A weekly hair mask can revive dry, brittle ends after the everyday battery of heat styling, chemical treatments, and sun exposure. The best hydrating hair masks blend nourishing ingredients to quench and soften parched strands. The key to finding the right mask for your hair means knowing what to look for on the label.
When it comes to hydration, you're going to want two main types of ingredients: humectants and emollients. Here's a breakdown of what each has to offer.
- Humectants: In a nutshell, humectants are moisturizers. They're water-binding agents that draw hydration into your strands like a magnet. They help your hair to feel soft and bouncy, making it more elastic and less likely to break. Glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera are popular humectants — but scientific-sounding ingredients like propylene glycol and panthenol are humectants, too. Even hydrolyzed proteins like keratin count.
- Emollients: This type of ingredient actually works to lock in the moisture. Some common examples include plant oils, butters, silicones, and fatty alcohols. Emollients can also help soften, detangle, and reduce frizz. Some emollients are lighter and therefore more likely to be better for fine hair, like argan, sweet almond oil, or dimethicone; others are heavier and might be preferable for coarser strands (think coconut oil, shea butter, and olive oil).
With that in mind, here are the best hydrating hair masks on Amazon.
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1. The Overall Best Hydrating Hair Mask
This Allure Readers's Choice 2019 award-winning repairing hair mask combines hydrating ingredients like glycerin (a key humectant) with nourishing emollients like rosehip and argan oils, plus biotin, keratin, ginseng, and algae extract for strong, healthy hair. "The queen of hair masks," one shopper declared. Another reviewer noted, "It leaves my hair super hydrated and soft. Every time I visit my stylist she says it feels healthy, and my hair is bleached so that’s really saying a lot." The cruelty-free and gluten-free formula is derived from 98% natural ingredients, without parabens, silicones, sulfates, or artificial dyes. One independent study revealed 75% less hair breakage after just three applications of this mask compared to untreated hair, and the brand keeps an updated list of studies backing their natural ingredients so you can shop with confidence.
- Leave mask on for 5 to 10 minutes, or 30 minutes under a cap
2. The Best On A Budget
Backed by more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon, this hydrating hair mask from Neutrogena is a fan favorite for a reason. Some of the first ingredients on the label include lab-based heavy-hitters — like emollient fatty alcohols and dimethicone — to lock in hydration. Just after those nourishing yet eye-crossing ingredients comes a trio of natural oils chosen specifically for their ability to sink into different layers of your strands. Olive oil penetrates deep into the core, meadowfoam saturates the middle layer, and sweet almond lightly coats the outside. "My hair was soooo dry and crunchy," prefaced one shopper. "ONE time using this and my hair has been transformed." Plus, for just $14, you get two jars since this pick comes in a convenient two-pack.
- Leave mask on for 3 to 5 minutes
3. The Best For Fine Hair
This hair mask for fine hair is an underground hit that softens and conditions thin or fine strands thanks to a delicate blend of strengthening keratin, and moisturizing oils including Moroccan argan oil, vitamin E, and wheat germ. One shopper who contended with stress-induced hair loss called it "a miracle worker," adding "My hair is very thin right now and it didn't weigh it down at all. It was manageable and held the style well, even after sleeping on it!" And since it's sulfate- and sodium-free, it can safely be used on keratin-treated hair as well to help maintain your investment.
- Leave mask on for approximately 10 minutes
4. The Best Overnight Hair Mask
This weightless (and pillow-safe) overnight hair mask promises to make hair shiny and more manageable with a blend of humectants, like propylene glycol and glycerin, as well as nourishing amino acids and rice proteins. Using a patented hair molecule (OFPMA) that helps repel dirt and smooth and seal down the cuticle, this mask leaves hair silky soft and polished. "First hair conditioning product I've used that actually lived up to it's claims," one convert declared. "This really softened and added moisture to my dry, breaking, overprocessed hair. Gave it volume as well." The results last through up to five shampoos, and their patented technology repels dirt and oil to actually help your hair stay cleaner between washes.
- Leave mask on overnight
5. The Best For Combatting Brassiness
This toning hair mask neutralizes unwanted brassiness that can develop in blonde and grey hair so your color looks fresh and bright. The formula's repairing complexes help restore hair after the damage from bleach, heat styling, and sun exposure, while humectants like glycerin and emollients, like Tahitian monoi and illipe butter, hydrate and soften. Hair is left strong and shiny, with increased elasticity — although a few reviews noted it was a little heavy on fine hair. "I feel that it definitely helped keep my icy blondes white instead of golden. I have very fine hair so I only used it as a mask once a week...I can definitely see how this could be beneficial for more frequent use by someone with a thicker, coarser hair."
- Leave mask on for 5 minutes
6. The Best For Natural Hair
This "born in Brooklyn" hair mask was created for natural curls and is a Glamour Beauty award-winner. It uses a blend of humectants like glycerin and emollients like coconut oil and shea butter to soak deep into coarse strands to instantly provide much-needed moisture. Hair is left softer and shinier, and more manageable. One reviewer with a tight curl pattern ended up buying the entire line, commenting that this product in particular provides "Great moisture. Leaves hair soft with beautiful natural curls. Plus adds shine."
- Leave mask on for 3 to 5 minutes, or under a cap for 10 - 15 minutes