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What do hair masks do?

When your hair’s looking dull, feeling dry or not as smooth and shiny as you’d like it to be, a hair mask is the best remedy. This product is an intensive conditioner designed to nourish and moisturize hair and repair damage. Hair masks are available for a range of hair types and needs.

You can buy hair masks ready to use or make them yourself at home. Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to choose the right mask for your hair. 

Who needs hair masks?

People who have dry or damaged hair can benefit the most from hair masks. Hair masks are moisture-rich and can sink into the follicle to nourish hair damaged by heat or hair dye. Other people prefer to use these products preventively, to keep their hair in the smooth and shiny condition it’s already in. Unless your hair verges on the greasy side, you can use a hair mask.

Hair mask benefits

Hair masks have multiple positive effects on your hair. They include: 

  • Hair masks leave your hair softer and shiner
  • Using hair masks can moisturize dry hair
  • Some hair masks can mask the appearance of split ends and reduce breakage
  • Your hair may be stronger and your scalp healthier after using a hair mask
  • By moisturizing hair, masks can reduce frizz and stray hairs

How to use a hair mask

Hair masks are straightforward to use but require more time than you’d usually spend washing your hair. Start by shampooing your hair as usual. This removes dirt and grease that might get in the way of the mask thoroughly soaking into the shaft of the hair. Shampooing also opens up the hair cuticles so the mask can penetrate better. 

Then, squeeze your hair after rinsing out the shampoo, but don’t dry it. Now apply the mask to your hair, making sure to comb it into the strands with your fingers, so you don’t miss any sections. If your hair is often limp or you want extra volume, avoid the roots, starting around midway down the length of the hair. 

Goody Ouchless Womens Elastic Thick Hair Tie

Wait around 20-30 minutes for the hair mask to work its magic. If your hair is dried, you can leave your hair mask on overnight. You may want to use a hair tie to put your hair up and out of the way while you wait. After the designated amount of time, rinse out the mask and dry your hair as usual.

Moisturizing hair mask ingredients

If you want to make your hair mask, there are a few nourishing ingredients you should include. You can also look out for these ingredients in store-bought hair masks. 

Olive oil

Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil is an excellent natural moisturizer and is excellent for homemade masks as it’s readily available in practically any grocery store — in fact, you probably already have some in your kitchen. It contains squalene, which is also naturally produced by our bodies to moisturize our skin and hair, so it’s great for hair masks.

Avocado oil

While any oil can help moisturize hair, avocado oil is rich in nutrients like folic acid, iron and magnesium, which can help boost your hair health.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a favorite among people who make their hair masks and other beauty products since it’s solid or semi-solid at room temperature, making it less messy to work with. It’s also one of the best oils for penetrating the hair shaft due to its low molecular weight. 

Shea butter

Majestic Pure Shea Butter

Fat extracted from the shea nut tree; shea butter is another common ingredient in hair masks due to its excellent moisturizing properties. Like coconut oil, it’s solid at room temperature, so it’s easy to handle.

Aloe vera

Aloderma Pure Aloe Vera Gel

Anti-inflammatory aloe vera is a quality hair mask ingredient for anyone with a dry or itchy scalp. It’s easy to find aloe vera gel to add to homemade hair masks.


Bananas contain silica, which helps make hair softer and shinier. It’s rarely found in commercial hair masks, but it’s easy to mash or blend into a homemade hair mask. 

The best hair masks

Pureology Hydrate Superfood Treatment Hair Mask

Pureology Hydrate Superfood Treatment Hair Mask

This mask is designed to hydrate and soften hair and contains a range of moisturizing ingredients, including avocado oil and coconut oil. It’s a good choice for dry, color-treated hair.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty, Amazon and Sephora

Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino and Avocado Hair Mask for Curly Hair

Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino and Avocado Hair Mask for Curly Hair

Made for people with curly hair, this mask nourishes, hydrates and improves curl definition. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty

Coco & Eve Like a Virgin Hair Masque

Coco & Eve Like a Virgin Hair Masque

Its impressive moisturizing properties make this mask excellent for anyone struggling with dry hair. It helps treat split ends and smooth any unwanted frizziness.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty and Amazon

Verb Hydrating Hair Mask

Verb Hydrating Hair Mask

This mask is suitable for all hair types and can nourish hair and repair damage. Ingredients such as babassu oil leave hair softer and glossier.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty, Amazon and Sephora


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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