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What’s the Difference Between a Hair Mask and a Conditioner

by: Better Not Younger September 19, 2022 8 min read

Better Not Younger features an woman having her hair washed at the salon. An imagine to illustrate the article about the difference between a shampoo and a hair conditioner.

The roles of hair masks and conditioners can sometimes be unclear. If we use a conditioner, can we forgo a hair mask? In some cases, perhaps.

But as we enter our 40s, our hair starts becoming drier, duller, thinner and more brittle and our scalps start lacking the proper nutrients they need to produce healthy strands—all these factors make it even more important to understand the difference between a hair mask and a conditioner.

Aging hair can benefit from both hair masks and conditioners but knowing the differences and benefits of each is key.

When regular conditioning isn’t enough to balance our aging hair biology and address dry, damaged hair, products like hair masks can help boost moisture levels and improve scalp function. Keep reading to learn the difference between a hair mask and a conditioner.


What Is a Conditioner?


Let’s start with conditioner since it’s the more commonly used moisturizing product. Hair conditioners help make your strands soft and more manageable, while also hydrating your scalp. Quality conditioners also prevent dry, damaged hair and breakage while diminishing frizz and tangles.

Conditioners are meant to be left in your hair for as few as 1 to 2 minutes, but you can certainly leave them in longer depending on how much hydration your strands need. It’s best to wring out as much excess water as possible before applying your conditioner so as not to dilute the conditioner—it’s important that your strands absorb as many nutrients as possible.

Conditioners replenish nutrients and re-hydrate your strands every time you wash your hair, but they vary in the levels of hydration they offer. Conditioners for curly hair typically are heavier and provide more moisture since this hair type is prone to dryness while fine or thin hair, which can easily be weighed down, responds best to lightweight conditioners.

And different conditioners perform different tasks. Some volumize while nourishing and protecting, while others are formulated to bring dry, damaged hair back to health. There are also conditioners that contain ingredients that focus on age-related thinning and dryness issues, some that help bring bounce and definition back to aging curls, and others that protect against sun and environmental damage while boosting hair’s vibrancy and shine.


What Is a Hair Mask?


Similar to conditioners, hair masks are ideal for the dryness and dullness associated with aging. So, what’s the difference between a hair mask and a conditioner? Hair masks are typically formulated with higher levels of conditioning ingredients such as hydrating butters and oils that contain hair softeners to not only moisturize dry, damaged hair but also nourish your scalp and hair follicles. Hair masks can also help to strengthen your hair.

While it’s typically recommended that you apply a hair mask from root to tip once a week, depending on your hair type, texture and length, you can use them in place of a regular conditioner every time you wash your hair. Frequent use of hair masks can lead to buildup and strands being weighed down, however, so keep this in mind if you have fine or thin hair. Applying hair masks only to the ends of your hair can help in these cases. And while hair masks are often designed to be left in for up to 20 minutes, if you’re using them more frequently as part of your regular hair-care regimen, 1 to 3 minutes may suffice.

Just like conditioners, hair masks address different concerns: There are masks that cater to dry, damaged hair to hydrate strands and repair hair shafts as well as masks designed for color-treated hair can help seal in color and decrease fade. Masks made for gray and silver hair can also improve texture and remove unwanted yellow tones. Using quality products for dry, damaged hair can strengthen and nourish your strands from the inside out, providing noticeable results after one use.


Does My Hair Need Both a Conditioner and a Hair Mask?


Yes, but not necessarily at the same time—you want to avoid over-conditioning. Hair masks and conditioners also don’t need to be used with the same frequency. The differences between hair masks and conditioners we just discussed will help guide you in determining the best routine for your hair’s needs. A good rule of thumb if you’re unsure? Stick with a regular conditioner following every shampoo and swap in a hair mask once a week for a deeper, more nourishing and repairing treatment.


Meet Better Not Younger’s Hair Masks and Conditioners


We designed our hair masks and conditioners to unlock your aging hair's potential. But since not all hair is created equal, we’ve formulated a range of hair masks and conditioners for different hair types, textures and needs. Keep reading to discover the differences between our unique hair masks and conditioners.


Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque


Formulated with our proprietary plant-based butter blend, Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque deeply penetrates and protects strands to instantly smooth, strengthen, repair and boost moisture using:

Plant-Based Butter Blend: Vitamins and amino acids in Mango, Macadamia, Cupuaçu, Murumuru and Avocado butters melt into the hair shaft for greater nutrient delivery, helping soften and protect strands from environmental damage.

Biotin: An essential vitamin and component for boosting overall hair condition.

Caffeine: Helps to rejuvenate the scalp at the roots to support healthier hair.

Argan Oil: Helps seal in moisture to prevent loss under heat. It is rich in natural fatty acids that can also help support hair follicle health and maintain scalp and hair from drying out.


Silver Lining Purple Butter Masque


The same moisturizing butters in our Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque can be found in our Silver Lining Purple Butter Masque along with ingredients for eliminating unwanted yellow tones in graying hair including:

Plant-Based Butter Blend: Vitamins and amino acids in Mango, Macadamia, Cupuaçu, Murumuru and Avocado butters melt into the hair shaft for greater nutrient delivery, helping soften and protect strands from environmental damage.

Folic Acid: Folic acid is a water-soluble B complex vitamin that aids scalp function by increasing protein production.

Green coffee extract (Coffea arabica): The chlorogenic acid and caffeine in Coffea arabica detangles your strands and galvanizes hair follicles.

D&C Violet 2: This optical color agent lightens and brightens hair color appearance while decreasing the intensity of yellow tones and brassiness.

Wake Up Call Volumizing Conditioner


Designed to volumize, hydrate and strengthen fine, thin, limp hair, our Wake Up Call Volumizing Conditioner is a sulfate-free conditioner that also smooths and adds manageability without weighing hair down. It uses potent ingredients, including:

Burdock Root: Rich in vitamin A, iron, potassium and essential fatty acids, burdock root nourishes hair follicles while providing nutrients to the scalp.

Bamboo: High in silica and mineral content to help strengthen hair strands and support moisture retention.

Hops: A natural conditioner, this nourishing antioxidant-rich ingredient supports smoother- and thicker-looking hair.

Second Chance Repairing Conditioner for Dry or Damaged Hair


Second Chance Repairing Conditioner for Dry or Damaged Hair restores, fortifies and renews hair that’s dry, brittle and stressed out for nourished, healthy-looking strands. It contains:

Meadowfoam Seed Oil: Stable, non-greasy meadowfoam oil is made up of 98% essential fatty acids to hydrate your hair and vitamins to bolster scalp health.

Ceramide-NG: Ceramide-NG seals and protects your cuticles while attracting and retaining moisture.

Passiflora Incarnata (Passion flower) Fruit Extract: Passion flower extract enriches your scalp, curbs free radical damage, and brings vitality to your hair using vitamins A and C and omega-6 fatty acids.


Full Transparency Shine Revitalizing Conditioner


Fragrance-free, dermatologist-test and hypoallergenic, our Full Transparency Shine Revitalizing Conditioner restores hair’s moisture and adds luster and liveliness to aging hair without weighing it down. It nourishes and protects with:

Chia Seed: Rich in protein, minerals and omega-3 to help strengthen hair and retain moisture for natural shine and a fresh, healthy and vital look.

Mongongo Oil: Rich in fatty acids to help support more porous hair and add shine and softness.

Ginseng: Helps strengthen and smooth the appearance of hair strands and scalp health.


Bounce Back Super Moisturizing Conditioner for Curly Hair


Our hydrating Bounce Back Super Moisturizing Conditioner for Curly Hair repairs, detangles and defines curls to bring buoyancy back to dry, aging curls while reducing breakage, frizz and flyaways using:

Curl-Reviving 5-Plant Butter and Oil Blend: A specially tailored vegan blend of Amazonian Cupuaçu, and Southeast Asian Kokum butters with Coconut, Buriti and Abyssinian oils that lock in deep moisture to help revive and strengthen curls.

Aloe Vera: Rich in moisture and vitamins, it helps strands retain moisture for smoother-looking curls.

Rice/Spirulina/Kelp Blend: Rice protein and algae-derived spirulina and kelp extracts are packed with amino acids, iron and protein to help support fuller- and stronger-looking hair.


Try Better Not Younger’s Hair Masks and Conditioners


The physiological changes your hair and scalp undergo as they age can leave you feeling frustrated, but understanding the difference between a hair mask and a conditioner can help. Hair masks and conditioners both infuse life into dry, damaged hair, though each product does so a bit differently.

Better Not Younger masks nourish your strands back to health with a blend of five deep-conditioning butters plus other restorative ingredients. Our conditioners can help you repair, rejuvenate and maintain beautiful, healthy-looking aging hair day after day with nourishing ingredients that strengthen, smooth and add shine without any weight.

Better Not Younger products are suited for all hair types and textures and specifically created for women over 40. Visit our shop page to discover all of our Better Not Younger hair-care products for dry, damaged hair as well as all your hair concerns.

Keep reading our blog to learn more about the differences between our hair masks and conditioners and to discover the products for dry, damaged hair that may work best for you!

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