The 13 Best Hair Masks of 2022—Reach for These When Your Strands Need Some TLC

Our best overall pick is Virtue Labs Restorative Treatment Mask

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Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

Here’s the bad news: Pretty much anything and everything we do to or expose our hair to can wreak havoc on our strands. Daily washing, heat styling, brushing, heck, even going outside in the sun or cold can all take a major toll on our tresses. Using a conditioner after every wash is obviously important, but, if you feel like your hair is dry, brittle, dull, or generally lackluster, it’s probably time to call in some more serious reinforcements—namely, a hair mask.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Our best overall pick is Virtue Labs Restorative Treatment Mask, which is not only rich in natural actives, but addresses all kinds of hair concerns, from dryness to dullness to frizz and more. You can’t go wrong with Olaplex Hair Perfector No.3, which is a salon-favorite when it comes to bond repair, and offers noticeable results immediately.

These days, masks can do everything from add moisture and shine to fight frizz to undo damage, says stylist Krysta N. Rojas, owner of Base Salon in Chicago. The secret to choosing the right one for you? “Think of this in a ‘problem + solution’ context, focusing on the first and biggest concern you have with your hair,” she suggests.

 Using a hair mask is also super easy; Rojas recommends using it in lieu of your standard conditioner at least once per week. While most are meant to be left on for several minutes, Rojas says not to stress if you don’t have the time. “Even if you don’t let it sit for the full amount of time recommended you’re still getting more benefits than you would from your conditioner,” she explains.

 We conducted hours of research on the best hair masks, evaluating each on active ingredients. We also considered what each formula doesn’t contain—namely sulfates, parabens, colors, and dyes—each which can end up doing more harm than good. We took into account different hair types and textures when researching our product recommendations.

 Here, the best hair masks that offer a little something for every hair type and concern.

Best Overall: Virtue Labs Restorative Treatment Mask

VIRTUE Restorative Treatment Mask

amazon

What We Like
  • Works for all hair types

  • Effective combination of ingredients

  • Works quickly

  • Citrusy, woody scent

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

The star of the show in this do-it-all mask is the brand’s proprietary Alpha Keratin 60Ku, a type of keratin that’s exactly like the one found in your hair, ensuring it repairs strands better than ever. It also contains antioxidant-rich baobab seed oil and hydrolyzed quinoa extract to bind moisture to the hair. And even though it’s so reparative it’s still lightweight enough that it won’t weigh down fine hair; to that point, it works for all hair types. Plus, you only need to leave it on for three minutes, oh, and it smells amazing, too. This formula is expensive, but we think the long list of actives justifies the price.

Active Ingredients: Alpha Keratin 60Ku, baobab seed oil, hydrolyzed quinoa extract | Hair Type: All | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic colors, and dyes | Size: 5 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Damaged Hair: Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3

4.9
Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3
What We Like
  • Restores healthy appearance and texture

  • Reduces breakage

  • Repairs broken bonds

What We Don't Like
  • Have to do a strand test first

This product quickly reached cult-like status—for good reason. To be fair, it’s more of a treatment than a mask (and to that point, is actually meant to be used before you shampoo), but its repairative effects on damaged hair really can’t be beat. It touts a proprietary technology that repairs the broken disulfide bonds that are broken when hair is colored or chemically treated, and helps leave it stronger and healthier. Plus, it works on all hair types and textures.

Active Ingredients: Olaplex, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate | Hair Type: Damaged | Free of: Gluten, Sulfates, Parabens, Phthalates, and Phosphates | Size: 3.3 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Clean: SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque

SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque
What We Like
  • Gives luster and shine

  • Restores hair's natural balance

  • Traps in moisture

  • Full of natural ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Might be drying for some

The namesake ingredients adds tons of moisture to the hair, as do argan oil, glycerin, and vitamin B5. Leave it on for anywhere from five to 30 minutes (depending how much TLC your strands need), then rinse out. Also nice: You can also use a small amount as a leave-in styling cream. And the affordable price can’t be beat.

Active Ingredients: Sea Kelp Extract, Panthenol | Hair Type: Damaged, Dry, Chemically-Treated | Free of: DEA, Sulfates, Parabens, Phthalates, Propylene Glycol, Paraffins, Mineral Oil, and Synthetic Fragrances and Colors | Size: 16 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Splurge: Shu Uemura Ultimate Reset Mask Treatment

Shu Uemura Ultimate Reset Hair Mask

 Courtesy Shu Uemura

What We Like
  • Wood and earthy unique scent

  • Japanese-sourced rice extract protects and hydrates

  • Increases shine

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

While this pick is pricey, it’s a great option if you’re looking to invest in a mask that really can do it all. It combats dryness, frizz, split ends, and damage all in one fell swoop; credit Japanese-sourced rice extract that helps hydrate and protect the hair. It also smells ah-mazing, with a fragrance that combines fruity notes along with subtle floral elements, sandalwood, and musk.

Active Ingredients: Behentrimonium Chloride, Glycerin, Amodimethicone | Hair Type: Damaged | Free of: Gluten, Sulfates, Parabens, Phthalates, and Phosphates | Size: 6 oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Bargain: Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner

4.8
Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner

 Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Nice citrusy, floral smell

  • Three times the moisturizing power

  • Detangling

What We Don't Like
  • Might be drying for some

Not only does this work in a mere three minutes, it also only costs around three dollars—what more could you ask for? Still, it packs just as much of a moisturizing punch as many of its pricier counterparts, thanks to a deeply moisturizing avocado and jojoba seed oil. The refreshing, citrus-y scent is just an added bonus, oh, and did we mention that you only need to leave it on for three minutes?

Active Ingredients: Australian Aloe, Jojoba Seed Oil, Avocado Oil | Hair Type: Dry | Free of: Sulfates, Parabens | Size: 8 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Overnight: Kérastase Nutritive 8H Magic Night Serum

Kérastase Nutritive 8H Magic Night Serum
What We Like
  • Works for all hair types

  • Easy to use overnight

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Not clean or cruelty-free

Since it’s not technically a mask, it isn’t necessarily super heavy; she adds that it doesn’t leave behind any greasy or heavy residue. Still, iris root extract and a blend of five vitamins deeply nourish and hydrate. Massage into the lengths and ends of (dry) hair before bedtime then rinse it out in the morning and prepare to be amazed by how much better your strands look and feel.

Active Ingredients: Dimethicone, panthenol | Hair Type: All | Free of: Sulfates| Size: 3.04 oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Experts Say

“This is the perfect alternative for anyone who doesn’t have extra time to leave on a mask while they’re showering.” —Krysta N. Rojas, Stylist

Best for Curls: PATTERN Treatment Mask

PATTERN Treatment Mask

Sephora

What We Like
  • Treats and defines curls

  • Good value

  • Pleasant scent

What We Don't Like
  • Some users found the formula drying

Curly hair comes with its own unique set of needs, meaning it’s imperative to choose a hair mask specifically made for your texture. Along with strengthening and softening the hair (thanks to the addition of rice protein), this has the added benefit of also elongating and defining curls as well. And the subtle floral fragrance is just the icing on the cake.

Active Ingredients: Hydrolyzed Rice Protein | Hair Type: Curly | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, phthalates | Size: 15 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Fine Hair: R+Co Television Perfect Hair Masque

R+Co Television Perfect Hair Masque

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Not as heavy as many others

  • Easy-to-use tube packaging

What We Don't Like
  • May not deliver enough moisture for some

  • On the pricier side

Choosing a mask when you have fine hair can prove to be a bit of a conundrum, given that the moisturizing nature makes many of them heavy and likely to weigh down your strands. This is the exception, says Rojas. “It won’t weigh down the hair, but will add enough moisture and enhance shine, as well as make your hair more manageable,” she says. Just FYI, it may not deliver quite enough moisture if your strands are extra dry. Although this option is expensive, the inclusion of murumuru butter makes it worthy of the spend.

Active Ingredients: Coconut oil, murumuru butter | Hair Type: Fine, normal | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 5 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Thick Hair: Hair Biology Biotin Deep Conditioner

Hair Biology Biotin Deep Conditioner

Target

What We Like
  • Works quickly

  • Easy-to-use tube packaging

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Relies mostly on synthetic ingredients

This brand is geared towards more mature hair, but this product is also a choice pick for any type of thick, coarse or extra dry hair. It’s nice and thick; reviewers rave about how soft, shiny, and more manageable it leaves their strands. Bonus points for the fact that it works in just two minutes, and won’t take a toll on your wallet.

Active Ingredients: Silicone Quaternium-26 | Hair Type: Coarse, thick, dry | Free of: Sulfates, Parabens | Size: 5 oz. | Cruelty Free: Unknown| Byrdie Clean: No

Runner-Up, Best for Damaged Hair: K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask

K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask

Sephora

What We Like
  • Good for all hair types

  • Repairs all kinds of damage

  • Easy-to-use leave-in formula

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

Here’s another great option to reach for if your tresses are really in need of some extra TLC. “It heals the hair from heat, color, and bleach damage,” says Rojas of one of her favorites. “It restores softness and smoothness and gives the hair some bounce, and the results are lasting—they won’t wash away after you shampoo,” she says. At work is a patented peptide technology that helps undo all of that damage. We also like that it’s a leave-in formula; simply apply after shampooing and let it sit for four minutes before styling as usual.

Active Ingredients: sh-Oligopeptide-78  | Hair Type: All | Free of: Sulfates | Size: 1.7 oz., .5 oz., .17oz.| Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: Nexxus Keraphix Damage Healing Treatment Masque

Nexxus Keraphix Damage Healing Treatment Masque

Target

What We Like
  • Doesn’t leave behind any residue

  • Leaves hair extremely soft

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

  • Not clean or cruelty-free

This heavy-hitter works by enveloping each hair strand with a protective coating that works to restore the exterior barrier that shields it from damage. We know, it sounds like a recipe for hair that feels greasy and weighed down, but that’s not the case. Instead, it leaves it bouncy, soft, shiny, and generally healthy-looking (and feeling).

Active Ingredients: Dimethicone, collagen amino acids | Hair Type: All | Free of: Sulfates | Size: 1.5oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Hair: Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask

Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask
What We Like
  • Works for all hair types

  • Clean and cruelty-free

  • Clinically-tested

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Any type of hair mask is going to be good for dry hair by definition, but this one really takes the cake for extra-parched tresses. It’s rich in a litany of different natural oils (rosehip and almond, just to name a few) along with aloe and algae extract. Use it weekly to add tons of moisture, as well as help undo the effects of heat styling and/or chemical treatments. Plus, it works for all hair types (including curly). Although this option is on the pricier side, the inclusion of natural oils and algae make it worth spending a little extra.

Active Ingredients: Rosehip oil, algae, B group vitamins | Hair Type: Dry, damaged, thick | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens, silicones | Size: 8 fl.oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Color-Treated Hair: Biolage Matrix ColorLast Deep Treatment Pack

Matrix Biolage ColorLast Deep Treatment Pack
What We Like
  • Works quickly

  • Travel-friendly

  • Great scent

What We Don't Like
  • Contains silicones

The hard truth of the matter is that coloring really can do a number on your hair. It’s also true that the healthier your hair is, the longer your color will last and the better it will look, in general. Point being, it’s very important to use a mask regularly if you’re coloring your hair. This one is ideal, helping to amp up shine and add back moisture. Per the brand, it also leaves strands up to three times stronger. And the innovative pouch format not only saves space in your shower, it’s also great for travel.

Active Ingredients: Amodimethicone, candelilla wax | Hair Type: Color-treated | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens | Size: 3.4 fl. oz.| Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

If you don’t yet have a hair mask stashed in your shower, consider adding one, stat. The Virtue Labs Restorative Treatment Mask is our overall favorite, addressing all kinds of hair concerns, from dryness to dullness to frizz and more. For tresses that are in need of extra, extra TLC, both the Olaplex Hair Perfector No.3 and K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask excel at undoing all kinds of damage, making them well-worth the price.

Meet the Expert

Krysta N. Rojas is a stylist, colorist, and the owner of Base Salon in Chicago. She specializes both in curly hair and balayage.

What to Look For in a Hair Mask

Strengthening Properties

If you’re struggling with dry, lackluster hair the chances of your hair needing some extra protection around breakage is high. Look out for hair masks that contain protein and oils like keratin and argan oil. 

A Concentrated Formula

Concentrated formulas are known for their ability to better penetrate the hair shaft, which helps the deep conditioner absorb easily. The more concertrated the formula the better your hair tends to look afterwards. 

A Lightweight Finish

Some hair masks weigh the hair down, or leave a sticky residue afterwards, so you’ll want to select a formula that provides a lightweight finish. 

FAQ
  • Can you use a deep conditioner with regular conditioner?

    If you’re someone with very damaged hair, you can totally use both, in fact, it’s advised! Simply, start with a traditional conditioner and follow up with a deep conditioner for extra hydration. 

  • How long should you leave deep conditioner in your hair?

    It really depends on what deep conditioner you’re using, so be sure to read the instructions carefully. However, there’s no harm to keeping a hair mask in longer than recommended. 

  • What is the difference between a hair mask and a hair conditioner?

    Conditioner serves the hair by providing it sheen and smoothness, whereas hair masks nourish the hair and scalp.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Her hair is fine, dry, and highlighted…meaning you better believe she uses a hair mask (including many of these) at least once a week.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  3. Ayachit T, Gajbhiye S, Vaibhav V. Quinoa a potential ingredient in cosmetics: a review. International Journal of Scientific Development and Research . 2019;4(5):443-448.

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  5. Faria PM, Camargo LN, Carvalho RS, Paludetti LA, Velasco MV, Gama RM. Hair protective effect of argan oil (argania spinosa kernel oil) and cupuassu butter (theobroma grandiflorum seed butter) post treatment with hair dyeJournal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications. 2013;03(03):40-44. doi:10.4236/jcdsa.2013.33a1006

  6. Gad HA, Roberts A, Hamzi SH, et al. Jojoba oil: an updated comprehensive review on chemistry, pharmaceutical uses, and toxicityPolymers (Basel). 2021;13(11):1711. doi:10.3390/polym13111711

  7. Choi W, Son S, Song S-H, Kang NG, Park S-gyoo. Repairing damaged hair using pentapeptides of various amino acid sequences with crosslinking reaction. Korean Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2020;2(1):11-19. doi:10.15230/SCSK.2020.2.1.11

  8. Mármol I, Sánchez-de-Diego C, Jiménez-Moreno N, Ancín-Azpilicueta C, Rodríguez-Yoldi MJ. Therapeutic applications of rose hips from different rosa speciesInt J Mol Sci. 2017;18(6):1137. doi:10.3390/ijms18061137

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