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  5. Hair Mask Vs Hair Conditioner: What’s The Difference?

Do you often keep an eye out for nourishing hair care products? Hair masks and conditioners do a great job at that. But, how do you narrow down to the right one that can make your hair look and feel good?

In this article, we help you understand the differences between hair masks and conditioners. So you can decide what is better for your hair. Let’s begin!

What Is A Hair Mask?

A hair mask is enriched with natural nourishing oils and do-good ingredients that work great on damaged and dry hair. It nourishes and moisturizes your hair and brings it back to health. A hair mask deeply hydrates your hair strands and deeply conditions it too. It is usually used after you wash your hair and when your hair is wet. But, if you have extremely dry hair, you might use it to let the moisturizing agents penetrate deep into your hair.

A hair mask can also be made at home using banana, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and aloe vera. If you use heating tools to style your hair often, then a hair mask can help you to reduce the hair breakage and control the damage.

What Is A Hair Conditioner?

A hair conditioner is a popularly used conditioning agent that works to make your hair shafts smooth, re-hydrate it, and reduce frizziness. It prevents your hair from breaking and damage caused by sun exposure. A hair conditioner is light that makes it easy to apply on your hair. Most of the time, a conditioner is applied just after you wash your hair. It is left for a few minutes so that it goes deeper into your hair and makes it soft and manageable. One of the most essential roles of a conditioner is to retain sebum that your hair loses after a hair wash. Conditioner produces synthetic sebum oil and balances the natural oil balance. [1]

A hair mask is usually made of nourishing oils, multiple moisturizing and conditioning agents like glycerol, propylene glycol, panthenol,erithritol, sodium PCA, amino acids, plant oils, minerals, etc. [2]. You can choose to make your own hair conditioner at home with natural ingredients such as eggs, lemon juice, banana, coconut oil, honey, amongst others.

young woman applying hair conditioner in bathtub

What Are The Key Differences Between A Hair Mask & A Hair Conditioner?


Hair Mask

Hair Conditioner


Hair mask is formulated with natural oils and nourishing ingredients to nourish dry and damaged hair

Hair conditioner comes in liquid form that moisturizes your hair and protects it from further damage. While shampoo dries out the sebum oil, a conditioner produces synthetic sebum oil to hydrate your locks

How To Use?

Clean your hair with a shampoo and rinse it properly. Towel dry your hair and apply the mask. Leave the mask for 20 to 30 minutes and rinse off. You can use a conditioner after the mask. It helps to seal the benefits of a mask into your hair strands .Depending on the type of mask, you can either shampoo pre or post mask. Follow the instructions carefully. 

Once you wash your hair with a shampoo, apply a small amount of conditioner on your hair strands. Do not apply the conditioner on your scalp. Make sure that you have applied the conditioner from your hair’s root to tip. Leave it for two to five minutes and then rinse off

When To Use?

When you have used any heating tool or chemical product to style your hair and your hair has gone extremely dry, you can opt for a hair mask. 

Generally, a conditioner is used after a hair wash with shampoo. But many people use the conditioner first and then go for shampoo. This technique is known as reverse washing. Another method is co-washing where you can skip the shampoo completely and wash your hair only with a conditioner. Both the methods are for those with extremely dry and textured hair

Frequency of Usage

You can apply a hair mask once or twice a week. But if you are using any hydrating treatment mask, follow the instructions on the product. Usually, treatment masks are instructed to be applied once a week

You can use a conditioner whenever you use shampoo to wash your hair. It is ideal to apply conditioner thrice a week. However, regular applications won’t be harmful. If you notice greasiness after you apply conditioner, reduce the frequency

Duration of the process

A hair mask needs to be left for a long time to get the desired result. It usually contains ingredients that are more concentrated. You need to leave it on your hair for a minimum of 15-20 minutes. However, depending on your hair type and ingredients, some masks need to be left on your hair for several hours

Conditioners do not need much time. In fact, its benefits are instant. You can leave the conditioner on your hair just for two to five minutes for best results

Who Can Use?

People with dry and damaged hair are the most benefited by a hair mask. But, if you have oily hair, a mask might add greasiness to your hair

Everyone can use conditioners. People with dry hair should use it after every hair wash and oily haired people would want to use it within a limit


Moisturize and nourish your hair. A hair mask is extremely beneficial with dry and dull hair as it helps to reduce hair breakage and damage. Also, it boosts the strengthen of your hair and gives you a healthier scalp

Conditioner makes it easy to manage your hair. It improves the texture of your hair by making it softer and shinier. Most importantly, the benefits are instant


A hair mask usually contain more oil which is good for dry hair.

Some conditioners contain harsh chemicals such as sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate. They may irritate your skin and make your hair prone to damage. 

Does Your Hair Need Both Masks And Conditioners?

Yes. Your hair needs both a mask and a conditioner to achieve its health. A conditioner would make your hair shafts smooth and reduce frizziness and a hair mask would boost the strength and growth of your hair strands. However, if you have any particular concern after using a hair mask or hair conditioner, then you can skip either of the two. Otherwise, both a hair mask and hair conditioner will help to maintain your hair’s health.

bright egg yolks, oatflakes, honey, lavender with cosmetic brush closeup, natural holistic ingredients for homemade beauty care

Natural Ingredients That Are Used To Make Homemade Hair Masks & Hair Conditioners

1. Banana:

Studies suggest that bananas have antimicrobial properties [3] that can work wonders for your hair. It reduces the dryness and frizziness of your hair and also fights off your dandruff problems. A banana mask can make your hair smoother and shinier too.

How To Use?

Step 1 - Smash a small banana into a ball.

Step 2- Add 3 tablespoon of honey, milk & olive oil each.

Step 3- Add an egg and make it a paste.

Step 4- Apply it on your hair and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 5- Rinse it off.

2. Avocado:

Avocado is filled with minerals as folic acid, iron, magnesium, pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) that makes your hair stronger and protects it from damage and breakage. You can use both avocado fruit or avocado oil for your hair.

How To Use?

Step 1- Take one avocado and cut it into half.

Step 2- Scoop out the pulp and put it in a bowl.

Step 3- Add olive/coconut oil and raw honey.

Step 4- Mix the combination and apply it on your hair.

Step 5- Leave it for 45 minutes to one hour and wash it off.

3. Egg:

Egg yolk is rich in nutrients like vitamins A and E, biotin, and folate. These nutrients help to promote hair growth and boost your hair strength. [4]

How To Use?

Step 1- Break two eggs in a bowl.

Step 2- Add one tablespoon vinegar, honey and olive oil each.

Step 3- Add two tablespoons of lemon juice.

Step 4- Mix the ingredients well and apply it on your hair.

Step 5- Wash it off with cold/warm water.

4. Honey:

Honey has always been used for skincare and haircare purposes. It is known to be a humectant that retains the moisture of your hair and seals it. According to a report, [5] honey also promotes the growth of skin cells which means it can boost your hair growth as well.

How To Use?

Step 1 - Take ½ cup of honey in a bowl.

Step 2- Add 1/2 cup of olive oil.

Step 3- Warm the mixture.

Step 4- Stir the mixture to cool it down a little bit.

Step 5- Apply in your hair and wash it after 30 minutes.

5. Aloe Vera:

Aloe vera has soothing elements along with nutrients like vitamins C, E, and B-12, folic acid, and choline. It helps to strengthen your hair and fight against any irritants.

How To Use?

Step 1- Take two tablespoons of aloe vera extract in one bowl.

Step 2- Add three tablespoons of water.

Step 3- Mix one tablespoon of jojoba oil/olive oil/ coconut oil.

Step 4- Keep the mixture in a spray bottle.

Step 5- Spray it on your hair after every hair wash.

Wrapping Up

If you are someone with dull, dry and damaged hair, you can invest your trust on a hair mask to nourish your hair and protect its health. The ingredients in a hair mask are designed to repair and rejuvenate your hair strands. Therefore, it would help you improve the condition and get your hair back to health. You can use a conditioner regularly after your hair wash to provide deep conditioning to your hair. In a nutshell, based on your hair type and needs, you can use both a hair mask and hair conditioner or either of the two. Besides, follow a proper hair care regimen to achieve healthy and beautiful hair.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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