The Best Masks For Color-Treated Hair

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Hair masks: like conditioner on crack. Thick and creamy, they're not only visually gratifying in the bottle (so opaque! Like Spackle, but for your body) but also one of those things that actually feels as good to do before the results appear after the fact. And, oh, the application—it's like you are the star of your own invigorating hair commercial where the hero named Masquintense makes a special appearance to fill in all the nooks like paint primer, if you will.

All hair can benefit from a little masking now and again (you have be treating your hair like your face, right?), but color-treated hair could especially benefit. Particularly in the realms of hydration (damage repair) or color protection (fade resistant, color-depositing effects)—and sometimes both at the same time. But before it gets too complicated, a breakdown below:

If you're looking to protect...

Going from dark to light will leave hair feeling dry, stretchy, limp, and generally sad. Cheer up! You're right to avoid the heat (it'll just make frizz worse at this point). And with all that drying time you're saving, add in something like Moroccanoil’s Restorative Hair Mask. It's a good one to use on your ends or any places that feel damaged and dry. It coats strands like butter and washes off leaving your hair feeling like silk. Seriously. ITG’s Editorial Assistant Claudia used it more than the prescribed amount (which is once a week) and without conditioner afterward—because ‘What? This is a hair mask, why would I follow up with another conditioner?’—on her artificial strawberry-blonde, dyed-black, then color-corrected-back-to-whatever-it-would-take hair and found the mask to restore much-needed give and flexibility to her hair. 10/10 would recommend.

If you’re wandering the drugstore, Annie suggests Neutrogena’s Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask, formulated with olive and sweet almond oil to penetrate and coat the hair strand. With a beauty closet dangerously less than 20 feet away jam-packed with the high end, she still says she really always comes back to this one. When something works, don’t give it up.

And if you’re really down to the wire and need to fix your hair because of an uncontrollable itch telling you that it just feels bad, scoop out a handful of coconut oil and let it sit. Processed platinum blondes have done nothing else but this to their hair and yes, it works—so much so that hair stylists (the honest ones) will just tell you that if you can't come in for professional treatments, go for the coco.

If you're looking to preserve...

Now if your hair is sufficiently healthy-looking and you want your color not to fade or turn brassy, the second set of hair masks are what you need. Klorane makes a pomegranate-based conditioner, simply known as the Conditioner with Pomegranate (refreshing when a brand doesn’t go all movie-trailer on you with product names) that keeps any hair color radiant and lasting longer—redheads, especially, take note. Although branded as a conditioner, any product that requires you to leave on your hair for two-plus minutes is technically considered a hair mask in our books. And with that, we introduce you to Aveda’s Blue Malva Color Conditioner. “It’s is actually good for brown hair that's been dyed—Junko at Shizen said I should be using a blue conditioner on my hair now to keep it ashy,” Annie said.

For blondes, there is no other hair mask as loved as Cristophe Robin’s Baby Blond—jury’s out if this product single-handedly started the purple shampoo obsession of 2014.

Finally, to seal in color with that effect of a shimmering glaze, look no further than Shu Uemura’s Color Lustre—great for highlights as it adds vibrancy and shine.

There’s always something else though. You guys are savvy. Let us know what your favorites are, and maybe convince your fellow color virgins to take the plunge. Life's too short to not regrettably ombré.

Photographed by Tom Newton. Other ways to protect your hair: SPF.

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