Good Housekeeping Rates Hair Masks

Summer is a tough time of year for women's hair -- it can get dried out, frizzy and weathered by the sun. So the Good Housekeeping Institute and Beauty Department combined forces to test five "hair masks" designed to improve the appearance of hair.

In addition, the Good Housekeeping Beauty Department has three recommendations for other hair care products that can help women look their best this summer.

Hair Mask Tests

What's a hair mask?

A hair mask is a more concentrated conditioner for people who want an extra shot of moisture to deal with damage or frizz. A hair mask is applied once a week or once a month or as needed, while a conditioner could be used daily or as needed to treat dryness/tangling, with effects usually lasting until your next shampoo.

The test:

The Good Housekeeping Institute tested five hair masks sold in stores and salons that cost between $5.99 and $45 each.

The test was done in two parts: Fifteen volunteers had the masks applied by stylist Serena Dejesus at The Long Hair Care Group in New York City, and both the volunteers and stylists rated the masks. The Good Housekeeping Institute applied the products to 30 5-inch human hair swatches at its laboratory in New York.

Results:

All of the hair masks worked by adding moisture and manageability to hair, but with varying degrees of effectiveness. Hair masks can improve the overall appearance and condition of hair by sealing moisture into hair and adding shine. The Good Housekeeping Institute found that some hair masks are more effective than others, depending on your hair type and condition. A hair mask designed for thick or coarse hair may be too heavy for thin or fine hair. Good Housekeeping's test also found that you do not have to buy the most expensive brands to get the best results.

The top three masks:

Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine, from L'Oreal ($5.99 for 5 ounces; sold at drug stores/supermarkets). This product was rated best by volunteers, stylists and by researchers at the Good Housekeeping Institute for making hair smoother, shinier and more managable. It showed the greatest overall improvement in hair condition and was the best for frizz control. It was also said to have a pleasant scent and it took the shortest time to process -- three minutes. This product has fruit acids and Vitamins B3 and B6.

Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask, from Johnson & Johnson ($6.99 for 6 ounces; sold at drug stores/supermarkets). Stylists, volunteers and the institute praised the runner-up for having a nice smell, moisturizing hair and making it shinier, softer and more managable. Stylists also said it helped seal split ends. Product contains olive, meadowfoam seed and sweet almond extracts.

Nioxin Intensive Therapy Deep Repair Hair Masque, from Nioxin Research Laboratories Inc. ($13.50 for 5.1 ounces.; sold at salons). Volunteers rated this mask as the easiest to use of those tested, and the stylist said the product "helped smooth hair."

Three More Summer Hair Recommendations

The Good Housekeeping Beauty Department recommends three other "excellent" summer hair care products.

Avon Advance Techniques Curly and Chic Anti-Frizz Capsules. (Costs $5.) They smooth and condition frizzy hair and make hair gleam. You break open the capsule and apply to hair.

TRESemmé Anti Frizz Secret from Alberto-Culver (Costs $3.99). It fixes flyaways fast and is great for all types of hair.

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