In The Market For: Drugstore Hair Masks

I’ve probably had a pretty standard experience when it comes to what I’ve been willing to spend on beauty products over the years.  In high school, I never really ventured beyond Target except for the occasional BeneFit purchase.  Those were a big deal, and pretty rare.

In college I got a little bolder, falling hard for MAC, slowly making me way through the beauty floor at Nordstrom, and frequently finding myself trapped in Sephora.  Nothing extravagant would ever really happen, but we’ll just say that the lack of pigmentation from Maybelline eyeshadow could no longer be tolerated (though a Dior palette is probably a bit excessive, and I sadly have a couple).  Fragrance purchases were upgraded from Britney Spears Fantasy to Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue (though I still don’t understand how the cool thing to do in perfume is wear these fragrances with these strange names that no one’s ever heard of; everyone’s heard of Burberry Brit or Gucci Flora, everyone knows they’re awesome, but I hardly ever read about people wearing them).

As I’ve entered in my late twenties, what I’m willing to spend on hair, skin, and makeup has probably continued to increase.  I can’t calculate specifics, but judging by what I use now compared to what I used when I was twenty three, things have probably undergone a general price increase of five to ten dollars per item.  Sometimes it’s more, especially in the skincare area.  I’ve tried to make a plan for the future so I don’t waste my time trying too many products and so I know what kind of costs are coming.  For instance, I know that in ten years or so, I’m going to begin using Estee Lauder’s famed Advanced Night Repair, and the insanely well-reviewed Skinceuticals C E Ferulic serum.  Those are two rather hefty purchases, for grown up girls only!

However, I’ve got myself on this lovely little plan right now that involves zero new beauty purchases without finishing off two beauty items I already have first.  Annoying.  And would you believe that Allure’s annual “Best of Beauty” issue landed in my lap mere minutes after finishing my post about my empties challenge?!  Just my luck.  However, I’m committing myself to this plan at least for a couple months or until I finish off a substantial amount of products.

And yet, I’m unfortunately doing this at a time when my hair is in need of a trim to dust off broken ends (it’s been twelve weeks since my last), and at a time when I would typically pick up a pricier product to prevent split ends from reoccurring since I’m officially growing it out.  Just over a week ago, I had Alterna’s Lengthening Hair and Scalp Elixir in my hand, and I bought it only to return it a half-hour later.  I just couldn’t justify the purchase, and that return was part of what prompted me to develop my new purchasing restrictions.  In addition to a new hair serum, I’d also begun thinking of investing in a full-size Kerastase Masquintense for deep conditioning … but it costs sixty bucks.  Sixty bucks.  Look- I’d pay that if my husband and I were both working, and if I knew I’d use it once a week.  But we’re not, and I won’t.  I still have a little travel size tub of this particular hair mask, and I’ll use it to get me through the next couple months.

But say you’re browsing through Walgreen’s and want to try a cheaper hair mask.  I always advocate purchasing from salons, but say you’re on a budget and still have a hankering for something new.  A lot of drugstore hair products aren’t that great and have little to offer in terms of long-term conditioning, but there are two drugstore masks that I’ve tried that at least give surprisingly wonderful temporary results.


Aussie’s 3 Minute Miracle is somewhat legendary.  The stuff just seems to work.  There are now four different types of this conditioner and let it be known that I’ve only used the “Moist” one, but I also hear good things about “Smooth”.  When I used this, my hair was always left feeling very soft, extremely easy to comb through, and rather shiny (which is not a common feature of mine).  Use too much of it on the scalp and your hair will be too flat, but your lengths will thank you for it.  I would let it airdry and my ends would feel smooth, pliable, and fresh, without their typically dry, rough texture.  I recall this leaving more noticeable results in terms of moisture and softness than Sachajuan Hair Repair, which costs thirty-three dollars compared to Aussie’s three dollars.  Yeah.  And it also smells like the beach!


So, L’Oreal’s Total Repair 5 Damage-Erasing Balm is probably the best that drugstores have to offer in terms of intensive hair therapy.  If your hair is dull, brittle, overprocessed, and crying out for God’s mercy, this is probably a decent solution if you’re not able to get a trim or a more expensive mask.  I’m super bummed because they discontinued the Moisture Rush mask from this line that I really, really loved, but this stuff is pretty great too.  It gets incredible reviews on Amazon for moisture, manageability, and extending time between trims.  Remember that nothing can actually get rid of broken or damaged ends like a cut, but if a mask like this helps you tolerate the condition of your strands for a couple weeks longer, I say go for it.  This costs about ten dollars at Target and should last you a long time because a little goes a pretty long way.

For now, I’ll work through the rest of my mini Masquintense and keep working on my empties so I can get a trim, but if any of you are in the market for a cheap-but-decently-effective mask, give one of these a shot because they work!  xo, MR

2 thoughts on “In The Market For: Drugstore Hair Masks

  1. I used to use the Moist 3MM as a regular, everyday conditioner back when I was bleaching my hair on the regular. I only stopped because I quit doing the bright colors, and it started weighing down my already-fine hair without the damage to work on. These days I’m just using Herbal Essences natural lines conditioner, and Bed Head After Party as a leave-in conditioner. It smells SO GOOD, and my hair feels so good!

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