Yahoo January 3, 2024



11 Hair Masks That Will Give You the Healthiest Strands of Your Life, Vetted and Reviewed


If your hair needs an extra hydration boost beyond your normal routine, add one of these hair masks to the rotation.

Conditioner is a key step in every hair-care routine, but it can only do so much. Blow drying, color, UV rays, pollution, and even just the daily act of wetting your hair in the shower can contribute to dryness and damage, and every once in a while you need something more intensive. If you want to keep your hair looking and feeling its healthiest, applying a hair mask regularly will work in your favor.

To grasp why hair masks are so beneficial to dry and weak hair, it helps to understand how hair health deteriorates in the first place. Each strand has an outer layer called the cuticle, which resembles a row of scales up close. The cuticle functions as a protective gatekeeper — it controls how much moisture or hair product can penetrate or escape the strand depending on how raised the "scales" are. When something such as heat or color application damages your hair, it can chip away at the cuticle, often resulting in dry, frizzy hair. This can cause hair tiny tears in the cuticle. This is where hair masks come in — they can help fill those cracks in the cuticle, smooth down rough spots, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, leaving you with lustrous, healthier-looking hair.  

Looking for a new formula to try? Below, you’ll find the best for all hair types, concerns, and budgets.

Best Overall 

Briogeo Be Gentle Be Kind Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Superfood Mask


Why We Like It: It’s versatile and oh-so-moisturizing.

It’s Worth Noting: Less is more with this product—so it might take some time to find your perfect amount.

This mask rose above the rest thanks to its lovely sweet, fruity scent, the smoothing slip it gives to strands, and how it even helped shape curls on its own — even when skipping curl gel! Toth points out that it has avocado oil in the formula, which makes it “good for someone who needs protection from breakage, hot tools, UV damage, and environmental damage. It's also great for someone who wants to repair their hair and add more moisture to their scalp and strands.”

Our only warning: It may take a little trial and error to find the right amount for your hair—apply too much and it could weigh down your hair. So start with a little less the first time and go from there.

Hair types: All | Size: 8 oz.

Best for Hydration

Amika The Kure


Why We Like It: It’s intensely hydrating, yet easy to apply and rinse out

It’s Worth Noting: The formula takes 10 minutes to work and may be too heavy for some.

Packed with mango butter, borage oil, and shea butter this 10-minute wonder is rich, which is why we recommend it for very parched strands. Olya Iudina, hairstylist at IGK NYC, says that is thanks in part to the fatty acids in the shea butter in particular; “it immediately helps bring back softness and shine.” 

We love the amber-vanilla scent, how easily it works into the hair considering its thick texture, and how it doesn’t leave behind a hint of residue. Six weeks after use, we noticed it made a big difference in the strength of our hair, and even helped make it look fuller — a score for anyone seeking volume. However, it is just so hydrating and luxe, those with fine hair may find it to be a bit too much.

Hair types: All | Size: 8.4 oz.

Best for Curly Hair

CURLS Blueberry Bliss Hair Mask


Why We Like It: Great for curls in all hair densities from fine to thick. 

It’s Worth Noting: The 15-to-25 minute work-time may be hard to fit into your schedule.

If you’re looking for a treatment that will nourish curls while helping with definition and somehow hydrate without weighing down the finest of strands, here’s your answer. Part of the magic comes down to the aloe in it, which Ludina says helps fight frizz and was made for curly hair. But let’s go back to that nourishing element. With a vitamin-rich formula, this mask may help prevent breakage and help grow hair longer and stronger. In fact, in our testing it resulted in numerous comments about hair growth from our editors — both in length and thickness. One tester had been trying for years to grow her hair longer with no luck and got several compliments about how long and healthy her hair was looking while using this mask. 

The only drawback: it’s time-consuming to use. The instructions suggest leaving it on for 15 minutes in the shower or for 25 minutes under the heat of a hairdryer or steam.

Hair types: Wavy, curly, very curly, coily hair | Size: 8 oz.

Best for Damaged Hair

Davines Nounou Hair Mask


Why We Like It: It’s both nourishing and protective against damage.

It’s Worth Noting: You have to use a lot for even application.

Do you color-treat? Texture-treat? Use hot tools on the regular? You need this mask. It’s both moisturizing and protective to help soften hair while shielding it from the elements. And we notice it helps thin, curly hair grow longer thanks to holding off breakage. We found that the healing aspects of the formula were most noticeable in our testing. Our hair was smoother, shinier, and appeared longer due to less breakage occurring at the ends. 

However, we found we had to apply a lot of it to get it to coat the hair evenly. That means the tub may not last you as long as you like, especially with a $40 price tag. And the recommended 10 to 15 minutes to allow it to sit makes it more of a time commitment than many other formulas.  

Hair types: Highly processed or brittle hair | Size: 8.82 oz.

Best Bond Repair

K18 Biomimetic Hairscience Molecular Repair Hair Mask


Why We Like It: The bond-activating technology really works.

It’s Worth Noting: The opaque packaging makes it difficult to see how much product is left.

There’s a reason why you see this stuff everywhere on social media these days: “Everyone loves it. That's all. It's simple and works extremely well,” says Devin Toth, hairstylist at Salon Salon SCK in NYC. Raven Hurtado, hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, adds her name to the pile, saying: “It’s good for colored and damaged hair and restores strength, elasticity, softness and bounce.” It all comes by way of a patented K18 Peptide, which can strengthen the hair’s keratin chains.

Prior to testing, we described our hair as dry and dull with lots of frizz and breakage. In our test, we found it does indeed lend incredible smoothness and shine and made a noticeable difference in hair health. And the fact that you don’t rinse it out (you apply out of the shower and allow it to work for 4 minutes before continuing your styling routine) makes it a slap-on-and-go option. The price is high, but since you only need 1 to 3 pumps per session, it may last you longer than you think.

Hair types: All | Size: 1.7 oz

Best for Split Ends

Kerastase Genesis Masque Reconstituant Hair Mask


Why We Like It: It features innovative ingredients.

It’s Worth Noting: The scent may be too powerful for some.

With a five-minute work time and luxe ingredients like edelweiss native cells and ginger root, it’s not surprising this formula gets a lot of love in the hair community. Toth calls it “lightweight and really great for long hair that you don't want to be weighed down.” Hurtado says “it hydrates and strengthens weak hair and decreases hair shedding from brushing, and over styling.” 

We found all that and more — including that it left hair with body and bounce after blow drying. However, the almost-perfumey scent can seem really strong, so you may want to skip it if you’re sensitive to fragrance. 

Hair types: All | Size: 6.8 oz.

Best for Frizz

Kevin Murphy Young Again Masque


Why We Like It: It features a hard-working amino acid complex. 

It’s Worth Noting: It may be too lightweight for the thickest heads of hair.

This one grabs attention with its amino acid complex. What are amino acids again? “Building blocks for proteins in your hair, such as keratin,” explains Toth. “They help to strengthen your hair and prevent breakage, fight frizz, and make your hair shinier and smoother.”

This mask delivered in our testing, and we found it made for a great reset at the beginning of every week and again before the weekend. More like a thick conditioner than a mask, it is especially lightweight, which makes us hesitant to recommend it to someone with super thick and dense hair. But for those with medium or fine strands, it’s a great choice.  

Hair types: All | Size: 6.7 oz.

Best for Protective Styles

Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Strengthening Hair Masque


Why We Like It: Its hydrating oils act like a shield to fend off damage.

It’s Worth Noting: A little of it goes a long way.

A mix of rich, shielding oils from rosemary, sesame seed, and coconut make for one potent treatment. Toth says, when put together in one formula, “I would expect that product to repair the hair, add shine, moisture, and smoothness, and promote hair growth and blood circulation to the scalp.”

We found that to be the case — in fact, it prompted the hairstylist of one tester who used it before wearing her hair in protective styles to remark on the difference. Our hair was soft to the touch, more moisturized, and all around looked healthier. Plus, it seemed to help with hair shedding and made for less frizzy blowouts after the testing period was over. But take note that a little goes a long way, so you should start with less and use more during your next session if your hair can handle it.

Hair types: All | Size: 12 oz.

Best for Hair Growth

Redken Extreme Length Triple Action Treatment


Why We Like It: It’s nourishing to promote healthier, longer hair.

It’s Worth Noting: You’ll have to go easy with it if your hair is fine.

If you’re someone who can’t seem to get their hair to grow past a certain point, this may be the formula for you. It contains niacinamide (vitamin B3) and biotin (vitamin B7), which Toth explains, “are essential nutrients that are known to promote hair growth and would benefit someone who has thinning hair or even just an irritated scalp, especially if that person is deficient in either of those vitamins.”

We found it definitely left hair healthier and more moisturized while providing a bonus of helping with frizz and split ends. After about 3 weeks, we saw over a half an inch of growth (which is higher than average). There also appeared to be less breakage and our strands were stronger. The mask seemed to leave a barrier around each strand (in a good way!) that protected against further damage even after you rinsed it off. And while it’s lighter weight than it may sound, it could slick down fine hair, so if your strands qualify, proceed with caution. 

Hair types: All | Size: 8.5 oz.

Best for Dry Hair

Vegamour Moisture Repair Mask


Why We Like It: It offers silicone-free smoothing.

It’s Worth Noting: It feels a little slimy during application.

This mask gets love for offering hydration without leaving hair feeling greasy or flat. It gets there with a lovely mix of marula and moringa seed oil and a vegan silicone alternative that is worth highlighting. As Hurtado says, silicone “can cause buildup and potentially cause clogged pores; making the roots feel oily and ends dry.” 

Using it, we noticed less flyaways and a smoother texture and a lovely lingering vanilla scent. During workouts, we also noticed our ponytail looked and felt thicker than ever before. (The brand is known for their hair growth products after all.)

It does feel a bit slimy in your hands but it spreads well and rinses clean. And, while yes, it’s $52, but you need so little of this rich treatment that you get a lot of bang for your buck. 

Hair types: All | Size: 5 oz.

Best for Anti-Thinning

Nutrafol Strand Defender Lightweight Strengthening Conditioner for Thinning Hair


Why We Like It: Works like a growth-promoting mask in just 2 minutes

It’s Worth Noting: The texture and experience is like that of a conditioner.

You might be surprised to see a conditioner on a best-of masks list, but this one does the work of a mask in just two minutes, so we think it deserves a spot. Plus it’s got ingredients you don’t often spot in a regular conditioner like ximenia oil (for moisture) and glucose fibers (for strength). 

We found it did appear to help hair grow, resulting in an increase of "baby hairs'' around the hairline — and helped curb hair shedding. Our favorite part was that no matter how dry or tangled our hair felt going into the shower, we came out smoother and snarl-free. It also accomplished what a 15-minute hair mask does in just 2 minutes. 

If you’re looking for the luxurious experience of a mask, we could understand why you might balk. But for those looking to prompt healthy growth and get in and out of the shower quickly, it’s hard to beat. 

Hair types: All | Size: 8.1 oz

Our Testing Process

We gathered 25 of the most innovative and buzz-worthy masks on the market, and sent them to be tested among our pool of volunteers with a variety of hair types. Each tester was instructed to use one formula for six weeks at least once per week according to the directions on the bottle, taking before and after shots to document any differences or progress. They took note of the scent, texture of the formula, performance, as well as all the things they liked and disliked about the product. We used their insights to to declare winners with 11 products meeting our high standards of efficacy. 

Then we spoke with leading hairstylists to get a sense of why these formulas rose to the top and gain insight into how to use hair masks to maximize their benefits in general. The experts: Laura Polko, celebrity hairstylist and Nature Lab Tokyo brand ambassador. Irinel de León, celebrity hairstylist and Ouidad brand ambassador, Devin Toth, a celebrity hairstylist at Salon SCK, Raven Hurtado, hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, and Olya Iudina, hairstylist at IGK NYC, 

What to Know About Hair Masks

Hair Mask Benefits

Hair masks are best for some extra TLC to fill in those weak areas in the cuticle we mentioned earlier. They also smooth over frizz, add luster, and generally make your hair look better—all while making you feel pampered in the shower. "Typically hair masks include a mixture of butters, oils, strengtheners, and hair softeners," says de León. "Think of a hair mask as an at-home nourishing treatment for your strands, just like we can apply face masks weekly." People who have curly hair (try: Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Mask) and/or rely on heat styling (try: Davines NouNou Mask) stand to gain the most from hair masks, but everyone can benefit from using one, says de León. 


What ingredients you want to look for depends on your hair type and goals. For example, according to Hurtado, “Shea butter tames frizz, while mango butters help reduce breakage and smooth out split ends. We loved amika The Kure Intense Bond Repair Hair Mask, which contains both shea and mango butters. Vitamin E helps moisturize the scalp and hair. And aloe in a formula for curly hair helps define and smooth curly strands, detangle and soften, and also promotes shiny hair.” 

But don’t worry: Generally, the labeling on the bottle will help lead the way with what hair type and results you can expect from each formula. Redken Extreme Length Triple Action Treatment was great for hair growth whereas Kevin Murphy Young Again Masque was a hit with those prone to frizz. If you’re thinking I want all of the above, Briogeo Avocado + Kiwi Mega Moisture Superfood Mask was our best overall choice and suitable for all hair types. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I use a hair mask?

Root to tip unless you have an oily scalp, in which case, you may want to start a couple of inches down your hair. Different hair masks require different treatment times, so definitely read the instructions on your bottle before use to determine how long you should leave it on. But, generally, "If you need to be quick, apply in the shower so it can sit for three to five minutes while you're shaving," suggests Polko. 

"If you have extra time, apply the mask to dry hair, focusing on the ends or any damaged areas, and leave it on as long as you can, even as long as overnight [before rinsing it out]. If you really need an extra boost, you can put a shower cap on over top and apply heat using your hair dryer." (Heat helps lift the cuticle, allowing products to penetrate better.)

How often should you use a hair mask?

It depends on your hair and your goals. Toth says dry and damaged hair will want to reach for one once or maybe twice a week. But for traumatically damaged hair, you might want to use it every time you wash until you get things back under control, if your hair is dry and thick enough to handle it. For those with oily or fine hair who find masks weigh down their hair or make it greasy, no need to go nuts. Toth says once or twice a month will do. 

Do you apply conditioner after a hair mask?

Generally, you aren’t expected to double up on the hydration on the days you mask by preceding or following it with a conditioner. Since they both act as the moisturizing and detangling step after shampoo. Ludina insists, “There’s no need to use both at the same time.” 

Why Trust Shape

Beth Shapouri has been writing about beauty products for 20 years, reporting on ingredients, trends, and formula innovations for publications like,,, and What’s more, her very long, thick, wavy Iranian hair was practically made for this story.