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Hair Mask vs Conditioner: Decoding The Difference For Natural Textures

Hair Mask vs Conditioner: Decoding The Difference For Natural Textures

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As wash day approaches, maybe you’re thinking of treating your curls & coils to a much-deserved mid-week hydration boost. Browsing your options online, you might notice that two of the top contenders are deep conditioners & hair masks.

But aren’t they mutually exclusive?

Actually, they’re two separate (but equally important) entities that go hand in hand in maintaining a healthy scalp & strands. This begs the question: What are the differences between a hair mask & a conditioner—& do you use the hair mask or conditioner first?

By taking a deep dive into the hydrating world of conditioning, you’ll know which one to apply first (ahem—apply conditioner in hair then proceed with a hair mask) & be equipped to answer all things hair mask vs deep conditioner.


Exploring the Benefits of Conditioners for Natural Textures

When it comes to a hair mask vs conditioner, you probably have more experience with the latter. Conditioners are liquid hair treatments formulated with moisturizing ingredients meant to hydrate your curls & protect them from damage like natural hair breakage & split ends.

If conditioners for natural textures sound superb, that’s because they are. In addition to protecting your curls & coils, they also provide the following benefits:1

  • Enhancing hair softness
  • Decreasing hair static 
  • Adding luster & shine

From our Lightweight Conditioner to Medium Conditioner to Heavy Conditioner, there are a slew of options with varying hydration levels & consistencies to choose from depending on your hair’s current health status. Regardless of which one you choose, conditioners for natural textures often use ultra-hydrating plant-based ingredients, like:

  • Jojoba oil
  • Shea butter
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Almond oil

Understanding the Purpose of Hair Masks for Natural Textures

Coily-haired kings & queens are blessed with a naturally voluminous mane. But sometimes, even the bounciest of curls can lack in the hydration department, which may lead you to question not only how to moisturize curly hair, but how to maintain it. If a lack of moisture causes your hair to become too dry or brittle, sometimes even the most nourishing of conditioners won’t be able to muster the level of hydration your coils need to bounce back. 

Enter the hair mask (hair masque), the curly-haired fairy godmother of conditioning products.

The capabilities & advantages of adding the occasional hair mask to your routine are vast, including:

  • Preventing curly hair split ends & breakage
  • Instantly softening hair
  • Strengthening & restoring your strands 

Unlike traditional conditioners, the ingredients in hair masks for curly hair are often more concentrated, offering extra hydration that you wouldn’t find in a normal hair conditioner.

Take our Transition Mask % Treatment Mask, for example. 

Transitioning to your natural hair is a beautiful adventure, & our Transition Mask is your trusty companion along the way. What makes it truly special? Well, it's like a tailor-made boost for your hair during this exciting phase. Packed with the goodness your transitioning locks crave, this mask is here to ease the process. It's not just about hydration (though it's got that covered), it's also about strength – because we know those strands need some extra love during this time. So, whether you're rocking curls, coils, or textures, our Transition Mask is the secret weapon to make your journey smoother & more empowering than ever.

@patternbeauty Infused with Avocado Oil, Shea butter & Safflower Oil, the Transition Mask leaves your strands soft, bouncy & moisturized. So whether you're transitioning from a silk press, blowout or protective styles, it helps you return home to your PATTERN 💛 #RockYourPattern #HairTok #pattern #traceeellisross #haircare #fyp ♬ original sound - PATTERN

Now, let's talk about our crown jewel – the Treatment Mask. Curly, coily, or textured, this mask is designed with your unique hair in mind. What sets it apart? It's all about that perfect blend of nature's goodness. We've harnessed the power of ingredients like Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, & Aloe Vera to deeply nourish & restore your hair's vitality. Say goodbye to dullness & hello to hair that's soft, vibrant, & oh-so-beautiful. The Treatment Mask isn't just a product, it's a love letter to your curls, coils, & textures – ensuring they shine as brilliantly as you do.


Key Differences Between Hair Masks & Conditioners for Natural Hair

It’s time to do away with one of the greatest myths in the deep conditioner vs hair mask dispute. Many people use the terms interchangeably, & while they’re similar, there are some key differences between each hair treatment, including:

  • The nourishment scale – Deep conditioners, like our Heavy Conditioner or Intensive Conditioner, work to protect your curly hair type & give it that covetable smooth factor. On the other hand, hair masks work to provide an extra layer of recovery to each hair strand, working from deep within the inside of the hair shaft.
  • Length of application – Usually, you leave hair masks on for a longer duration than deep conditioners.
  • Targeted hair concerns – Hair masks generally focus on correcting damage like split ends or brittle hair. In contrast, lightweight conditioners concentrate on helping with everyday hair challenges, like detangling. Using a curly hair detangler stays can also help keep your curls adequately moisturized.

Knowing When to Use a Hair Mask vs Conditioner

While you’re now more familiar with the differences between a hair mask & conditioner, you might still be unsure about when to use each of these haircare products. As a general rule of thumb, use a light conditioner throughout the week or as needed to maintain a moderate level of moisture.

In contrast, you can whip out the hair mask once every week or two depending on your hair’s level of health. If your hair is shiny & soft, then once every two weeks is ideal. However, if your curls have lost their definition or if your individual strands break easily when stretched, opt for a weekly treatment mask until your coils are feeling juicy & buoyant again.


Give Yourself the Best of Both Conditioning Worlds with PATTERN

When it comes down to the classic hair mask vs conditioner debate, the answer is simple: Always invest in both. You can’t go wrong with a quality conditioner made for textured hair, & it never hurts to have a hair mask waiting in the wings to give your curls the occasional pick-me-up.

Plus, when you use a PATTERN hair product, you never need to wonder whether your coils are soaking up the best ingredients for natural hair. 

Full of all the curl-friendly, nourishing ingredients you could want (like Coconut Oil & Shea Butter hair products) & free of the ones you don’t (like parabens & sulfates), we’ve formulated a wide selection of curly & coily natural hair care products so that you can fully embrace the beauty of your natural texture & give it all of the hydration it deserves.

Soak up the good vibes & expert tips by adding PATTERN coily & curly hair products to your hair care routine.


  1. D'Souza, Paschal, and Sanjay K Rathi. “Shampoo and Conditioners: What a Dermatologist Should Know?.” Indian journal of dermatology vol. 60,3 (2015): 248-54. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.156355
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Reviewed by Ashley Ludgood

With over 12 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, Ashley Ludgood brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at PATTERN. Her insights have been featured in reputable publications like American Salon Magazine, American Spa Magazine, and Skin, Inc. Ashley has also shared her knowledge at conferences, including Face & Body, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to contributing to the industry. Having been an integral part of the team at PATTERN for nearly 4 years, Ashley continues to make significant contributions. Holding a degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she remains passionate about her field. Among her favorite products, Ashley turns to the PATTERN Styling Cream, Moisture Milk, and the Cleansing Shampoo as her go-to essentials.

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