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Brittle, dull hair can be a real drag. Whether your strands are battling breakage due to sun, chlorine, hot tools, or chemical treatments, the perfect hair mask can help the situation ASAP by improving hydration, texture, and more. Plus, with the rise of work from home, it's never been easier to go about your day with a hair mask in place.
We enlisted our editors to share their picks for the best hair masks available now. Read on for the products they reach for time and time again.
What to Look For in a Hair Mask
If you’re struggling with dry, lackluster hair the chances of your hair needing some extra protection around breakage is high. Look out for hair masks that contain protein and oils like keratin and argan oil.
A Concentrated Formula
Concentrated formulas are known for their ability to better penetrate the hair shaft, which helps the deep conditioner absorb easily. The more concertrated the formula the better your hair tends to look afterwards.
A Lightweight Finish
Some hair masks weigh the hair down, or leave a sticky residue afterwards, so you’ll want to select a formula that provides a lightweight finish.
Leonor Greyl Paris Masque Quintessence Deep Nourishing Treatment Mask
Byrdie editorial director Faith Xue swears that this mask from cult-favorite French brand Leonor Greyl transforms her bleached hair into liquid silk. "It's made with a slew of nourishing plant butters and oils," she says. "It leaves my hair smelling like a floral bouquet. But it's also ridiculously expensive, which is why I only save it for special occasions. Luckily, you don't need much product—just a small scoop and it'll work its magic."
Authentic Beauty Concept Replenish Mask
Faith also recently discovered this mask from Authentic Beauty, which she says has quickly become one of her favorites—not to mention her go-to during our current health situation. "Authentic Beauty Concept is a new holistic hair care line with a full range of clean, sustainably-minded products," she explains. "This hair mask is a standout—the brand's celeb hairstylist ambassador, Mara Roszak, says it's her fave, too. It smells amazing—like tropical flowers and sandalwood—and leaves my hair feeling silky-soft. Mara says she'll leave it on all day, which is something I'm going to try next (my thirsty strands definitely need it)."
Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3
Byrdie senior editor Hallie Gould is all about Olaplex. "This product is my hair's saving grace," she says. "Essentially, it finds bonds that have been broken down by various different aggressors—for me, it's hair color and heat tools—and quite literally reconnects them. It reinforces every last strand to create healthier, stronger, more resilient hair with every use. I apply it post-shampoo, brush out my hair, tie it back, and leave it in for a good 24 hours before washing it out. This stuff is magic."
Shu Uemura Ultimate Reset Mask Treatment
When Hallie's hair needs some extra TLC, she reaches for Shu Uemura's Ultimate Reset. "It's hydrating and strengthening at the same time," she says. "It works to bind the hair cuticle and cortex, making everything softer, shinier, and physically stronger. After what I've put my hair through, it deserves a treat every few weeks."
DevaCurl Melt Into Moisture Matcha Butter Conditioning Mask
"Whenever my hair is *really* struggling, this is my go-to," says Byrdie associate social media editor Star Donaldson. "One wash and my hair is hydrated and defined, no matter what it's been through prior. Sometimes I even use a little as a leave-in, which keeps my curl pattern intact better than gels!"
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque
Star also keeps this shea butter masque in her shower at all times. "I mask every time I wet my hair, even if I don't shampoo, and I rely on this one to keep my hair healthy and hydrated almost every wash (or co-wash) day," she says. "Plus, it's affordable and I love that I can pick it up at any Duane Reed or CVS on a whim if I'm running low."
Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner
For senior commerce editor Jessica Mahgerefteh, this product lives up to its name—which is no small feat. "In just three minutes, this deep conditioning treatment eliminates all traces of hair dryness," she explains. "The formula is infused with avocado and Australian jojoba oils, as well as sea kelp to hydrate hair in a way that is—as promised—miraculous. In a weird way, I kind of look forward to the days when my hair feels like straw just so I can have an excuse to use this quickie mask and see immediate results. It also smells great and costs way less than it should, though I’m definitely not complaining about the latter."
IGK EXPENSIVE Hi-Shine Gloss Treatment
"I've noticed a common cycle when it comes to hair masks," says Karli Bendlin, Byrdie's email editor. "I'll get really excited about one, try it a few times, and then stare at it in my shower for the next six months and think, 'I should really use that again.' This one from IGK is the only mask that's broken the mold. Since it's applied in-shower and only needs to be left on for three minutes, I have no excuse not to treat my hair to it a few times a week. It makes my strands so soft, shiny, and—dare I say it—expensive-looking."
Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Oil
This Christophe Robin mask rescued Karli's hair after a long-retired phase where she'd wash, blowdry, and curl her hair every morning. "I eventually realized how much havoc this was wreaking on both my strands and my sleep cycle, but the damage was already done," she says. "This intensely hydrating mask from Christophe Robin saved my hair. I'd leave it in for 30 minutes at a time, and after a couple of months of continued use, my hair regained its softness and texture. I know it's pricey but it lasts forever since you only need to use a little at a time."
Can you use a deep conditioner with regular conditioner?
If you’re someone with very damaged hair, you can totally use both, in fact, it’s advised! Simply, start with a traditional conditioner and follow up with a deep conditioner for extra hydration.
How long should you leave deep conditioner in your hair?
It really depends on what deep conditioner you’re using, so be sure to read the instructions carefully. However, there’s no harm to keeping a hair mask in longer than recommended.
What is the difference between a hair mask and a hair conditioner?
Conditioner serves the hair by providing it sheen and smoothness, whereas hair masks nourish the hair and scalp.