If you are suffering from damaged hair with split ends, you know the frustration. It might seem that no matter what you do or what products you use, you are stuck with hair that is lacking luster, shine and vibrance. As it turns out, there are a myriad of factors that can cause hair to become dry and brittle. One major cause is over-processing your hair or getting it colored too often. Too much bleach or color correction quickly breaks down the hair cuticle until it is a shadow of what it once was, explains New York City-based master hair colorist Stephanie Brown at IGK Salon. Also, heat, whether it be from the sun’s UV rays, a blow dryer or hot tool, can also cause damage. Another surprising culprit is over-washing your hair. In fact, according to Marina Perkovic, a hairstylist at Eliut Salon in New York City, washing our hair too often strips our scalp of its natural oils, which run down the hair shaft and protect it from breakage.
While the best solution to taming brittle strands is without a doubt a good haircut — ideally every eight to 12 weeks — a great hair mask can keep hair moisturized in the interim. “[A] hair mask plays a very important role in reinforcing cortex (second layer of the hair) and smoothing the cuticle (outermost layer of the hair),” explains Perkovic. In between haircuts, a hair mask can help nourish your strands enough to withstand most day-to-day damage caused by the sun or heat styling tools.
The tough part is choosing the right hair mask. There are hundreds, if not thousands, on the market, in all different price ranges. How do you know which is best for your hair? Here, hairstylists reveal their absolute favorite hair masks for their clients with dry, brittle strands.
Inphenom Superior Treatment Effect
This Japanese treatment line can be used as both a regular conditioner or a leave-in treatment that you rinse out after a night’s sleep. “Since it’s made for colored and bleached hair, it works perfectly for dry and brittle hair,” says Brittany King, colorist at Larry King Salon in London and Mare Salon in Los Angeles. “It has jojoba esters, rosehip oil and 11 amino acids that don’t weigh the hair down, no matter how you use it.”
Restorative Treatment Mask
Tina Malhotra, a stylist at Mia Wagner Salon in New York City, fell in love with Virtue hair products when she used to highlight her hair on the regular. “Damage was par for the course, so I relied on this hair mask to bring my strands back to life,” she says. “The key ingredient, the alpha keratin 6OKU — an ethically sourced human keratin protein that makes up 90 percent of our hair, skin and nails — truly locked in my shine and restored the moisture. It felt silky again.”
Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3
This hair mask might be small, but it sure is mighty. Malhotra says there is just nothing else like it on the market. “It truly repairs the broken bonds due to color damage or brittleness,” she says. “It really strengthens the hair strand, and using it as a hair mask just once a week makes a big difference.”
Christophe Robin Shade Variation Nutritive Mask with Temporary Coloring
If you are blonde, whether you are a natural blonde, bleached blonde or simply have blonde highlights, this is the hair mask for you. “This mask has toner in it and is specifically for colored hair, so it not only adds moisture and repairs strands, but it richens tone with each use,” says Malhotra.
Kérastase Resistance Masque Therapiste
All hair types, from straight and wavy to curly and coiled, will benefit from using this fiber-renewing hair mask. “The key differentiator between this mask and others is that it gets into the deepest layers of the hair’s cuticle where it not only strengthens, but stimulates hair to grow, and it leaves hair feeling very soft,” says King. “It can repair hair that is dry and damaged with deep moisture and protects against further breakage,” says King. Unlike other masks, it can be used daily without weighing down the hair too much.
IGK Expensive Amla Oil Hi-Shine Topcoat
This hair mask is unique in the sense that its main function is protection. In addition to providing hydration thanks to a nourishing natural conditioning ingredient known as amla oil, it also contains sea kelp extract to help prevent further breakage. “These are both extremely moisturizing and protect hair from getting dry or damaged,” says Brown.
Phytokératine Extrême Exceptional Mask
This impressive mask adds moisture back to even the finest brittle hair without weighing it down, according to Perkovic. “It’s silicone-free and contains amino acids, which mimic hair’s natural keratin,” says Perkovic. “It also is loaded with omega-6 fatty acids that leave hair feeling soft, shiny and supple.”
René Furterer KARITÉ Nutri Intense Nourishing Mask
This mask was developed for the most damaged hair imaginable — and, according to both Perkovic and Brown, it lives up to the hype! It is made with a top emollient, shea butter, along with wheat microproteins that help rebuild the hair shaft. Use once or twice weekly for optimal results along with your regular shampoo and conditioner.
John Masters Organics Repair Hair Mask for Damaged Hair with Honey Hibiscus
This mask is like rehab for hair that needs recovering. It is meant for extremely dry, damaged hair and has the ability to restore its structure by locking in moisture and protecting it from elements that could lead to further damage, explains Perkovic. “It’s a mask packed with honey to provide moisture, and hibiscus flower which repairs and strengthens the hair,” she adds.
365 Everyday Value Organic Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has impressive hydrating abilities that lend themselves well to both skin and hair. King recommends using it as a hair mask overnight allow it to really penetrate dry and brittle hair. “It can help strengthen the hair and reduces hair breakage,” she says.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.