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  • Writer's pictureThe Shampoo Lounge

What’s the Difference Between a Regular Conditioner and a Conditioning Mask?

We finally have the answer.

Whether your hair is naturally dry or it’s feeling the brunt of too much washing or flat ironing three times in one week, you’ve probably stood in the hair product aisle and wondered, Should I buy the conditioner or the hair mask?

But are conditioning masks really worth the higher price tag? Can a regular deep conditioner work just as well? Here’s what you need to know according to Jonathan Colombini, L’Oréal Paris creative director of style and color, celebrity hairstylist and colorist.

Is a Conditioning Mask Better Than a Regular Conditioner?

One isn't technically better than the other, they just work slightly differently, explains Colombini. “A conditioner tends to be lighter in consistency, replenishes moisture, and is recommended for daily use. A mask is more of a thicker fiber that restores softness and shine and is advised to use one to two times a week rather than daily.”

Should Certain Hair Types Always Use a Mask Versus Conditioner?

Colombini tells me that dryer or coarser hair textures benefit more from a mask versus regular conditioner. He recommends L'Oréal Paris’ Everpure Elastic Fiber Masque. This highly-rated mask is sulfate-free as well vegan and paraben-free.

If your hair isn’t dry or coarse, the hairstylist gives his stamp of approval for using regular deep conditioner. However, that doesn’t mean you should never use a hair mask. “It’s always good to have one on hand just in case. If you feel a mask may be too heavy, then stick to the conditioner and just leave in longer as if you were treating it as a mask.”

After all, even if your hair is soft and well-moisturized most of the time, there are occasions such as being in the sun, over-using hot tools, or needing simply to wash your hair more frequently than normal—that end up making your hair dry. It's always a good idea to keep one on hand to give your locks a little extra TLC when needed.

How to Supercharge Your Conditioner

Have you noticed your hair is extra dry lately? Instead of swapping out your current product or shelling out for something new, first try leaving your conditioner or mask on a little longer with a shower cap.

Applying a little bit of heat from a blow dryer can also supercharge any product. “Heat acts as a conductor to help penetrate the cuticle of the hair. If you do choose to use heat, either have a cool-down period or use [cool water] to rinse. This will help close the cuticle to ensure you lock in the goods,” says Colombini.

Leaving conditioner on for two or three minutes will also maximize the benefit to your hair. So after applying, shave or go through the rest of your shower routine. By the time you’re done, you're good to rinse.

Another tip is to wring your hair out after shampooing and before conditioning. “Be sure to apply to hair that’s been wrung out a bit after shampooing—you don’t want too much water in the hair to dilute the product.”

article written by Amanda Lauren for


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