I have blue hair. Does my hair love this dying process? No, not at all. So I went on the search to find the best deep conditioner for me.
It’s not just dyes that stress out hair. Chemical treatments, flat ironing, blow-drying, swimming in chlorine pools, pollution, and being out in the sun can lead to dry, damaged hair in need of some real pampering. It’s not always damage either. Some hair types, especially natural hair, need that deep drink from time to time to stay supple and strong.
Deep conditioning treatments are turbo-powered conditioners that moisturize, strengthen, and otherwise repair unhappy hair in just one application. They’re not for everyday use like normal conditioners and are generally best when used between once a week and once a month depending on how much attention your hair needs.
How long you leave the hair mask in depends on the product and your hair. Treatments are left in anywhere from three minutes to overnight. Heat improves the absorption of moisture so put a shower cap over your mask or wrap your hair in plastic wrap then cover the whole thing in a warm towel.
Make it a mini spa day–throw a mask in your hair, throw on some Netflix, and relax. In between treatments or when you don’t have the time for a long soak, it’s important your hair is getting the conditioning it needs.
Hair masks work on the outer layer of your hair called the cuticle. The cuticle is made up of overlapping scales. On healthy hair, these scales lay flat making your hair smooth and shiny.
When your hair is damaged, these scales start sticking up all over the place causing your hair to frizz, tangle, and lose its shine. Hair masks bind to your hair’s cuticle and smooth the shaft down with moisturizers and proteins.
The main players in a hair mask are oils and proteins. Natural oils, like argan oil or coconut oil, moisturize and calm hair. They protect against future heat damage and give hair its soft feel.
When your hair is damaged to the point of being brittle with lots of breakage, your hair lacks protein. Your hair is made of a protein called keratin and protein treatments coat your hair and fill in the weak, thin areas of your cuticle strengthening it.
Protein gives your hair its elasticity, bounce, and volume. Treating your hair with protein too often will weigh it down so keep high protein masks to once every two weeks or more.
One of the major differences between masks is what oil they use as their base. Here are three of most common oils and what they’re best for.
Coconut Oil. We live in a world that says coconut oil will solve all your problems, but I have coconut oil in my kitchen and it has yet to do my dishes. It will, however, do wonders for you hair.
Coconut oil works on all hair types from baby-fine to type 4c. If your hair is on the greasy side, it’s best to leave it off your roots. To get the benefits of coconut oil you need cosmetic-grade coconut oil. The oil you can get at your grocery store is processed differently and will leave your hair limp and greasy.
Argan Oil. I love argan oil. It reduces frizz and breakage and is great for dry or color-treated hair. It’s full of omega fatty acids and vitamins that make hair more manageable and silky. Plus it smells amazing.
Avocado Oil. Avocados are full of omega fatty acids, protein, and vitamins–and they’re tasty as all heck. With their richness, they are best for medium to thick hair.
Now I have tried the DIY route of putting an avocado on my head as a hair mask and regretted it with every fiber of my being. I was combing and rinsing avocado bits out my hair for hours and my shower was disgusting. I don’t even want to think about what that did the plumbing. Stick with professional products. It’s worth it.
What does your hair need? A not-at-all-universal rule of thumb is that fine hair needs protein and curly hair needs moisture. Most treatments are a mix of both and have different pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the best deep conditioning treatments available so you can see which one would be the best match for your hair.
1. SheaMoisture SuperFruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Hair Masque
This is a thick, buttery treatment that is highly moisturizing. It contains rice protein and biotin to strengthen hair and increase volume, but where this one shines is in its moisturizers. The SheaMoisture SuperFruit Complex has organic coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter, avocado oil, and marula oil. This one is perfect if your hair is really thirsty and is a good fit for natural hair in the type four range.
As far as the super fruit claim, this mask delivers extract of goji berries, acai, raspberry, guava, and sweet potato (not a fruit, but that’s fine). These are full of antioxidants and help heal hair and protect it from future damage.
For the happy, frizz-free hair, apply it to damp hair, cover, and leave on for around 30 minutes. You get a hefty 12 ounce jar and for the price you’re looking at around one dollar per ounce which is absurdly good value for such a great mix of oils and extracts.
- Deep moisture with mix of oils
- Great for dry and natural hair
- Awesome value for the money
- Not so much for thin hair
- Naturally soft hair won’t see huge benefits
Find more SheaMoisture SuperFruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Hair Masque information and reviews here.
2. ArtNaturals Argan Oil Hair Mask
While your hair will certainly walk away from this deep conditioner moisturized and soft, the focus on this mask is repairing and restoring damaged hair. It’s great for all hair types, but especially for heat damaged and color-treated hair.
Have you done bad things to your hair to make it pretty and now it’s throwing a tantrum? ArtNaturals Argan Oil Hair Mask was designed for you. It contains argan oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and macadamia nut oil as its moisturizers and quinoa protein for strength.
Where this hair mask shines, is in its use of botanical extracts to revitalize the natural shine and life of your hair and improve scalp health. Looking at the bottle, the list of botanicals includes aloe, sea buckthorn, hyssop, Persian lilac, cypress, rose hip, coconut, thyme, carrot, seaweed, soap bark, chamomile, nettle, rosemary, hops, watercress and green tea. That’s a lot of nature in one jar, which I’m personally into.
Price: $10.95 (15 percent off MSRP)
- Loads of natural botanicals
- Repairs damaged hair
- High shine
- Moisturizing oils
- Huge list of plant extracts means more chance you could be allergic to an ingredient
3. Hairgurt Intense Repair Almond Honey Hair Masque
Yes, this is yogurt for your hair. It makes sense when you think about it–yogurt is full of proteins, fats, and often fruit. So why buy this instead of throwing your breakfast on your head? Does your yogurt contain shea butter, mango butter, sweet almond oil, hazelnut oil, macadamia oil, raspberry seed oil, and pomegranate seed oil? Because if it does, please stop eating it–you’re going to get sick.
Your hair however will love it. Throw in honey, prebiotics, and quinoa protein and you’ve got a hair mask ready to rescue the driest, most abused hair.
Hairgurt comes with two six ounce tubs that are adorably shaped like yogurt containers. In addition to the Almond Honey for damaged hair, they also make a Strawberry Banana for frizzy hair and a Coconut Acai for improving curl bounce and health. No matter what flavor you choose, Hairgurt is paraben free, sulfate free, and not tested on animals.
- Choice of scent and focus
- Smells delicious
- Unique blend of oils
- Contains prebiotics to promote hair growth
- Not vegan
- May seem edible to little kids in the house
4. Regenerating Mask With Rare Prickly Pear Seed Oil by Christophe Robin
This is a luxury deep conditioning treatment that is suitable for all hair types. You get just over eight ounces and it tames frizz, smooths split ends, and deeply moisturizes. This is not a protein treatment, but will revitalize dull hair. For those of us with color-treated hair this contains inula extract, a plant in the daisy family, which protects and brightens pigments, giving dyed hair a boost of color.
The moisturizing oil in this mask is prickly pear seed oil and they’re not kidding when they say it’s rare. The seeds of this cactus are very difficult to harvest. Each seed is smaller than a grain of rice and only contains between 10-20% oil.
It takes an enormous amount of seeds to make even the smallest bit of this oil. So why bother when you see argan oil everywhere you turn? Prickly pear seed oil contains double the amount of vitamin E found in argan oil and it has loads of omega fatty acids giving it a luxurious, rich texture.
The mask also contains oakmoss and is paraben, sulfate, silicone, SLS, phthalates, and colorant free.
- Rare prickly pear seed oil
- Pigment boosting
- Free of lots of chemicals
- Luxuriant feel
- Not a protein treatment
- Pricier than others
Find more Regenerating Mask With Rare Prickly Pear Seed Oil by Christophe Robin information and reviews here.
5. Crede ER Treatment
This mask offers a nice balance of hydration and protein. It was developed in Japan, where it is still a bestseller, as a deep conditioning treatment following Japanese hair straightening. This straightening process, also called thermal reconditioning, is considered permanent and breaks down the protein bonds in hair strands.
The Crede ER Treatment fills in those gaps, building the hair surface back up and restoring its strength. It has a base of avocado oil and is chock full of proteins including keratin, collagen, natto (soy), and casein (protein found in milk).
Since it’s a protein heavy treatment you don’t want to use this one too often, but as a monthly or bi-weekly strengthener, the results are impressive with soft, strong, and more manageable hair.
- Strengthens and repairs
- Great for heat or chemically damaged hair
- Loaded with proteins
- Contains parabens
- Not for regular use
6. Arvazallia Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask
This mask focuses on moisturizing and making your hair smooth and shiny and not so much on building up protein. Argan oil is the moisturizing base and it’s great for all hair types but especially for taming frizz.
This is one of the treatments that relies more heavily on ingredients I can’t pronounce. That doesn’t mean it isn’t effective at binding moisture to your hair and giving it that heavenly silky feeling because it is–but for some people labels that read like a chemist’s shopping list are a deal-breaker. That said, it is paraben and sulfate free.
One of its main ingredients is cetearyl alcohol. When we think of alcohol, we think of something very drying, but cetearyl alcohol is a fatty alcohol that will not dry out your hair. It’s what makes the conditioner creamy and slick.
This is a good choice if your dry hair is leading to lots of knots and tangles because the slipperiness will help you separate your strands with less tugging. If tangled hair is a recurring problem read my guide to the best detangling brushes.
Price: $12.95 (68 percent off MSRP)
- Tames frizz
- Great for tangled hair
- Paraben and sulfate free
- More synthetic ingredients than others
- Low on protein
7. Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment
Living Proof is a unique mask that leaves your hair feeling soft and shiny but also weightless with zero residue. The benefits of this moisturizing treatment last for days longer than other masks because of Living Proof’s signature ingredient: Octafluoropentyl methacrylate.
What is that? Other than a solution that’s patented for hair products, I don’t rightly know, but I can tell you what it does. Octafluoropentyl methacrylate won’t directly affect your hair, but it will coat the cuticle and change the way water enters and exits your hair, preventing loss of moisture and keeping your hair soft and silky.
This coating can last through a couple of shampoos so your hair stays healthier longer and you won’t need to use this every day. Living Proof is extremely thick and creamy and it’s great for all hair types. It’s beautifully hydrating for natural type four curls. This is not a protein treatment and is sulfate free.
- Patented moisture retaining formula
- Great for all hair types
- Won’t weigh hair down
- Sulfate free
- Not a protein treatment
- More synthetic ingredients than some
8. COCO&CO. Beauty Grade 100% Raw Coconut Oil
If you need something totally natural to feel good about putting on your body, this is cosmetic grade coconut oil and nothing else. This can be used as a body lotion, lip balm, shaving cream, and for cooking. It’s the only deep conditioner on the list you can actually eat.
As a hair treatment, coconut oil is easiest to work with when it is softened. Below 76 degrees Fahrenheit coconut oil is a solid. If it’s chilly in your house, it’s really solid and you’ll want to warm the oil up in the microwave until it’s a workable consistency.
The coconut oil in your grocery store is made from dried coconuts, processed with chemicals to reduce the smell, and bleached to remove color. COCO&CO.’s coconut oil is extracted by centrifuge from fresh coconuts just a few days off the tree.
No chemical processing means a purer finished oil safe for all applications. As a hair mask, this will add softness, shine, and moisture to all hair types, but coconut oil is particularly great for curls. This a hydrating treatment only and isn’t for strengthening as there isn’t any protein.
Price: $19.95 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Purest raw coconut oil for your skin
- Intense hydration
- Near endless list of uses
- Absolutely no chemicals
- Not a protein treatment
- Needs to be heated in cold weather
9. Calily Moroccan Argan Oil Hair Mask With Dead Sea Minerals Deep Conditioner
This mask is great for dry, frizzy hair and hair that has been damaged from over-processing or styling with heat. It moisturizes and softens hair to a silky shine.
Argan oil, sweet almond oil,and glycerin hydrate while algae extracts and Dead Sea minerals to help your hair hold onto that moisture longer. It also contains silicones which create seal over your strands to protect it from heat and pollution damage.
Silicones are also perfect for detangling if that’s an issue you have but if you’re prone to oily hair, I would keep this one off your roots and silicone can feel greasy.
Price: $11.95 (60 percent off MSRP)
- Argan oil and sweet almond oil
- Green algae and Dead Sea minerals
- Great for taming frizzy or tangled hair
- Not a protein treatment
- Works best on dry hair and may be heavy on others
Find more Calily Moroccan Argan Oil Hair Mask With Dead Sea Minerals Deep Conditioner information and reviews here.
10. It’s a 10 Magical Hair Mask
It’s a 10 Magical Hair mask is both a moisturizer and a protein treatment. Its base oils are sweet almond oil and apricot seed oil and for protein it contains keratin and collagen. Oat and linseed extracts add nutrients and vitamins to your scalp and hair cuticles.
This mask greatly increases the elasticity and strength of your hair while leaving it silky soft. It’s a great match for dry, damaged hair and is very hydrating.
This is as thick as a body butter and if your hair tends to be greasy, this is still a wonderful pick me up for your hair, just focus on your ends keep it off your roots. This is one mask that tends to need to sit on your hair a little long than some of the others and you probably want to leave this in for at least 10 minutes.
As far as hair types, this one is great for finer, dry hair that seems to need regular treatments closer together and less for those with type three or four hair.
- Moisture and protein
- Thick and creamy
- Repairs hair’s elasticity
- Not paraben free
- May make roots look greasy
- Not best for type three or four hair
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