I’d Swap Olaplex For This Hair Mask Any Day — It’s That Good

If my hair could talk it would most certainly have a go at me. In the past year it's been bleached and dyed blue, subjected to box dyes (both wash-out and permanent), stripped back to blonde and taken brunette (phew!) — not to mention all the blow-drying and straightener abuse. In other words, my lengths are in need of some serious TLC. I know I'm not the only one. Over the last couple of years, we've seen plenty of DIY dye jobs. Then, as soon as salons opened up again, many of us booked in to switch things up, with balayage, creamy curls and burnt copper reigning supreme.
When it comes to taking the best care of bleached and dyed hair, colourists seem to rely on one brand to reverse the damage, prolong colour and make lengths feel brand-new after every wash: Olaplex. Products No.1 and No.2 are intense treatments reserved for salon use but the at-home No.3 Hair Perfector, £28, No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask, £28, and No.6 Bond Smoother, £28, have all achieved cult status for breathing life into frazzled hair with a patented, strand-mending ingredient (bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, in case you were wondering). I'm especially a fan of No.8 for taking parched hair and making it ridiculously soft. But I've shelved the product in favour of something even better.
If you have an Instagram or TikTok account, you might've spotted the hair mask before. It's created by Color Wow (the brand behind the famous Dream Coat hair glosser) and celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton (who tends to Dua Lipa, J.Lo and Kim Kardashian's hair). So what makes it special? Firstly, how it's meant to be used. It's fair to say that a lot of the best hair masks are an effort, requiring you to leave the shower, painstakingly apply the mask, and then return to rinse it out after 30 minutes or so. Not this one, which is a very speedy, three- to five-minute in-shower treatment. I use it in place of conditioner after shampooing — simply let it work its magic while you wash off.
The star ingredient is blue sea kale, which the brand explains helps bind sulphur with damaged keratin (found naturally in the hair) to strengthen hair strands which have become brittle as a result of over-dyeing and heated styling tools. Then there's sea algae, which floods porous hair with moisture, making it soft and glossy, and hydrolysed vegetable protein to promote smoothness and shine. The mask features a handful of silicone ingredients, too. While they have previously garnered a bad rap in haircare, they've come a long way and have an endless list of benefits, such as providing a protective layer against the environment, reducing hair's porosity (so it's less likely to absorb humidity and frizz up) and enhancing shine. Money Masque also has a very unique texture. Unlike other masks, which are thick and cloying, this takes its cue from skincare and resembles 'memory cream', famous in Korean beauty circles. Much like a memory foam mattress that sinks with the weight of your body and then springs back up, the jelly-like texture is bouncy and slips through hair without any friction. It's weightless and doesn't totally suffocate strands or make your scalp feel greasy after rinsing. Plus, it smells great — I get a fresh, sea breeze vibe.
Before Money Masque
After Money Masque
The smoothing, softening and strengthening results are noticeable while you're rinsing it out. After the very first go my thirsty, rough split ends felt like silk and using it three times a week I experienced less hair shedding than usual. Normally it would take a good few minutes to ensure every ounce of conditioner or hair mask is gone from my thick hair but this disappears in seconds as the texture is so featherlight. Don't underestimate it, though. As you can see in the before and after pictures, Money Masque keeps frizz on lockdown, makes bleached and dyed hair look lustrous and even boosts the appearance of length and health thanks to the intensely moisturising ingredients. After a quick rough-dry, it takes five minutes (rather than half an hour) to pull a pair of straighteners through my previously unmanageable hair, and I can't get over how sleek and satiny it feels every time. If I were to compare Money Masque to Olaplex's No.8 mask, I'd say the former is a lot easier to use and makes my hair appear more expensive. Yep, there's a reason for the name.
@minniefrr It’s HEREEEE 🙌🏼😍 @Chrisappleton1 @colorwow.hair and it’s an absolute dream #moneymask #closeyourrings ♬ All For Us - from the HBO Original Series Euphoria - Labrinth & Zendaya
It's not just my hair, though. Chris and the Color Wow team formulated the mask to work on all hair types and textures — particularly hair that's damaged, dehydrated and dyed. TikTokers agree, with @minniefrfr and @wendyskin all obsessing over the product. At £39.50, Money Masque is more expensive than any Olaplex product on the market but it's almost double the size and thanks to the unctuous texture, a little handful goes a very long way.
After reaching the bottom of my first tub of Money Masque last year, I felt a little bit stumped. No hair conditioner or mask I tried afterwards ever lived up to it and I've not found one as brilliant since. My advice? Grab it before it sells out. Your hair really will thank you for it.
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