The best hair mask for your hair type: dry, damaged, frizzy and more

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  • Our best hair mask selection will help you go from dry, dull and unmanageable to smooth, shiny and silky.

    When your regular conditioner just isn’t cutting it, hair masks can provide intensive hydration. These deep-conditioning treatments absorb into the hair shaft, with formulas that are more concentrated and richer in texture than regular conditioner. Whether you’re looking to get rid of frizzy hair, enhance your colour, boost shine or repair hair damage caused by colour chemicals and heat styling, there’s a mask that will make you feel as if you’ve just walked out of the salon. 

    You probably know the basics of how to wash your hair, but how does a hair mask fit into your regular shower routine? Aim to use a hair mask once or twice a week, and leave it on for at least five minutes. “Towel dry the hair and bring the product through the mid-lengths and ends,” says celebrity hairdresser Lee Stafford. “Use a brush or comb to ensure product is evenly distributed and each strand of hair is bathed in product – leave on for the recommended time and then rinse well.”

    To compile this list of the best hair masks, we considered a number of factors, looking at everything from scent to texture, and of course, the impact on our hair. Our top ten includes pricier salon favourites with cutting-edge ingredients and great value formulas you can pick up from the supermarkets that have amassed great consumer reviews. The best hair mask will make every day a good hair day, with results that you can see and feel – and these are our favourites. 

    What to consider when looking for the best hair mask

    • Active ingredients: We looked for proteins such as Keratin and Wheat Proteins to strengthen weak hair. Hyaluronic acid, a moisture-binding molecule commonly found in skincare, is now cropping up in hair care products, designed to load dry hair with moisture. 
    • Hair concern: Certain formulas are geared towards certain hair types and concerns. We’ve considered this so that those who suffer with oily roots and fine hair should select a pre-shampoo treatment to avoid weighing hair down. On the other hand, curly hair will benefit from nourishing ingredients like avocado butter and olive oil.
    • Cruelty-free: More and more beauty brands have realised that testing on animals is not a humane or sustainable practice. We’re keen to select products from brands that follow this ethos.
    • Packaging: Hair masks usually come in tubs so you can easily scoop out just the right amount for your hair type. It also means you can ensure every last drop of treatment is used, as opposed to squeeze bottles that always retain some product. And of course, sustainability is a serious concern – anything that is non-recyclable is a no-no for us.

    The best hair mask for your hair type

    1. L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hydra Hyaluronic 72H Moisture Wrapping Mask

    Best hair mask for dry hair

    L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hydra Hyaluronic 72H Moisture Wrapping Mask

    Credit: L’Oréal Paris

    Active ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid | Hair type: Dehydrated hair | Cruelty-free: Yes (Vegan formula) | Packaging: Recyclable

    Hyaluronic acid is one of the most popular ingredients in skincare. Revered for its ability to hold 1000 times its weight in water. That canny ability to attract moisture has a powerful plumping effect on the skin. So it’s no surprise that it’s cropping up in shampoos and conditioners to target the dry, brittle feeling that accompanies thirsty hair.

    This mask utilises Hyaluronic Acid and its moisture-drenching capacity to hydrate hair before it becomes damaged. The challenge here is that Hyaluronic Acid can’t actually penetrate the hair fibre like it does your skin, so instead it wraps each strand with moisture so damaged hair feels healthier and plumper.

    “When hair is heavily treated, it starts to become damaged, the cuticles open, and the hair fibre becomes rough and uneven,” explains L’Oréal Paris Global Scientific Director, Elisabeth Bouhadana. “Ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, which have a good affinity for the hair fibre, actually ‘wrap’ the hair with caring moisture. This protects the hair fibre from the effects of friction and from becoming brittle.” This magic mask claims to leave hair feeling ten times more hydrated for 72 hours, which is impressive. It’s incredibly lightweight, and has a silky consistency that won’t weigh hair down – even fine hair types. Hair feels softer and swishier from the first 3-minute treatment, and lasts all the way to the next wash.

    VIEW NOW – BOOTS | £7.99

    2. Philip Kingsley Elasticizer

    Best hair mask for oily hair

    Philip Kingsley Elasticizer

    Credit: Philip Kingsley

    Active ingredients: Hydrolyzed Elastin, Castor Oil, Olive Oil, Glycerin | Hair type: Very dry, brittle or damaged hair | Cruelty-free: Yes | Packaging: 100% Recyclable

    The name of this iconic tub could not sum up its effect on the hair any better. It puts the stretch and elasticity back into weakened hair so it feels stronger and healthier. Very few beauty products can boast a 40-year reign in people’s bathrooms. It was originally created for Audrey Hepburn, after frequent styling and colouring left her hair damaged and in need of a moisture fix that wouldn’t weigh her fine hair down.

    Cue the genius pre-shampoo concept. Your average hair mask goes on after shampoo, taking the place of conditioner once or twice a week. Instead, this mask is used for 20 minutes before shampoo, which is good for two reasons. Firstly, pre-shampoo treatments are formulated with a higher concentration of active ingredients than most hair masks. Secondly, it means even fine, oily hair can benefit from all of the nourishment without looking lank and weighed down. The hero ingredient is hydrolysed elastin, which helps hair to stretch without snapping. The results are fantastic – hair feels moisturised, soft and strong. And you’ll be glad to know, there isn’t a hint of greasiness.

    3. Lee Stafford Hair Growth Activation Treatment

    Best hair mask for hair growth

    Lee Stafford Hair Growth Activation Treatment

    Credit: Lee Stafford

    Active ingredients: Plant-based Lupine Seed Protein, Vegetable Protein, fruit extracts | Hair type: All hair types | Cruelty-free: Yes | Packaging: Recyclable

    If you struggle with hair that won’t get past your shoulders, or perhaps you’ve had a disastrous cut at the salon, this treatment will spur hair on. On average hair grows half an inch every month but this can be affected by colour chemicals, excessive heat styling, lack of nutrition in your diet and poor scalp health.

    “I am the biggest advocate for this hair mask,” explains Beauty Editor, Rhiannon Derbyshire. “I was desperate for Kardashian-calibre length for my wedding day but that plan was almost scuppered by a pre-wedding hair cut, which resulted in inches, not millimetres, on the floor. After diligently slathering the mask on every week, it really worked to reinstate the lost length.” This mask is loaded with a nutritions combination of proteins, fruit extracts and a natural peptide, which work together to create a healthy environment for hair to grow to its maximum potential. All you do is scoop out an egg-sized amount, and apply it to the roots then sweep down to the ends. Make sure you rinse it out thoroughly to avoid lanky roots.

    “This isn’t an overnight fix,” warns Rhiannon, “but if you’ve got a few months the results are noticeable. I have come back to this mask after having both my children when postpartum hair loss left me with tufts around the parting and hairline. Those tufts, you’ll be glad to hear, are a lot less sticky-outy and more manageable thanks to this.”

    4. Garnier Ultimate Blends Plumping Hair Food Watermelon & Pomegranate 3-in-1 Hair Mask

    Best hair mask for thin hair

    Garnier Ultimate Blends Plumping Hair Food Watermelon & Pomegranate 3-in-1 Hair Mask

    Credit: Garnier

    Active ingredients: Watermelon extract, Pomegranate | Hair type: Fine hair | Cruelty-free: Yes | Packaging: Recyclable 

    Those with fine and thin hair may baulk at the idea of using a hair mask. Period. The richly-packed formulas of traditional hair masks seem counterintuitive to full, bouncy locks. And many weigh heavily on fine hair, making thin hair look even thinner. This one, however, is specifically designed to pad out thin hair. And it seems many of us are on the quest for extra body and bounce. According to the UK Haircare & Styling U&A Report 2020, lack of volume is consumers number one hair concern. 

    This one is brimming with watermelon extract, pomegranate and good-for-hair nutrients that loads fine hair with juicy moisture without dragging it down. In a blind usage test from January 2019, 81% agreed the range (which also includes shampoo and conditioner) gave body to hair. The melt-in texture of the mask is versatile too – it can be used as a straight-up conditioner, as a rinse-out hair mask or a leave-in conditioner.

    5. Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector

    Best hair mask for frizzy hair

    Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector

    Credit: Olaplex

    Active ingredients: Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate | Hair type: All hair types, especially damaged | Cruelty-free: Yes | Packaging: Recyclable

    Healthy hair should have movement. If yours is more like straw, with broken and brittle strands, this intensive treatment can help repair damage. Designed for colour-treated, over-processed hair, it mends the broken bonds of each strand. It was originally only available in salons. Often used after colour was applied, but this isn’t just a treatment for bleached hair. If your hair is damaged, frizzy or compromised in any way, this will reinstate a soft, silky feel.

    Many fans leave this on overnight to really up the silky, strengthening ante. This is because it’s more of a treatment than a deep conditioner. So the longer you leave it on, the more effective it will be. But as long as you leave it on for a minimum of 10 minutes, it’s going to get to work.  As one reviewer said, “It made my hair shiny and super soft without weighing it down. Eliminated any trace of frizz. Blow drying my hair was easy and the result was smooth, bouncy and healthy looking hair.”

    6. Lush Revive Hair Moisturiser

    Best hair mask for curly hair

    Lush Revive Hair Moisturiser

    Credit: Lush

    Active ingredients: Oat Milk, Avocado Butter, Fair Trade Olive Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil | Hair type: Curly and natural texture | Cruelty-free: Yes | Packaging: Made from 100% post consumer plastic*

    Since 2020, Lush has sold around 3.25 million pots of this indulgent hair treatment. It’s not hard to imagine why it’s been so successful. First of all, we have to mention the scent. As soon as you open the lid, you’re going to be completely intoxicated by the beautiful scent. Happily, this aroma does linger on the hair for a good couple of days after washing. 

    Curly and natural textured hair types are more prone to breakage and require plenty of moisture to fortify hair strands and prevent frizz. Curls, coils and kinks will drink up this avocado butter and olive oil blend. Both ingredients are well-renowned for being friendly to curly hair.

    As Beauty Editor at GoodTo, I was tasked with trying this cult buy. “I have wavy hair that looks a bit nothing-y if I don’t do anything with it. Used as a hair mask, this formula certainly helped my waves look more defined. I went to bed with slightly damp hair (usually a huge beauty no-no for me!) but I was pleasantly surprised to wake up with hair that looked glossy and more wavy without having to reach for the tongs. I topped up on day two by applying some of the moisturiser to dry hair, through the lengths and ends, which my hair soaked up immediately without leaving a hint of tackiness.”

    *As part of Lush’s Bring it Back scheme, customers can bring back any full-sized Lush plastic packaging to their local Lush shop to be recycled, and customers will receive a 50p deposit to spend on their Lush basket that day. 

    VIEW NOW – LUSH | £14

    7. Chris Appleton + Color Wow Money Masque

    Best hair mask for straight hair

    Chris Appleton + Colow Wow Money Masque

    Credit: Color Wow

    Active ingredients: Blue Sea Kale, Mediterranean Algae | Hair type: All hair types | Cruelty-free: Yes | Packaging: Recyclable

    Money Masque is the first collaboration between celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton (his clients include Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez) and Color Wow – maker of hair products you didn’t know you needed and then subsequently can’t live without. The mask is applied from root to tip. Then combed through and left on for anywhere between a few minutes to half an hour. It has a unique buttery-gel consistency that is able to penetrate deep down into the hair cuticle and cortex. This repairs from the inside-out using a cocktail of Blue Sea Kale, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein Complex, and a Mediterranean Sea Kelp/Algae Blend, which deliver long-lasting hydration.

    The scent really struck me – it smells ‘expensive’ – fresh and floral and natural – not too synthetic,” explains Beauty Director, Sarah Cooper-White. “I applied it to the lengths and ends of my hair and left it on for 5 minutes before rinsing out thoroughly. I didn’t actually comb it through (as I couldn’t be bothered and who has the time for that!). But when I rinsed it out I could tell immediately how ultra conditioning it is as my hair felt sleek and tangle-free even though wet. My straight hair brushed through like a dream and once I had blow dried it it was so silky smooth and frizz free. Plus it had amazing shine. If your hair is dry and frazzled then this will really make a difference.”

    8. Kérastase Chroma Absolu Masque Chroma Filler

    Best hair mask for coloured hair

    Kérastase Chroma Absolu Masque Chroma Filler

    Credit: Kérastase

    Active ingredients: Lactic acid, Amino acid, Centella Asiatica | Hair type: Coloured hair | Cruelty-free: Yes | Packaging: Made from 95% recycled plastic – other 5% makes for the dyes and additives to the bottles. 

    When hair is dyed, the chemicals have to lift the cuticle and break down the natural pigment in order for the colour molecules to take hold. This process changes the structure of the strands. And if done repeatedly will leave hair fragile, prone to frizz and susceptible to damage. Enter Kérastase. Their Chroma Absolu Masque supports the hair fibre to fill the porosity that is caused by colouring. Additionally preventing the damaging effect of hair dye. A welcome side effect of fortifying the hair is that your hair colour is preserved for longer.

    “With more and more clients wanting lightness through the ends of the hair, it can be damaging as the lengths are the most fragile,” explains Patrick Wilson, Kérastase expert and celebrity hairstylist. “The roots are new and are often stronger than the lengths and ends, and this is why it’s so important to look after your hair, especially if you have balayage/highlights and you’re using extra heat to style afterwards.

    The new Chroma Absolu Chroma Filler Masque is a product that is going to help in those areas that need it the most,” he adds. “It’s specifically designed to target and fill in sensitised or damaged parts of the hair, making your colour last for longer and locking in that shine and luminosity.” The fragrance alone is worth the splurge. Meticulously crafted with top, middle and base notes just like the best perfumes of all time, it boasts a beautiful floral aroma with neroli, freesia and musk. These lingers on the hair for days after washing, as does the mask’s gloss-boosting, silkifying effect on the hair.

    9. Bleach London Reincarnation Mask

    Best hair mask for bleached hair

    Bleach London Reincarnation Mask

    Credit: Bleach London

    Active ingredients: Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein | Hair type: Coloured and chemically-treated | Cruelty-free: Yes | Packaging: Tube and cap not widely recycled – accepted through selected Terracycle programs.

    Blondes may have more fun, but bleaching agents are the opposite of fun for hair health. This mask injects the spring and elasticity back into dry, damaged, broken hair, making it smoother and more manageable. Whether you’re an all-over blonde or opt for a sprinkling of highlights or balayage, the process is the same. Ammonia is used to lift the outer cuticle. This means hair is more prone to moisture loss and can look frazzled. 

    This mask is enriched with sunflower seed extract and micro wheat proteins to treat stressed-out strands. Apply the mask to shampooed hair, comb through then wrap hair in a warm towel for up to 20 minutes. Hair is softer, less knotty and more manageable from the get-go. Especially on the ends, which look smoother and less wild.

    10. Head & Shoulders DermaX PRO Repair Scalp Balm

    Best hair mask for dandruff

    Head & Shoulders DermaX PRO Repair Scalp Balm

    Credit: Head & Shoulders

    Active ingredients: Piroctone Olamine, active aloe, vitamin E | Hair type: Dry, itchy, flaky scalp | Cruelty-free: Yes | Packaging: Recyclable and made with 40% post-consumer recycled plastic.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that beautiful hair starts with a nourished and healthy scalp. If yours feels dry, itchy and irritable, slather on this new Scalp Balm to target extreme dry spots. It’s less of a mask and more of a treatment but it’s used in the same way as the former. Applied after shampoo, just leave it on for three minutes then rinse out and apply conditioner as normal. 

    The skin on the scalp is more delicate than on the face, and is quick to reveal signs of ageing. Think dryness, flaking and sensitivity. These outward signs are exacerbated by UV damage, pollution, central heating and over-cleansing. “Menopause is a time of oestrogen decline, which affects the scalp in various ways, including reduction of suppleness, dryness, thinning and increased sensitivity,” explains Psychodermatologist and Head & Shoulders Ambassador, Dr Alia Ahmed. “The associated loss of skin proteins leads to further loss of moisture and hydration, and slow cell turnover causes a lack of natural moisturising factors and fats, both contributing to dehydration.”

    The new Head & Shoulders DermaX PRO range aims to repair the root cause of a sensitised, flaky scalp, going further than mere surface hydration by strengthening the scalp-skin barrier to lock in moisture long-term. One online reviewer commented, “Love everything about this. It makes my hair look soft, shiny and incredibly healthy with no flakes in sight. It made my hair easier to brush to I will be buying more.”

    Can you leave a hair mask on overnight?

    In short, the answer depends on the instructions of your chosen hair mask. If a hair mask reaches its maximum beneficiality after 5, 10 or 15 minutes, then this overnight practice is at best completely redundant. And at worse, harmful. It sounds hard to believe but leaving a mask on for too long could actually damage hair.

    We’ve heard the anecdotes of people waxing lyrical about the benefits of leaving a hair mask overnight – multitasking their way to peak hair health. But applying a deep-conditioning treatment to damp hair and leaving it on overnight proves quite problematic. This is because wet hair is more porous, which causes the hair shaft to stretch. This in turn leaves it more fragile and prone to breakage. In contrast, dry hair is less porous so it’s harder to max out on moisture.

    There are however some hair masks, even in our list above, which can be used overnight, such as Olaplex. If you choose a mask that clearly states ‘overnight’ on the tub, you’re good to go. As celebrity hairstylist Patrick Wilson says, “I recommend my clients use an overnight serum instead. This way it will help nourish your hair without weighing your hair down. Most clients want to have healthy hair, but they also want to have volume. An overnight serum is super light so it won’t leave your hair greasy like some other treatments can.”

    The best advice? Choose a mask specifically designed for your hair type” advises Patrick. “And always read the side of the package. It will often tell you how long to leave the product on for. Normally it’s around 3 to 5 minutes and that’s why I don’t recommend sleeping in a mask.”