7 DIY Deep Conditioning Masks To Soothe Dry, Damaged Hair

mbg Contributor By Dorian Smith-Garcia
mbg Contributor
Dorian Smith-Garcia is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, parenting, consumer goods, and tech. She has written for Inverse, Healthline Parenthood, The Confused Millennial, XONecole, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications.
Smiling Young Woman With Curly Hair

Even the most diligent person might experience a little hair damage from time to time. Whether it's because you've been using hot tools too much, wash too frequently, or didn't realize that hard water was weighing your hair down, it's safe to say that countless reasons can cause your hair to be dry or damaged. While a deep conditioning treatment at your favorite salon can be a soothing and luxurious self-care experience, this might not be an option for everyone. 

Maybe your budget won't allow for it, or time is too precious a commodity for you. Whichever the reason, the good news is that you don't have to make do with hair that's seen better days. In reality, there are plenty of hair-friendly ingredients hiding out in your kitchen that can be just as effective as what the salon can offer—but at a fraction of the price. 

Best of all, these DIY recipes aren't difficult and can still be the perfect addition to a self-care session. Just be sure to patch test your blend before applying—and always avoid any known allergens. 

1. Avocados and honey to help thirsty curls bounce back.

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If you've got a head full of curly hair, you know that curls can be notoriously difficult to manage. Your main issues center around finding the right hydration balance. From hair care products to the environment, there are plenty of reasons why your tresses can end up dry and frizzy. 

But avocados are a great mask base because they contain natural oils along with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. In short, they have good fats plus vitamins that help to keep your hair looking healthy and hydrated. A bonus is that avocado can serve as a detangler. 

Andrew Fitzsimons, a celebrity hairstylist who can count the Kardashians as clients, swears by a simple DIY mask made with avocado, lemon, olive oil, and manuka honey. "I like to use a blender to mix the four ingredients together to create a nice consistency to evenly coat and distribute across the hair. After it's blended, apply the mask, comb it through, and leave it on for 45 minutes for stronger, nourished locks."

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How to:

  • Add 1 avocado, 1 Tbsp. olive oil and honey, and a squeeze of lemon to a blender.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Evenly coat your mask across the hair. Comb it through with your fingers to make sure each strand is coated.
  • Leave it on for 45 minutes, and then wash out. 

2. Banana to help strengthen hair.

Bananas are well known for their nutritional benefits when we eat them. But how many of us think about applying the tasty fruit to our hair? For those not in the know, bananas are rich in silica, a mineral that helps your body process collagen. Plus, bananas also have antimicrobial properties that can help people with dry, flaky scalps. 

Thankfully, a DIY banana hair mask doesn't have to be complicated. According to Brittany Johnson, a licensed hairstylist and senior content manager for Mayvenn Hair, the key to nailing this mask recipe—and any DIY hair mask—is to make sure that your ingredients are thoroughly blended. 

She recommends blending one banana with half an avocado and adding olive oil for a little slip. Apply this mask to slightly damp or dry hair and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes. To boost the strengthening benefits, use a shower or conditioning cap to help warm the mixture from the heat rising off your head. "The combination of these ingredients helps to hydrate, condition, and seal in moisture for your precious strands."

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How to: 

  • Blend 1 banana and 1 avocado with a splash of olive oil.
  • Apply to dry or damp hair, letting it set for 15 to 20 minutes. (Under a shower cap if desired.) 
  • Rinse as normal. 

3. Eggs for hair growth.

Desiring long strands is hardly unique. But for many people, retaining length can be a tall order. Enter the incredible edible egg. So what makes the egg so beneficial for your hair? Eggs are packed full of protein and vitamins, two key ingredients that your hair needs to not just encourage growth but retain length. 

If you prefer the idea of a one-ingredient DIY hair mask, then this one doesn't get any simpler. Johnson recommends using one or two egg yolks and whisking them "...until the consistency is easy to work with." Simply apply the mixture to a clean scalp ideally after washing your hair. Work the mixture through your hair, targeting the scalp, roots, and ends. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing. But be sure to "...rinse with cool water—you don't want an accidental scramble!"

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How to:

  • Whisk 2 eggs in a bowl, until they have a thin, spreadable consistency. 
  • Shampoo as normal, paying special attention to your scalp.
  • Apply the mixture from the scalp to the ends. 
  • Let it sit, before rinsing with cool to cold water. 

4. Coconut oil to strengthen strands.

Coconut oil is another kitchen ingredient turned hair care staple that is incredibly effective for a wide range of hair types. In particular, this natural product aids in infusing your hair with protein, an essential nutrient if you want to grow your hair longer or retain length. Best of all, it's a product that can either be used as an added ingredient in other DIY hair masks or can be used alone as a replacement for traditional store-bought conditioners. 

Depending on the time of year, you may need to heat your coconut oil over low heat as it solidifies at room temperature. Apply the oil, making sure to thoroughly saturate all of your hair. Ideally, let it sit for 10 to 30 minutes under a processing or shower cap so that it deeply penetrates every strand. However, you'll want to be thorough when washing it out, as you don't want to encourage product buildup on your hair or scalp.  

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How to: 

  • If needed, warm the coconut oil over low heat so it becomes a liquid. 
  • Apply to hair and let it sit for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Wear a processing or shower cap so the oil can penetrate more deeply.
  • Wash thoroughly with shampoo after, making sure to get all the residue out. Coconut oil can cause buildup if not properly rinsed out. 

5. Zesty limes to moisturize and banish flakes.

You might not think about limes as a fruit designed to bring out the best in your hair, but they can. In particular, this zingy fruit pairs well with coconut milk for an unexpected DIY hair mask that has major benefits. Limes are rich in vitamin C, which is essential for controlling dandruff and even balancing oil production for people who struggle with oily scalps. 

Meanwhile, we know that coconut is perfect for moisturizing and coconut milk can even pull double duty as a detangler. In some cases, people have claimed that this powerful combo can soften their hair's texture and mimic the benefits of a relaxer—but it doesn't. Most likely they're simply experiencing the conditioning benefits, which can translate as hair that feels softer or curls that "pop" because they're properly hydrated. 

To make this mask, you're going to need to spend some time in the kitchen. Combine 1 can of coconut milk with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), 4 tablespoons of lime juice, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Start by combining the coconut oil and EVOO in a saucepan and whisking over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. 

Add the lime juice and cornstarch while you continue to stir the concoction. Don't fully cook the mixture, but watch for it to thicken from the added cornstarch. You want it to get to a conditioner texture. Remove from heat and cool before applying it to your hair. Once cool, thoroughly apply it to your hair and cover with a shower or processing cap for up to 30 minutes. Rinse out thoroughly, and any excess mixture can be frozen for future use. 

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How-to:

  • Combine 1 can of coconut milk and 2 Tbsp. of EVOO in a saucepan over low to medium heat, whisking until smooth. 
  • Add 4 Tbsp. of lime juice, and 2 to 3 Tbsp. of cornstarch while stirring. 
  • Stir until thickened (don't allow it to burn!).
  • Remove from heat and cool. 
  • Liberally apply to your hair, and let it sit for 30 minutes. 
  • Rinse as normal. 

6. Apple cider vinegar to clarify your scalp and give you shiny hair.

Known by its shorthand, ACV, apple cider vinegar is one of those pantry staples that can do more than serve as a fermentation accelerant to turn cucumbers into pickles. Especially for beauties that follow the Curly Girl Method, ACV is incredibly popular as a natural clarifying alternative for your hair and scalp if you're trying to avoid shampoos. Along with cutting through product buildup and dirt, it's been linked with controlling dandruff

Best of all, as a clarifying treatment, it doesn't need to be paired with anything. Naturals often use it as a "pre-poo" or prewash treatment. Simply pour it in a spray bottle and focus on your scalp and roots, using the pads of your fingers to work it in and help dislodge dirt. Hop in the shower and proceed with your regular wash day routine.

But ACV also works as a rinse to help infuse shine. According to Ayurvedic expert and NYC colorist Shivangi Tripathi, the founder of the hair oiling brand Mata Ayurveda, ACV can be applied to your hair after shampooing. Don't worry about the scent because it'll go away shortly. You also don't need to rinse this treatment out once applied. 

How to:

  • Dilute 1 Tbsp. of ACV with 1 cup of water. Put it in a spray bottle.
  • Spritz on your hair after your shower.
  • Style and dry as usual. 

7. Mayo for parched strands.

Most people think of mayonnaise as a sandwich condiment. But this thick spread is also ideal for healing dry hair too. Mayo is full of heavier oils that are beneficial for chronically dry hair like canola, soybean, and even olive oils. Plus, traditional mayo is made with egg yolks, another hair-friendly ingredient. 

To be clear, if you don't struggle with incredibly dry hair, you probably should leave the mayo to sandwiches and salads. But especially for people who struggle to prevent dryness (think curly and wavy hair types in particular), those three ingredients can give your hair a much-needed boost of hydration. 

Mayo plays well with a variety of ingredients, but some of the most popular recipes include mixing it with honey for a double dose of hydration or pairing it with one avocado and olive oil for a deep conditioning effect. 

How to:

  • Apply mayo to hair as needed.
  • Add in honey, olive oil, or avocado for extra hydration.
  • Rinse. 

The takeaway.

You don't need to spend a week's worth of pay to have effective hair care products in your arsenal. In reality, your pantry, cupboards, and refrigerator are probably holding everything you need to tackle any hair woes that you have. Some of these recommended masks may require a bit of trial and error to find the right consistency and amounts that work for your specific hair type and porosity level. But your hair and wallet will thank you for going the DIY route. 

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