Hair Serum Vs. Hair Mask|Know the Difference

Choosing the right product to use on your hair can be challenging especially with all the products available in the market.

Most of these products promise to fulfill almost the same purposes on your hair but how you use them will determine if they will work in the long run or damage your hair. 

Today we will get into details trying to differentiate between hair serum and hair mask.

Do they work the same way? Are they beneficial to your hair? 

If you want to know the answers to those questions and more, join me in the guide below. 

Difference between Hair Serum and Hair Mask

Before we get into details on what each of the hair products entails, I will give you a table with the cheat codes differentiating between hair serums and hair masks. 

Details Hair serum Hair mask 
What it isA liquid form of hair product formulated using silicone and oilsA cream or liquid form of hair treatment. 
What it doesAids in hair styling Revives damaged hair
Benefits Reduces frizz
Adds shine to your natural hair
Smoothen your hair
Used when heat treating your hair
Makes your hair soft and silky
Straightens your hair
Enhances your natural curls
Repairs hair damage
Reduces freeze
Makes your hair soft and smooth
Nourishment of your hair
Moisturizing your hair
When to useWhen you want to style your hair or protect your hair from factors that might damage your hairIf you want to repair your damaged hair or want to nourish your hair
Side effects Drying your hairIrritating rashes
Hair loss
How to use itApply on wet hairApplied on wet hair

The table above gives you a vague description of the two hair products.

Since the information cannot help you decide which product to use, we will get into details on what these products are, what they do, their benefits, side effects, and how to use them. Do go anywhere. 

What is a hair serum and what do they do?

Hair serum is a liquid form of hair product formulated with silicone or not and other products such as amino acids and proteins. 

Hair serum aims at creating a protective layer between your hair and other factors that might damage your hair or interfere with how you want your hair to look. 

In most cases, hair serums are used to define a certain hair style and hold it for a long. 

What is a hair mask and what do they do?

A hair mask is a liquid or a cream form of hair treatment that is formulated using oils and proteins. 

If you think your hair needs a TLC you can go for a hair mask. It nourishes, moisturizes, and repairs damaged hair. 

What are the benefits of hair serum?

Due to the presence of silicone and proteins in the hair serum, your hair can receive so many benefits from a hair serum.

Some of these benefits include;

  • Reduces frizz: Due to the presence of silicone on hair serums, when you apply it to your hair, it creates a protective layer that will protect your hair from humidity and other environmental factors that might cause hair frizz. 
  • Straightens your hair: Silicone the main component of hair serum is heavy. Once you apply it to your hair, it adds weight to your hair strands making them stay straight with no flyaways. 
  • Aids in the repair of damaged hair: The amino acids and other proteins in the hair serum will aid in repairing your hair. If you notice your hair is damaged, you can go in with hair products that will repair your damaged hair before applying a hair serum. 
  • Enhances your natural curls: Hair serums that contain hydrating properties will add moisture to your hair defining your natural curls while silicone will create a protective layer that will ensure the curls will be maintained for hours.
  • Protects your hair from heat damage: If you still insist on using heat to straighten your hair, you can apply a hair serum first which will protect your hair from heat damage. 

Hair serum does not only have the benefits mentioned above.

If you want to learn more about hair serums, you can read my introduction to hair serum guide. 

What are the benefits of a hair mask?

The hair mask is a natural hair treatment that contains most organic products which are mostly oils.

If you notice your hair needs some attention, a hair mask can be a great start to taking good care of your hair.

Some of the benefits of using hair masks on your hair include;

  • Nourishing your hair: Since the main components of hair masks are oils, the vitamins and nutrients found in the oils will nourish your hair making it healthy and vibrant. 
  • Moisturizing your hair: After you apply a hair mask, you will let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it. Since the hair cuticles are open during hair mask application, you can be assured your hair will absorb most of the moisture from the hair mask.
  • Repairs damaged hair: Hair masks contain vitamins, nutrients, proteins, and oils that aid in hair growth. So, if your hair is damaged, all the nutrients will be infused on your scalp which leads to the growth of hair. 

A hair mask has so much more benefits for your hair. You will however learn how to apply it well for it to work perfectly. 

What are the side effects of hair serum?

Despite hair serums having most of the benefits between the two products, it also has most of the side effects.

Some of these side effects include;

  • Hair damage: Silicone is both a blessing and a curse to your hair if not used the right way. If you apply a hair serum the wrong way or choose the wrong hair serum, it will strip off your hair its natural oils. This will make your hair extremely dry and might result in your hair being damaged. 
  • Hair loss: If you continue using the hair serum that is drying your hair, you might not only suffer from hair damage, but in extreme cases, your hair might start to fall off. 
  • Irritating rashes: There is a right way and a wrong way to apply hair serum. If you apply hair serum on your scalp, you might end up getting rashes from some of the other ingredients used in the serum. 

Luckily, all the negative side effects associated with hair serum are avoidable if you learn how to apply hair serum the right way.

Keep reading this guide to find out how you should apply hair serum. 

Does a hair mask have negative side effects?

Fortunately, hair masks are made of organic products.

It, therefore, doesn’t have any negative side effects. 

How to apply hair serum?

If you want to avoid all the negative side effects mentioned above you should follow this step-by-step guide to applying hair serum. 

  • Wash your hair gently with a shampoo. 
  • Go in with a gentle hair conditioner to soften your hair. 
  • Rinse off the products using some warm water and then go in with a moisturizer. 
  • You can apply other gentle hair products on your hair depending on what you want to achieve. 
  • Pour some hair serum into your palm and rub your hands together to melt the serum.
  • Part your hair into small sections and then apply the hair serum from the hair ends to the mid-length. 
  • Massage your hair gently to allow all the hair to get the product. 
  • Run a wide-toothed comb through your hair to detangle your hair. 
  • You can then style your hair as you please. 

After applying hair serum to your hair, wash your hands with warm water and soap to ensure no product remains on your fingertips. 

How to apply a hair mask?

Applying a hair mask is not that complicated. 

  • Wash your hair with shampoo then rinse it off your hair. 
  • Instead of using a conditioner, go in with a hair mask. 
  • Apply the hair mask from the mid-length to the hair ends and massage your hair for a few minutes. 
  • Let the hair mask sit on your face for a few minutes before rinsing it off. 
  • You can then go ahead and use other hair products as you wish. 

Can you use both a hair serum and a hair mask?

Since you will rinse off the hair mask after about 10 minutes, you can still use a hair serum after.

This will also ensure all the moisture acquired from the hair mask will be locked in and your hair will still benefit from the hair mask. 

You should however moisturize your hair before applying the hair serum. 

Between hair serum and hair mask, which is the best?

You cannot rule out which product is the best as they aim at performing different roles in your hair.

Since hair serum aids in styling your hair, you cannot choose a hair mask for this task. Also, you can not go around your day with a hair mask on your hair. 

If you judge the products based on their safety, hair serum has some negative side effects that can be avoided if used in the right way.

Do not apply hair serum on dry hair, or on your scalp, and definitely do not apply it daily. 

On the other hand, hair masks are very safe. They are formulated using gentle ingredients.

So, you can use them on a daily basis. 

So, both products are beneficial to your hair depending on what you want to achieve.  

You should however learn to apply each of the products properly for them to work from your hair. 


With the wide range of hair products available in the market, it is challenging to choose a hair product that will work for your hair. 

Although most products promise to fulfill almost the same purpose, how they are used determines if they will work for your hair or not. 

In the guide above we have differentiated hair serums and hair masks.

Read it thoroughly to know which product you should buy when you want to achieve a certain purpose for your hair.

You should also subscribe to this page for more beauty hacks. 

You may also enjoy reading……

  1. How to select Hair serum as my hair type?
  2. Hair serum effects
  3. Can we use hair serum for daily?
  4. How to use the ordinary hair serum ?


  1. Narayanamoorthy, S., Brainy, J. V., Manirathinam, T., Kalaiselvan, S., Kureethara, J. V., & Kang, D. (2021). An adoptable multi-criteria decision-making analysis to select a best hair mask product-extended weighted aggregated sum product assessment method. International Journal of Computational Intelligence Systems, 14(1), 1-16.
  3. Tiwari, R., Tiwari, G., Yadav, A., & Ramachandran, V. (2021). Development and Evaluation of Herbal Hair Serum: A traditional way to Improve Hair Quality. The Open Dermatology Journal, 15(1).

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