8 Best Hair Masks for Damaged Hair
If you've over-styled, treated, colored or otherwise processed your mane, these nourishing hair masks are here to help.
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It’s easy to damage your hair with over-processing, excessive hot tool use or simply neglecting it too long. Fortunately, it’s easier than you think to repair damage with these nourishing hair masks. Using one won’t just help your tresses, either—it also elevates your whole appearance, since having gorgeous, healthy hair is one of the style secrets of women who always look put together.
“Damaged hair tends to be dry and frizzy,” explains Felicia Dosso, a hair colorist at New York City’s Nunzio Saviano Salon. “Hair masks are extremely moisturizing and will counteract that dryness, but only if you are diligent about using them. I recommend using these at least once a week and really focusing on the most damaged areas.” Commit to five to 10 minutes a week of deep hydration and even the most blowout-abused hair will look and feel softer, shinier and healthier.
The best part? These at-home treatments are literally quick-fix hair helpers, and they’re simple enough for anyone to use correctly. Seriously, you can’t mess this up. Also check out our list of the best shampoos for every hair type, because a mask is only as good as the rest of your hair routine.
Best overall hair mask
It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask
File this miracle number under the best hair masks, especially for those with over-processed hair. When an excess of chemical treatments cause a dry and brittle mane, this lightweight “miracle” product is your salvation. “This drugstore mask is my favorite, and a little goes a long way,” says Dosso.
With its generous dose of fats and vitamins, it beautifully conditions hair, leaving it soft, smooth and frizz-free. It can be rinsed out or left in, depending on your hair’s texture and level of required repair, and perhaps best of all, it helps to seal and preserve hair color. For more drugstore favorites, check out these under-$15 cheap shampoos stylists use on their own hair.
- Ideal for all hair types
- Improves the look of colored strands
- Repairs over-processed follicles
- Doubles as a leave-in conditioner and rinse out treatment
- Some reviewers say the 8-ounce container doesn’t last long (especially with thick hair)
Best hair mask for oily scalps
Matcha Green Tea & Wild Apple Blossom Butter Masque
For those with an oily scalp, it can feel like a no-win situation: You need to wash your hair frequently to keep grease at bay, but over-washing can lead to over-styling, and, ultimately, damaged hair. The solution? This delicious-sounding detoxifying treatment provides a clean, oil-free scalp while also deeply conditioning and strengthening strands.
The rinse-out formula is ideal for hair that’s typically weighed down by heavier hair masks, and it’s affordable enough to keep in regular rotation. It’s also extremely easy to use: Massage into clean wet hair, leave on for two to five minutes then wash out. Use it with one of the best shampoos for oily hair and every day will be a good hair day.
- Detoxifies hair prone to greasiness
- Works on all hair textures
- Silicone-, sulfate-, paraben- and dye-free
- Affordable (under $10!)
- Some reviewers didn’t love the floral scent
Best splurge-worthy hair mask
K18 Hair Mask
If you think you’re too busy to bother with hair masks, think again. This bond-building peptide mask is a leave-in treatment that reverses damage from bleach, chemicals and heat in just four minutes. Yes, you read that right—it takes just four minutes to activate (no rinse needed). Associate Shopping Editor, Madi Koetting, was recommended the K18 hair mask after her strands were brittle and weighed down from bleach treatments.
“This mask saved my color-damaged curls,” enthuses Koetting. Just beware: There’s no need to apply conditioner. As tempting as it may be to use, K18 can’t work its magic unless hair cuticles are left unbothered. “It feels weird skipping conditioner, but trust me, K18 leaves strands more moisturized and happy than conditioner alone,” she explains.
- Takes just two to three pumps to soak in, and only four minutes to activate
- Long-lasting bottle with 50 doses
- Leave-in treatment provides lasting results that don’t wash away
- Formulated for all hair types, working particularly well on medium and thick hair
- On the pricey side
- Takes up to a four to six uses to see results
Best for heat or chemically styled hair
Keratin Intense Hair Mask
This keratin-boosting mask is ideal for all hair types, especially if you use a hair dryer, iron or straightening comb to style strands. It’s also specifically formulated to protect and prolong keratin treatments. It restores, nourishes and strengthens hair with real keratin, protecting follicles against breakage and damage. This jar of in-shower goodness only takes a few minutes to use and leaves hair silky smooth and easier than ever to straighten with your favorite hot tools (or in-salon chemical treatment, we don’t judge!).
Another reason it earns a spot on our best hair masks list: There’s not so much as a drop of harmful sodium chloride salt. If you’re wondering what that even is, it’s a popular ingredient in many shampoo, conditioner and mask formulas that actually strips hair of natural moisture-binding keratin and all but destroys expensive hair treatments.
- Prolongs keratin and straightening treatments
- Formula forms a protective coating that smooths hair
- Sodium- and chloride-free
- Ideal for people who regularly use hot tools
- Some reviewers found the scent overpowering
- Some thick and curly hair reviewers say it weighs down their strands
Best for color-treated hair
Shea Butter Deep Moisturizing Masque
Award-winning hair colorist Sherry Ratay warns: If you color-treat your hair, steer clear of silicone-based products. “This ingredient expels hair color right off the cuticle layer, which results in diminished color vibrancy and poor longevity,” she says. Silicones are commonly found in hair-care products of all types, so be sure to read the label before you buy.
One that is proudly silicone-free: Shea Moisture’s Deep Moisturizing Masque, an ultra-rich buttery formula with certified organic raw shea butter, sea kelp, argan oil and aloe. It’s a deeply nourishing mask for those with weak and overly-processed hair. And FIY: Here’s how to find the best hair color for your skin tone.
- Natural and nourishing ingredients ideal for color-treated hair
- Moisturizes curls
- Free of silicones, parabens and phthalates
- Deep conditioning method takes up to 30 minutes, which is time consuming
- Formula may be too thick for thin hair
Best moisture-boosting hair mask
Remilia Green Coco Hair Mask
For days when hair needs a major moisture-boost, turn to Remilia Hair’s Green Coco Mask. Packed with avocado oil, coconut oil and green tea extract, it adds a seal of hydration on dry and damaged strands. It’s also a Reader’s Digest editor-favorite. Madi Koetting uses the hair mask weekly.
She says: “I love that it can be used as a deep conditioning treatment or fast-acting hair mask. When I have extra time, I leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes and see a noticeable, shiny difference. Even when applied for five to 10 minutes my curls are less frizzy.” You can also try these genius ways to style frizzy hair and these top frizzy hair products.
- Antioxidant-rich formula restores moisture to dry strands
- Green tea extract promotes hair growth
- Safe for all hair types
- For best results, it may require leaving on for 20 to 30 minutes
Best hair mask for sensitive scalps
No Nothing Repair Conditioner
This allergen-free conditioning formula is loaded with hydrating ingredients and does double duty as a regular conditioner or a hair mask. The paraben-free pick is ideal for those with sensitive scalps. Parabens rank among the most toxic everyday beauty ingredients you might not even realize are in many of your products. It’s also gluten-free, vegan, fragrance-free and cruelty-free, so you can feel extra good about slathering it on your head.
Ratay says the best way to make the most of your mask is by adding some heat. “After you shampoo the hair, towel dry and then apply enough of your favorite hair mask to saturate the mid-lengths and ends,” she advises. Take a heated towel and wrap the hair for 10 to 20 minutes for a relaxing home spa day experience. Ratay promises: “Your hair will thank you!”
- No hidden chemicals or irritating ingredients
- Soothes sensitive scalps
- Strengthens weak hair
- Some reviewers note it’s not ideal for detangling
Best travel hair mask
Davines The Renaissance Circle
It’s hard to find quality hair masks in travel-friendly sizes, but that’s not the only reason we love Davines’ The Renaissance Circle. This single-portion mask for brittle and overworked hair leaves strands silky smooth, shiny and smelling the way you’d expect the air in a fantasy novel to be scented. Bonus: The packaging is pretty gorgeous, too. It’s a cult-favorite product stylists swear by, thanks to proven ingredients. Travel sizes are also the perfect way to test out hair masks before investing in pricier full-size versions.
- Travel-friendly 1.69-ounce pouch
- Repairs brittle hair
- Only lasts up to five washes, depending on hair thickness and length
- Felicia Dosso, hair colorist at Nunzio Saviano Salon
- Sherry Ratay, award-winning hair colorist
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