We have good news and bad news. The bad news is that coloring, bleaching, processing, and heat styling can wreak havoc on your hair; the good news is that the right deep conditioner can help restore that damage, add moisture back into the hair, and leave it feeling soft and silky. Though using a deep conditioner is an extra step, we think they're essential for preventing and repairing hair breakage.
Ready to add one to your hair care routine? We tapped experts for their recommendations and tried a few highly-rated options out for ourselves. The result: This list of deep conditioning masks that actually make a difference in the look and feel of damaged hair. We considered ingredients, how concentrated each formula is, and whether or not it leaves behind a residue. We also evaluated how well each deep conditioner repaired and hydrated our hair, regardless of type and texture. We then cross-referenced our expert-recommended picks with those that impressed us the most. The best-performing deep conditioners made the list.
Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
Patented and proven technology
Botanical oils add luster
Repairs broken bonds for stronger hair
A favorite among hairstylists, Olaplex No. 5. was once only available as a salon treatment. The cult-loved brand is coveted for its breakthrough reparative technology that includes Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, a patented and proven ingredient to repair broken bonds for stronger hair. The formula also contains a blend of botanical oils to help add visible shine and luster to hair. This formula is a must for colored hair, and works particularly well on bleached hair, although anyone can benefit from using it. News Director Madeline Hirsch is a super-fan, explaining that it's her miracle product that has made a huge difference in the length of her hair after a few months of diligent application.
Price at time of publish: $30
Hair Type: All, including color-treated | Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Oil
Repairs hair shafts
If you're willing to splurge on a high-end product that delivers salon-level results, consider Christophe Robin's Regenerating Mask with a blend of good-for-hair ingredients like plant ceramides and prickly pear oil. Over time, the mask works to repair existing damage and prevent new damage from happening. Plus, it boosts the intensity of your hair color—something folks with color-treated hair will be especially happy about. It leans heavily on prickly pear oil, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the pear fragrance is pretty potent.
Price at time of publish: $69
Hair Type: Fine | Size: 8.3 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
L’Oréal Elvive Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm
May leave a residue
This multi-use formula from L'Oréal can be used as a co-wash, rinse-out mask, or leave-in treatment. We love how this deep conditioner treats split ends, brittle hair, and color damage with a blend of oils and proteins, while detangling hair and leaving it ultra-smooth and shiny. Plus, it protects against heat styling up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The only thing we aren't huge fans of is the fact that the formula can leave behind a residue if you don't wash it out properly.
Price at time of publish: $5
Hair Type: Dry and color-damaged | Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Color-Treated Hair
Kérastase Résistance Masque Therapiste Hair Mask
Pro-Keratine Complex repairs visible damage
Large amount needed each use
If your hair is visibly damaged, Kérastase Resistance has your name on it. This deep conditioning mask is chock full of protein-rich ingredients including a Pro-Keratine Complex, a blend of protein and amino acids, including serine, arginine, and glutamic acid. Ceramides help mend breakage, smooth hair follicles, and fortify brittle hair. Keep in mind that you may have to use a decent-sized amount of the mask each time in order to really work it through your hair.
Price at time of publish: $63
Hair Type: Damaged | Size: 2.6 or 6.8 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask
Powered by vitamins and antioxidants
May take weeks to notice a difference
Briogeo's take on deep conditioner is this transformative, ultra-hydrating mask with clinical backing behind it. We love that the formula strengthens, deeply hydrates, and protects straight, wavy, curly and coily from future damage. The only bone to pick: It takes a while to see results, but hang in there—it's totally worth it.
Price at time of publish: $39
Hair Type: Dry | Size: 8 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Bread Beauty Supply Hair-Mask Creamy Deep Conditioner
Australian Kakadu plum supports scalp health
Softens and strengthens hair
Comes in a pouch
Bread Hair-Mask was formulated with coily, curly, and wavy textures in mind, but all hair types can reap the benefits of this extra-creamy deep conditioner that leans on a potent blend of nutrient-rich oils. The formula is noticeably lightweight but doubles down on dry, damaged hair to soften, strengthen, and moisturize every last strand. It's housed in a pouch that can get slippery when wet and deposit too much when it's squeezed too hard; just be careful while depositing formula.
Price at time of publish: $28
Hair Type: Curly | Size: 12 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Natural Hair
Pattern Beauty Intensive Conditioner
Avocado Oil, shea butter, safflower oil coat strands to repair and soften
Restores natural patterns
Nourishing for low porosity hair
Formulated to restore natural curl patterns and tight textures, Pattern Intensive Conditioner is jam-packed with nourishing, hydrating ingredients that define, revive, and protect curls, kinks, and coils. This award-winning formula boasts a ton of botanical oils that work in tandem to strengthen hair and prevent future damage.
Price at time of publish: $25
Hair Type: Curly | Size: 13 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Curly Hair
Curls Dynasty Pumpkin Mint Deep Treatment Masque
Promotes hair growth
Adds definition to coils and curls
May be too heavy for fine hair
Curls Dynasty makes an indulgent deep conditioning mask that's packed with creamy pumpkin to fortify and rebuild a damaged hair shaft and promotes new growth. We're big fans of the fact that this formula formula restores moisture at the cuticle level while being entirely Byrdie Clean. One thing to note: It's dense, so those with super-fine hair might find that it weighs hair down.
Price at time of publish: $10
Hair Type: Curly | Size: 8 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Fine Hair
Kevin Murphy Body Mass Leave-In Plumping Conditioner
Lightweight enough to be used on scalp
Supports hair growth and thickening
Bottle can leak
Kevin Murphy's Body Mass is a match made in heaven for those with thinner hair. It's lightweight and works wonders on the scalp and hair shaft, leaving hair soft and with increased volume. Plus, the fact that it contains oleanolic acid (an ingredient that supports hair growth and thickening) is just icing on the cake. We never experienced any issues with the bottle, but some say it can leak easily.
Price at time of publish: $42
Hair Type: Fine | Size: 3.4 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Bleached Hair
Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Purple Intense Repair Hair Mask
Nourishing and hydrating
Minimizes brassy tones
Can stain hands and clothes
If you have balayage, highlights, ombre, full-on platinum dye job, Bust Your Brass moisturizes chemically lightened hair and delivers noticeably brighter hair while neutralizing any brassy, orange hues. A clinically backed study supports reduced breakage with continued use. Some reviewers note that if you leave the treatment on too long, the formula can turn hair purple, depending on porosity, so be sure to monitor appropriately. Because the treatment is so potent, it can stain skin and clothes. So, be sure to wash your hands after use and try not to get the treatment on clothes and towels.
Price at time of publish: $43
Hair Type: Color-treated | Size: 8 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew Deep Conditioning Mask
Prevents breakage, shedding, and thinning
Works on wet and dry hair
May be too heavy for fine hair
This brilliant mask from Camille Rose deeply conditions and hydrates tired hair. It's a go-to for curly and natural hair, but the softening, stimulating recipe is versatile enough to give anyone a moisture boost. We also love that you can use this botanical formula on wet or dry hair to support natural growth. Similar to the Curls Dynsasty deep conditioner, it might be too heavy for fine hair.
Price at time of publish: $21
Hair Type: Curly, natural | Size: 8 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
CHI Keratin Leave-In Conditioner
Contains keratin to repair and rebuild
Suitable for daily use
CHI's Keratin Leave-In Conditioner is a no-rinse option for those that would rather keep the deep conditioner in throughout the day, rather than washing it out. We're big fans of the formula, which boasts a keratin-infused blend to repair the hair cuticle, improve elasticity, and protect against future breakage. It has a strong scent, so those that are sensitive to fragrance or perfumes might want to opt out of this one.
Price at time of publish: $12
Hair Type: All | Size: 6 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
LolaVie Glossing Detangler
Doubles as a heat protectant
Adds a high-shine gloss
The fragrance isn't for everyone
Jennifer Aniston's haircare line, Lolavie, is not only clean and botanically rich, it's also designed to garner excellent results. We love the Glossing Detangler—so much so that we named it a Byrdie Eco Beauty Award Winner–because it gently detangles hair without breaking it and doubles as a heat protectant.Lemon extract, chia seeds, and vegan ceramides make this leave-in spray formula a powerful conditioner that's lightweight enough to use as daily as a detangler for a high-gloss effect.
Price at time of publish: $26
Hair Type: All | Size: 5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Vegamour HYDR-8 Deep Moisture Repair Mask
Vegan alternative to keratin
Bonds hair without rinsing away
Not ideal for crown and scalp
This reparative hair mask from Vegamour is one you should definitely have on your radar, especially if you have lots of flyaways and broken ends. It's clinically proven to smooth, hydrate, and strengthen hairs thanks to a formula powered by Karmatin™, a vegan silk alternative to keratin and silicone. Unlike other bonding shampoos, Karmatin stays locked onto strands, bonding them together, rather than washing out with water. We love that it's so hydrating, but it can leave behind a bit of residue on the crown and scalp. So, for that reason, we recommend working the deep conditioner through just the lengths and ends of your hair instead.
Price at time of publish: $52
Hair Type: All | Size: 5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Salon Formula
Rossano Ferretti Parma Nourishing Mask
Hydrating formula contains keratin, shea butter, and antioxidants
Leaves hair very soft
Has subtle fragrance
Although this formula is expensive, we think it's worth every penny. Hear us out: the list of hydrating ingredients contains keratin to restore cuticle damage and protect against breakage, green tea and other antioxidants to help soften hair and add shine, and shea butter to deeply condition and help with regeneration of dry and damaged tresses. Developed by celebrity hairstylist Rossano Farretti, who has a salon in New York City, this formula leaves hair noticeably softer after just one wash.
Price at time of publish: $54
Hair Type: All | Size: 6.8 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Our best overall pick is, Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner, which contains a patented bonding ingredient to repair and revive even the most damaged, brittle, processed hair. In our opinion, no hair treatment list is complete without it. For a more affordable pick, consider the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Deep Conditioner, a multi-use formula that addresses split ends and color damage, leaving strands soft and smooth.
Meet the Expert
- Sally Hershberger is a celebrity hairstylist with salons in New York and Los Angeles. She's known for her eponymous line of hair products and has appeared on the Bravo reality show Shear Genius.
- Michelle O’Connor is a professional hairstylist based in Miami. She is the Artistic Director at Matrix, an Ulta Beauty Pro, and five time North American Hairstyling Awards winner.
What to Look For in a Deep Conditioner
In addition to deeply moisturizing the hair, hairstylist Michelle O’Connor recommends reaching for a product that also has strengthening properties. She explains that lackluster hair in need of repair is usually experiencing some degree of breakage, so it needs to get the strength it needs from proteins and oils. Keratin and oils like argan oil are two great examples of ingredients to keep an eye out for. We recommend the Kérastase Resistance Strengthening Hair Mask for Damaged Hair, which contains keratin and a whole slew of nourishing ingredients.
O’Connor also recommends looking for products with a concentrated formula since they tend to better penetrate the hair shaft. “When the penetration ability is heightened, the deep conditioner fills in the gaps and nicks that are present in the surface of hair that’s damaged,” she says. This will lead to hair that's smoother, shinier, and stronger. The Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Purple Intense Repair Hair Mask is highly concentrated (and highly pigmented) formula that works really well on those with damage from bleaching. We'd be remiss not to mention the Curls Dynasty Pumpkin Mint Deep Treatment Masque, as it's known to get deep into the hair shaft and heal hair from the inside out.
While you'll want your deep conditioner to truly nourish the hair, you also don’t want it to leave it oily or weighed down. Look for formulas that will ramp up hydration while still providing a lightweight finish sans any heavy or sticky residue. The Body Mass Leave-In Plumping Conditioner from Kevin Murphy is one such formula; it's so lightweight that it can be used by those with really fine hair.
Can you use a deep conditioner with regular conditioner?
According to O’Connor, if your hair is very damaged, you can (and should) still use both a conditioner and a deep conditioner. She recommends applying a traditional conditioner as you normally would and then follow up with a deep conditioner as an extra reparative measure.
How long should you leave deep conditioner in your hair?
How long you’ll need to keep your deep conditioner on will vary from product to product, so be sure to read through any directions on the packaging thoroughly. However, O’Connor mentions that leaving a deep conditioner on for longer than recommended won’t harm your hair. “In fact, many people with curls and coils love to add time and elements of steam and heat to further enhance penetration,” she says. “This is especially key when you have low porosity hair.”
Are deep conditioners suited to all hair types?
Yes, but you'll want to find the formula suited to your hair type. Celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger explains. "Finer hair can look flat and oily if you use deep treatments that are too heavy. Those with thicker and curlier hair will need a heavier formula to match their hair's porosity."
Why Trust Byrdie
Theresa Holland is a freelance commerce writer specializing in beauty. For this roundup, she considered dozens of deep conditioning treatments, evaluating each on active ingredients, formula finish, and targeted concerns. She took into account different hair types and textures, sourcing top-rated products for each.