From heat styling to bleaching, there are many contributing factors when it comes to dry hair. It’s a condition that also comes with a bunch of not-so-fun side effects: frizz, flyaways, color fade, breakage, and more—all things we’d much rather avoid where possible. Shampoo and conditioner aside, a hard-working hair mask rich in nourishing ingredients is one of the best ways to mitigate said dryness. Trichologist Lisa Caddy tells us that dry hair has lost water and basically craves rehydration and that the best way to do this is through oils as they work to lock water inside the hair shaft (just like a face oil or occlusive moisturizer).
To find the best hair masks for dry hair on the market, we conducted hours of research—evaluating options based on their active ingredients and benefits. We also considered other factors, such as how effective they were on all hair types or if they were sulfate-free. Alongside expert recommendations and editor picks, we’ve compiled an edit of the top options—fast-working treatments that will hydrate, repair, and protect.
Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3
Repairs hair structure internally
Reduces hair loss
The Olaplex Hair Perfector is hands-down one of the best hair masks we’ve ever used and is our number-one choice for addressing hair that’s dry, damaged, and generally lackluster. The innovative formula works by repairing and rebuilding the disulfide bonds that have been broken in your hair—most commonly due to coloring and bleaching. Try using it regularly to reverse signs of hair damage and restore hydration levels.
Byrdie contributor Ashley Rubell tried out Olaplex’s Bond Maintenance System Kit (which includes the Hair Perfector along with the Bond Maintenance Shampoo and Conditioner) and gave it a perfect five-star rating, noting that the Hair Perfector felt like “a magic hair potion.” Not only did she find her hair was left silkier and stronger overall, but it felt healthier and softer even as it was air drying. Although this formula is expensive, it's a mainstay of every salon we know, making it a top choice that's worth the spend.
Price at time of publish: $30
Active Ingredients: Bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate | Hair Type: Color-treated | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens, silicone | Size: 3.3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Thick Hair
Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Oil
Scent may be too strong for some
Rich in prickly pear, an extract that is packed with nourishing bioactive compounds, this mask works to increase hair hydration without weighing it down. There are also plant-based ceramides to support strong, resistant hair fibres while the melting texture absorbs quickly and rinses well (so you get moisture without heaviness).
Price at time of publish: $69
Active Ingredients: Prickly pear seed oil, inula extract | Hair Type: All | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens, silicone | Size: 8.3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque
Rich in shea butter
Could weigh down fine hair
This drugstore gem is rich in shea butter, a fatty compound that’s known to possess potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Because of this, it’s deeply nourishing and retains water in the hair, making it a great pick for those who find their hair coarse, frizzy, or dry. There’s also argan oil, avocado oil, and panthenol—not bad for a drugstore buy that comes in at under $15. Either slather it on and leave it in as a treatment or work through dry hair as a styling cream.
Price at time of publish: $15
Active Ingredients: Shea butter, argan oil, sea kelp extract | Hair Type: Dry, damaged | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens, silicone, alcohol | Size: 12 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Color-Treated Hair
Biolage Matrix ColorLast Deep Treatment Pack
Is your hair feeling dry, broken, and dull from excessive coloring? You need a fast-working treatment like this one from Biolage that will dial up shine and replenish lost moisture. According to the brand, one use will leave your hair three times stronger—talk about instantly gratifying results. We love the easy pouch format, too (it’s great for travel).
Price at time of publish: $17
Active Ingredients: Amodimethicone, candelilla wax | Hair Type: Color-treated | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens | Size: 3.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Textured Hair
Pattern Beauty Intensive Conditioner
Rich in shea butter
Could weigh down fine hair
The inclusion of shea butter in this conditioning treatment works to protect and nourish each individual hair strand, preventing water loss and the associated dryness. The texture is rich and buttery, so it really coats each curl, helping to add definition and bounce.
Price at time of publish: $25
Active Ingredients: Avocado oil, shea butter | Hair Type: Curly, coily | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens, silicone | Size: 13 or 29 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Crown Affair The Renewal Mask
Reviewers note it has a runny consistency
The hero ingredient in this super-luxe formula is tsubaki seed oil (or camellia seed oil), a plant extract that boasts both antioxidant and moisturizing properties. Combined with yuzu fruit extract, it’s a deeply repairing, nourishing treatment that will transform dull, dry hair. And if you’re into luxury beauty, the slick monochrome packaging and beautiful scent are a nice touch.
Price at time of publish: $58
Active Ingredients: Tsubaki seed oil, dimethicone | Hair Type: Dry, damaged | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens | Size: 6.8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Night Cap Overnight Perfector
Works while you sleep
Could weigh down fine hair
This innovative treatment works while you snooze to smooth, hydrate and restore shine. The key ingredient is Living Proof’s patented healthy hair molecule (OFPMA), a blend of amino acids and fatty compounds that work to condition and protect. It has a very light texture, so won’t make a mess of your linen, but fine hair might feel the need to shampoo out the morning after. But either way, the glossy, smooth, commercial-worthy hair is worth the effort.
Price at time of publish: $29
Active Ingredients: Octafluoropentyl methacrylate, hydrogenated castor oil, rice seed protein | Hair Type: All | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Frizz
Leonor Greyl Masque a L'Orchidee Nourishing Mask
Scent may be too strong for some
Expensive? Yes, but Caddy tells us that the jojoba oil and shea butter found in this formula are important when it comes to moisturizing dry, damaged hair. It’s very rich and buttery but works like a charm to recondition hair and impart a lustrous sheen. Because it’s so heavy, it will weigh down frizz and flyaways, too. Try it as a once-weekly treatment after a steamy shower so the ingredients can really penetrate.
Price at time of publish: $67
Active Ingredients: Hydrolyzed silk, jojoba oil, shea butter, orchid extract | Hair Type: Dry, damaged, coarse hair | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens, silicones, mineral oil | Size: 7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Sensitive Scalps
Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Deep Conditioning Treatment
Safe for sensitive scalps
Has to be used before shampooing and conditioning
“This is my number one hair mask for addressing dry, damaged hair,” explains Caddy. “It’s fragrance-free, restores suppleness, gloss, and bounce, and increases hair elasticity, thus reducing breakage.” The formula is also made with olive and castor seed oil, two ingredients she says are essential for dry hair.
Price at time of publish: $49
Active Ingredients: Castor seed oil, olive oil | Hair Type: Dry, damaged | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens, silicones, fragrance | Size: 5.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Shiny Hair
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask
Works for a variety of hair types
This top-rated mask can be used weekly to recondition the hair and undo the effects of styling, coloring, or environmental damage. It’s rich in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids to support optimal hair health (think shine, strength, and resilience). And it works across a range of hair types, including coiled and curly.
Price at time of publish: $39
Active Ingredients: Rosehip oil, algae, B vitamins | Hair Type: Dry, damaged, thick | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens, silicones | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Curls
Bread Beauty Supply Hair-Mask Creamy Deep Conditioner
Designed specifically for curly and coiled hair
Comes in a large pouch
Made specifically for coiled hair, this milky treatment mask contains ingredients like shea butter and kakadu plum to support a healthy, conditioned curl pattern. But because the texture is quite thin, it can be used on all hair types craving a moisture boost.
Price at time of publish: $28
Active Ingredients: Kakadu plum, starflower oil, shea butter | Hair Type: Dry, damaged, curly, and coiled | Free of: Sulfates, phthalates, parabens | Size: 12 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Damaged Hair
Shu Uemura Ultimate Reset Treatment Mask
Could weigh down fine hair
If your hair is broken, split, or frazzled to what feels like beyond repair, try applying this ultra-rich treatment and letting it work its magic. The key ingredient—Japanese rice extract—is said to strengthen weak hair and increase shine.
Price at time of publish: $72
Active Ingredients: Japanese rice extract | Hair Type: Very damaged | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 6 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Aging Hair
Kevin Murphy Young Again Masque
Hair feels softer
Reviewers rave about this amino acid-packed conditioning mask for its ability to tame frizz and restore shine to brittle, lackluster hair. The nourishing, repairing formula also contains baobab oil and flower extracts and has a soft floral scent that isn't overpowering. It's ideal for strengthening brittle hair damaged from heat styling and color treatments. And unlike other masks that aren't meant for the scalp, you can freely massage this one in at the roots for a bonus scalp treatment.
Price at time of publish: $42
Active Ingredients: Lotus and orchid flower extracts, amino acids | Hair Type: Brittle | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 6.8 or 33.8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Leave-In Treatment
K18 Biomimetic Hairscience Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask
Available in mini size
Hair looks more manageable
If your hair is damaged from heat styling, this leave-in mask is a must. The formula includes a proprietary peptide meant to repair damage from heat styling and chemical processing. Reviewers love the way it softens and smooths out the hair for an instant result, while it also strengthens hair over time—with one reviewer saying it "freshened" up the look of their hair. The formula also contains protein to help bolster hair's strength and leave it feeling healthier and less brittle. A little product also goes a long way, which helps to justify the high price per ounce, and there's no need to rinse it out, so you can reap the benefits all day long.
Price at time of publish: $75
Active Ingredients: sh-Oligopeptide-78 | Hair Type: All | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, BHT | Size: 0.5 or 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Breakage
Amika The Kure Intense Bond Repair Mask
Contains several oils and hydrating ingredients
Won't weigh down hair
Rich in plant butters and sea buckthorn oil, this hydrating mask from Amika is ideal for medium and thick hair types with breakage, split ends, and frizz. Similar to other bond-building conditioners like Olaplex, it is meant to restore damaged hair and contains what the brand calls bond cure technology, while it's also chock full of nourishing ingredients like mango seed and shea butters to soften hair and dial up the shine. Users say it leaves hair feeling ultra soft and has a great, light scent.
Price at time of publish: $40
Active Ingredients: Aminomethyl propanol, sea buckthorn oil, borage seed oil | Hair Type: Medium-thick, thick | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 8.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner
Helps detangle hair
Iterations of this conditioning mask have been on drugstore shelves for decades, proving that this conditioning mask has stood the test of time. The scent is tropical and leaves us feeling nostalgic, and the formula, with jojoba and avocado oils, leaves hair feeling soft and manageable. And for under $10, you can slather this into thick hair and let it soak up without worrying about wasting a precious drop.
Price at time of publish: $6
Active Ingredients: Avocado and jojoba seed oils | Hair Type: Dry, damaged | Free of: Sulfates, parabens, BHT | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Fine Hair
R+Co Television Perfect Hair Masque
Lightweight enough for fine hair
Not as moisturizing as other options
For fine hair in need of some TLC, this mask helps tamp down frizz while it boosts shine and elasticity. It contains murumuru and coconut butter, plus other oils to add gloss to hair. And with vitamin E, it also helps preserve color-treated hair and prevents fading as a bonus. Just keep in mind if your hair is extremely dry, this product might not be hydrating enough for you.
Price at time of publish: $40
Active Ingredients: Coconut oil, murumuru butter | Hair Type: Fine, balanced | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Blondes
Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Purple Intense Repair Hair Mask
Restores brightness and shine
Not for extremely dry hair
Blonde hair requires maintenance to stay bright and true, and this mask helps boost color while it conditions bleached hair for two steps in one. And while toning shampoos and conditioners can have a reputation for being drying, this mask is anything but. With nourishing plant butters and violet-based pigments, it softens hair while it color-corrects brassy tones in blonde hair. Many reviewers say it boosted the vibrance of their hair while leaving it feeling silky.
Price at time of publish: $40
Active Ingredients: Violet pigment, mango butter extract | Hair Type: Color-treated | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Processed Hair
Davines NOUNOU Hair Mask
Made with naturally hydrating ingredients
Can replace conditioner when used
Contains synthetic dyes
When you chemically process your hair, whether that be by relaxing, dying, or bleaching, your hair can become dry and sometimes even brittle. This hair mask from Davines is specifically catered to processed hair types—being able to repair damage, add moisture, and give the hair healthy body. The result? Soft, silky hair that's not weighed down and looks lively.
Price at time of publish: $38
Active Ingredients: Fiaschetto tomato extract, jojoba oil, olive oil | Hair Type: Processed | Free of: Sulfates, parabens | Size: 8.82 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
It's A 10 Miracle Hair Mask
Makes the hair soft
Can be used daily
Safe for colored hair
As its name suggests, this hair mask does it all—having ten benefits to treat and nourish dry, damaged hair. From detangling to smoothing frizz to restoring moisture, its the only hair mask you'll need for a head of healthy hair. We love that it makes your locks look shiny and soft, and it's also able to add vibrance for those with color-treated hair.
Price at time of publish: $36
Active Ingredients: Keratin amino acids, hydrolyzed collagen | Hair Type: All | Free of: Sulfates | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
A Team Byrdie favorite, the Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 is a best-seller for a reason. It truly works to repair broken, dry and damaged hair, which is why we’re calling it out as our top pick. Honorable mention also goes to the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer for its oil-rich formulation. For a wallet-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with the SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque, which deeply nourishes with shea butter and plant oils.
Meet the Expert
- Lisa Caddy is a trichologist and hair expert who works as a consultant and education manager at Philip Kingsley. She’s also a member of the Institute of Trichologists.
- Mark DeBolt is a celebrity colorist and co-founder of Mark Ryan Salon. A protégé of celebrity colorist Marie Robinson, his areas of expertise include his signature blend of foil highlighting, balayage, and specialty color placement techniques. Currently, he’s an ambassador, educator, and hair color expert for Wella Professionals.
What to Look For in a Hair Mask for Dry, Damaged Hair
Deep hydration for curly and thick hair
If your hair is dry, Mark DeBolt, celebrity colorist and co-founder of Mark Ryan Salon, says you’ll need to look for hair masks specifically designed to enrich hair with moisture and hydration—and if your hair is on the curly or coarse side, you’ll want a formula that’s especially thick and nourishing. Look for ingredients like plant-based butters and oils such as shea butter and coconut, olive, and castor oils, like in the Amika The Kure Intense Repair Mask.
Lightweight hydration for fine hair
If your hair is dry and on the finer side, DeBolt recommends using masks that provide lightweight moisture so that your hair isn’t left greasy or weighed down. Hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, and sesame oil are great for hydrating the hair without leaving behind a heavy residue.
Tinted or toning for color-treated hair
For dry hair that's also color-treated, consider opting for a hydrating hair mask that also deposits pigment, like Amika Bust Your Brass Intense Repair Mask. Bleached blondes can benefit from the toning effects of blue, purple, and silver tints, while other hair colors should reach for color-depositing conditioning masks (read: They don’t lift or damage the hair), which can help extend your time between visits to the salon. Linseed extract is also an excellent ingredient to look for since it can help to preserve color.
Hair masks tend to be ultra-rich and concentrated and usually come in fairly small quantities. So if your hair is ultra-thick or long, you may be using more than a dollop at a time and will want to look for products that come in larger sizes, so you get the best value.
How do you apply a hair mask for dry, damaged hair?
When it comes to application, DeBolt says to spread your mask onto clean, damp hair and leave it on for five minutes before rinsing out. Some masks may require a longer leave-in time, so be sure to read through any directions first. Those with coarser or curly hair may benefit from leaving the mask on overnight and rinsing it out the next morning for an extra dose of moisture. If your hair is prone to tangles, try combing the mask through with a wide-tooth comb.
Unless your hair is very thin or fine, you can use a deep conditioning mask two or three times per week. You typically wouldn't use one every day since doing so could weigh down your hair and contribute to buildup over time. If your hair is fine, try using a mask once a week and concentrate it on your ends to avoid weighing down your hair.
If you're using a leave-in product, like the K18 Molecular Repair Mask, you can apply it liberally and if you have long hair, pile it into a bun using a claw clip to keep it out of the way for the day.
Why Trust Byrdie
For this round-up, we consulted a trichologist for their thoughts, suggestions, and insights while also testing a few hair masks ourselves (this writer also happens to have dry, dehydrated hair). Finally, we’ve also included some references to academic journal articles, so you know the information you’re getting about certain ingredients is correct.
Amaya-Cruz DM, Pérez-Ramírez IF, Delgado-García J, Mondragón-Jacobo C, Dector-Espinoza A, Reynoso-Camacho R. An integral profile of bioactive compounds and functional properties of prickly pear (Opuntia ficus indica L.) peel with different tonalities. Food Chem. 2019 Apr 25;278:568-578. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2018.11.031.
Bernard BA, Franbourg A, François AM, Gautier B, Hallegot P. Ceramide binding to African-American hair fibre correlates with resistance to hair breakage. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2002 Feb;24(1):1-12. doi: 10.1046/j.0412-5463.2001.00106.x.
Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
Chaiyana W, Leelapornpisid P, Jakmunee J, Korsamphan C. Antioxidant and Moisturizing Effect of Camellia assamica Seed Oil and Its Development into Microemulsion. Cosmetics. 2018; 5(3):40. https://doi.org/10.3390/cosmetics5030040