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Breaking news: Masking isn’t just for your face. Hair masks are the unsung heroes of the haircare world, with the ability to swoop in and solve all kinds of tress stress, from dryness to breakage to frizz. Think of them as super souped-up conditioners, notably richer, thicker formulas that have much higher concentrations of good-for-your hair ingredients.
Work them into your routine the same way you would a face mask—as a moment of self-care on a Sunday, or whenever your strands need a little extra TLC. A good mask is also a must-have for a pre-wedding beauty regimen, It ensures that your hair is super healthy and looking its best well before you get to the stylist's chair—it's all about creating a good foundation for your wedding hairstyle.
Simply use a hair mask instead of your standard conditioner—yes, it’s that easy. Follow the directions of the particular product you’re using, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to let it sit on your hair for a few minutes before rinsing. (Use that time to exfoliate or shave your legs or whatever other shower activity you do weekly.) Rinse and style as usual, then prepare to be amazed by just how great your hair looks.
Read on for the best hair masks.
Best Overall: Aveda Botanical Repair Intensive Strengthening Masque: Rich
If your mane has taken a bit of a beating—be that due to too much heat styling, one too many chemical processes, dry winter weather, or just general wear and tear—a mask is an absolute must for you. More specifically, this one is choice. Rich and creamy, it’s packed with plant-based butters and fats that work by repairing damage on all three layers of the hair.
It detangles too, helping to ward off any more breakage or damage, and leaves strands noticeably softer, smoother, and shinier, even after one use. Top tip: Because this formula is pretty intense, it’s best reserved for medium to thick textures (there’s a lighter variant for fine-hair).
Best Budget: Garnier Fructis Hydrating Treat 1 Minute Hair Mask
Here’s an awesome pick for anyone who either a) doesn’t want to spend big bucks on a hair mask, b) has long, thick hair and goes through hair masks at lightning speed, or c) doesn’t think they have time for hair masking. Per our first two points, this drugstore staple rings in at a super wallet-friendly price. (It also pulls double-duty as a leave-in treatment, giving you even more bang for your buck.)
And per our last point, it’s formulated to work in just one minute, faster than many others that require at least five minutes to do their thing. The formula also consists of 98% natural ingredients, relying on things such as aloe, coconut oil, and sunflower seed oil to impart a hefty dose of hydration.
Best for Curly Hair: Oribe Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque
Curly hair is innately different than straight hair, and, fun fact, is more prone to dryness. The elliptical shape of the hair strand makes it harder for natural oils to make their way from the scalp down the hair. The right hair mask can be hugely beneficial, right being the operative word. It’s imperative to seek out a formula specially made for curly hair since you don’t want anything too heavy and will weigh down your curls or break down their shape.
Enter this pick, which is ideal for wavy, curly, and coily hair. It blends hydrating butter and oils with strengthening almond protein (important since curls need more protein, too). There’s also a protective antioxidant complex in the mix to protect hair from damage caused by environmental factors such as sun and pollution.
Best for Dry Hair: Briogeo Be Gentle Be Kind Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Superfood Mask
Think of this as the equivalent of a big ol’ green smoothie for your strands. Seriously, the ingredient list reads more like something you’d find at a juice bar than in a hair product—think avocado, kiwi, spinach, chia seeds, and cocoa seed butter. It’s protein-free, packed with hydrating and antioxidant-rich ingredients (like the ones mentioned above) to leave hair super soft, smooth, and silky.
Also nice: It works well on all textures, curly hair included, and is safe for color-, keratin, and chemically-treated hair. Use it once or twice per week, letting it soak into strands for five to 10 minutes so that it can really do its thing.
Best for Colored Hair: Pureology Hydrate Superfood Deep Treatment Mask
No matter whether you’re adding highlights, trying to hide a few pesky grays, or dramatically changing your base shade, there’s no denying that coloring your hair takes a major toll on your tresses. Using a hair mask regularly is one of the best ways to both undo existing damage and prevent future issues. Not to mention that the healthier and more hydrated your hair is, the better it’s able to retain dye molecules.
Translation: Your color will last longer and remain consistently more vibrant. We’re partial to this formula that, along with containing lots of moisturizing ingredients, also contains a proprietary antifade complex to fight off fading and UV damage so that your hue stays extra shiny. The tropical scent (a mix of pineapple, vanilla, and coconut) is a nice bonus.
Best for Fine Hair: Verb Ghost Hair Mask
Finding the right mask for fine hair can be tricky. The last thing you want is a formula that’s too rich and heavy, which can end up weighing down your hair and making it look flat, limp, and even greasy. No, thank you. That being said, fine hair is naturally more prone to damage and breakage, and tangles, particularly at the ends, so you still do want to make sure you’re giving it enough moisture.
Happily, this mask is specially formulated to meet all of these needs. As the name suggests, it’s incredibly lightweight, so while it does pack plenty of reparative moisture, the weightless texture makes it ideal for fine hair. It rinses cleanly without leaving behind any unwanted residue, fights frizz, and also imparts mega-watt shine.
Best Natural: Innersense Organic Beauty Hydrating Hair Mask
Clean beauty queens will appreciate that this formula is free of (among other things): sulfates, phthalates, silicones, synthetic fragrances, dyes, and much, much more. But anyone and everyone will appreciate the hydrating, nourishing formula that’s a failproof choice for all hair types and textures.
It packs plenty of moisture—credit ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, and tamanu oil—but also boasts protein-rich flax seed and quinoa for strengthening and reparative benefits. Bonus points for the subtle scent, naturally-derived from essential oils, a mix of herby sage and sweet vanilla.
Best for Frizzy Hair: Coco & Eve Like A Virgin Super Nourishing Coconut & Fig Hair Masque
It may seem somewhat counterintuitive, given that frizz often crops up in humid environments, but more often than not the best antidote for frizzy hair is more moisture. And that means, you guessed it, a hair mask can be an invaluable asset in your fight against flyaways. More specifically, add this one to your shower.
The namesake ingredients are paired with linseed and argan oils, two haircare superstars, to deeply condition hair from the inside, out. Plus, the formula is still light enough that you can even use it closer to the roots, where errant frizzies most often tend to crop up. It can help ward off split ends, too, and leaves hair beautifully shiny.
Best Keratin: Kérastase Resistance Mask for Damaged Hair
A quick science lesson: Keratin is a protein, the main component of our hair. When hair is damaged, we lose keratin, in turn leaving our strands fragile, brittle, you get the picture. This formula contains a type of keratin to help rebuild and fortify hair strands, along with strengthening wheat protein.
The benefits don’t stop there, though. There are also ceramides in the mix, ingredients that help smooth out the hair cuticle (the outer layer of the hair) for added smoothness, softness, and shine.
Best for Blondes: Cristophe Robin Shade Variation Mask Baby Blond
Blondes may have more fun (or so the saying goes), but, especially if they’re lightening their hair to reach that desired blonde tone, are also more susceptible to have dry, damaged strands. That’s where this option comes up huge. Yes, it has all the benefits of any other hair mask—AKA plenty of hydrating ingredients—but it’s also a color-correcting formula.
The subtle lavender tint (don’t worry, it washes out) works to counteract unwanted brassiness and yellowing, keeping your blonde shade nice and fresh. Also noteworthy is the mask’s acidic pH, which works to minimize porosity so that your hair doesn’t absorb as many impurities from the water and air that can lead to color changes.
Best for Breakage: Olaplex Hair Perfector No3 Repairing Treatment
This is the at-home version of the hugely-popular in-salon version; you may have seen it at your last coloring appointment, as it’s often paired with coloring services. So much more than any other standard conditioner or treatment, the science-driven formula works by repairing the specific bonds in the hair that are broken as a result of chemical processes or from mechanical damage (brushing) or heat styling.
It’s a totally targeted fix like none other out there, with tons of fans raving about the transformative effects. It can be used on all textures, too; try it once a week as a preventative measure or up to three times per week if you’re seeking to undo existing damage.
It’s well-worth the time and effort to work a hair mask into your weekly routine. We give the Garnier Fructis Hydrating Treat 1 Minute Hair Mask big points, not only for being super effective and affordable, but also for working in just, 60 seconds. If you have curly hair, you’ll want to choose a formula specific for your hair type; the Oribe Moisture & Control Deep Treatment Masque fits the bill. The same goes for fine hair, since many hair masks can be very heavy and end up weighing down your hair; in that case, the lightweight Verb Ghost Hair Mask gets our vote. And if you have major breakage, you can’t go wrong with the ultra-repairative Olaplex Hair Perfector No3 Repairing Treatment, a stylist favorite.
What is a hair mask?
Think of a hair mask as your regular conditioner on steroids. Heavier and richer, they’re meant to impart lots more hydration and conditioning in one fell swoop, which is why you only need to use one a few times per week, max.
What are the best hair mask ingredients for damaged hair?
Moisture is definitely necessary for damaged hair, as damage and dryness often go hand-in-hand, so the aforementioned oils and butters are great. That being said, to actually repair damaged hair, you need to seek out hair masks that tout bond-building ingredients. Strengthening ingredients—think proteins, amino acids, and keratin—can help fortify tresses and prevent additional damage.
What to look for in a hair mask
Any hair mask will be hydrating by default, but there are a few universal ingredients that are worth seeking out. Oils—coconut, jojoba, avocado, argan, sunflower—are great, as are plant-based butters, think shea butter, mango butter, and cupuacu butter.
As an added benefit, look for formulas that contain strengthening ingredients; keratin, quinoa, and amino acids are a few key picks. You can also look for options that mention ‘bond repair,’ meaning they actually help repair the protein bonds that are broken when hair is damaged from chemical or mechanical processes.
Why trust Brides?
Brides contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Her hair is fine and prone to breakage, so a hair mask is a non-negotiable part of her weekly routine; she rotates among many of the ones on this list.