Hair Masks + Treatments- What’s the Difference?

I think you guys can tell by now how passionate I am by haircare. My passion is making all of my clients hair beautiful in and out of the salon. It’s so easy to leave the salon and your hair feels great, but that first wash after your appointment, all the goodness that your stylist put in your hair washes down the drain. I hear from clients all the time ‘I wish you could do my hair everyday so it looks and feels this good’ and I tell them all the time, take the products home I use on you and it will always look and feel like this!

I get asked a lot what exactly masks do, what deep treatments do, if there are at home treatments and what they do, and most don’t even know that there’s a difference between the two. So I’m gonna explain what each of them are, their purpose, and what the difference between them.


Think of a mask as a high powered conditioner. It’s normally thicker in consistency than your standard conditioner. Masks spend more time sinking into the hair than your standard conditioner, and are able to penetrate deeper into the hair. They generally sit on the hair for anywhere between 3-10 minutes, depending on the specific mask the time will vary.

These can be done both in the salon, and at home. Masks will typically be made up of oils, butters, and other nourishing ingredients. Some masks will allow you to skip conditioner when you use them, but some will require you to still finish with your conditioner.


How often should I use a mask?

Depending on your wash routine, I typically recommend once a week.

Can you leave a mask on too long?

I personally think so, yes. If your hair is severely dry or damaged, you can leave them on for longer to ensure you’re truly getting the most out of it, but it can definitely weigh down the hair if on too long. I know some like to let masks sit on overnight, and personally I just find that way too high maintenance, too messy and complicated for my liking. I’ve found masks that work wonders in 5-10 minutes.

** pro tip: to prevent overweight, follow the directions of the mask the first few uses, then see if that’s working fine for you or if you do need to customize it a little more for you. Also, focus the majority of the mask on your mids and ends, and work the excess up toward the top.

Why should I invest in a conditioning mask?

Masks can really improve the strength, moisture, shine, and overall health and manageability of your hair. Especially for those who struggle with damaged, frizzy, complicated, stressed, or tangled hair, using a mask consistently can make your life so much easier.


Now some brands to carry at home conditioning treatments too that treat the hair differently than a mask! Typically the level of penetration goes from masks to at home treatments to in salon treatments. Your at home treatments are good for targeting a specific need for your hair that goes a little more deeper into the hair than a mask.

There is a time and a place for at home treatments too. Since they are a little more intense I would advise you guys to consult with your stylist to see if your hair necessarily needs it, which treatment they specifically recommend your hair, or do some research on it online. Some websites will have hair quizzes too which can really help you figure out the deciding process for you as well.


Can I overuse an at home treatment?

In my opinion, yes. Like I previously mentioned there’s a time and a place for them, and while some may be safe to use every wash, some are not. Which actually saves you product and money in the long run. Some treatments too are truly meant to just help your hair get back on track then you can either not use it nearly as much or just stop using it altogether. That’s why I truly recommend following the directions and your stylists recommendation.

Can I use a mask and an at home treatment at the same time?

Absolutely! Most treatments require you to put conditioner on after you rinse it out, so following up with a good mask, especially one that replaces your conditioner is a great idea.


These treatments are almost always in salon only, which means it can only be done by a professional. These work on your hair from the inside out, meaning they penetrate deep into the cortex of the hair, where as conditioners and masks work on the outside and work it’s way in. Deep treatments can actually improve the overall texture of your hair and give long term repair and results. The consistency to these vary depending on the brand, as I’ve dealt with some that are legit water consistency to those that are thick and creamy.

These normally are protein based or moisture based, and based on what you and your stylist determine what you need will depend on the type of treatment you will receive. Processing time typically goes for anywhere between 10-25 minutes, and sometimes sitting under a hooded dryer is needed as the heat opens up your cuticle and allows the treatment to really get inside the hair. These can last up to 4-8 weeks, and depending on your hairs condition and your appointment regimen will depend on how often you get them done.


How do I know if I need a deep treatment done?

I believe everyone needs a deep treatment occasionally, even those that don’t color their hair. Everyone would benefit from a treatment done once or twice a year. You can tell your hair is in need of a good treatment if it’s been way more tangled than it normally is, your hair is damaged, the frizz is out of control, or your hair isn’t laying very well, etc.

How do I know if I need protein or moisture?

This can be tricky for some to figure out. Normally the hair needs protein if it’s been lightened a lot and feels damaged, weak or brittle. Or if you just have naturally weak and brittle hair that’s prone to breakage. Just be careful, as protein can buildup in the hair and make it really dry. Everyone needs moisture in my opinion. You can tell the hair is really dry though, if it’s dull, lacks shine, prone to tangles, unmanageable, and of course feels dry.

Take a look at some of my my favorite conditioning masks and at home treatments below⬇️







Ask your stylist at your next hair appointment if she offers deep conditioning treatments and if there’s a specific one she recommends for your hair! Personally, I’ve been using the Crystal Cashmere system from Incommon and it’s been my favorite for my and my clients hair!

Thanks for reading along! Until next time, XO’s💋