Conditioner Versus Hair Mask

Conditioners and hair masks are often thought to deliver the same benefits to the hair; that couldn’t be more wrong. Using a conditioner the way you would a hair mask, or vice versa, could be a reason why some haven’t cultivated their best hair. There are some fundamental differences between conditioners and hair masks that you should know about, and we’ll dive into them here in this article. 

Conditioners vs. Hair Masks

To clearly delineate the differences between conditioners and hair masks, we’ll start with the basics. Keep reading for some matter-of-fact definitions of conditioners and hair masks. 

What is a Conditioner? 

A conditioner is a light, creamy product that temporarily enhances the look and feel of your hair. Conditioners come in many varieties to tackle specific hair issues; they include thickening conditioners, anti-breakage conditioners, moisturizing conditioners, and more. Some conditioners are formulated with silicones to form a layer of protection against moisture loss. Lastly, conditioners only take a few minutes to work and don’t typically penetrate to the deepest layers of the hair. 

What is a Hair Mask?  

Hair masks are like conditioners intensified. They are mainly used to provide deep hydration and repair to the deeper layers of your strands. Hair masks can be bought at the store or made at home. If you make yours at home, you can use ingredients targeted to alleviate your specific hair issues. Hair masks take anywhere from 10 minutes to more than an hour to do their job, but the effects of hair masks are usually long-lasting. Most will only need to use a hair mask once a week at most. 

As you may have gathered, conditioners can only do so much for the hair, while hair masks do much more in the way of repair and hydration. If your hair requires just a little moisture, smoothness, or shine following your shampoo session, a conditioner is all you need. But if your hair is damaged, brittle, or breaking, a hair mask can help get your hair to a healthier state internally and externally.

Conditioner or Hair Masks: Which is Better? 

A question that many have regarding conditioner and hair masks is “which one is better?” When it comes to hair masks and conditioners, neither is inherently better than the other. It all depends on what your hair needs. So, the question should be, “which is better for my hair?” For problematic or compromised hair, hair masks will be better in most cases. But if your hair is in a reasonably healthy state, a conditioner may be better for you. Using a hair mask on hair that doesn’t need it can lead to over-moisturization or protein overload, depending on the hair mask you used. 

Now you know a ton about conditioners and hair masks and the differences between the two. We hope that the information in this article enables you to choose the right product type for your hair needs so you can unlock the best version of your hair. 



Author: Andrea Reyes

Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.