Dry or damaged, brittle or broken, if your locks need a little attention, a trusty hair mask goes a long way in bringing your hair back to life.
Hair masks can offer some much-needed hydration or damage control without breaking the bank and make you feel like you've just stepped out of the salon. But, which mask is the one for you?
Keep reading for all the basics on hair masks and a list of 15 nourishing masks to help you find the perfect one for you.
Hair Masks 101
If you’re not familiar with a hair mask, think of a face mask. Much like a face mask, a hair mask is a treatment you apply to your hair to improve its condition and health. Hair masks are also sometimes called deep conditioning treatments or intensive hair conditioners.
New hairstyles, up-do’s, heat styling, colouring, exposure to the elements – we put our hair through a lot of stress and that can cause some serious damage. A hair mask can give a major lift to dreary locks. Typically you’ll see dramatic results, even in a single use, such as:
- shinier, softer hair
- less split ends
- a healthier scalp
- moisturised hair strands
- stronger-feeling hair strands
- less frizz
- less hair breakage
Hair masks treatments are formulated with highly concentrated oils, butters and other nourishing ingredients. They are left on for an extended period of time – typically 20 minutes to overnight – to work to repair damage from root to end.
While hair masks are not miracle workers, they’re packed with power and can re-hydrate, tone and even reverse some hair damage.
The right hair mask depends on a few key factors, including your hair type, texture, and specific needs. And the hunt to find the perfect formula can be exhausting.
But, we're here to help! Keep reading for all the info you'll need about hair masks – but first, a substantial list to help you find the right fit for you!
15 Best Hair Masks for Damaged Hair
This not-to-miss mask is the creme de la creme in masks that promote thicker fuller hair growth and damage control.
Infused with all-natural and carefully selected ingredients like panax ginseng berry extract, piper nigrum seed extract and licorice root extract deliver optimal nutrition to your hair and scalp and are then blended with pristine, re-harvested Byron Bay water.
However, Kakadu Plum is the hero ingredient in Folli products. With antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, this rare plant earned its reputation as a powerful Indigenous food and medicine.
Kakadu Plum has the highest Vitamin C levels of any fruit found on the planet - that does wonders for dull, dry and damaged hair. This msk, with its irresistible texture and delicious sweet smell is a must-try!
Purchase here for $47 AUD.
#2– Pattern Treatment Mask
Rice water ferment and moringa seed extract are the power in this mask, a great product made with you curly girls in mind. This mask is different in texture than many others, it is thick and slick and delivers slip, curl elongation and definition to coils – you’ll be happy with your results.
Formulated to strengthen and soften your hair will be left hydrated, silky and pampered. Its lovely fragrance is a soft floral mix of orange blossom and geranium, gentle and not overpowering. Of course, we can’t be mad about recyclable packaging.
#3 – SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Hair Masque
Manuka honey is a special type of honey that is cherished for its natural healing properties for hair and skin. It blends well with a wide range of conditioning oils, and provides intense conditioning for hair that is thirsty for moisture, especially curly hair.
Many curls, especially type 4, dry out quickly, which is why oils like jojoba and castor oils are a must-have in masks for this hair texture.
This moisture mask does the trick with a combination of nourishing oils (like mafura and baobab) as well as honey and shea butter to deliver soft, shiny curls in a matter of minutes.
Depending on the condition of your hair, it can be a quick hydration boost or an extra deep conditioning treatment.
Purchase here for $13.99 USD.
#4 – R+Co Television Hair Masque
This gem was made to perfect hair by adding body, enhancing shine, and increasing smoothness and strength. Users love the softness, and glossiness it delivers, thanks to the coconut oil and murumuru butter in the formula that intensely hydrate and strengthen your hair.
Additionally, you'll find coconut oil, olive oil and abyssinnian oil working to prevent tangling and breakage upon styling – and snow mushroom extract is the star power ingredient to seal in moisture and protect hair.
Straight hair users seem to really love this mask which is meant for in-shower use (it only needs a few minutes to work its magic). Can you say convenient? And the result – hair that's ready to star in the evening news… or on your social media feed, whichever floats your boat.
Purchase here for $42 USD.
#5 – K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask
This easy-to-use mask is a client favourite for those dealing with dryness, dullness, and damage. The K18 Repair Hair Mask is a leave-in treatment mask for all hair types that clinically reverses damage in four minutes – what??! Users absolutely love the ease of this mask.
The patented peptide technology works to repair damage from bleach, colour, chemical services, and heat, restoring strength, softness, smoothness, and bounce to hair.
“Peptides stimulate collagen production, which can improve the overall health of the hair, as collagen helps to support both the hair follicle and the natural proteins in the hair,” said Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
"Additionally, when applied topically, peptides may also help to hydrate the scalp and hairs making them appear healthier," she added.
#6 – Olaplex No.8 Intense Bond Moisture Mask
The Olaplex No.8 Intense Bond Moisture Mask is another great choice for addressing hair that’s dry, damaged, and generally lacklustre.
When the hair’s bonds are broken, hair appears split at the ends, frizzy, dry or brittle, and
this highly concentrated reparative mask adds shine, smoothness and body while providing intense moisture thanks to Olaplex’s Bond Building technology.
No.8 is loaded with a handful of ingredients typically found in skincare but which are shown to have incredible hair benefits: hyaluronic acid for an extra hit of hydration, ceramides which speed up repair and lock in moisture, and avocado oil, rosehip oil and rice bran oil.
The innovative formula works by repairing and rebuilding the disulfide bonds that have been broken in your hair— light enough to not weigh the hair down but strong enough to rebuild broken and weakened hair strands from inside out.
Try using it regularly to reverse signs of damage and restore hydration.
Purchase here for $30 USD.
#7 – Davines Nounou Hair Mask
Designed to deeply nourish treated hair, this mask delivers extra soft and silky locks without weighing it down.
It's recommended for those with damaged or very dry hair, bleached or highlighted and anyone dealing with brittle and breakage-prone hair even due to medical conditions.
The mask’s moisturising quality comes from Fiaschetto tomato extract, which is packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. This mask has stunning reviews from clients undergoing cancer treatment.
One notes that if you are having breakage because of a medical issue, the mask won’t return your hair completely to its original state, but it does restore nutrients back into the hair, which in turn makes it feel healthier and look shinier.
Purchase here for $38 USD.
#8 – Kérastase Blonde Absolu Anti-Brass Hair Mask
Do blondes have more fun – or higher tabs at the salon? Blonde hair can sometimes be hard and high-maintenance to colour. This rich purple mask penetrates the fibre to remove unwanted yellow undertones and brassiness, while deeply hydrating and restoring hair strands.
It’ll keep your blonde colour looking light and bright, without giving it a hint of grey or violet, as some purple products can. It’s packed with powerful ingredients like hyaluronic acid and edelweiss flower to nourish the dry, bleached strands.
You’ll detangle more easily and love the manageability of your bright, hydrated beautiful blonde.
Purchase here for $52 USD.
#9 – Amika Dream Routine Overnight Hydrating Hair Mask
Get your beauty sleep and beautiful locks all at the same time – yes please! This overnight hydrating mask is deeply moisturising yet light enough for straight or fine strands.
Infused with the ingredients of your dreams like hyaluronic acid, coconut water, blue algae, and sea buckthorn, this no-rinse, silicone-free treatment is clinically proven to boost moisture for up to 72 hours. And not to worry – the designers made sure it won’t stain your pillow.
Purchase here for $28 USD.
#10 – Ouai Fine to Medium Hair Treatment Mask
Fine-haired people, this one's for you. The Ouai brand provides luxury products that are simple, affordable and classic.
Formulated with hydrolysed keratin and protein, shea butter and panthenol, this unique musky Masque helps prevent split ends and give broken, fizzy, flyaway hair a smoother, sleeker appearance.
The vitamin E in this hair treatment product works to strengthen hair quality and to support a healthy scalp and the jojoba oil works to moisturise and nourish dry hair and to prevent split ends and breakage.
Purchase here for $38 USD.
#11 – Brigeo Strength + Moisture Leave-In Mask
This lightweight, leave-in mask comes in a convenient spray form, making hair care easy, even when you're on the go. It works well for all hair textures but is ideal for those with dry, damaged, and/or chemically treated hair.
Nutrient- rich ingredients like biotin and algae extract help reduce breakage and repair damaged hair while panthenol enhances the effects of hair elasticity, moisture retention and flexibility. This mask doesn’t weigh hair down like some others and users love the convenience of a spray.
Purchase here for $29 USD.
#12 – Function of Beauty Custom Purple Hair Mask
The Function of Beauty Custom Purple Hair Mask is customisable to your every need. You can take a quiz to select the details of your mask such as scent to various hair concerns and you get a product made just for you.
This purple treatment is designed to deeply condition dry hair while toning any brassy hues on blonde, silver, grey, or highlighted hair.
Formulated with a hair-healthy blend of Japanese sake extract, argan oil, jojoba ester oil, and a custom blend of natural ingredients depending on your hair goals, w. Whether you’re trying to fight frizz, add shine, or define your curls, our custom hair mask can help you with all your hair goals while giving it the moisture it craves.
Purchase here for $14.50 USD.
#13 – It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask
If your hair lacks lustre from heat treatments and over- processing, this mask can help bring life back to your weary locks. Miracle Hair Mask is flexible enough to be used as a daily conditioner and also intensive enough to be used as a periodic deep-conditioning treatment. It delivers unparalleled results for dry, damaged, or over-processed hair.
This mask’s restorative properties come from ingredients like antioxidant-packed oat kernel extract, apricot kernel oil, and linseed extract, which calm the scalp and give hair a softer, silkier feeling. Over time, this mask can help build volume but you’ll notice brighter locks right away.
Purchase here for $22.99 USD.
#14 – Kevin Murphy Young Again Mask
This deep conditioning restorative mask is made to rejuvenate and replenish ageing hair.
It embodies an impressive list of natural ingredients including quinoa and rice proteins, immortelle, lotus flower and baobab seed oils that strengthen damaged hair while delivering maximum hydration and elasticity.
This mask was made to help to stop the effect of ageing by restoring elasticity and shine and leave hair feeling silky and rejuvenated. Try it one to three times per week in between shampooing and conditioning and you’ll enjoy the results right away.
Purchase here for $54 USD.
#15 – Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask With Rare Prickly-Pear-Seed Oil
Users tout this mask as the most universal hydrating mask. Ingredients like the prickly pear seed oil, rich in vitamin E, make it a luxurious experience (and a pretty penny, too).
Vitamin E restores the protein and keratin of your hair, which in turn makes it shinier and silkier while not causing buildup.
Dianna Cohen, founder of hair-care line Crown Affair, says that you would use it once a week if you have finer hair, and more if you have thicker or curlier hair. She leaves the mask on for about 15 minutes and then rinses with cold water.
For an extremely sumptuous experience, apply it under a shower cap, and then put a hot towel on top as this mask takes quite well to heat.
Purchase here for $69 USD.
We’ve covered a lot, but if you’re not ready to seal the deal quite yet, keep reading! The information below will give you a better sense on the what, when and why hair masks might be a perfect addition to your beauty routine.
How does a hair mask work?
While all hair masks are unique, hair masks are a deep conditioning treatment that is left on after shampooing giving hair a deep conditioning.
Most hair masks work best when applied to clean, towel-dried hair that’s still damp. Once the hair mask is ready to apply, follow these steps:
- Protect your clothing with an old t-shirt or towel.
- Divide long or thick hair into sections with hair clips.
- Apply the mask with your fingers, or a small brush.
- If your hair is dry, begin the hair mask application near your scalp and work toward the ends. Once the mask has been worked into the ends of your hair, you can go back and gently apply it to your scalp.
- Once you’re done applying the mask, run a wide-tooth comb through your hair to help ensure the mask is evenly spread.
- Cover your hair with a shower cap or plastic wrap. Then wrap a towel around your head. This helps protect the mask from dripping, but it also helps add some heat, which can help the ingredients absorb into your hair.
- Leave the mask on for the recommended time. (Many are 20 to 30 minutes, but depending on the ingredients, some can be left on for hours or even overnight.)
- Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm or cool water. Avoid hot water. Cooler water can help seal the hair cuticle and help your hair retain more moisture. Rinse again if necessary.
- Enjoy silky, moisturised, smooth, sensuous hair!
What are the best ingredients to look for in a hair mask?
The best hair masks are packed with hydrating and restorative ingredients and can target your specific hair type and concerns.
Hair masks run the gamut when it comes to ingredients that can give your hair some TLC. The ingredients that may work best for you will depend on your hair type and the condition of your hair and scalp. Here are some of the most popular ingredients to look for:
- Bananas. The silica in bananas can make hair extra soft and shiny. Bananas can also help reduce frizz, dryness and dandruff.
- Eggs. The nutrients in egg yolks, including vitamins A and E, biotin, and folate, may help promote hair growth, while the protein in egg whites may help strengthen your hair.
- Kakadu plum. Being a rich source of Vitamin C and antioxidants, kakadu plum supports collagen synthesis and iron absorption which is essential for hair health and growth.
- Avocado oil. Folic acid, magnesium and iron are minerals found in avocado oil and may help seal the hair cuticle and therefore help make your hair more resistant to damage and breakage.
- Honey. Honey is considered a humectant which means it can help your hair pull in and retain more moisture. It can also stimulate the growth of skin cells which may help promote stronger hair follicles.
- Coconut oil. Coconut oil can penetrate the hair shaft for deep conditioning because of its low molecular weight. This can help reduce dryness and frizz. It’s also shown that coconut oil can reduce protein loss when used on the hair.
- Licorice root. Known for soothing a dry or irritated scalp, it helps to open pores and strengthens weakened hair follicles.
- Olive oil. Olive oil contains squalene which is produced naturally by the body but declines as we age. Squalene is essential for moisturised hair and skin.
- Aloe vera. If you want to soothe your scalp, consider a hair mask with aloe vera, which has anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains vitamins C, E, B-12, folic acid and choline which may help strengthen and nourish your hair.
When should you use a hair mask?
Many hair care experts think hair masks should be an ongoing part of your hair care routine.
It may take some trial and error to find the right balance on which hair mask and how often you should use it to get optimal results for you – but in the end, it is worth it.
How often should you do a hair mask?
Generally, your hair mask should be used once or twice per week in place of your regular conditioner. But, if your hair is damaged you may benefit from using a hair mask slightly more often – try two to three times per week until your hair is feeling healthy again.
Overdoing it won’t necessarily improve your results and for some hair types, using a hair mask too often can actually reduce the effectiveness of the mask and make hair greasy, weighed down, or overloaded with protein.
Similarly, using a hair mask too infrequently might give you little boosts in shine and softness when you do use them, but won’t have the long-term hair health effects you’re hoping for.
When determining how often you should use a hair mask, consider;
- The current condition of your hair (dry, damaged, oily, etc.)
- Your hair texture and type (fine, curly, coily, dense, etc.)
- Your hair’s porosity (low, medium/normal, or high)
- What you want the mask to do (moisturise, strengthen, repair, etc.)
Is a hair mask better than a conditioner?
Yes and no – you need both.
A hair mask is designed to work out specific hair concerns from the inside out for long-lasting improvements using a thicker, more nourishing formula. The conditioner has larger molecules and works more superficially – at the hair cuticle layer. A mask is an every-so-often and a conditioner is everyday – they make a perfect team.
If you haven't made a purchase yet, what are you waiting for? A hair mask may unlock a new level of luxury in your hair care routine. And if you need any more guidance, our team at Folli is always here to help.
Good hair days ahead.