I have exceptionally dry hair, and my favorite part of visiting a salon is enjoying a deep-conditioning treatment. It leaves my hair feeling baby-soft—a feat I’ve never been able to achieve on my own. But, with my next salon date looking like it’s 554,325,321 days into the future, it’s time to commit to giving my hair some more TLC with hair treatments at home.
“Now is a good time to do hair treatments at home because, with the pandemic, most of us are staying in a lot more,” says Vernon François, celebrity hairstylist and founder of his eponymous haircare line. “Most of us are seeing our hair in its most authentic state right now, so we can really get to know its texture, see its true color, and give it the love and attention it deserves.”
“Shampooing is about stripping build-up and oils; conditioning is about hydrating and softening. You can compare it to washing your face and adding moisturizer,” says Victoria. “This is a maintenance ritual for the health of your skin and hair, but treatments for your hair would compare to a facial for your skin. It creates deep repair that keeps a strong, healthy foundation that will show over time.”
Idle time may make you want to explore homemade hair treatments, but Paul Labrecque, celebrity stylist and owner of an eponymous salon and hair-care line, says to stick to store-bought treatments. “Self-made and DIY products containing things like olive oil do not emulsify out and can leave a nasty film on your hair,” he says. Victoria adds that DIY concoctions that include foods like honey or egg could also be difficult to wash out of your hair.
François explains that there are two types of hair treatments: those with a focus on strengthening, and those that are deeply moisturizing.
“Within that, there are lots of different kinds—those you can do at home, those that you’d need to go to a salon to have professionally applied, and ones that are ready-made or shop bought,” he says. “If you’re looking to get the best out of a hair treatment, consistency is key, and remember it’s not what you do but how you do it. Be ready to commit to using it regularly and have realistic expectations.”
Steer clear of any chemical treatments or other products that are designed to be used only by professionals. Below, you’ll find some safe and effective hair treatments to use at home.
Best strengthening hair treatments to use at home
“For damaged hair that needs deep repair, go for a mask that is packed with protein,” Victoria says. She’s a fan of this one, which contains quinoa protein to strengthen and smooth damaged hair.
“These oils are wonderful for hair that’s very dry, excessively colored, heat-styled or chemically processed,” says François. “Just spritz on one vial before going to bed and it works while you sleep. I’d braid, twist, or bantu knot your hair, then ideally sleep with it covered in a silk cap. When you unravel hair in the morning your kinks, coils, curls, or waves will be noticeably softer and shinier. It’s non-greasy and easily absorbed—with no need to rinse out.”
This is an ideal mask for color-treated or processed hair. Silk proteins and egg, soy, and milk extracts work to strengthen dry, brittle, and over-stressed hair. Oils of macadamia nut, Abyssinian, and coconut make your hair softer and shinier while smoothing split ends.
“For hair that has been damaged from bleaching or thermal straightening, try the emergency treatment that I created to repair the outside layer of the hair,” says François. This product helps to seal down damaged hair cuticles while microscopic beads work to restore the flexible integrity of the outside layer of the hair’s shaft.
Olaplex No. 3, $56
Labrecque is one of many stylists who love this pre-shampoo treatment from Olaplex. The weekly treatment strengthens hair from within and reduces breakage.
Victoria calls this treatment “incredible” for all of her clients. “This [product] regenerates the bonds in your hair so it will actually rebuild the cuticle of your hair.” This is for anyone who has weak, damaged, dry, broken hair, she says. “It repairs from the inside out.”
Best hydrating hair treatments to use at home
“This deep conditioner is extremely moisturizing and strengthening for all types of stressed and damaged hair,” says François. “It has green tea extract (which is an antioxidant), keratin for strength, and natural oils like sweet almond and jojoba to hydrate. Its texture is very light, a bit like melted marshmallows, so it can easily be worked through the thickest of kinks and curls.”
Labrecque loves this mask for clients with dry, thick hair. It’s infused with an dryness-detecting complex and glucose proteins to help reduce frizz and replenish moisture.
“Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer has always been a favorite of mine because it’s great for adding elasticity, bounce, and shine to kinks and curls,” says François. Use this product (originally designed for Audrey Hepburn!) before you shampoo to improve your hair’s tensile strength and moisture retention.
Victoria recommends this deep hydrating mask for naturally dry hair that tends to be more coarse.
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