1. Expert reviews

Top 9 Best Hair masks of 2021

Katarina Stenskytt

Updated February 1, 2021

We tested hair masks and name Davines The Let It Go Circle as our best in test. This is an effective mask with a noticeably softening effect that really perks up your hair.

Another mask that stands out is a vegan version – The Body Shop Banana Truly Nourishing Hair Mask. This mask makes the hair soft and shiny, with a lovely scent of foam banana sweets.

Top 9 Best Hair masks of 2021

How we did the test

We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. In our test of hair masks, we asked normal consumers with different hair types to use the products. In the test, we used the following questions to assess the different hair masks and give them each a score.

  • Result: Does the mask feel like it nourishes the hair? Is the hair soft after use? Does the product deliver what it promises? Does the hair feel heavy or light?

  • Use: What’s the consistency like? Is the mask easy to apply? How long should the product stay in the hair?

  • Packaging: What’s the packaging like? Is it easy to use or fiddly?

The score is based on the overall experience of the product in relation to its price.

1. Davines The Let It Go Circle – BEST CHOICE HAIR MASK

An incredibly effective and softening mask that makes you want to burst into song

Price: Medium Purpose: Softening and moisturising

Davines The Let it Go Circle 50ml

This little powerhouse really perks up your hair in just 10 minutes. The mask is moisturising, softening and even seems in some magical way to give your hair colour a boost, despite not being a colour mask. The difference was so great that one of our tester’s families commented on their hair and wondered if they’d had it cut.

The Let It Go Circle from Davines comes in packaging like a fruit juice pouch for kids. With this series, Davines are aiming to offer hair treatments in smaller sizes that give consumers the chance to satisfy every hair need without having to invest a lot in large formats. With Let It Go, however, you’d really like it to have been in a bigger package. Because once you've tried it you definitely want to use it again. One pouch is intended for one application. But if you have shorter or thinner hair, it’s actually enough for two uses.

test-harinpackning-davines

The hair mask smells fresh, perks up your hair and gives it unbeatable shine. Davines The Let It Go Circle truly makes you want to burst into song about how wonderful it is – and that’s not an effect you get from every hair product.

Perks up your hair so much it looks freshly cut
Given the quantity in one pack it’s quite expensive

Price Comparison

Compare all prices

Gooseberry Shop

Davines The Let It Go Circle 50ml

£7.99
Luxurious Look Logotype

Davines The Let it Go Circle Hair Mask 50ml

£9.50
BeyondBeautiful Logotype

Davines The Let It Go Circle 50ml

£9.50

2. Garnier Fructis Hair Food Papaya – BEST CHEAP HAIR MASK

A real budget buy that makes your hair soft and smells great

Price: Budget Purpose: Caring

Garnier Fructis Hair Food Repairing Papaya 390ml

This 3-in-1 product comes in a very generously sized (390 ml) but rather ugly container. In general, multi-products for the hair are rarely impressive, but Garnier Fructis Hair Food Papaya is a great smelling exception.

Our testers approached this mask with a certain amount of scepticism, as it really doesn’t look much in terms of quality – and the fact that it’s meant to smell of papaya put several of them off. Papaya is generally an overwhelming scent, but when we opened the jar it was to be met by a delicious, pleasantly sweet smell.

As we’ve already said, Hair Food has three purposes.

  1. Conditioner – in other words, you apply it after shampooing your hair and rinse it out almost immediately.
  2. Mask – leave the product in the hair for about 10 minutes before rinsing it out.
  3. Leave in – apply a small amount to damp but not wet hair and leave the product in the hair.

And Hair Food actually works really well for all three areas, but in families with kids who hate having their hair brushed it was particularly appreciated as a leave-in product. A dab of Hair Food before brushing makes it easy to detangle the hair, and because it smells so good our test children actually started asking for it – a big bonus when you have kids who hate it when you try to detangle their hair.

As a mask it leaves the hair soft and smelling great, and the only negative is actually the large jar. Of course it’s lovely to get so much product for your money, but a jar with a screw cap is always fiddly in the shower. If Garnier Fructis Hair Food Papaya had come in some type of pump bottle, we’d have shrieked with happiness.

Smells delicioushas three purposesleaves the hair softcheap
Packaging is fiddly and rather ugly

3. The Body Shop Banana Truly Nourishing Hair Mask

Hair mask that’s as soft as a foam banana for your hair

Price: Medium Purpose: Softening

The Body Shop Banana Truly Nourishing Hair Mask 240ml

This vegan mask will make your hair softer than ever before. And it also smells of banana. A lot. The scent doesn’t even completely disappear when your hair is dry. So if you don’t like the smell of banana (and more specifically foam banana sweets), you’d better avoid this one. But if you don’t mind going round smelling like a bag of sweets, you will be rewarded with the softest hair you’ve had for a long time.

The Body Shop Banana Truly Nourishing Hair Mask is a wonderfully creamy and moisturising mask, which makes it perfect for everyone with normal to dry hair. It contains nourishing ingredients such as Brazilian cupuaçu, organic banana purée from Ecuador and Brazil nut oil from Peru. The mask doesn’t feel at all like it weighs down the hair. The only negative point is the packaging. A screw top jar is always tricky to handle with wet hands. But the actual mask – holy bananas – it’s simply amazing!

Makes your hair incredibly softcreate shinepersistent scent
Fiddly jar with screw topoverly intense scent

4. Joico K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor

Classic and strengthening hair mask that still plays in the top league

Price: Premium Purpose: Reconstructive

Joico K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor 150ml

Joico may not be a name you’re familiar with when it comes to haircare, but it’s definitely time you got to know it. Because this is a brand that has lots of fantastic hair products. And Joico K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor is one of them. This hair mask is actually a real classic, which comes in amongst the winners year after year.

It’s an intensive treatment for damaged hair, and once you got a taste for it it’s hard not to always reach for this practical (if rather ugly) tube after your shower. Joico K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor is a protein-rich mask. It works as a loving, strengthening cream for worn and lacklustre hair. The proteins reinforce the elasticity of the hair and make it feel wonderfully bouncy after use. And as if that wasn’t enough, your hair also becomes beautifully shiny and feels stronger.

The scent, which is reminiscent of bananas, is quite strong and a little synthetic. But the most intensive smell does disappear quite quickly. Once your hair is dry, it just smells pleasantly sweet, and has tons of shine thanks to Joico K-Pak Deep-Penetrating Reconstructor.

Feels strengtheninggives tons of shinepractical packaging
Synthetic scentrather ugly packagingvery expensive

5. Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector

A miracle cure for the hair – a hair mask that repairs from the inside

Price: Premium Purpose: Repairing

Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector 100ml

Olaplex No. 3 is actually a supplementary treatment. It’s intended to be used at home between the Olaplex treatments your hairdresser does. But even without booking yourself a salon treatment, you can get really good and noticeable results with Olaplex No. 3 at home in your own bathroom.

What makes Olaplex unique is that it repairs the disulphide bonds in the hair. These bonds are damaged through chemical treatments and the use of heated tools. When the bonds have been affected, hair is described as having structural damage, and it’s often very lacklustre. But Olaplex helps rebuild these bonds because the active molecules enter the hair and recreate its own disulphide bonds. This gives the hair back its elasticity and, to put it simply, makes your hair happy again.

This is a mask you should really try if you enjoy changing your hair colour often or you use heated tools on a daily basis. Your hair will feel significantly stronger and less vulnerable after a period of regular home treatments with Olaplex No. 3. The contents smell mild and fresh, just like you want your hair to smell after a visit to the hairdresser’s (even though you haven’t even had to leave your bathroom). The packaging is made from durable plastic, but still manages to look stylish and attractive on the bathroom shelf.

Gives obviously stronger hairpleasant scent
Very expensiverequires patience as the results can take a while to become obvious

6. Maria Nila Head & Hair Heal Masque

A hair mask that calms your hair and simultaneously provides volume

Price: Medium Purpose: Calming

Maria Nila Head & Hair Heal Masque 250ml

One of the biggest problems with many hair masks is the packaging. Jars with screw lids are never ideal for using in the shower. And Maria Nila Head & Hair Heal Masque is yet another product that comes in a fiddly screw top jar. But if you're willing to ignore the packaging, this is a really good hair mask.

It’s designed for people with an itchy scalp or who often suffer from dandruff. According to the text on the jar, it also stimulates the follicles, which should lead to increased hair production and counteract hair loss. It can be difficult to tell on your own hair whether this is really true. But regardless of whether your hair grows more or not, it must be said that Maria Nila Head & Hair Heal Masque is a mask that definitely gives your hair a boost. After just one treatment, your hair feels healthier and has more bounce than before. Even if your hair isn’t naturally very curly it's as if this mask brings it out. And this leads to increased volume in hair that perhaps otherwise has a tendency to feel flat.

The formula is nice and thick, which makes it easier to use the jar as the product doesn’t run out of your hand. Overall, Maria Nila Head & Hair Heal Masque gives vibrant hair and a moisturised and happy scalp.

Great consistencyfast resultscan vary the leave-in time
Impractical packaging

7. Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist

Favourite hair mask that you can find on a supermarket shelf

Price: Budget Purpose: Moisturising

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist 250ml

You sometimes don’t need to look any further than the haircare shelf in your local supermarket to find a hair mask that’s not only good value but actually really effective on dry hair.

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist is, exactly as the name implies, a three-minute hair mask. You simply squeeze the practical bottle to get a blob of the deliciously scented mask – it smells just like pick-and-mix. Then you leave it in your hair for three minutes, perhaps while you give yourself a quick body scrub. And your reward is beautifully soft hair. It may seem silly to complain about having to leave a mask in your hair for ten minutes. But in the stress of everyday life, three minutes can be the difference between using a hair mask and skipping it every time. Given the short leave-in time, you can even use Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist during your morning rush without risking missing the bus.

This is a pleasant, very good value hair mask that you’ll probably get over and over again while you’re buying a packet of coffee or a couple of litres of milk.

Cheapsmells yummymakes your hair nice and soft
Not very economical

8. REF Intense Hydrate Masque

A mask that moisturises and protects the hair

Price: Medium Purpose: Softening and moisturising

REF Intense Hydrate Masque 200ml

Do you have coloured hair that’s a bit tired? Or is your hair just really dry? REF If so, Intense Hydrate Masque is a mask that can help you with both things.

This classic bottle fits nicely on the edge of the bath. And if you choose one of the two larger sizes, the bottle also has a pump – and a pump bottle is always ideal in the shower.

REF Intense Hydrate Masque smells lovely and the product is easy to apply to your hair. As usual with a mask, this one gives the best results if the hair is towel dried (and should be applied before conditioner). But even if you’re in a hurry and you only squeeze out the excess water from your hair, the mask works really well. You decide the leave-in time yourself – the packaging recommends 3-10 minutes. The longer it can work, the better. But it produces good results even in just three minutes.

Your hair is fantastically soft and very easy to detangle. The fact that it also gives extra protection to coloured hair feels like a bonus.

Leave the hair wonderfully softsmells really goodavailable with a pump
Rather uneconomical

9. Label.M Honey & Oat Mask

Gorgeous smelling hair mask that gives a wonderfully soft result

Price: Medium Purpose: Moisturising

Label.m Honey & Oat Treatment Mask 120ml

Label.M Honey & Oat Mask makes your hair soft, shiny and leaves a Christmassy scent behind. No, there’s no need to worry – your hair won’t smell of turkey and stuffing! Instead think ginger, cloves and cardamom – a bit like ginger biscuits, in fact – with a good helping of honey.

Label.M Honey & Oat Mask is a really good mask for dry and damaged hair. One major advantage is that the leave-in time can be adapted. You only need to leave it in your hair for 1-5 minutes. But if you have more time and you want a more intensive result, leave it for 10 minutes – ideally with a warm towel on your head.

After use your hair feels much more moisturised, while also being very soft and easy to brush. Whether or not manuka honey really repairs cellular damage in the hair, we don’t know. But there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that your hair looks healthier and bouncier than before you used the mask.

Fantastic scent that stays in the hairwonderfully soft result
Jar with screw

What is a hair mask?

Unsurprisingly, hair masks are the hair’s equivalent to a face mask. A hair mask allows you to adapt your hair routine to whatever your hair needs at any given time. It’s a good way of treating particular problem areas such as dry or damaged hair.

How do I know which hair mask to choose?

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you look for a hair mask? To find the right one, you first need to know what it is your hair needs extra help with. There are masks for all types of hair problem. Regardless of whether you have dry, damaged, greasy or frizzy hair, there’s a product that can help.

Which hair mask will suit my hair?

If you have dry hair, for example, you need to look for a moisturising hair mask. But you shouldn’t mistake damaged hair for dry hair. Your hair can easily be damaged if it’s exposed to chemical treatments such as colouring, regular use of heated tools or many hours spent in salty seawater and strong sunlight. Damaged hair needs protein, and masks containing the hair’s favourite protein – keratin – are worth looking out for if this is your problem area. There are also colour reinforcing masks that are nourishing and also give a colour boost. If you often colour your hair and want the colour to last and look good for longer, this type of mask is almost a gift from the gods.

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