Like a souped-up conditioner, hair masks can help treat split ends and breakage caused by too much heat styling, changes in the weather, or general dryness, and if you're a curly girl, they can even give your curls a little extra zhuzh. Angela Soto, top hairstylist and founder of Baja Studio in New York, says that the best way to use a hair mask is to "use a generous amount and leave it on for as long as possible." She says that though manufacturers' directions may say 10 to 20 minutes is prime, 30 minutes to an hour is best to help lock in the moisture. You can even sleep in the mask (under a shower cap, of course) and shampoo and condition it out in the morning.
The most common mistake Soto sees is people not leaving hair masks on for long enough. "The nutrients from a mask take time to absorb past the cuticle and into the cortex where you really need the most therapy, so if you're only leaving it in the hair for a few minutes, you’re barely treating the surface of the cuticle and it has no penetration longevity." Christin Brown, Olaplex ambassador and celebrity stylist, notes that another common mistake she sees is people using a mask on dry hair and expecting the best results. "Using a hair mask on damp hair after cleansing will give you the best results and performance because it helps to open the hair cuticle to let the mask penetrate fully, faster."
With so many options to choose from, you're probably wondering which to pick. Scroll down to find out the best hair masks for your hair concern, according to two top hairstylists.
Best hair mask for dry hair
According to Brown, this hydrating mask from fan-favorite haircare brand Olaplex delivers incredible moisture, body, shine, and reduces frizz for all hair types while also providing bond repair with their patented formula. The mask works from the inside out to add two times more shine, four times more hydration, and six times more smoothness in just 10 minutes. Soto explains that bond-building masks like this one are both reparative and instrumental in creating stronger hair to withstand coloring, heat styling, environmental damage, and friction from pillows, brushing, and clothing.
Best hair mask for damaged hair
This silicone-free mask for breakage is great for any type of damaged hair, whether from environmental stresses or regular keratin treatments. Infused with coconut cream, mango butter, and banana, the rich and creamy formula smells like a trip to the tropics and leaves your hair looking and feeling healthy without the breakage and dryness characteristic of stressed-out hair.
Best hair mask for oily hair
Whether your hair is natural or color-treated, this prickly pear mask is packed with antioxidants and repairing agents for deep and lasting rejuvenation. The ceramides help to strengthen and restructure hair for healthier, more protected strands that won’t look greasy between washes.
Best hair mask for thick hair
Thick hair often means that you need a lot of product to treat all of it, but that doesn’t have to be the case. This moisturizing mask fights damage, split ends, and breakage by using murumuru and mango seed butters to hydrate, strengthen, and increase manageability. The coconut oil ensures that the product penetrates the full hair shaft easily, defending the hair from “environmental elements, oxidative stress, photoaging, and the deterioration of natural keratin.”
Best hair mask for a stressed-out scalp
Scalp stress is real and it can cause tension, itching, flaking, and dryness. This once-a-week mask is here to help. The formula purifies and treats the scalp while infusing moisture to revive dry and brittle strands . . . and it smells amazing. The kaolin clay decongests and balances the scalp, preventing hair loss, and the amla oil strengthens strands down to the root and treats dandruff.
Best hair mask for bleached hair
Say goodbye to brassiness with this mask. It has ultra-violet neutralizers to color-correct, and hyaluronic acid to soften strands, whether they’re colored, bleached, or grey.
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