Let’s be honest - your hair deserves it! A little TLC slathered on and soaked up into the core of your tresses once a week, maybe more. It’s like a spa treatment for strands. We’re talking deep moisturizing to quench thirsty hair and reparative and restructurizing for quashing protein-starved brittleness. The problem is how to you know which type of deep conditioning is best for your hair.
What the What?
Deep conditioning is an enhanced treatment that is done in addition to your daily, or regular, conditioning regimen. These intensive treatments work overtime to keep your tresses in the best possible shape by adding balance to what your hair is lacking most.
There are several types of deep conditioners available including some that add moisture, some that supplement protein and others that offer the benefits of both moisture and protein. Knowing which is best for you involves understanding your specific hair type and condition, so it’s highly advised to consult your hairdresser or colorist before diving in. You’ll understand why shortly…
Most deep treatments provide moisturizing, which is good for most hair types but is a must for dry, coarse or naturally curly hair. Very dry or super curly hair may need even more conditioning than normal, which may include various types of conditioning including regular pre-poo treatments, daily leave-ins and weekly deep treatments.
Moisturizing treatments make use of various conditioning agents that leave a soft, improved feel and texture to hair. Using ingredients including various oils and lubricants, moisturizing conditioners work to coat the hair to alter the feel and appearance. Common moisturizing ingredients include shea butter, various forms of coconut extract and an array of natural oils including argan, avocado, sweet almond, sunflower seed, and many others.
Another type of deep conditioning involves adding protein, which can be done at various levels from basic repair to full restructurizing. Common ingredients that contain protein include wheat or silk proteins, human or botanical keratin, collagen or hyaluronic acid, amino acids, and botanical or synthetic ceramides.
Hair that has been damaged due to extreme styling, exposure to the elements or with chemical processes such as coloring, perming or straightening, or the biggest culprit, bleaching, will likely need some form of protein to help repair strands. In the case of extreme damage, sometimes referred to as over-processed, hair will need the most extreme version of protenizing known as restructurizing.
Many colorists will do additive (meaning added to the chemical formula) or pre and post color restructurizing treatments to their clients’ tresses to help protect the integrity of the hair during and after the chemical processes. In the hands of a professional, these restructurizing treatments are very effective but should be used sparingly and only with the recommendation of the hairdresser for consumers. Over-proteinizing the hair can actually cause more damage leaving strands feeling overly brittle, in many cases ending with breakage. Who wants that?
When researching deep treatments, it’s best to look past the marketing jargon on the front of the packaging, as there are no set standards, and go straight to the ingredient listing on the back. This listing is required by law and ingredients are listed (in the U.S.) by largest ingredient amounts first and the least, last. Combined with the information listed above, study up on some of the ingredients to figure out if a treatment is for adding moisture, protein or both. Don't rely on the name of the product or the descriptor.
So, the best answer to your hair needs? Moisturizing treatments work well for most all hair types and a mix of moisture and protein is a great step up to help strengthen damaged hair…just use it in moderation and as directed. But for the protein treatments, check with your hairdresser first and then use occasionally as prescribed. In the meantime, here are some suggestions for various levels (and types) of deep treatments.
All or Mostly Protein
Kevin Murphy Re.Store
Cleansing conditioning treatment with superfood proteins naturally bind moisture to reconstruct damaged hair. Amino Acids like Arginine and Lysine, the building blocks of repair, will help to rebuild and restore hair with elasticity, strength and moisture.
Key Ingredients: Green Pea Protein, Papain (papaya enzyme), Pineapple Fruit Extract
Redken Extreme Strength Builder Plus Fortifying Hair Mask
This strengthening hair mask provides deep conditioning and strengthens hair from the inside out for increased control and manageability. It restores internal strength and shine, and detangles leaving hair with increased control and manageability. Helps prevent breakage and split ends.
Key Ingredients: 18-MEA, Ceramide, Interlock Protein Network
Kérastase Résistance Masque Thérapiste
Reparative bandage treatment fiber renewal care for thick hair. This masque deeply nourishes and works at very core of the hair, for very damaged, over-processed thick hair. The hair fiber regains its strength and elasticity and is toned and revitalized.
Key Ingredients: Amino Acids, Wheat Protein, Ressurection Sap
All or Mostly Moisture
Aveda Dry Remedy Treatment Masque
Seal in moisture, softness and shine with the dry remedy treatment masque by Aveda. The deep-conditioning treatment helps hydrate hair with buriti oil while leaving behind the scent of organic bergamot, lavender and ginger lily.
Key Ingredients: Buriti Oil
Leonor Greyl Paris Masque Quintessence
Cupuacu and Manketti nut oils deeply moisturize and regenerate the driest most damaged hair. Repairs hair after bleaching, highlighting and straightening. Gives immediate and long-lasting softness, shine and easy styling.
Key Ingredients: Cupuacu Nut Oil, Manketti Nut Oil
Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask
Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask rehabilitates extra dry or over-processed hair with intense moisturization. Three naturally derived extracts work on the hair strand to defy dryness. Olive penetrates to the center, Meadowfoam Seed helps moisturize the middle and Sweet Almond wraps the surface. Treat your hair to intense moisture with this once-a-week conditioning mask.
Key Ingredients: Sweet Almond, Olive Oil, Meadowfoam Oil
Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture Masque
An intense moisturizing treatment that infuses hair with the moisture it lacks and aids every strand in retaining moisture, improving overall smoothness and manageability. Hair is left silky, shiny and youthfully restored. Caviar Extract, vitamin C and cytokines help smooth the hair shaft and increase shine. HydraComplex is an ultra-moisturizing ingredient blend that binds to water to infuse strands with intense hydration. It locks in water and other essential nutrients to maintain moisture levels.
Key Ingredients: Caviar Extract, Vitamin C
Check out this easy way to intensify your deep treatments.
Moisture & Protein
NEVO :60 Deep Treatment
Generously apply :60 Deep Treatment Hair Masque on strands weekly to help restore and repair hair from past and future environmental strains and heat styling. It envelopes hair with the highest concentrations of the most nurturing ingredients in nature including quinoa and soy proteins in addition to NEVO’s Drops of the Amazon.
Key Ingredients: Quinoa protein, Soy Protein, Argan & Sun flower Seed Oil, Jojoba Seed Extract
Moroccan Oil Restorative Hair Mask
A revitalizing treatment that quickly repairs hair that's weak, damaged or color-treated. Its high-performance formula is rich in argan oil and protein, which fortify and restructure hair that's been damaged by chemical treatments or heat styling. It infuses protein back into the weakened hair shaft so hair becomes stronger and more beautiful.
Key Ingredients: Linseed Extract, Argan Oil
Arvazallia Fortifying Protein Hair Mask
This professional protein enriched deep conditioning treatment is specially formulated to strengthen, repair, and add volume to damaged, brittle, dry, or thinning hair while also helping to prevent hair breakage and repair split ends. It promotes natural hair growth and helps prevent hair loss through use of an exclusive protein therapy formula, which includes Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Aloe Vera, Argan Oil, and Macadamia Oil.
Key Ingredients: Argan Oil, Macadamia Oil, Wheat Protein, Aloe Vera
AG Hair Keratin Repair Reconstruct Mask
Reconstructs extremely dry, damaged and chemically treated hair, restoring hairs elasticity. Packed with keratin amino acids, silk proteins and shea butter, Reconstruct repairs the structure of hair and rejuvenates the scalp. Hair is left soft, radiant and full of life. Keratin amino acids penetrate the hair shaft, bonding, repairing and smoothing while adding strength, elasticity, moisture and shine and protecting against further structural trauma. Silk amino acids provide additional strength, elasticity and shine. Abyssinian oil contains Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids to nourish and repair. Shea butter moisturizes and conditions.
Key Ingredients: Keratin Amino Acids, Silk Amino Acids, Shea Butter
Kenra Nourishing Masque
Repairs, reconstructs and rejuvenates dry, damaged hair. Moisturizes and conditions, leaving hair silky soft, smooth, and manageable.
Imparts highly polished, radiant shine.
Key Ingredients: Sweet Almond Extract, Avocado Extract, hydrolyzed silk & soy proteins
StriVectinHAIR 'Ultimate Restore' Deep Repair Mask for Damaged or Thinning Hair
Make a lasting recovery with this intensive treatment that starts at your scalp to restore essential moisture while restructuring and smoothing overworked strands. It deeply nourishes for renewed vitality, resilience and softness.
Key Ingredients: Safflower, Meadowfoam, Mango and Argan Oil, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
Paul Mitchell Marula Oil Rare Oil Intensive Hair Masque
MarulaOil Rare Oil Intensive Hair Masque thoroughly hydrates and dramatically smoothes and softens dry, coarse hair while adding fullness to fine, limp hair. Packed with powerful antioxidants, oleic acids, protein and vitamins, this replenishing protective formula delivers intense hydration, seals split ends, prevents damage and provides UV protection.
Key Ingredients: Marula Oil, Wheat Amino Acids, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
Living proof Restore Mask Treatment for Dry or Damaged Hair
Restore Mask Treatment is an intensive weekly treatment for dry and damaged hair. Restore Mask weightlessly nourishes each strand, increasing strength and manageability, leaving hair soft, shiny and smooth. Restore Mask Treatment is formulated with Living proof's moisture-controlling molecule, PolyfluoroEster, to restore the protective layer on dry or damaged hair and reduce hair's porosity. Restore also increases hair's resistance to breakage while healing, protecting and preventing further damage. Strength, smoothness, shine and body are restored. Restore Mask Treatment is safe for color and chemically treated hair.
Key Ingredients: Astrocaryum Tucuma Seed Butter
Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask
An intensive weekly treatment to restore essential hydration and enhance hair’s resilience to protect against future damage. Ideal for those with dry, damaged, chemically-treated, and/or lifeless hair. This Deep Conditioning Mask works in minutes to restore essential hydration and natural vibrancy to dry, brittle, over-processed, and otherwise lackluster hair. Formulated with Briogeo’s unique NOVA Complex, this mask delivers an optimal blend of transformative nutrients from B-vitamins, rosehip and argan oils, algae, and biotin to replenish damaged hair to a shiny, healthy-looking, and lustrous state.
Key Ingredients: Rosehip Oil, Algae Extract, Almond Oil, Hydrolyzed Keratin
Phyto Phytokeratine Repair Mask
Phytokeratine Mask is a powerful mask that helps replenish the moisture content of weakened and damaged hair while repairing the appearance of past damage caused by heat styling, over-processing and other environmental assaults. Hyaluronic acid achieves ultimate hydration by attracting up to 1000 times its weight in water. This formula is enriched in botanical keratin and rice bran ceramides - with a perfect affinity for hair - to not only rebuild and strengthen its structure but also smooth its surface to reveal ultra-smooth, ultra-soft hair texture. The most brittle, straw-like hair will be dramatically transformed. Hair regains inner softness, suppleness and shine.
Key Ingredients: Botanical Keratin, Hyaluronic Acid Complex, Rice Bran Ceramides, Pomegranate
Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Seed Oil
Deep regenerating mask blended with Prickly Pear Seed Oil, which is one of the richest natural sources of Vitamin E and antioxidants, this deeply nourishing formula leaves hair shiny and protected without weighing it down. Plant Ceramides strengthen, while extracts of Inula Flower - found on the coast of Brittany - revive the pigment in natural and colored hair. Great for highlighted, colored, damaged, and dry hair.
Key Ingredients: Prickly Pear Seed Oi, Plant Ceramides
Philip B Katira Hair Masque
A gentle, yet surprisingly versatile rejuvenator for all hair types. The unique, clear-gel formula sinks right in to plump up fine, limp strands or calm and smooth coarse, hard-to-manage hair. By filling in dry, damaged spots in the cuticle, it also imparts a wonderfully vibrant, healthy sheen. Actual Persian katira extract—the "it" conditioner of the Middle East—infuses hair with a perfect dose of weightless, oil-free moisture for enhanced control and elasticity. Powerful amino acids work to rebuild the fiber of hair, Katira imparts long-lasting moisture adding noticeable thickness, body, bounce and extreme shine for a red-carpet finish.
Key Ingredients: Katira, Arginine
Original Mineral The Power Base
This protein masque offers an intense dual action treatment works to restore your mane from within. Wheat protein reconstructs weakened hair to bind broken strands while apricot kernel oil and sweet almond moisturizes and nourishes the hair’s exterior.
Key Ingredients: Wheat Protein, Apricot Oil, Sweet Almond
Sukin Protein Hair Treatment
A deep conditioning protein treatment to nourish and strengthen hair. Rich in aloe vera, calendula and chamomile to soothe tired, dry hair, hydrolyzed wheat protein to fortify and sesame to deliver long lasting nourishment.
Key Ingredients: Sesame Seed Oil, Chamomile, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Aloe Vera