Heat styling: Bad for your hair, yet a majority of us do it — which is exactly why I started using a hair mask every time I wash my hair. Yes, you read that right, every single time. I know what you’re thinking, “Great, just another reason to double the time spent on my shower routine,” but trust me when I say it makes a huge difference.

Here’s a little background: I have fine, naturally wavy hair that frizzes easily and I typically wash my hair twice a week. I never used to heat style my hair — I’m talking as recently as just a few years ago. I was too nervous it would ruin my texture (loose, natural waves) and cause irreversible damage. Then I became a beauty editor and the rest is history. To be honest, I still don’t heat style my hair that frequently compared to others; maybe like two times a week on average. But still, I worry that my occasional curling iron routine will fry my strands, which is why I started using a hair mask instead of a conditioner every time I wash.

“Hair masks are much more nourishing and offer greater repairative benefits than a traditional conditioner,” explains Andrew Fitzsimons, celebrity hairstylist and NatureLab. TOKYO Brand Ambassador. “Many hair masks are formulated in a way that the ingredients can penetrate further into the hair strands than conditioner, giving you additional benefits.”

Fitzsimons is on board with my mask-as-conditioner hair hack and says plenty of people can benefit from doing it — as long as it suits their hair type. “If your hair tends to be dry you can absolutely use a hair mask as a conditioner,” he says. “I have some clients who use a mask every time they wash. If you have hair that tends to be oily or is very fine and thin, though, you may not want to overuse your hair mask as it could weigh your hair down.”

So, how do you know if it’s right for you? “The trick is to test and see what works best for your individual hair,” advises Fitzsimons. “Start with a mask once every other week and build up in frequency from there.”

To make this hair styling hack possible (and to keep my shower time a short as possible), I shampoo my hair as soon as I get in the shower and immediately apply a mask afterwards in place of a regular conditioner. Then, I pull back my hair in a claw clip to keep it out of the water and go about the rest of my routine. This gives the mask time to soak for the next 15 — okay, maybe 20 — minutes of my shower, and then I rinse it out at the very end. Most hair mask directions say to apply them outside of the shower, but I personally prefer to just combine it with my existing shower routine to make the most of my time.

I recommend hydrating hair mask formulas to fight frizz and nourish your hair between heat styling. My usual go-tos include Garnier Fructis Nourishing Treat 1 Minute Hair Mask + Coconut ExtractKérastase Le Masque Hair MaskNatureLab. TOKYO Perfect Repair Treatment Masque and Biolage R.A.W. Re-Hydrate Hair Mask.

Even if you’re someone who colors your hair or heat styles more frequently, I’d be willing to bet your strands look sleeker, shinier and overall healthier. For me, you can barely tell I touch a curling iron — which is the dream, right?


How Often Should You Condition Your Hair?

We’ve all been stressing the importance of moisturizing your mane, but it’s also important to follow the “everything in moderation” motto. Having too much of a good thing (i.e conditioner or protein) can actually start damaging your locks and cause limp, greasy strands over time. To better understand the harmful effects of over-conditioning your hair, we chatted with celebrity hair stylist Philip B.—Halle Berry and Charlize Theron are fans of his luxe hair care line—about finding the perfect nourishing balance.

How Often Should You Condition Your Hair


“Conditioners work like moisturizers do on the face,” explains Philip. “They create a seal of natural emollients that hydrate and nourish your hair throughout the day, making it healthier, shinier, and more resilient to damage. When hair has a healthy moisture level it is more manageable, more pliable, and holds a style better.” However, when your tresses are over-conditioned strands appear stringy and lack volume. “You know you’ve over-conditioned when your hair feels too soft and limp, or if it feels heavy, thick, and oily. Either way, it will be hard to style,” says Philip. These annoying effects can also come from using the wrong conditioner for your hair type.

Fine hair:

To keep your thinner strands properly hydrated, lighten up or change treatments. “I know it sounds counterintuitive to put oil on fine hair, but the right oil, used the right way can work miracles!” says Philip. “If you have fine, limp hair, try a pre-shampoo botanical oil treatment. Be sure to find a plant and flower-based oil that’s light and sheer enough to slip under the cuticle.” Then, use a clarifying shampoo to wash away any excess oil left on the surface. “Your hair will automatically feel thick and bouncy, more manageable, and shinier!” says Philip. “Then apply conditioner to wet hair and let it sink in for a minute before you shampoo. Or, simply shampoo your hair and then apply conditioner from the mid-shaft down to the ends,” suggests Philip.

Medium to thicker hair

“Use a light daily conditioner with natural hydrators such as shea butter, which nourishes your hair without weighing it down,” says Philip. “If your hair is already over-conditioned, give it a good rinse with a clarifying shampoo to remove some of that occlusive residue.” Afterwards, your hair should feel weightless with a ton of movement! Apply conditioner all over your head. Let it sit for a minute or two to sink in, then rinse thoroughly. “If your hair is on the dry side, apply a leave-in conditioner after you get out of the shower and before you style your hair,” suggests Philip.


How often you condition your hair depends on your hair type and length and how much chemical processing and heat styling it’s subjected to,” says Philip. “If your hair is bleached or chemically relaxed, it will need a lot more love than if you use a single-process color. A good rule of thumb is to condition every time you shampoo.” Philip suggests using a deep conditioning treatment once every week or so—more often depending on how much damage there is. “Some of my actress clients have been known to sleep in my Rejuvenating Oil every night, because they’ve had to make radical color changes for a film role,” says Philip. “It’s the old rule: The more you take out of your hair, the more you have to put into it!”


Another hair essential that you should use in moderation: Protein! Too much of it will leave your hair feeling parched and brittle. “Rather than applying a strict protein pack, look for conditioning treatments with a balanced ingredient deck. I recommend a mix of protein and natural emollients, like shea butter, soy protein and essential oils,” says Philip. “In my own products, I actually prefer to use amino acid chains, which are the building blocks of protein, rather than complete protein chains. Amino acids bind into the hair like an intercellular cement, strengthening the hair from within. That’s much better than putting on a protein pack that can leave your hair feeling like straw!”

How often do you condition your hair? Do you find that you’re over conditioning sometimes?


The Best Shampoo and Conditioner for Your Hair Type

No matter how you style it, healthy looking hair starts in the shower. The right shampoo and conditioner formulation for your particular hair type will help make the most of your natural hair texture. From color-treated and curly to dry and dull (and everything in between), here is our list of the best shampoos and conditioners to transform your strands.

Dry or Damaged Hair


First of all, avoid clear shampoos if you have dry or damaged hair—they won’t provide the rich hydration your strands desperately need! Look for rich shampoos that contain the ultra-conditioning ingredients keratin and camelina oil for smooth, shiny, and protected locks.


Use a moisturizing conditioner from root to tip, concentrating on your mid-shaft and ends (the scalp should be receiving the least amount of product). Look for conditioners with ingredients, such as proteins and botanical actives that repair, restore, and strengthen your hair’s keratin structure.


Shampoo: Rene Furterer Absolue Keratine Renewal Shampoo
Conditioner: Klorane Conditioner with Desert Date

Fine Hair


Be on the lookout for gentle shampoos that are packed with thickening ingredients, like panthenol and advanced polymers for increased volume. Make sure the formula contains one of these strand-protecting extracts: moringa seed, artichoke leaf, and golden root. They will help shield against environmental damage.


Stay away from heavy conditioners that weigh hair down—too much conditioner can make strands look and feel greasy. Instead find lightweight formulas with strand-swelling botanical extracts and apply from your mid-shaft to ends.


Shampoo: R+CO Dallas Thickening Shampoo
Conditioner: R+CO Dallas Thickening Conditioner

Curly, Wavy or Thick Hair


Look for rich shampoos with nourishing botanical extracts and frizz-busting ingredients. You don’t need to wash your hair every day so feel free to skip a day or two so the natural oils on your scalp can work their magic.


Curly, wavy or thick hair will work best with conditioners that contain natural oils and plant extracts, which delicately coat strands and reduce frizz. Ingredients like witch hazel and nettle condition and balance your hair’s hydration levels without crunchy or heavy residues.


Shampoo: Oribe Shampoo for Moisture & Control
Conditioner: R+CO Atlantis Moisturizing Conditioner

Coarse/Unruly Hair


For the driest of hair types, it’s best to use super hydrating and creamy shampoos for your thirsty strands. Avocado oil and alkekengi extract lock in moisture, smooth out strands, and protect against damage, increasing manageability and softness.


Since this hair type can become extremely dry, you’ll want an extra-moisturizing conditioner. Deep conditioners that contain essential oils, frizz-controlling extracts, and moisturizing beeswax will hydrate your hair and provide strands with smooth hold.


Shampoo: Rene Furterer Lissea Smoothing Shampoo
Conditioner: Rene Furterer Lissea Smoothing Conditioner

Color Treated Hair


If your hair has been color-treated, you’ll need a shampoo that keeps it looking as vibrant as possible. Use mild cleansers that won’t strip color, and seal in hydration as if it were a moisturizing top coat for smooth, healthy-looking strands.


Use color-preserving shampoos with sulfate and paraben-free formulas to prevent fading, protect against discoloration, and retain necessary moisture. Look out for ingredients like rice extract and hibiscus extract which help soften, moisturize, and restore shine.


Shampoo: Bumble and Bumble. Color Minded Shampoo
Conditioner: R+CO Gemstone Color Conditioner



If you feel like your locks have lost their luster, you might have a fair amount of build up. Make sure you clarify your hair about once or twice a month to avoid the dulling effects of oiliness and product pile up. Go for shampoos with citrus pulp and glutamic acid which restore radiance by cleansing away excess sebum and styling leave-ins.


Use a conditioner packed with shine-magnifying ingredients and conditioning proteins to revive and fortify hair against environmental stressors. Look out for ingredients like silk amino acids, pearl protein, and sunflower seed extract which all help give you glossy strands.


Shampoo: Klorane Shampoo with Citrus Pulp
Conditioner: Oribe Conditioner for Brilliance & Shine

Aging Hair


Hair weakens over time, so make sure you’re gently cleansing with an antioxidant-rich formula to strengthen and thicken strands. Wash with a paraben and silicone-free shampoo infused with fortifying olive extract to balance the scalp, provide substance, and reinforce your hair structure.


Sometimes all your locks need is an ultra-hydrating conditioner to restore youthful bounce, shine and smoothness. Use formulas infused with rich oils like maracuja and argan, which seal the cuticle, help reduce split ends, and protect against hair-aging UV damage.


Shampoo: Klorane Shampoo with Essential Olive Extract
Conditioner: Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Conditioner

And if you’re proudly rocking grey hair, keep it vibrant with Oribe’s Silverati Shampoo and Conditioner.



The Best Hair Masks and Deep Conditioners to Repair Dry, Damaged Strands

These GH Beauty Lab top-tested treatments really work to deeply soften and nourish hair.

When regular conditioner just won’t do for your parched, split, broken strands, it’s time to swap in something more hydrating: an intensive hair mask or deep conditioner. Like traditional conditioners, hair masks are used after shampooing and rinsed off, but tend to offer deeper hydration. These products “help coat wet hair so it’s easier to detangle, which can lead to less damage, and softer and more manageable hair,” explains Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab director, Birnur Aral, Ph.D.

Hair masks and deep conditioning treatments tend to have a higher concentration of conditioning ingredients (like silicones and plant oils and butters), which makes for a heavier and thicker product. That texture makes hair masks “best for coarse, thick, or curly hair,” says Aral, “which tend to be drier.” Deep conditioning treatments are also ideal for hair that’s been damaged by chemical treatments (like dying or straightening) or frequent use of hot tools — which, let’s face it, is most of us.

Here, the best hair masks and deep conditioners tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab and chosen by our beauty experts to help spin your hair from straw to silk.


Best Overall

It’s a 10 Miracle Deep Conditioner Plus Keratin

it’s a 10


The winner of the GH Beauty Lab’s deep conditioners and hair masks test, the nourishing It’s a 10 formula lived up to its name when it  earned a perfect score for its ability to condition hair and prevent damage in the Lab’s wet-combing test on hair samples.

It also rated highly for making hair look smoother without leaving it greasy after application. “This mask definitely made my color-treated and damaged blonde hair softer and more manageable,” a tester said.


Best Value

Pantene Pro-V Intense Rescue Shots



Pantene’s innovative mask in ampoule form contains concentrated lipids to repair hair for barely more than a dollar a pop. “My dye- and hot tool–damaged hair felt stronger and even looked healthier once dry,” our Beauty Lab expert tester said. Bonus: The small, single-use mask tubes are travel-friendly, too.


Best for Fine or Thin Hair

Pantene Pro-V 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner



Deep conditioners and masks are famous for their hydrating, repairing superpowers — but also for their heavy, volume-deflating weight. Beauty Lab testing found this breakthrough formula effective, yet light enough to nourish even the finest strands. 

One tester raved, “my hair was softer than with any conditioner I’ve used before.” The mask made hair noticeably silky, smooth and sleek without weighing it down, Lab evaluations found.


Best Hair & Scalp Mask

Head & Shoulders Royal Oils Deep Moisture Masque

head & shoulders


This next-level Head & Shoulders mask treats hair and scalp at the same time, softening strands with coconut oil and fighting flakes with active pyrithione zinc. Many Beauty Lab testers praised its scalp-itch relief. “Flakes disappeared” and “hair was softer than it’s ever been,” two said.  When we Lab tested on women with textured strands, this hydrating mask scored high for reducing scalp and hair dryness.


Editor’s Pick

Redken All Soft Mega Mega Mask



GH’s beauty director, April Franzino, has tried countless hair masks from drugstore to salon brands on her split, broken strands. This unique deep treatment is among her all-time favorites, for its ability to deliver immediately noticeable results.

It contains dual chambers that dispense hair-softening ingredients like soy and vegetable proteins and botanical extracts simultaneously. The creamy, rich mask leaves strands “the softest they’ve ever been, like newborn baby’s hair, after only one use,” Franzino says.


6 Nexxus Keraphix Gel Treatment



Get a salon-style deep conditioning treatment at home with Nexxus’s keratin protein formula, which fortifies damaged, split, and breakage-prone hair. 

“I get chemical treatments, color my hair, and use hot tools, so I struggle with split ends and an allover fried look,” one Beauty Lab tester said of this GH Beauty Award-winner. “This mask made my hair feel stronger and look less frayed.”

7 Kérastase Fusio-Dose Hair Lab In-Salon Treatment
Kérastase Fusio-Dose Hair Lab In-Salon Treatment

$30 and up

If you’ve got hair problems but can’t figure out the fix, time to call in the big guns with this state-of-the-art personalized in-salon treatment. A stylist zeroes in on your issues with a high-tech hair and scalp camera that can magnify up to 600 times. It uses the data to pinpoint your hair type and concerns, then conjures up a custom mask treatment, combining ingredients to target everything from hydration to shine, smoothing, fullness, color enhancement, strength and repair.

GH Beauty Lab’s expert experienced bouncier and shinier strands than normal, and called it the perfect pick-me-up — like a facial for your hair, which earned it a Beauty Breakthrough Award. “The treatment was very quick, but produced amazing immediate results— in both volume and smoothness,” reported Beauty Lab chemist Danusia Wnek.