As the weather is getting cooler and the air is getting dryer, I thought now might be a great time to talk about hair masks. I really got into them while pregnant with my second son — my skin was super dry, and my hair seemed to be too — so these are all ones that I’ve bought and tried myself.
(In case it matters, I tend to have fairly fine hair, but a ton of it — and it’s getting curlier each year. It also gets more dry each year, also — handy for making a blowout last for days.)
2022 Mini-Update — many of the masks I mention here are still available; I’ve also thrown in a few of the other best-selling masks to consider in this slider. Another reader favorite: this heated cap to really help your masks absorb!
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Pantene Pro-V Expert Collection AgeDefy Rejuvenating Hydration Hair Masque. I bought this one on a whim while trying to get to free shipping somewhere (Soap.com or Drugstore.com, most likely) and I’ve been happy with it.
It takes much less time than the Burt’s Bees one (3 minutes versus 15-30), and when rinsing it out, my hair feels noticeably different than the others — softer somehow? It’s hard to put my finger on what is different, but I do like this one. 2020 Update: this was sold out for a while but seems to be back!
Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask. I liked this one fine, but it does seem better suited for a salon — you put it on and let it sit for 30 minutes AFTER you shampoo, which strikes me as strange after liking the Burts’ Bees one for so long. It’s $32.49 at Amazon.
Other options I’ve tried for deep conditioning treatments: Aussie’s 3-minute miracle (not bad for the price), or Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner (nice and thick — and while it’s pricey, my 10 oz bottle is lasting forever). When I was really young (and doing swim team) I loved V05 Hot Oil treatments – I may try those again soon.
(Psst: here’s a link to our last discussion of winter hair care for curlies — women with all hair types, do you do anything else different as the weather starts to get colder?)
Readers, do you have any favorite hair masks or treatments that you do at home? Anyone want to demystify some of the “recipes” you see out there (avocado! olive oil! coconut oil! egg! lemon! I’ve been intrigued but have not yet researched.)
Social media picture via Fotolia / Piotr Marcinski.
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I really like the Ojon Damage Reverse one. You apply it to dry hair and let it sit (I do it the night before and put my hair in a bun and sleep on it and then shampoo in the morning). Its pricey and kind of smells strange when its on, but the smell washes out (its not an unpleasant smell, just kind of like sweet coffee, which is strange for a hair product). Its amazing, though!
I’ve tried that one as well and didn’t like it at all (with my fine, curly hair). Plus, after the first use, the rest of the jar took on a weird consistency of little “balls” that didn’t melt.
I go with plain old-fashioned coconut oil- but I’m from India, and I’ve grown up with the weekly ritual of applying oil to my hair every Sunday.
This post reminded me that I’ve been woefully negligent on that front- my grandmother would smack me if she knew, so thanks, Kat!
D’oh. I should add that I have thick, curly hair, and the oil gets put on half an hour before I shampoo my hair.
This sounds lovely and luxurious. I think I’ll have to try it!
Same here. Plain coconut oil, warmed to liquid consistency in my hands, rubbed/applied to ends only, leave in 30 minutes (or overnight), shampoo out normally. I have long, thick, straight/slightly wavy hair with a fine/average texture.
Me too. Can’t recommend coconut oil highly enough.
Same here…plain old coconut oil left overnight on my hair. I miss my aunt now..she would warm up the oil and massage it to my hair and scalp every week. I used to wait for her every Saturday/Sunday to come to our house so that I can get a head and neck massage.
Another plain coconut oil fan…I have thick, frizzy coarse hair and the coconut oil makes my hair more manageable and much easier to straighten. I wash my hair twice a week and before I wash, I let the coconut oil sit on it for about 15-20 minutes. Sometimes I’ll work out with it on my hair so it ends up sitting on there for longer. I just put on a big glob of it and then comb it through. I usually clip my hair up or pin it up in a bun once I have the coconut oil on — and I do whatever I want around the house for a while before I shampoo and condition my hair. I have been doing this for about a year and my hair has never looked better. Interestingly, not only did it help during the winter (dryness) but it also helped out during the summer months when the air was more humid. My hair was much less likely to frizz — something that always drives me crazy, especially with high level client meetings. For once I wasn’t afraid to walk outside or even eat lunch outside on those days!
One note of caution for coconut oil: it may strip your hair color. I absolutely loved using it as others describe when my hair was natural, but lately I’ve been coloring it and only use explicitly color-safe stuff.
The mask I use is L’Oreal Everpure for moisturizing. It’s inexpensive, highly concentrated and has a nice scent.
Does anyone with fine hair use coconut oil? My hair is fine and wavy, which is fine in dry climates but frizzes like crazy going between humid outdoors DC weather and dry inside heat in winter.
I use coconut oil as a pre-shampoo treatment and I have very fine, coily hair.
I love it so much I buy the two pack at Costco. I also use it for my skin (especially in the winter) and for cooking. I get my money’s worth!
I also swear by plain Coconut Oil, the first time I tried it I thought where have you been all my life?!The rationale behind using some of these treatments AFTER you wash the hair is to try and replenish some of the oils that were stripped out by the shampoo. This is also the reason I dilute shampoo in a separate bottle before using it. Some of the homemade recipes I have tried generally consist of adding an ingredient to some conditioner that I already like. It could be oil: even though it works well I sometimes find Coconut oil too greasy so this works. Olive Oil is too thick for my taste. Jojoba Oil is good. I have also tried honey, it’s sticky so don’t attempt to use it on it’s own. Put some in a dish and into the microwave for a 20-30 seconds max–no more! It makes it flow enough so you can mix into the conditioner but not too hot that you risk burning yourself. I thought of this after seeing it listed in some products. Enjoyed the results.
Yay! This is so funny! I just tried a Coconut Oil rinse last winter and it is really good to keep my hair silkey smoothe, particulearly in the winter when my apartement is DRY from the heat. I had my dad install a HUMIDIEFIER to make it easier for me to breath, and it also keeps my hair more manageable at the same time. But with Coconut Oil rinse, my hair looks great. I recomend reading this link on the INTERNET so you can see for yourselfes! YAY!
Mason think’s my hair is nicer then Lynn’s hair, but I told him that he has to take his girlfreind as he find’s her, and there are OBVIOUSLEY other part’s of her that are better for him, and he is NOT ever goeing to be with me anyway b/c he is such a schmoe in court. I am concerned that he is NOT admitted and he is representing CLEINTS, and not that well I am afraid. I think I will tell the manageing partner b/c I do NOT want to be libel for that shmoe messing up with a legal issue. FOOEY!
I’ve actually never done a hair mask.
Long, thick, slightly wavy hair, in a brutually dry winter climate (Minnesota) – My winter tips include: have a humidifier at home (I run my constantly while I’m home, in a small apartment), use a rich moisturizing conditioner (I actually use the same one year round), and I rarely use heat products (usually twist up in a bun to dry and that help smooth it out and add body). I usually try to go 3-4 days between shampoos too.
Erin @ Her Heartland Soul
I’ve never done a hair mask either. I have thin hair but a LOT of it. The problem is all that hair doesn’t add volume but weighs it down and gets oily easy. Ugh. Annoying. Any advice or products?
Mine is also the fine hair, but a lot of it variety. Sorry – mine tends towards the dry side, so I’m only getting the oily roots by day 3 or 4. Have you every tried the boar hair brushes to redistribute the oil throughout the hair? Combined with washing less often to train the oil production?
Dye your hair. It roughs it up a bit, so it’s more voluminous and doesn’t get oily 30 minutes after you shower. I dye mine the same color it naturally is… it sounds kind of stupid, but it works.
+1, me too. Right now my hair is short and it also gets oily easily, so I have to wash it every 1.5 days.
Anyone else with curly hair remember when Cher did infomercials for Lori Davis products back in the 80s? My mom and I totally used the Miracle Worker with the blow dryer bonnet attachment. Ah, memories.
I’ve tried quite a few hair masks, deep conditioners but I’m not allowing myself to try/buy any more until I finish the ones I have. I don’t notice any of them being especially better than the other ones. The problem is the water pressure at my apartment isn’t strong enough to wash this stuff out! Generally, the water pressure is fine for a shower in general, but no matter what I do my hair looks like greasy junk after using it and showering at my apartment. I do use the pre-shampoo treatment though bc the shampoo helps get it out. Sigh. I make sure to bring this stuff while traveling for work bc hotel showers have better pressure. This is what I get for living in a 100yr old building with amazingly cheap rent.
Erin @ Her Heartland Soul
I just read (cannot remember where) that most people don’t rinse out all the conditioner from their hair. The article recommended swapping products and doing conditioner first (just on your ends) and then following with shampoo all over.
I’m not sure how you apply yours, but conditioner or any hair mask never goes above my ears/onto scalp to keep my hair from being a greasy mess. I leave it strictly for the ends or from the ears down. It can still build up in the area on the back of the head between the ears, and I’ve found that pulling up sections to rinse through one at a time is the best when it won’t rinse out easily from water just applied at the top of the head. I also only apply shampoo onto the scalp because I’m not trying to get rid of the oils at the ends, but at the top of my head! I should note, however, that I wash my hair every 3 or so days.
Have you tried rinsing with a mix of water and apple cider vinegar? Fill up a cup and dump it over your head.
I might try this recommendation. In general, I don’t apply around the scalp and it’s actually leaving my ends a disgusting greasy mess :( maybe it isn’t my water pressure but I never had this problem until I moved into this apartment.
I swear by an apple cider vinegar rinse. You just need a splash of the ACV, and dilute it really well. (I’ve got a big 28 ounce cup, and it’s maybe an 1/2 ounce of ACV and full up with water. It’ll burn the heck out of any open wounds, and watch your eyes!) I do it maybe once or twice a week and it gets everything out and really makes my hair just feel so much better.
Along these lines, what are your thoughts on salon vs. drugstore hair products? Last time I got my hair done my stylist asked if I use a deep conditioner. When I told her I use Aussie 3 Minute Miracle, she cringed and said that’s like putting wax on my hair.
I buy salon products at TJMaxx or sometimes online at Amazon.
I mix and match and think it’s fine. I use Head and Shoulders 1-2x week, then either ogx shampoo (drugstore) or Phyto shampoo (not drugstore). I use a mix of ogx, Phyto, and Aussie conditioners. I’m willing to pay for salon products if they’re truly better, but if a drugstore one works I’d rather save the money!
My biggest complain about my hair is that it comes off dull in photos–I don’t have the same color, but I’d love to have a shine like Kate Middleton or Amal Alamuddin. Is a mask like these something that will help? Do I need to do a glaze/gloss (and what’s the difference?) at my salon?
I like shine sprays for that… Aveda used to make one that I loved (brilliant glossing? I think?), there are also a ton of products on amazon for it.
A gloss helps, but for me the biggest thing I’ve noticed is water quality. If you live somewhere that has hard water, it will dull your hair, no matter what you do. I know LUSH used to make a special shampoo for it and I remember using it when I traveled and it did make a difference.
Edit: Whoops, that was me, Jan. Switched to mobile and my name wasn’t saved!
Hmm, that’s interesting. I’m a renter so I don’t know a lot about the city water supply, but the most annual water quality report that mentions water hardness says that ours is considered “moderate” with hardness content between 99 and 187ppm that year. I’m not really sure where that ranks, but I do notice a positive difference when I’m visiting family in another city.
I’m pretty sure that, both of them being in a position where they want to look sleek and put together at a moment’s notice, they get their shine from some kind of fancy keratin treatment in addition to the best hair colouring and gloss that money can buy. They also probably rinse their hair in unicorn tears and powdered diamonds! ;)
I’m in the fine hair but a lot of it category. Used to be oilier, but now the ends get dry and tangley. I use Dry Bar’s Mud Mask once a week (apply while in the shower, wash, shave, etc., then rinse it out followed by shampoo), and it really helps with the tangles and doesn’t weigh my hair down. Sometimes I’ll mix just a bit of it with my regular conditioner (that Moroccan argan oil stuff in the blue bottle with the gold cap) if my ends seem particularly snarly.
It was around $40 a jar and I’ve used maybe half of it over the past year. Probably less, because I knocked it over and spilled some a few weeks ago.
KS IT Chick
I use the JessiCurl suite of products for my thick, wavy-to-curly hair. The daily conditioner is great for every day. Then, when I’ve managed to fry my hair with color (like it is right now), I’ll use what is now called Deep Treatment. When I last bought it, it was called Weekly Deep Conditioning Treatment. It’s a really thick cream that feels more like a good body cream than a conditioner.
I’m someone who colors for myself, not because of what anyone else thinks. I’ve got a weird reverse Dalmatian/Appaloosa dapple pattern to the gray that I’m not happy with, and I want to like my hair. I just have to remember that I can’t actually clean out the fridge or vacuum the living room when I have the colorant on my hair.
I love WEN products, including their Re-Moist Hydrating Mask. I think the directions recommend you use it like the Moroccan Oil mask, applying after shampooing and leaving it on for 30-60 minutes. However, I just apply it to wet hair before I go to bed and wash it out in the morning and it works great. I also swim regularly and use it under my swim cap once or twice a month. I have fine hair that is prone to tangles if it’s over-conditioned, but I don’t have that problem with WEN. My hair also doesn’t feel weighed down or greasy once I wash the Re-Moist out.
WEN also has a line of jojaba oil scalp and hair conditioners that I like. They add other botanicals and scents, but I think drug store jojaba oil would probably yeild similar results. I think it’s a little lighter than using pure coconut oil, so it might work better for those with fine hair who think coconut oil leaves hair greasy.
Seeking advice–I have a very large amount of medium-length, very fine, naturally curly hair. I straighten it almost every day and it straightens well, but takes a long time because I simply have a ton of hair! I haven’t had an issue with dryness until I moved to DC last year (I actually lived somewhere far more humid than DC before, so I think my hair hasn’t taken well to the climate change). The comments about coconut oil are intriguing but I am confused as to how/when to apply it. Thoughts on how to apply coconut oil or some other natural-ish product to moisturize? Bonus points if it helps make my hair easier/quicker to straighten. Any suggestions? Note: I wash my hair daily and that isn’t negotiable because of my workout routine.
I have curly 3b- 4a coarse hair that is very dry and dehydrated.
I have recently started detangling my hair with raw coconut oil before shampooing and it’s really great.
For masks, I am not picky, I take any and add some honey and some olive oil.
When I want to splurge, I either use macadamia hair products or Deva curl hair products.
Both are amazing but my hair typically needs tons of products so it adds up.
I’ve noticed it’s not so much my hair that gets dry, but my scalp. Like some of the others I have fine straight hair but tons of it, so I worry about lack of volume. I’ve started using Lush’s Roots just on my scalp (leave on about 20 mins) then shower. I can use very minimal conditioner after shampooing and my hair is so soft. Plus it helps with the dry scalp.