Beauty Battle: Conditioning Hair Masks
Welcome to the latest installment of Beauty Battle, where we pit two similar products — one high-end, one drugstore — against each other to see which one reigns supreme. This week, we’re testing conditioning hair masks: Mario Russo’s Intensive Hair Care Treatment and Neutrogena’s Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask.
The hype: I highlight my hair several times a year (and flat-iron it within an inch of it’s life four times a week), so it’s fair to say that my locks have had their share of damage. Intense heat and chemical treatments can leave hair dry, frizzy and lackluster. This conditioning hair mask from Mario Russo is intended to treat these issues. Ingredients include castor seed oil, known for its smoothing properties, and shea butter, which heals strained strands and lends hair an amazing sheen. This combination, along with the olive oil that Russo uses in all of his products, deep conditions and (allegedly) breathes life (and moisture) back into dehydrated hair.
The application: After a thorough shampoo, I stepped out of the shower and towel dried my head to prepare for the 20-minute treatment that Russo suggests. The instructions give no recommendation for how much to use, so I just grabbed half a handful of goop and worked it through my hair. I stayed away from my roots (which tend to be really oily, anyway) and focused more on the ends, which take most of the beating from heat tools. If you try this at home, use a large clip or shower cap to secure your mane while you wait. With my hair snugly in place, I watched one episode of 30 Rock on Netflix, then I rinsed my hair. My hair was smooth and conditioned as promised, but the result only lasted for a few shampoos.
Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask
Price: $6.99, available at CVS and other drug stores
The hype: Like the Mario Russo product, Neutrogena boasts three important ingredients that attack dull hair and lock in moisture: olive extract (to smooth the centers of the hair strands); sweet almond extract (to wrap the surface of each strand); and meadowfoam seed extract. According to Neutrogena’s website: “This weekly treatment is so concentrated, just a small amount is needed for hair to become soft, lustrous and shining in minutes.”
The application: I shampooed and then combed the hair mask through my hair (again staying away from roots, and focusing on the ends) and left it on for the recommended five minutes — which was just enough time to shave my legs. After rinsing, I noticed similar results to the Russo treatment: My hair was smooth for a couple of days. I probably wouldn’t see any real improvement without prolonged use.
Read on for the verdict…
The verdict: Mario Russo’s Intensive Hair Care Treatment and Neutrogena’s Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask were equally effective. But, the crown in this battle goes to Neutrogena for ease and convenience of use — a five-minute wait in the shower trumps a 20-minute pause in this time-crunched world.
— Kimya Kavehkar