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The Best Hair Masks to Work Major Damage Control

Some sun and saltwater putting Esther's hair through the wringer
Some sun and saltwater putting Esther's hair through the wringer

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It's a miracle that I don't have to wear a pixie cut. Nothing against short hair, I just don't have the right bone structure to pull it off. Color-treated hair combined with surf and sun usually result in breakage and frizz. But after years of expensive salon treatments to save my hair from the shears, I realized that applying hair masks twice a week rewinds the damage and boosts the health and shine, all from the ease of my own shower. Masks work best when left in the hair for some time, whether it's five minutes or overnight (my sweet spot is 30 minutes but usually only have time and patience for five). And after a few weeks of regular use, you'll notice happier hair that's ready to for a holiday vacay spent in the sun and in the water.


The Kérastase Masque Force Architecte, $62.50, is the best salon-quality mask for healing and repairing the hair fiber. But at the high price point, it's difficult to make this one the regular, twice weekly hair mask. So I save it for emergency situations like when my hair is so battered by sun and saltwater that I can't run a comb through the length of it. This mask never disappoints.


From most expensive to least (and owned by the same parent company), the L'Oréal Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm, $6.99, is my regular mask. Not quite up to snuff as the one from its sister brand, it does get the job done and keeps my hair from breaking. And it truly works wonders on platinum-bleached hair (which I witnessed firsthand while surfing on tour with my "blonde" friends).


The first mask I ever tried, Bumble and bumble's Deeep mask, $27, triggers nostalgia from the scent alone. I noticed this mask works best when used in a regular haircare regimen that includes the brand's gentle shampoo and super rich conditioner.


I first tried the Carol's Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask, $32, a few years back when monoi (a Tahitian blend of the Tiare Gardenia Flower and Coprah Coconut Oil) was having its moment. The mask delivers on hydration -- almost to a flaw. So I reserve the use of this one for days when my hair feels thirsty and brittle.


Salma Hayek has lusciously thick and gorgeous hair, a good sign for her hair collection collaboration with CVS. Her Nuance Salma Hayek Intense Hydration Hair Mask Blackcurrant, $9.99, feels basic and light, the perfect introduction to masks for the new adopter. Currently out of stock online, the mask is available at local CVS stores.
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