If you have hair, you could probably benefit from using a hair mask every once in a while. And since the best drugstore hair masks cost less than $10 — and work their magic within minutes — you have no excuse to wait until your next cut or color appointment to give your hair some TLC.
For the most part, stylists recommend using a mask once a week, after shampooing and in place of conditioner. My stylist actually recommends shampooing twice before using a mask, since it's easier for clean hair to absorb all those power-packed ingredients. She also recommends squeezing out excess water then loading up the product on the ends, where the hair is older and more in need of strengthening and conditioning.
If you’re short on time, you can leave your mask on for a few minutes while you finish up your shower. Otherwise, you can comb the product through your washed and semi-dried hair, wrap your head in a towel (or throw on a shower cap/processing cap), and leave the mask on for up to 20 minutes, or as long as overnight, depending on your hair type and level of damage (if any).
In short? Better to use a mask even occasionally than to use no mask at all. Below are just five of the best drugstore hair masks you can find, according to particular hair concerns and preferences. They’re just as effective on your hair as they are easy on your bank account.
1. The Best Quick-Fix Hair Mask
Packed with healing and conditioning papaya extract, this Garnier Fructis Damage Repairing Treat 1-Minute Mask is an ideal alternative to conditioner if you’ve put your hair through the wringer with heat styling and dye, but it’s an equally luxurious (yet affordable!) treatment if your hair is in need of extra moisture, shine, or frizz control. According to reviewers, this sweet-scented, color-safe treatment works beautifully on most hair types, from fine and straight to curly and thick. And since it works in just 60 seconds, it’s especially ideal if you’re in a rush or are generally impatient.
2. The Best Hair Mask For Damaged And/Or Color-Treated Hair
As a person who’s been dyeing her hair red (or black, pink, or purple) for almost 10 years, I understand the struggle of A) maintaining that dynamic color and shine between appointments with your stylist, and B) saving your hair from the potential damage wrought through dyeing and bleaching your hair so much.
Hence, the importance of regularly using a nourishing and repairing hair mask, like the L’Oreal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 balm. This powerful mask harnesses almond extract, proteins, and ceramides to counteract the five signs of hair damage — weakness, roughness, dullness, dehydration, and split ends — which can be exacerbated if you routinely dye your hair. Those powerhouse ingredients also enhance your hair's smoothness and shine, which’ll make your color look glossy and fresh. That said, you can definitely use this mask as a deep conditioning and strengthening treatment even if you've never dyed your hair.
3. The Best Drugstore Hair Mask For Curly Hair And/Or Dry Scalps
Created specifically for black hair and developed by a team of black scientists, the Head and Shoulders Royal Oils Deep Moisture Masque intensely soothes, cleanses, and moisturizes dry scalps, whether you wear your hair natural or relaxed. When used twice a week, reviewers say it made their hair (and their kids’ hair!) soft and hydrated, and they love its light, tropical-floral scent. However, this rich coconut oil-based formula can work well for people of all hair types who experience dandruff or especially itchy or flaky scalps. Since it’s free of parabens, sulfates, and dyes, it’s safe for color-treated hair, too.
4. The Best Travel-Friendly Drugstore Hair Mask
Hotels? Love them. Hotel shampoo and conditioner? Kind of a crapshoot. The next time you travel, stash a few of Pantene's Intense Rescue Shots in your carry-on to make sure your hair is soft and shiny, regardless of whatever mysterious tiny bottles you find in your hotel bathroom. The concentrated formula contained in these TSA-friendly ampoules includes strengthening vitamin B5 and lipids, plus natural glycerin to seal in moisture. And even if you’re not traveling, these single-use tubes are handy for pumping out just the right amount of product.
5. The Best Drugstore Hair Sheet Mask
Just like your favorite sheet masks for your face, hair sheet masks are soaked in highly concentrated formulas that seep directly into your pores (or, in this case, your strands). Sheet masks for your hair are relatively rare, but this L’Oreal Paris EverPure Intense Moisture Hair Sheet Mask is among the best of its kind. After you shampoo and condition your hair in the shower, just unfold the mask — it looks a bit like a shower cap, but this one is drenched in a moisturizing treatment — secure it over your hair, massage the formula into your scalp, and wait five minutes while the steam activates the mask.
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