9 best hair masks for hydrating dry and damaged locks

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Environmental factors, hair colour and heat styling are just a few things that wreak havoc on our hair and can leave it damaged, dry and lifeless.

While staying out of the sun, regular haircuts and minimising exposure to heat will undoubtedly improve the condition of your hair, it is also worth incorporating a hair mask (or two) into your hair care routine.

First you need to to know your hair type and concern. For fine hair that needs volume, look for a body-boosting formula.

Alternatively, if you’re after nourishment for dry locks, look for a hydrating mask that will deliver an added boost of moisture.

Then there are those who suffer from irritated scalps. While medicated shampoos do wonders in this department, a scalp detoxifying mask can provide instant relief and leave your hair feeling lighter and free of build-up.

We scoured the market for the best masks that met a number of different needs, including hydrating coarse locks and soothing irritated scalps. Some are designed to be used before shampoo, while others are used before, or in place of, a conditioner. We have also considered how each mask will work on different hair types.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Oribe gold lust pre-shampoo intensive treatment, 120ml This pre-shampoo treatment is a wax-like balm – once scooped out and rubbed between the fingers, it melts to a light oil that feels buttery in texture. We found this worked best when applied on dry hair and left for 20 minutes before shampooing. Despite being an oil, this did not leave a residue on the hair or prove difficult to rinse out. Out of all the masks we tested, we felt this penetrated the most, delivering hydration while being light enough to not weigh the hair down. Once washed and dried, our tester found her hair was noticeably smoother, shinier and less frizzy. Despite having a cocktail of oils included, such as coconut, macadamia and argan this does not sit heavy on the hair and is light enough for fine hair types. Other important ingredients are caffeine, biotin and niacinamide, all of which repair damage and strengthen hair cuticles. Seeing full results will take time, but we found that our hair felt stronger just after a few uses. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Davines nourishing hair building pak, 250ml If you regularly colour or use heat tools on your hair, you may be prone to breakages, split ends and dryness. Allow us to introduce you to the Davines nourishing hair building pak – designed to rebuild the structure in damaged hair. After shampooing, apply this thick mask from roots to ends and leave to sit for 10 minutes before rinsing out. We found this mask to be one of the most hydrating, so we’d recommend that if you have fine hair, use this one sparingly. While it may take a few months to see if the mask lives up to its claim of rebuilding structure in the hair, it instantly improves some of the damage done by colour and heat. For our tester’s coarse hair, it left her locks feeling smooth and weightless, and relatively less frizzy. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Fable & Mane holiroots hair mask, 237ml Taking inspiration from ancient Indian beauty secrets, this mask is infused with coconut cream, mango butter and banana. The coconut cream consists of coconut water, cocoa butter and sugar cane to stimulate the scalp and increase hair growth, while the banana works to increase shine and elasticity. The result is a luxuriously creamy mask, which proved to smooth and hydrate our tester’s coarse hair, leaving it noticeably softer and shinier after the first use. We found this mask easy to use – spreading well through damp hair and it washed out relatively quickly after spening five minutes in the hair. For those with fine hair, we recommend using this mask once a week, and sparingly on the roots, as it could be too rich. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Bed Head TIGI urban antidotes level 2 recovery treatment mask, 200g If you’re after a mask that won’t weigh down fine hair yet still delivers moisture and hydration to dry strands, this is your best bet. Just a small amount of this mask was enough to saturate the hair. This colour-safe mask feels creamy as opposed to oily and did not weigh our hair down when washed out. For fine hair, we’d recommend using this in place of your conditioner once a week. For those with particularly dry, thick hair it can be used after shampoo and followed by a conditioner if needed. We felt that our split ends were less noticeable after a few uses – a sure indicator that our hair was more hydrated. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Malin + Goetz detox scalp mask, 118ml Those with dandruff, an oily scalp, or other scalp conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis, will know the feelings of discomfort, itchiness and irritation all too well. Malin + Goetz’s scalp detoxifying mask is a short, five-minute treatment, which is used on dry hair before shampoo. The gel is formulated with salicylic acid and AHAs work to detoxify and exfoliate the scalp. Although the product also contains oils to condition and nourish the skin on the head, we found the gel was extremely lightweight and did not add to any oiliness on the scalp. Once left to sit, the gel begins to foam as the ingredients do their work. After shampooing, this left our scalp feeling soothed, clean and refreshed. On the days after using, our tester noticed that her hair was not being weighed down by a usually oily scalp nor was she experiencing any itchiness. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Sachajuan overnight hair repair, 100ml This is a water-based gel that is applied to the hair before bed and promises to build elasticity, strengthen hair and add shine while you sleep. There’s no need to worry about your pillowcases – it is fat-free so will not stain bed linen. As a light gel, we found that it soaked into the hair very quickly and felt weightless on the hair. The only downside was that on coarse hair, we had to use quite a lot of product to saturate from root to end. The mask is infused with two types of algae – rhodophycea and chondrus crispus – which the brand says work to strengthen hair and add moisture and shine. While the feather-lightness of the mask means it can be left in the hair, our tester got the best results after washing it out in the morning. Post wash, our hair felt more manageable, silkier and looked shinier. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Moroccanoil smoothing mask, 250ml Infused with argan butter and argan oil, this mask is a godsend for those who struggle with frizzy hair. After shampoo, apply a generous amount to wet hair and comb through. For extra hydration, we left this to sit on the hair for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinsed out. After just three uses, our tester noticed less fly-away hairs and frizz. Despite being packed full of oils, it felt light on the hair and was easy to rinse out so will work for fine, medium and thick hair types. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Frank Body caffeinated scalp scrub, 125ml This coffee-based scalp scrub is a physical exfoliator made with walnut shell powder that gives it a gritty texture, which when rubbed on the scalp soothes irritation and exfoliates dead skin and product build-up. We loved the physical exfoliation of this mask and it left our scalp feeling extremely clean. Aside from the walnut shell, it has a strong, but not overwhelming smell of eucalyptus and peppermint which was soothing and refreshing. It is formulated with green coffee, an ingredient which works to improve overall scalp health and slough away dead skin cells. After incorporating into her routine, our tester’s usually oily, irritated scalp felt comfortable even two to three days after washing. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}} Grow Gorgeous volume root stimulating primer, 200ml If you have extremely fine hair and often find your roots looking limp, this is the one for you. Using the nozzle, this light cream is applied directly to a dry scalp and left for 10 minutes before shampooing. We immediately noticed a cooling sensation thanks to the menthol in the formula, which left our scalp feeling refreshed. Aside from this, the primer has caffeine, red algae and rice proteins to increase volume and stimulate hair growth. Our tester found that even her thick, coarse hair looked full-bodied after a few uses. {{#hasItems}} Price comparison {{/hasItems}} {{#items}} {{ merchant }} £{{ price }} Buy now {{/items}} {{#hasItems}} {{/hasItems}}

The verdict: Hair masks If you’re looking to add an extra step to your hair care regime to bring moisture and body back to your locks, then we love Oribe’s gold lust pre-shampoo intensive treatment which ticks all the boxes. But, if it is your scalp that needs some TLC, we recommend Malin + Goetz’s detox scalp mask, which regulates both oily and dry scalps using active ingredients. Protect your locks and the environment and read our review of the best sulphate and paraben free shampoos and conditioners

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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