If you’re noticing excessive dryness, frayed ends or more frizz than usual, your hair may need some TLC. “Physically damaged hair has a raised outer cuticle layer that makes it look dull, causes it to snag and lacks movement. It doesn’t swing or sway the way healthy hair does,” says Chris Appleton, a celebrity hairstylist and the global creative director for Color Wow.
When this happens, things can snowball quickly. As Appleton explains: “The raised cuticle layer allows for moisture to leach out of your hair, so it becomes more and more dehydrated. Over time, the sulfur bonds that keep your hair strong and elastic begin to break down and the hair becomes fragile and prone to splitting or breaking.”
“For dried or fried hair, using a mask can be a saving grace,” he adds. “Between heat styling, color and chemical treatments, UV rays, and harsh products, your hair is exposed to many different elements that can cause damage daily. So, if you want to keep your strands strong and glossy, a mask should be a regular staple in your regular routine.”
How often should you use a hair mask?
“I recommend using a hair mask at least once a week, if not every three to four shampoos,” advises Appleton. “After shampooing, squeeze out any excess water from your hair. Then, scoop or squeeze out enough product to cover your strands completely. Leave it on as advised on the label (usually three to five minutes or 20 to 30 minutes for a deeper treatment) and rinse out thoroughly with warm water.”
Alright, ready to find a mask that suits your strands and budget? Here are 20 to consider adding to your cart now.
1. ColorWow Money Mask
New and Noteworthy
Created to boost hydration for all hair types, this universal mask has a texture that’s unlike what we’ve come to expect from a treatment. Rather than feeling thick and creamy, Money Mask is semi-solid and translucent, so it looks sort of like a wax but is actually much softer to the touch. The formula is rich in blue sea kale, which binds with damaged keratin to restore strength and elasticity and a hydrolyzed vegetable protein complex that reinforces the cuticles, while sheathing your hair in a weightless shield that leaves strands smooth and shiny.
Buy it ($45)
(Goes on sale on 2/24).
2. Crown Affair The Renewal Mask
At this stage of quarantine, we’ve really come to cherish bath time and try to make the most of it. This nourishing mask is a star player in our shower routine these days because, for starters, it smells incredible. Light and crisp, thanks to a blend of bergamot, yuzu, and lemongrass, it never fails to put us in a better mood whenever we use it. Plus, it has tsubaki seed oil in the formula which hydrates damaged ends and makes detangling our unruly waves a breeze. Use weekly after shampooing for silky soft (but never weighed down) strands.
3. Not Your Mother's Matcha Green Tea & Wild Apple Blossom Nutrient Rich Butter Masque
Best for Thick Hair
We’re just going to state this up top: This masque is not for our fair-haired friends. But if you have thick, coarse hair that tends to drink up any product you put on it, read on. With a rich buttery texture, this nourishing treatment has a nice slip to it that makes application easy, as it literally glides through your hair. Once or twice a week, apply it to clean wet strands, gently massaging it through your mid-lengths and ends. Let it absorb for two to five minutes and rinse thoroughly to smooth down any puffiness and keep parched curls moisturized and happy.
4. Bumble and Bumble BB Curl Butter Masque
Best for Curls
Looking for a way to bring bounce back to your curls? Try this creamy mask by Bumble and Bumble the next time you wash your hair. Rich in avocado, coconut and jojoba oils (among other hydrating ingredients like shea butter), it quenches thirsty coils on contact. And as anyone with curls knows, moisture is key to adding definition and spring.
5. Oribe Masque for Beautiful Color
Best for Color-Treated Hair
Beloved for good reason, this decadent mask (and stylist favorite) is a go-to for keeping your colored strands bright and shiny. Formulated with smoothing ceramides and strengthening keratin, it keeps your hair cuticles intact, so your color doesn’t leach out as quickly. Add to that protective UV filters and it’s exactly what we need to bide time between salon appointments. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you of that signature Oribe scent that makes your strands smell like a million bucks.
6. Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme Rich Deep Conditioning Treatment
Best for Porous Hair
Formulated for extremely dry and porous hair, this treatment delivers instant hydration for overly processed and damaged strands. Meant to be used weekly as a pre-shampoo treatment, you apply it to wet hair and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes (ideally covered in a shower cap or towel to increase absorption). Rinse well and follow with your regular shampoo and conditioner. Note: Don’t use this treatment 72 hours before or after dyeing your hair, as it can affect how the color takes.
7. Garnier Fructis 1 Minute Nourishing Hair Mask
God bless Garnier for giving us this mask. At under ten bucks a tub and with fast-acting ingredients that deliver the goods in a minute, we are singing its praises...in the shower, of course. Though there are five formulas to choose from (avocado, papaya, goji extract and banana), we’re partial to the coconut because it makes our frazzled hair silky-soft and shiny with its rich, creamy texture. Massage it onto freshly shampooed strands and rinse out after a minute to indulge your dry ends with zero hassle or guilt.
8. Kopari Beauty 100% Organic Coconut Melt
For head-to-toe hydration, we love Kopari’s Coconut Melt. Made with 100 percent pure, organic, and unrefined coconut oil, this multitasking moisturizer melts on contact and is loaded with fatty acids to nourish dry skin and hair. To use it as a mask, apply it to dry, unwashed hair from root to tip. Comb through to distribute the oil evenly, then wrap your coconut coated strands up into a bun for 40 minutes (or you can sleep on it overnight for a deeper treatment). Make sure to shampoo twice to get any remaining oil out and enjoy your newly softened strands. (To use as a moisturizer, simply apply it onto damp skin after showering.)
9. Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Hair Mask
Yearning for a tropical escape these days? Us too. And though it’s not quite the same as actually being on a remote island somewhere, the dreamy scent of this mask allows us to pretend. Made with a blend of aloe vera juice and infused with pure coconut water, the creamy formula quenches dry strands, while filling our showers with that sweet, sweet scent of paradise.
10. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Weightless Mask
Best for Fine Hair
For ladies who have thinner hair, the idea of slathering on a deep conditioning mask can incite a bit of fear. (After all, there is a fine, fine line between smooth and slick, y’all.) Thanks to the super stylists and biotech scientists at Living Proof, this weightless mask delivers shine and softens your hair without sacrificing body and lift at your roots. It’s no wonder Jen Aniston is a fan.
11. Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask
With over 2,800 reviews and counting on Sephora alone, this beloved mask earns praise for the way it leaves even the unruliest and driest of strands feeling super soft and smooth after each use. We’re guessing that has something to do with the B vitamins, rosehip oil, argan oil, collagen and silk in the formula. For best results, use weekly.
12. L'Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Anti Brass Purple Mask Treatment
Best for Busting Brass
Whether you have a platinum white pixie or golden blonde highlights that fall down your back, every blonde can benefit from using a toning mask. With a purple tint that neutralizes any brassy or yellow tones that tend to creep in with lighter hair, these single-dose treatments brighten up your color instantly, while hydrating dry ends. Use it weekly to maintain those vibrant hues.
13. Kérastase Discipline Oleo Relax Anti-Frizz Mask
Best for Frizz
If you have the type of hair that puffs up at the first drop of rain or hint of humidity, this Kératase mask is for you. Packed with shorea butter, virgin coconut oil and rosa muscata fruit oil, the hydrating trio of ingredients tames unruly frizz and makes for a more manageable mane straight out of the shower. Comb it through damp hair, wait for up to 15 minutes (pending how much time you’ve got) and rinse out to keep fuzz at bay.
14. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Strengthen & Restore Treatment Masque
Best for Chemically Processed Hair
Calling anyone who regularly colors, straightens, perms or heat styles their hair: This deep conditioning mask helps restore strength and elasticity to damaged strands, so it’s less prone to breakage. Formulated with Jamaican black castor oil and organic shea butter to hydrate the hair and scalp, it also features peppermint oil, which adds a satisfying tingle to the whole experience. (Tip: After applying the mask, place a plastic cap over your hair and sit under a warm dryer for 10 to 15 minutes to boost the absorption.)
15. Bondi Boost Growth Miracle Mask
The Internet Darling
You may have already seen this Aussie brand on your Instagram feed. And now, the buzzy import has made its way stateside thanks to Ulta. Packed with a blend of smoothing and strengthening oils like argan, Abyssinian, macadamia, castor and jojoba, it leaves fluffy strands sleek and dry ends sealed without using any heavy silicones in the formula. Use it weekly after shampooing (in place of conditioner) and leave it on for at least 15 minutes before rinsing.
16. Amika Flash Instant Shine Mask
Best for Dull Strands
For a quick boost of shine without having to sit (or stand) in your bathtub for 20 minutes, this flash mask from Amika is a must try. The thin, serum-like consistency makes it easy to spread over your hair and the hydrolyzed flax seed and amino acids in the formula smooth down the cuticle upon contact. Use the pointed nozzle to fully saturate your strands from mid-lengths to ends, wait a minute and rinse out thoroughly before marveling at your newfound sleekness.
17. R+Co On a Cloud Baobab Oil Repair Masque
Best for Elasticity
Just look at that packaging, y’all. Don’t the cotton candy skies make you feel soothed somehow? And like the soft clouds depicted on the label, this decadent mask infuses damaged hair with baobab oil to leave roughed up ends looking and feeling smooth and weightless. Use it weekly after shampooing and leave it on between five to 10 minutes (depending on how much TLC your hair needs) before rinsing clean.
18. Virtue Restorative Treatment Mask
Best for Processed Hair
For folks who have very dry or damaged hair, give this rehabilitative mask by Virtue a go. It has a proprietary ingredient called Alpha Keratin 60ku that binds to compromised areas of your hair and fills them in like spackle on a wall. Add to that brown algae, baobab seed oil and amaranthus caudatus seed extract that infuse strands with a hit of moisture, and your hair will thank you. (Tip for ladies with extra-coarse or frizzy hair: Do a partial rinse for added smoothing, leaving some of the mask in your hair like you would a leave-in conditioner.)
19. Innersense Hydrating Hair Mask
Rich and reparative, this luxe treatment gives dry hair a generous boost of moisture through monoi oil and shea butter, while tamanu oil and quinoa strengthen any weakened areas. Use it weekly to restore shine and bounce to lackluster strands. Bonus: The light floral scent is a treat for the senses.
20. K-18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask
Best for Breakage
This breakthrough treatment features a bioactive peptide that works quickly (in four minutes, to be precise) to reverse damage from chemical treatments, heat styling or friction caused by everyday wear and tear. The leave-in formula is not meant to be washed out; rather you apply it after shampooing and in place of your conditioner, let it sit for the full four minutes before resuming any styling or applying any other products. (For best results, it’s recommended that you use the mask for the first four to six consecutive washes following a service like, say, fresh highlights, and then every three to four washes as needed to maintain hair health.)