The best masks for nourishing hair during the colder months

Used once or twice a week, masks can make an incredible difference to the look and feel of your hair. Here’s how to use them to their full advantage.

After a summer of heat-styling and UV damage, your hair might be feeling a little frazzled as we head into autumn. Add central heating and endless rain into the mix and you have got yourself a hair nightmare. But there’s a fairly simple solution when it comes to tackling those bad hair days head on. Used properly, a good mask has the power to transform your hair – not only in terms of its appearance but also in terms of its health. 

Whether your hair is victim to constant curling, blow-drying, straightening, bleaching, chemical styling or, if it just looks a bit lacklustre, masks should form part of your weekly hair routine in order to keep the colour looking fresh and the ends looking healthy. It’ll also make it a whole lot more manageable in the long-term.

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However, with so many different products out there it’s hard to decipher what’s best for your specific hair type or hair needs. It’s also worth knowing what the best way to use them is in order to make the most of their super powers.

Our advice is to smother on a hair mask during the afternoon, leaving it to work its magic while you’re busy doing other things around the house. Here, we’ve spoken to the experts about choosing the products that’ll work the hardest for you and how to really maximise the benefits.

How long should you leave a hair mask on for?

Paul Percival, co-founder of Percy & Reed, says most masks will get to work within 10 minutes, but leaving them on longer provides additional benefits. “The longer you leave it on, the more time it has to deliver extra nourishment and hydration to the scalp,” he says. 

Are hair masks best applied onto wet or dry hair?

“It really depends on the treatment you’re using,” explains Percival. “Wet hair opens the hair follicles so it is easier for the product to penetrate, however some products are specifically for dry hair due to the formulation,” he adds. So always check the instructions before application.

Should you cover your hair after applying a hair mask?

The short answer is yes. “Wrapping your hair generates heat which allows the hair follicle to open. The scalp benefits most from this as it allows more hydration which then intensifies the conditioning process, giving superior results,” says Percival. You can use a shower cap or clingfilm – both will work equally as well. 

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Is there actually a difference between pre-shampoo treatments and conditioning masks?

Contrary to popular belief, there is a difference and both have different uses. “Most pre-shampoo treatments strengthen hair, while most post-wash masks work to hydrate and nourish the hair,” says Percival.

So depending on what your hair needs most, choose the product you use accordingly.

The best masks for all hair types

  • Phillip Kingsley Elasticizer

    The OG of masks, this pre-shampoo treatment has really earned its stripes in the hair world. A bestseller for a reason, it works by delivering moisture inside the hair cuticle while also smoothing the outside to seal in moisture, leaving hair super sleek and shiny.

    Shop Phillip Kingsley Elasticizer at Lookfantastic, £34

    buy now

  • Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask

    If your hair is dry, damaged or chemically-treated, try this once-a-week mask. Enriched with B-vitamins, rosehip and argan oil along with biotin to help replenish hair, it’ll leave it looking glossy and healthy. It’s suitable for hair that’s had keratin or chemical-treatments or that’s been coloured. 

    Shop Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask at Space NK, £36

    buy now

  • Percy & Reed I Need a Hero! Wonder Overnight Recovery Mask

    This lightweight but ultra-smoothing hair mask can be applied to dry hair at bedtime and left to nourish and rehydrate while you snooze. Easy.

    Shop Percy & Reed I Need a Hero! Wonder Overnight Recovery Mask at Lookfantastic, £22

    buy now

  • Christophe Robin Hydrating Melting Mask with Aloe Vera

    Enriched with pure aloe vera gel, this soothing mask adds a real boost of natural hydration to treat even the most thirsty hair. It’s lightweight formula melts into the hair for an instantly visible result.

    Shop Christophe Robin Hydrating Melting Mask with Aloe Vera at Feelunique, £27

    buy now

  • Aveda Botanical Repair Intensive Strengthening Masque

    A great option for curly or textured hair types, this ultra-rich mask douses hair in hydration without weighing it down. There’s also a ‘light’ version which is great for finer haired friends. 

    Shop Aveda Botanical Repair Intensive Strengthening Masque at Cult Beauty, £9

    buy now

Main image: Getty

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