The first time I experimented with a hair mask, I raked a thick, luxe cream through my damp strands, only to discover that my thin hair didn’t need (and couldn’t handle) such a rich formula. After suffering through five days of greasy hair, I figured out that no hair mask is created equal. And if you’re hoping to reap any benefits from a mask, you have to use the right formula for your texture’s needs.
Before you shell out any money on a mask though, first know what you’re buying and the benefits that a formula brings to
the table your hair. “Masks are a great way to shield your hair from environmental aggressors (pollution and UV rays), protect it from heat and styling damage, balance its pH levels, detangle your strands, seal split ends, and add shine,” says hairstylist Justine Marjan, whose client roster includes the Kardashians, Chrissy Teigen, and Jenna Dewan, to name a few.
In short: If you’ve got hair, you can and will benefit from a mask. But how do you figure out which one is right for you? Ahead,walks us through her favorite hair mask ingredients, along with the products to trust for your hair type.
For Dry Hair
“Anyone with dry hair should look for a mask with oil-based ingredients, since they work to replenish moisture back into your strands,” says Marjan. Lightweight oils, like jojoba and sesame, are ideal for finer/thinner hair types, while coconut and shea oils revive dry ends and parched roots in thicker hair textures with a dose of heavy-duty moisture. “I particularly love the TRESemme Nourish & Replenish Mask — formulated with strengthening and conditioning ingredients, like coconut milk and aloe vera, because it’s hydrating enough to see results after one use, yet it’s light enough to be used with every wash,” she explains.
For Thin Hair
Thin hair is easily weighed down by thick moisturizers, but that doesn’t mean hair masks are totally off limits. “Christophe Robin’s Wheat Germ Mask is great for thin hair because it balances the hair’s pH levels without adding heavy moisturizers,” she says. But otherwise, lightweight hydrators like jojoba oil and honey extract are sure mane-moisturizing bets. Marjan also says she looks for strand-strengthening ingredients, like biotin and rice protein, on ingredient labels.
For Curly or Wavy Hair
“Curly hair is naturally more dry than straighter hair types, so I opt for masks with hydrating oils like coconut, castor, olive, and marula,” says Marjan. “You’ll want to use oils that are heavy enough to tame and shape your curls, but also protect and strengthen them at the same time.” Marjan’s favorite formula for curlier types is Ouidad’s Triple Treat. It conditions your curls and waves with a blend of coconut, avocado, and grapeseed oils for a soft, ultra-hydrated texture.
For Oily Hair
Using a thick, creamy mask on oily hair is a guaranteed way to make your hair even greasier, which is why Marjan recommends oilier types skip thick masks and try powerful clarifiers like apple cider vinegar. “Apple cider vinegar is one of my favorite ways to balance pH levels, which can lead to excess oil production,” she explains. “It also hydrates and adds shine to the hair without weighing it down.” Instead of a traditional mask or conditioner, Marjan suggests using a DIY rinse post-shampoo, like ¼ cup apple cider vinegar mixed with two cups of water. Don’t have time to make your own concoction? Products like dpHUE’s Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse have got you covered.
For Color-Treated Hair
Anyone with color-treated hair is an ideal candidate for masks, but it’s important to stick to ingredients that won’t strip your color. “Linseed extract is great for color-treated hair because it preserves melanin content,” says Marjan. “I also suggest using something with rice protein, since it protects and repairs hair from oxidative damage [aka no more brassiness].” One of Marjan’s favorite masks for color-treated hair is Rita Hazan’s Weekly Remedy, a two-step formula that combines rice protein and linseed extract with a powerful, super-hydrating blend of jojoba, plum, olive, and moringa seed oils.