekly or monthly mask already works miracles. It’s definitely every bleached gal’s favourite hair treatment for a reason.