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The 25 Best Hair Masks for the Softest Hair of Your Life

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of the retailers.

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We’ve got nothing against your daily conditioner, but is it putting in the work? The best hair masks are your ticket out of Dullsville and after a particularly well-lived summer spent in chlorine-filled pools and under powerful UV rays, your run-ragged strands could probably use some extra TLC.

Packed with moisturizing ingredients like botanical oils and active bond builders, these deep-conditioning treatments work to revive parched, brittle hair and protect against damage to come. Hey, fall and winter bring drier air — indoors and outdoors — and for all you know, the apartment lease you just signed could bring hard (like, Werther’s Original hard) water into your life.

Whatever the reason, your shower routine couldn’t be hurt by adding a restorative hair mask. Ready for the softest, shiniest strands of your life? Here are 25 hair masks we recommend.


What’s the difference between a leave-in conditioner and a hair mask?

Consistency is the first tell. Celebrity hairstylist Mia Santiago says that leave-in conditioners are more lightweight than hair masks. Think of them as a moisturizer and detangler that can be layered with a step or two, like a curly cream or blow dry, after applying.

They also serve different purposes, explains Sky Barbarick, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist: “Some hair masks can penetrate the cuticle (the outer most layer of the hair) and deliver nourishment to the cortex of damaged and dehydrated hair.” Frequency is the last big difference, says Barbarick. “Leave-in conditioner is perfect for daily use, while a hair mask is better used as a treatment a couple times a month up to once a week.”

Can you leave a hair mask in your hair all day?

Hair masks aren’t intended to be worn out of the shower or used every day, particularly if you have fine or thin hair. They’re hyper potent and, subsequently, thick. Meaning, unless you’re into the weighed-down look (complete with greasy roots and impenetrable strands), you’ll want to wash the mask off thoroughly.

What are some signs your hair is in need of a hair mask?

“If your hair is bleached, you need a hair mask,” says Barbarick. She adds that those with dull, dry, brittle, weak, or damaged hair will want to look into one as well. Santiago adds that if you’re finding the conditioner isn’t restoring moisture or shine, “It’s time to pull out the big guns and use a mask!”

What are some ingredients to look out for in a hair mask?

“You’ll want a mask with nourishing properties like shea butter, jojoba, coconut, castor, and olive oils,” says Santiago. If you’re prone to reading labels, Barbarick says amodimethicone is a light silicone that forms a protective and smoothing shield on the hair that can last through several washes. Her pro tip? Wear a shower cap under heat for 10 to 15 minutes to make it extra effective.

The One That Does Damage Control and Is an Amazon Favorite

If your hair feels brittle, broken, or just generally doomed due to the chemicals or heat you voluntarily subjected it to, this is the hair mask to call in for reinforcements. The treatment contains the brand’s patented bond-building technology that helps repair broken hair at the strand level, so you’re rebuilding things after a disaster, rather than putting on a fresh coat of shine to cover it up. It’s the best-reviewed hair mask on Amazon, with 94,000 five-star reviews.

The One That Makes Hair Supersoft

This award-winning mask from the clean hair-care line has won over Cut staffers and a cool 3K or so Sephora reviewers alike. It’s also one of the most mentioned products in our “Auto-Refill” series. Its naturally derived ingredients — including B vitamins, rosehip oil, argan oil, collagen, and silk — transform hair into shiny, silky strands that are instantly softer to the touch after you step out of the shower.

The Nutritious One

If your hair feels weaker or more lackluster than usual, this nourishing, antioxidant-packed mask of vitamins E and C–rich tomato extract will help nurse it back to life, as if it’s been regularly popping its multivitamins.

The One That Makes Hair Super-Shiny

This mask is essentially a Good Hair Day in a tube. The blend of moisturizing murumuru butter, hydrating snow mushroom extract, and four oils ranging from olive to pequi gets you sleek, frizz-free, extra-shiny hair that, as the name implies, is pretty much camera-ready, no Zoom filter needed.

When it comes to staple hair products, you can’t go wrong with celeb-loved brand Kérastase. Sure, the luxury line has a bevy of products to choose from, but when it comes to hair masks, we love this ultrahydrating one for folks with dry hair. The mask is formulated with plant-based proteins and nourishing niacinamide, which makes detangling the hair a breeze. In addition to strengthening dry hair, it adds sheen and softness, according to thousands of reviews.

Whether you have super-fine curls or thick coils, Pattern has you covered with a treatment mask for all hair types. The beloved Black-owned hair-care brand (founded by Tracee Ellis Ross) is known for its hydrating products and hair tools. But the brand also offers this rice-water-infused gelée mask that works like a deep conditioner. Apply the mask after shampooing and let it sit in for five to ten minutes (with either a shower cap or warm towel for heat-assisted penetration), then rinse. It not only helps with hair shine and strength for those with curly texture, it also helps to elongate and define curls.

The One That’s a Spa Day for Curls

Caring for delicate curls can become a chore, but taking a dip into this luxurious tub not only makes dry curls feel much more manageable, but also turns the often annoying process of moisturizing and moisturizing some more into a pampering process.

The One for Thick Hair

If you have thick hair and a lot of it, this rich hair mask will get the hydrating job done without you having to go through half of the tub. It’s packed with shea butter, reparative keratin protein, and the brand’s star ingredient (argan oil, of course) to make managing all that hair much easier when detangling or styling.

The Starter Hair Mask

If you’re new to the world of hair masks (welcome) or can’t quite put your finger on a particular hair problem, Verb’s well-rounded hydrating mask is a good place to start. It’s a step up from your usual conditioner but not overly heavy, and leaves a light, lingering scent, making it a good pick for any hair types that could use a little something-something.

The One for Fine Hair

If you’ve shied away from hair masks because you don’t think your fine hair can handle the heaviness, consider this mask designed with weightlessness in mind. The formula’s hydration comes from nutrient- and mineral-rich deep-sea water rather than a thick emollient, and it aims to rebalance the natural oils already hanging out on your head instead of adding more into the mix, so limp hair feels more bouncy and enjoys a bit of a lift.

The Trusty One You Can Always Rely On


Like its cult-favorite leave-in conditioner counterpart, this miracle mask is a reliable, no-frills treatment that has many abilities, including smoothing and softening overly heat-styled hair and even standing in for your regular post-shampoo conditioner when used in smaller doses.

The One to Splurge On

Yes, the triple-digit price makes you do a double take, but it’s worth it if you want to really invest in your hair. The gloop-y goodness gets right down to nourishing business with a healthy serving of coconut oil and rarer nut oils like cupuaçu and manketti, plus shea butter for a transformative experience that’s like giving your hair the head equivalent of a fancy spa facial at home.

The One You Can Comfortably Sleep In

“For a nontraditional mask, IGK’s Antisocial dry mask is it!” says Santiago. If you want to wear your hair mask for upwards of seven hours without worrying about it oozing onto your pillow, IGK’s innovative dry formula makes it a breeze. It goes on like a dry shampoo but is anything but — instead of soaking up oil, it distributes a time-released, bond-building formula that strengthens hair over time, preventing damage, frizz, and the need to actually get in the shower.

The One That Will Reset Your Color

When it comes to caring for your color-treated hair, masks can be a lifesaver. The K18 leave-in mask has over 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon (not to mention that it’s also Cut Shop-approved) and is made to reverse damage from bleach, dyes, chemical treaments, and heat. Barbarick adds that if you thought silicones didn’t work for your hair, you should try this one: “The main ingredient is amazing for chemically treated hair by repairing broken bonds and the polypeptide chains that make up the hair.”

The One That Feels Like a Makeover

If you’re looking for a true treat-yo-self moment at home, this luxurious hair mask is like the icing on a self-care cake. Thanks to keratin and an amino-acid blend, your hair feels like new post-rinse and will waft the brand’s heavenly Melrose scent of rose, bergamot, and cedarwood long after. That combo alone is enough to make your hair feel like it went from a “before” picture to an “after,” worthy of slo-mo hair shake.

The One to Take on Vacation

This mask is packed with reparative monoi oil, a Tahitian beauty secret that has long been relied upon to undo and prevent damage from the sun and salty ocean water, making it a good pick if you tend to emerge from pools or other bodies of water with matted tangles and crispy strands. Another reason to leave this one on a little longer — the scent of the other star ingredients, Tahitian gardenia extract and coconut oil, will make you smell like you’re on a beach vacation regardless of where you actually are and what you’re actually doing.

The One That Supports Your Hair-Growth Journey

If you’re embarking on the painstaking journey of growing your hair longer, this tub of goodness makes for a supportive sidekick. Apple cider vinegar and peppermint will keep your scalp stimulated and clean while your hair sits in strengthening shea butter and Jamaican black castor oil, a recipe for less breakage and more length retention over time.

The Silky-Smooth One

Founded by Babba Rivera, Ceremonia is a clean hair-care brand influenced by Rivera’s Latinx heritage. One of its newest launches is the hydrating hair mask, made from Brazilian babassu and Mexican cupaçu butter, which leaves your hair feeling extremely soft.

The One You Can Share With Roommates

This well-rounded hair mask — packed with high-quality avocado oil, lemon extract, and olive-fruit oil — is a good staple to keep stocked in a shared bathroom. The nourishing blend benefits all hair types and has a fresh, subtle smell that will please all noses.

The One With Vitamin C

You’ve probably heard about vitamin C for your face, but what about your hair? The vitamin C hair mask from Rizos Curls uses the natural ingredient to repair hair, improve manageability, and help shield hair from damage.

The One That Leaves Your Hair Smelling Amazing

The signature scent of Crown Affair products — a mix of bergamot, yuzu, and lemongrass — is reason enough to use this mask. If the idea of your hair smelling amazing isn’t enough to purchase, this mask is color-safe and will leave your hair smooth and hydrated.

The Sweet One

This hair mask is packed with honey, a natural humectant, and is a sweet-smelling treat for dry, brittle hair. The extra-thick formula works best for strands that are in dire need of some TLC, which is why the Strategist’s Rio Viera-Newton loves using it on bleached hair to help it literally bounce back.

The One That Focuses on Your Scalp

When it comes to scalp health, Act + Acre is the answer. The clean hair-care line founded by celebrity hair stylist Helen Reavy, who works with the likes of Harry Styles and Bella Hadid, is made reset your scalp and bring you hydrated locks. All you have to do is use once a week to get hair just like Harry Styles!

The Perfect Two-in-One

If you’re someone who tends to gravitate toward products that do more than just one thing, consider these masks made for curly colored hair from Ouidad. Instead of buying a separate purple shampoo or conditioner to neutralize brassy tones, use this deep-conditioning mask that’s made specifically for curls. It was especially helpful for Cut contributor Brooke LaMantia when she had balayage. She even used some when she bleached her eyebrows to keep them from looking brassy.

The Most Affordable One

Only $4 when you pick up from your local TJ’s, this is a product Brooke LaMantia always has in her shower. Made from shea butter and coconut oil, the hair mask leaves your strands feeling silky as can be. It’s super-affordable, which means LaMantia is able to drench her thick hair without feeling too guilty (something everyone should aim for when having an at-home spa day).

Our experts:

The 25 Best Hair Masks for the Softest Hair of Your Life