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The best hair masks, with advice from expert hairstylists: OLAPLEX, Morrocanoil, Amika and more

We spoke to three expert hair stylists to get their take on what makes a great hair mask and what to avoid when shopping for one.

The best hair masks

Suffering from stressed-out strands? One of the easiest and most effective ways to bring your locks back to life is using a really good hair mask to hydrate and nourish the hair from the inside out. Finding the right hair mask for you will depend on your hair type and texture; from oily, fine strands to thick, coarse textures, there really is something for everyone.

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So, with so many options, where do you start? Enter: The Recommended. We spoke to three expert hair stylists to get their take on what makes a great hair mask and what to avoid when shopping for one. We took their advice and scoured the internet to find the best hair masks for every hair type, as well as some tips and tricks on how to use them for your best hair day yet.

Jump to the best hair masks:

Our expert hairstylists

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Charlotte Mensah is a legend in the haircare industry. She has thrice been crowned Best Afro Hairdresser of the Year at The British Hairdressing Awards and now sits in their Hall of Fame. Charlotte owns the coveted Hair Lounge salon in London’s iconic Portobello Road, where she welcomes many devoted customers and has her own line of hair products with swathes of rave reviews.

Henry Whittle is a freelance hairstylist that balances his time between creating tailored looks for his many adoring clients and taking to social media, where he creates quality review content for several hair and beauty products. Henry has worked with several household name brands such as Garnier and Blissy and has shared his wisdom with us in several articles, including the best conditioner and best hair straighteners.

Mimi Koné is a leading hair stylist and entrepreneur who specialises in treating and caring for natural air. Mimi is the owner and founder of Mimi et Mina Hair Couture, a luxury Notting Hill hair salon and online store that works with natural hair as well as wigs and hair pieces. Mimi has been featured in many publications, including Vogue, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar.

What is a hair mask?

Okay, so let’s start with the basics; what is a hair mask? Well, put simply, a hair mask is a deep conditioning treatment that nourishes and hydrates the hair more than your traditional in-shower conditioner. Think of it as a facial for your hair, an added step in your hair care routine for when your strands need some extra love.

Our expert Charlotte told us, “Hair masks differ from everyday conditioners because the ingredients are more concentrated. Their application also requires that you leave them on for a little longer than you would your normal conditioner”.

How to use a hair mask

A hair mask should be used after shampooing instead of your usual conditioner. This is because shampooing opens up the hair follicle, allowing the hair-loving mask ingredients to soak deep into strands and let your locks enjoy maximum benefits. Each mask will specify how long it should be left on the hair; our expert Charlotte told us that “they can take anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight”.

How to apply a hair mask step by step

  • Wash your hair as usual with your favourite shampoo.
  • Rinse out your shampoo and gently squeeze out any excess water with a microfibre towel or old cotton t-shirt. This will help to stop your mask from becoming diluted.
  • Section your hair and apply your mask evenly from root to tip.
  • Wrap your hair in a warm microfibre towel or t-shirt for the time specified in the product guidelines.
  • Rinse thoroughly.

How often should you use a hair mask?

This will depend largely on your hair and the kind of mask you are using. Once a week is a good rule of thumb when starting to use a hair mask as a part of your hair care routine. However, if your hair is very dry, you may want to increase this to twice a week.

What should you look for when buying a hair mask?

Mimi encouraged us to consider hair type telling us, “it will depend on each person’s hair”. Henry agreed and stressed the importance of understanding your hair, telling us, “the two main needs for a hair mask is to repair or hydrate. The key is knowing if your hair is damaged or dehydrated. If your hair is dehydrated, look for a mask with ingredients such as Shea butter; if the hair is damaged, look for natural proteins such as pea or rice”.

Charlotte discussed the merits of different ingredients, saying, “the ingredients that are found in hair masks can differ greatly. Honey, Avocado oil, and olive oil are considered humectants that can help your hair retain moisture. They can also stimulate the growth of skin cells, which may help promote stronger hair follicles”.

What should you avoid when looking for a hair mask?

When it comes to things to avoid when buying hair masks, Henry advised us to “stay away from masks that contain silicones. These will just coat the hair, making feel good but actually causing more problems going forward”. Mimi advised us to avoid “cheap products” while Charlotte focused on the ingredients list and the importance of carefully reading the product guidelines. She told us, “be sure to read instructions and ingredients so you know what you’re getting yourself into and the results you can expect. Shop formulas by hair type: Afro hair, curly hair, dry hair, colour-treated hair, etc. and by process time”.

Which is the best hair mask?

When asked for any specific hair mask recommendations, Henry gave his vote to Oribe Gold Lust Transformative Masque, telling us, “due to my natural hair texture and the bleaching services I have had, my hair lacks shine. Oribe has given my hair its shine, lustre and bounce back”. Mimi also gave a shout-out to Oribe while also recommending Olaplex and Keracare as brands to look out for.

The best hair masks

Best affordable hair mask: Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food, 3-in-1 Dry Hair Mask Treatment

Value for money

1. Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food

This 3-in-1 treatment can be used as a rinse-out conditioner, a hair mask, or a leave-in conditioner, and all for a price that won’t break the bank.

This affordable air mask is made with a vegan, 98% natural formula and has a fruity banana scent. This hair mask is made without silicones, as recommended by our expert Henry, and the lightweight hydrating formula works to strengthen hair for up to 4 times less breakage.

Best hair mask for coloured hair: Moroccanoil Colour Depositing Mask

For vibrant colour

2. Moroccanoil Colour Depositing Mask

This hair mask works to preserve your colour between treatments by topping up your shade while nourishing and hydrating strands.

This hair mask uses a blend of Amino Acids, Apricot Kernel Oil and ArganID™ technology to strengthen, moisturise and nourish the hair. This mask comes in various shades and serves as a provisional colour treatment while conditioning the hair between salon visits.

Best hair mask for damaged hair: OLAPLEX No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask

Rebuild those bonds

3. OLAPLEX No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask

Our hair expert Mimi recommended Olaplex for its strengthening abilities, and this mask gives the intense dose of TLC that damaged hair desperately needs.

This hair mask is made without sulphates, phthalates or parabens and uses its signature bond-building technology to revive damaged hair while nourishing and hydrating strands from the inside out.

Best hydrating hair mask: Noughty To The Rescue Treatment Mask

For added moisture

4. Noughty To The Rescue Treatment Mask

This hydrating hair mask is super affordable and made with a kind, clean formula that works to revive thirsty strands.

This hair mask offers a deep conditioning treatment with a vegan, 97% natural and cruelty-free formula. This mask is silicone-free, as our expert Henry recommends and is enriched with nourishing shea butter, coconut oil and Moroccan argan oil for added shine.

Best scalp treatment mask: Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment

Healthy scalp = healthy hair

5. Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment

Healthy hair requires a healthy scalp. This hair works to soothe the scalp and ease dryness, itching and irritation.

This scalp treatment mask contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3 to soothe irritation while working to reduce the appearance of dandruff. This formula is silicone-free and safe for use on coloured and chemically treated hair.

Best mask for shiny hair: Keracare High Sheen Glossifier

For high definition shine

6. Keracare High Sheen Glossifier

Our hair expert Mimi recommended products made by Keracare, and we can see why with this shine-enhancing mask that promises show-stopping results.

The Keracare High Sheen Glossifier works to boost hydration while reducing frizz. This lightweight formula is packed full of nourishing ingredients that work to penetrate strands, penetrating the free movement of strands without weighing them down.

Best mask for curly hair: Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask

For optimum bounce-ability

7. Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask

This repairing hair mask works to revive curls, coils and kinks, leaving strands hydrated and glossy.

This hair mask is formulated with a nourishing cocktail of B-vitamins, rosehip and argan oils, algae and biotin that work to revive unhappy hair. This hair mask is suitable for use on colour, keratin, and chemically treated hair and delivers deep hydration to thirsty locks.

Best luxury hair mask: Oribe Travel Gold Lust Transformative Masque

For added indulgence

8. ORIBE TRAVEL GOLD LUST TRANSFORMATIVE MASQUE

This hair mask was called out by our expert Henry who loves the results this product has given his bleached, chemically treated hair.

Both Mimi and Henry gave a shout-out to Oribe in their recommendations, and this hair mask is sure to add a touch of luxury to your haircare routine. This fortifying formula works to boost elasticity while restoring softness and body to stressed-out strands.

Best for increased manageability: Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Conditioner

No more tangles

9. CHARLOTTE MENSAH MANKETTI OIL CONDITIONER

This conditioner doubles as a mask and is one of expert Charlotte’s signature products that has received rave reviews.

This product is enriched with Manketti Nut and Ximenia oils that work to rescue dry, dull hair with an intense boost of moisture. This product helps to hydrate, nourish and improve the manageability of hair while working to prevent breakage.

Best for bleached hair: Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Intense Repair Hair Mask

Banish the brass

10. AMIKA BUST YOUR BRASSCOOL BLONDE INTENSE REPAIR HAIR MASK

This purple-toned hair mask works to tone bleached hair and banish unwanted yellow hues between treatments.

This purple hair mask works to tone the hair while hydrating, nourishing and repairing strands. Packed with Amika’s signature bond-cure technology, this hair mask works to repair damage and keep bleached hair looking its best.

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Want to read more expert-recommended hair care essential round-ups? Check out our hair care page for a full list of recommendations, including our guide to the best shampoos, the best conditioners, the best hair curlers and the best hair dryers, as recommended by our hair care experts.