Whether your curls are limp, your ends are fried, or you want to grow your hair faster the best hair masks can come to the rescue. Essentially conditioners on steroids, hair masks are fortified with nourishing oils and deeply hydrating ingredients, quickly working to repair split ends, revive color, and restore softness—no matter your hair type, length, or texture.

“Hair masks are deep-conditioning treatments, packed with nutrients, that completely saturate your hair and produce noticeable long-lasting results,” says Devin Toth, a stylist at Salon SCK in New York City. “Their incredible benefits are undeniable.”

Our top picks:

How to find the right hair mask

Of course, certain formulas work better than others depending on your specific concerns. “Look for a mask that targets what hair is in need of most,” says Raven Hurtado, hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “For instance, if your hair feels damaged or has split ends, opt for a mask with bond rebuilders. A mask that has conditioning oils would also help dry or frizzy hair.”

Similarly, a bond repair mask like Olaplex’s does wonders to bring heat- or color-damaged hair back to life, while a deep-conditioning treatment is key if it’s strong, bouncy curls you’re after. And if your color is looking dull? Consider a toning mask your new best friend.

As far as ingredients are concerned, “look for oils, butters, and other emollients that add moisture to the hair,” adds Bumble and Bumble hairstylist and educator Joey Gallagher. For those with fine, straight hair, go for a lightweight mask that delivers the nutrients your hair needs without weighing it down. However, others with thick hair types, like curly, coily, or natural hair, can opt for more nourishing masks—and can even partially rinse them out so they work like a leave-in conditioner.

How to apply hair masks

As a general rule of thumb, use a hair mask once or twice a week to avoid drying out hair. New York City–based hairstylist Mikel Slate also recommends lightly towel-drying hair before applying, then combing the mask through the ends to ensure an even application. Leave it on for at least 10 to 15 minutes (keeping a claw clip and a comb stashed in your shower will help if you have long or natural hair), and rinse with cold water, which will help boost shine. “Wash your hair two times if you need to,” says Slate.

Now that you’ve got that down, keep scrolling for the best hair masks that experts say actually help (and have also achieved rave reviews…and Glamour Beauty Awards).

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