Kao Essential Damage-Care Nuance Airy Hair Mask & Rich Premier Hair Mask Review

The YS Beauty Lab

I’ve been growing out my hair for nearly a year now, and honestly, I’m still not used to it. For so long, my hair was usually in a bob, and sometimes, when the impulse strikes, I get a pixie cut. Since my hair never went past my neck or chin, I never really worried about whether it was frizzy or dry. But longer hair requires more maintenance and I’m too lazy to do any of that curling, twisting or straightening. My only concession has been to blow-dry it each morning because otherwise, I’d end up with what my friend and I call “Hagrid Hair.”

It’s the constant blow-drying that really takes its toll on my hair. I’ve tried hair mists that add moisture such as the Tsubaki Damage Care Water Mist and the Kao Liese Airy Style Blow-Dry Water which are good for everyday use, albeit with a temporary effect. For something more lasting, I decided to try two of Kao’s Essential Damage-Care hair masks — the Nuance Airy Hair Mask and the Rich Premier Hair Mask — to find out which one best suits my needs.

Spot the Difference
Except for the colors of the jars (pink and yellow) and quite possibly the scent, I’d be hard-pressed to distinguish between the two. The product information for both hair masks is virtually identical, with both containing honey and shea butter, “cuticle-repairing essence formula” and a “heat-protective ingredient” that repairs dry hair caused by moisture loss and heat damage. According to the Kao website, the only real difference between the two is that the yellow version is supposed to “give damaged and unmanageable hair a silky straight finish” while the pink one “gives damaged and limp hair an airy soft and bouncy finish.”

In both cases, the thick and creamy mask comes in a hefty 200-gram jar with a screw-on lid and a price tag of $12.90. Judging from the amount left over in the containers, I’ve hardly made a dent despite using each product three times a week for nearly a month now.

Light and Airy vs. Silky and Straight
I used the Premier Hair Mask for one week and the Airy Hair version for another to see if I could tell the difference. Because it had the same texture as conditioner, I decided to just leave it on my wet hair for the recommended five minutes, and got basically good results. Reading the customer reviews for each product however made me want to see if leaving it on longer would make my hair behave better. So I stretched it from 5 to 15 minutes. On the weekends, I’d cover my hair with the mask, put on a shower cap and let it soak my head for about an hour or two while I did other things.

The verdict? My hair looks and feels better with the Premier Hair Mask (yellow). Not only did it tame the occasional Hagridic tendencies of my hair, it also added shine and softness. Even when the humidity levels Hong Kong went up and down, my hair managed to stay sane. The ends benefited most as they looked and felt less brittle even when I used the blow-dryer on a cool setting.

The pink Airy Hair version also made my hair soft, but not as effectively as the Premier one. My hair is anything but limp and I guess this is why it wasn’t as magical for me. I do prefer the pink’s fragrance to the yellow’s, which was more on the fruity/sweet end, while pink was more subtle and flowery.

I’m definitely keeping these two because they still do wonders to my hair on varying levels. For the price and the quantity of both, it’s my hair that ends up as the clear, pampered winner.