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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best hair masks for curly hair

Last Updated May 2019

Are your curls dull, dry, or frizzy? Several factors can contribute to this. Chemical treatments, heated styling tools, and even some hair care products can be quite damaging. What’s more, tightly curled hair with high porosity is naturally prone to dryness.

If your curls need more TLC than a regular conditioner can deliver, a hair mask for curly hair may be the answer. These rich and creamy treatments typically come in jars, so you can easily scoop the mask out and apply it by hand. They are so hydrating that they can moisturize even the driest hair. However, superior hydration isn’t all you get when you slather on a curly hair mask. These deep treatments also contain ingredients that are proven to strengthen hair while protecting it from further damage.

So don’t allow your curls to languish any longer! Continue reading for information, tips, and advice on how a hair mask can restore manageability and resilience to your locks.

Hair masks are similar to deep conditioners because they too moisturize and condition locks. However, they differ in that they contain ingredients like protein to strengthen hair.

What is a hair mask?

A hair mask is a topical treatment that conditions hair deeply, improving texture and enhancing overall hair health. Made of nurturing ingredients such as oils, butters, proteins, and lipids, a hair mask has a thick, creamy consistency that makes it easy to apply. The rich formula not only conditions and moisturizes hair, but it also makes it stronger and more resilient.

Unlike regular conditioners that can be used daily and only require a few minutes on the hair, masks for the hair are best reserved for occasional use. For example, you could use your mask on a weekly basis as a deep treatment in between other conditioning products.

Hair masks require a longer duration on the hair to work their magic. For optimal results, most are meant to be worn on the hair for 10 to 30 minutes.

Great for all types of curls

Loose curls, tight coils, and everything in between: Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repar! Deep Conditioning Mask can rejuvenate them all. It’s made with high-quality ingredients that are 95% natural and formulated to moisturize curls from roots to ends. This product does a great job controlling frizz and softening the texture of coarse hair, thanks in part to ingredients that are sourced from plants. The mask also contains argan oil, which is known for its ability to make curls more manageable.

What can a hair mask do for curly hair?

If you have curly hair, you know the challenges of keeping it looking fresh. Some types of curls and textures are naturally prone to dryness. Heated styling tools that are used to enhance curls or straighten them can dry out your hair, emphasizing frizz and causing curls to lose their definition over time. And unfortunately, if you like to color treat your hair or straighten it with a chemical relaxer, damage is very likely to come along with your new look.

Regardless of the type of curls you have — or what factors are preventing them from looking their best — a hair mask for curly hair offers numerous benefits.

Ingredients

Hair masks for curly hair contain ingredients that pamper curls. Here’s a closer look at some of the ingredients that are key to delivering noticeable results.

  • Plant oils, fatty acids, and butters: These ingredients moisturize hair, smoothing the cuticle for an improved shine.

  • Protein and keratin: These two elements build strength and enhance the elasticity of curls.

  • Amino acids: These ingredients condition the scalp and promote hair growth.

  • Lipids: These components form a protective layer over the hair shafts.
     

Premium brands contain quality variants of the above ingredients. In addition, you can expect many higher-end masks for curly hair to be free of harsh chemicals and synthetic additives. Look for products that contain no parabens, sulfates, silicone, dyes, fragrances, and phthalates as you shop.

EXPERT TIP

Although hair masks are typically used on a weekly basis, consumers with very dry hair, tight curls, and coiled tresses may be able to use them two or three times a week without risk of buildup or residue.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Because the ends of curls are prone to dryness and damage, applying a little extra hair mask to them adds a boost of hydration.


Staff  | BestReviews

Frequency of use and conditioning time

As mentioned, most masks for curly hair are designed to be used on a weekly basis. Because they are made with a high concentration of rich ingredients, overuse could result in residue buildup. However, you may want to use your mask more or less frequently depending on your hair’s degree of dryness or damage.

The time you’ll need to set aside to treat your hair with a curly hair mask varies from product to product. Generally speaking, you can plan to leave the mask on your hair for 10 to 30 minutes. An alternative method is an overnight treatment. For consumers with very dry, brittle, or otherwise damaged hair, this may be the best solution. Of course, you should check the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular product first.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Using a flat iron to straighten curls can damage your hair over time, leading to split ends. If you frequently use this type of heated styling tool, applying a hair mask made especially for curly hair can promote elasticity and prevent damage before it occurs.

Hair masks for curly hair: prices

Inexpensive: There are budget hair masks for curly hair that cost less than $5. That said, a hair mask that costs up to $15 could also be considered a bargain. If you buy in this price range, bear in mind that the ingredients may not be as high in quality as mid-range or high-end hair masks for curly hair.

Mid-range: If you’ve got $15 to $30 to spend on your curls, you will enjoy options from several brands that specialize in curly hair products. Many masks in this price range contain quality ingredients and aren’t made with synthetic dyes or fragrances.

High-end: A price tag of $30 to as much as $60 may sound like a lot for a hair product, but not when you consider the benefits it offers. In this price range, you will discover a variety of hair masks made just for curly hair that are formulated with natural ingredients like plant butters, proteins, and lipids that deliver promised results. Also keep in mind that a little goes a long way with top-shelf ingredients, so you can stretch out your investment.

For extremely dry, coarse curls

Does your hair need a boost of hydration and softness? If so, amika’s Soulfood Nourishing Mask lives up to its name. It’s formulated with omega-7 fatty acids that soften hair texture, and it has a thick, creamy consistency that delivers a boost of hydration to thirsty curls. It doesn’t take a lot of this product to improve damaged tresses, and users love the light, pleasant scent.

Tips

  • Most hair masks need to be rinsed thoroughly after treatment. The reason: some ingredients may leave behind a residue or a greasy, heavy feel. However, there is an exception to this rule. If you purchase a product with natural ingredients that can double as a leave-in conditioner for tights curls and coils, rinsing is not necessary.

  • Wrap your hair if you choose to leave your hair mask on overnight for a deep conditioning. Use a towel, shower cap, or head wrap to keep the product in place while you sleep. Wash and rinse your hair in the morning.

  • Apply the mask evenly to your curls. Use your hands to work the cream from your scalp to the ends of your hair. Continue with a comb or hair pick to make sure every strand is coated.

  • Shampoo your hair before applying a hair mask. These products work best on clean hair. Removing oil, dirt, and buildup from other hair products will help the mask penetrate your hair shafts and ends for best results.

Other products we considered

We think you’ll be impressed with our top hair masks for curly hair, but there are additional options available that address other curly hair needs. If you want a deep treatment that can moisturize damaged hair and keep on working after it has been rinsed away, Ouidad’s Curl Recovery Melt-Down Extreme Repair Mask contains the brand’s specialized complex of quality ingredients that builds a protective barrier. You’ll know it’s doing its job once you apply it, as it delivers a pleasant warming sensation as it goes to work.

Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak harvests the power of plants to deliver a deep moisturizing treatment to dry, brittle curls of all types. The trio of olive oil, avocado oil, and lemon extract work together to restore strength and boost shine.

If you enhance your curls with color, the Reflection Mask for Color-Treated Hair from Kerastase is a worth a look. Although it’s pricey, it boasts a protective formula that nourishes hair and gives color added staying power. It also serves as a barrier against exposure to environmental elements like sun, water, and pollution.

Some masks for curly hair contain plant-based butters or oils. Butters are slightly richer than oils, but otherwise, these ingredients are quite similar; both moisturize and nourish dry hair.

FAQ

Q. Can I use a regular hair conditioner and a hair mask?
A.
Yes. Hair conditioner can be used daily without causing buildup, but it’s a good idea to skip your usual conditioner on the days you treat your curls with a mask to avoid weighing your hair down with too many products at once.

Q. Can I leave a hair mask on my curls longer than the recommended time?
A.
Yes. As a matter of fact, leaving a hair mask on your hair longer will boost its effectiveness and is a great way improve dry, brittle hair. It’s also an option to leave some formulas on overnight for maximum effect.

Q. Will a hair mask fix my split ends?
A.
No. It’s best to have your hair trimmed before you starting using a hair mask. That way, you’ll get a fresh start with undamaged hair, and the mask you choose can help prevent future damage from occurring.

Q. What do hair masks smell like?
A.
Just like any other hair care product, the scent varies from product to product. Masks that are made with natural and plant-based ingredients tend to have light floral or fruity scents, as compared to those with synthetic additives which may smell more perfumey.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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