Hair conditioning packs — also called hair masks and deep conditioners — are treatments designed to nurture your hair more completely than standard shampoos and conditioners.

Ready-made hair packs are available over the counter at most pharmacies and beauty stores. You can also find DIY recipes from a number of online sources.

If you’re considering using a hair pack, choose the one that’s best for your specific hair condition, such as:

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of hair packs, which ones work best for your hair condition, and how to apply them.

Your hair is constantly exposed to a number of potentially damaging actions and elements, such as:

  • styling
  • hairbrushes
  • blow-dryers
  • straightening irons
  • hair products
  • chemical treatments, including straightening and coloring
  • sun
  • changes of season
  • air pollution

Proponents of hair packs suggest that deep conditioning treatments can help heal damaged hair.

Hair packs are often formulated with rich ingredients, such as natural oils and lipids. These beneficial ingredients remain on your hair for periods of a few minutes to a few hours.

Although not proven in clinical trials, many hair pack ingredients have anecdotal evidence supporting their claimed benefits. For example, the following ingredients have been said to address specific hair conditions:

  • Oily hair: green tea; or egg white and lemon juice; or apple cider vinegar and honey
  • Dry hair: avocado and aloe vera gel; or olive oil and brown sugar
  • Damaged hair: honey and coconut oil; or olive oil and avocado
  • Frizzy hair: banana, yogurt, and honey; or banana and almond oil
  • Dull hair: aloe vera, yogurt, honey, and olive oil; or coconut oil, almond oil, argon oil, and yogurt
  • Fine, thinning hair: egg whites and coconut oil; or banana and coconut oil
  • Dandruff: aloe vera, honey, and apple cider vinegar; or coconut oil, lemon juice, and honey

If you’re thinking about trying a hair conditioning pack, ask your hair stylist or dermatologist. They may recommend a particular product or recipe that can best address your needs.

Before using a hair pack, check ingredients for potential allergens.

The first step in using a hair pack is to decide whether to apply it on wet or dry hair.

If the hair pack you’ve chosen has a large percentage of oil, consider applying it to dry hair. Otherwise, consider washing your hair and towel-drying it so that you’re applying the hair pack to damp hair.

Apply the conditioning treatment

Start by draping a towel over your shoulder to protect your clothes. Next, apply the hair pack to your hair. Some people use their fingers, while others prefer to use a small paintbrush.

  • For oily hair: start application at mid-hair shaft and work toward ends
  • For dry hair: start application near scalp and work toward ends
  • For dandruff: start application on scalp and work toward ends

Once the hair pack has been applied, make sure it’s evenly spread by combing your hair with a wide-tooth comb or wet brush.

Let it sit and absorb

The next step is covering your hair. Some sources suggest starting with plastic wrap or a shower cap followed by a towel to catch drips and maintain heat for increased absorption.

Leave everything in place according to the hair pack instructions. Some suggest a few minutes, some suggest hours, and some suggest overnight.

Rinse with lukewarm water

After the hair pack has been in place for the recommended time period, unwrap your hair and rinse it thoroughly with cool or lukewarm water to help seal the hair cuticle for moisture retention. Don’t use hot water.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, hair conditioning is one of the most important steps for a healthy hair regimen. Hair packs can:

  • increase hair manageability
  • help eliminate static electricity
  • temporarily mend hair shaft damage

Johns Hopkins Medicine also says that deep conditioners are particularly beneficial for severely damaged hair, with protein-containing conditioners being the most beneficial conditioning treatment for dry, damaged hair.

Don’t overuse

Overusing protein-containing treatments can lead to hair brittleness. Hair packs should only be applied on a monthly or bimonthly basis.

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Hair is a nonliving tissue, so it’s not possible to totally repair damage. However, a regimen of proper cleansing and conditioning techniques and proper product selection can improve hair health and make it more resilient.

Hair packs are popular as deep conditioning treatments, and are believed to help heal damaged hair. They’re often formulated with rich ingredients such as natural oils to address potential damage from:

  • styling tools (hairbrushes, blow-dryers, straightening irons)
  • hair products (styling, straightening, coloring)
  • environment (sun, changes of season, air pollution)

Ask your dermatologist, hair stylist, or other trusted source if they have a recommendation for a particular product or recipe for addressing your particular hair need.