While the onset of winter might signal the coming of turkey and tinsel, it also means drier air and drier hair. But just because fallen leaves crunching beneath your boots is a natural part of winter, it doesn’t mean that crunchy, brittle hair has to be too. Even if you already use conditioner, winter requires a little more effort. So, to keep your hair looking as lush as possible, you want to use a deep conditioning hair mask.
Choosing a hair mask can seem nearly as impossible as choosing the right secret santa gift for your new boss. There are hundreds of options, and choosing the wrong one might be disastrous. But don’t worry. This buying guide will help you cut through the junk and choose the best hair mask for you. If you still find yourself stuck, at the end, we’ve also got a list of our ten favorites for you to start your search. That secret santa gift though? That’s all on you.
How to Choose a Deep Conditioning Hair Mask – Buying Guide
There’s a bunch of good–great–hair masks on the market, but that’s not the issue here. You have different hair from your friends, your co-workers, your boss, even your parents, and what works for them might not work for you. So let’s talk about how to choose a hair mask that will match up with you.
Your Hair Type Decides What Kind of Ingredients You Need
We’re all aware that when it comes to quality beauty products, you want a short ingredients list filled mostly with recognizable ingredients—no dyes, artificial fragrances, or parabens. For hair masks meant to moisturize, the first ingredient should be water. As for the rest of the ingredients, your hair type will determine what they will be.
For Dry, Frizzy, or Curly Hair, Look for Oil-Based Products with Jojoba and Shea Butter
Dry, frizzy hair can be the bane of your existence, and doubly so when temperatures start to drop. So in order to lock moisture in, focus on oil-based products. If your hair is lighter and straighter, go for oils like jojoba and sesame. If you have heavier, more textured hair, don’t be afraid to go after thicker oils like coconut and shea.
Likewise, the key to taming curly or wavy hair is moisture. Hair with a little more volume tends to be drier than straight hair, so it’s especially important to focus on products made for your hair type. Look for hydrating oils like castor and olive. Even if your hair is on the thinner side, these heavier oils will help to define curls and keep your hair looking healthy.
For any texture though, you can’t go wrong looking for hydrating ingredients like coconut milk and aloe vera.
For Color-Treated Hair, Protein Will Strengthen Strands
No matter your hair type, if your hair is color-treated, you’ll very likely need some extra moisture, doubly so if it’s been bleached. However, not just any ingredients will work, as some might strip color, and it’s especially important for you to avoid sulfates for just that reason.
As a general rule of thumb, keep an eye out for products designed for color-treated hair. As for specific ingredients to look for, linseed extract will help you to preserve melanin if you’ve gone darker. Protein-rich formulas will also strengthen strands and prevent brassiness.
For Oily or Thin Hair, Look for Light, Clarifying Formulas
It may feel counterproductive, but even those with oily or thin hair can benefit from a deep conditioning hair mask. Of course, heavy moisturizers can weigh down thin hair and make oily hair look greasy.
Instead, you want to look for lighter, more clarifying formulas that will hydrate your ends without blocking up your scalp. Apple cider vinegar is a great ingredient to look for.
How Often and How Long You Use the Mask Depends on the Kind of Finish You Want
One of the things that separates a hair mask from a normal conditioner is that masks are meant to be left on your hair longer. Depending on the mask, you might leave it in for just five minutes or as long as overnight. Again, which end of the spectrum you fall on largely depends on your hair type.
If you have thinner, straighter hair, you won’t need the mask to stay in for very long, and up to ten minutes once a week would work great. Those with drier, more textured hair, on the other hand, will require more time to let the moisture sink in. That could even mean leaving it in overnight, applying heat to help the formula penetrate into your strands, or using a mask several times a week.
Aside from hair type, you should also consider schedule when checking how long a mask should stay on. If you don’t have time to let your hair rest for an hour a week, pick a lower time-commitment option instead.
Top 10 Deep Conditioning Hair Masks to Buy Online
So now that you know how to tell what kind of deep conditioning hair mask would work best for you, here’s a list of our ten favorites to help you get started on your search.
10. Vitamins Hair Cosmetics Keratin Hair Mask
Strengthening Keratin Formula for Dry, Thin Hair
This hair mask was designed with thin hair in mind. Instead of heavy oils like coconut or castor, this mask features argan and wheat germ oil for hydration and keratin extract for strength. It revives your hair, adds bounce and shine, and, best of all, doesn’t weigh it down.
This mask should be applied all over your hair with emphasis on dry ends. It’s recommended that you leave it in for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it out. However, you do need quite a bit of it, so if you have longer hair you might find yourself going through the container in less than 10 uses.
9. Nature’s Potent Argan Oil Hair Mask
Repair For Heat- and Color-Damaged Hair
This conditioning hair mask uses argan oil, almond oil, and hydrolyzed silk to repair hair shafts and hydrate strands. It prevents breakage and promotes growth, giving you thicker, stronger hair. It can be used for all hair types but is especially helpful for those with brittle hair or damage from heat and color.
This mask is meant to be used once or twice a week and left on for up to 15 minutes, though it can be used more often for longer periods (up to overnight) if you feel that it’s necessary. That being said, this may not be best for those with more sensitive skin as it contains quite a bit of added fragrance.
8. Carol’s Daughter Sacred Tiare Restoring Hair Mask
Restorative, Frizz-Taming Mask
This mask is designed for damaged, frizzy, and unruly hair and is suitable for all hair types, though it may be heavy for those with very thin hair. Featuring coconut oil, shea butter, and moringa, it is paraben-free and contains no artificial colors. It calms frizz, detangles, and adds shine to your hair.
Made in the USA, this mask is meant to be used once a week for up to ten minutes–with or without heat. For those in need of a little extra love, leaving it in overnight will help to give you even more moisture. On the other hand, if you just need a small hydration boost, it can also be used in place of a normal conditioner.
7. Eva NYC Therapy Sessions Hair Mask
Use This As a Daily Conditioner, 5-Minute, or All-Night Mask
This hair mask features protein and argan oil to both strengthen and moisturize. It leaves hair feeling soft and bouncy and works on most hair types, though for those with thinner, less dry hair, it’s best to use it only on the tips to prevent your scalp from becoming too greasy.
It’s great for those who prefer a more minimalist routine as it can be used as a daily conditioner or left in for just a couple minutes. But if you want to go all-out, please feel free. The container is a huge 16.9 fluid ounces, and its thick formula means that a little goes a long way. Even with daily use, you’re not likely to run out anytime soon.
6. Burt’s Bees Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment
Great for Those With Oily Hair
This pre-shampoo hair treatment from skincare giant Burt’s Bees is perfect for those with oily or thin hair who still want to ensure their locks stay hydrated. Featuring avocado, olive, and almond oils, it leaves your hair feeling silky, strong, and healthy.
As its name suggests, this treatment is meant to be used before shampooing, and it’s recommended that you keep it on for fifteen minutes. Not just for those with oily hair, it’s also great for those who want even more moisture in their routine. That being said, the tube is rather small, and if you have long hair, you can go through the bottle fairly quickly.
5. Neutrogena Deep Recovery Hair Mask
Super Moisturizing for the Driest Hair
This hair mask is formulated to penetrate deep into the hair strand. Its three main oils–olive, meadowfoam, and sweet almond oil–are tasked with reaching three different layers of the strand. Naturally, this mask is best for those with extra dry or damaged hair and works with all textures.
This mask is meant to be used weekly and left in for just 3-5 minutes, which is great for those who are short on time. Depending on your needs though, it can also be used as a normal conditioner or as an overnight leave-in mask. However, you need to remember that this is a heavy mask, so straighter, thinner hair requires less time.
4. MopTop Deep Conditioner
Formulated for Waves, Kinks, and Curls
This deep conditioning mask is formulated to add bounce and definition to textured hair and keep your hair as healthy as it can be. Instead of water as the first ingredient, this mask features aloe vera to add extra moisture to the porous strands of wavy curly hair.
As this formula is super hydrating, how long you keep it in and how often you should use it depends on your hair’s needs. For those who need extra deep penetration, it can even be used under heat or overnight. And you don’t have to worry about using too much. A little goes a long way, and with daily use as a conditioner, one container can last up to three months.
3. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Mask
For Sensitive Skin and Moisture-Starved Hair
This mask is made from organic shea and castor oil and enriched with peppermint and apple cider vinegar. It’s formulated to moisturize and strengthen textured, processed, and heat-damaged hair, although even those with thin, straight hair have had good results.
While this mask is highly effective, it might not fit into your routine–it’s meant to be used for 10-15 minutes under heat or for an hour without. That being said, however, you don’t have to worry about the long sit time irritating your skin as it has no sulfates or parabens and is gentle on sensitive skin.
2. ecoLove Vegan Blueberry, Grape, and Lavender Hair Mask
100% Vegan With a Light, Silky Finish
Aside from being vegan, this hair mask is also free from parabens, SLS, petrochemicals, and alcohols. Instead, it contains blueberry, grape, and lavender extracts to strengthen dry, colored, or damaged hair. This mask leaves you with a soft, silky finish and is great for those who want a more subtle healthy look.
This mask can be left on for as little as five minutes, and its effects and scent will still last you all day. Although the lavender fragrance is all natural, if you’re sensitive to smells, this may not be the right mask for you. A little goes a long way with this mask, and the container is sure to last you months.
1. TruePure Natural Hair Mask
Natural Mask for All Hair Types
This hair mask is designed for use on all hair types–curly, straight, dry, or oily. Using argan, coconut, and jojoba oil, it’s rich and moisturizing without being heavy or greasy. This mask is free of sulfates, parabens, and fragrances, scented instead with mild oils. Plus, it’s also cruelty-free.
Unlike many others, this mask is meant to be used concentrated at the roots rather than the ends. And although that might be a little scary for those with oily hair, it washes out clean after just a 3-5 minute resting period, leaving the most important part of your hair strong and ready to grow.
So there you have it! Hopefully, decoding hair mask bottles will be an easier task now, and you’ll be able to find one that works perfectly for you in no time.
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