Are you using the latest version of Photoshop and CC 2017.0.1?
Also, update your Graphics card drivers as this tool does make use of it.
Let us know if that helps.
I have similar issues with the select and mask tool. I also updated my photoshop to the latest version. It seems that the previous refine edge tool is more efficient than the recent reincarnation of the tool. Whenever I select the hair strands with the brush and set the parameters it rendered in a blank mask.
I have to use the old age method of channeling just to isolate the hair strands.
I hope that Adobe will re-structure this tool since it helped my workflow a lot.
Select and Mask has been redesigned to reduce the time-consuming masking process and produce better results. We are continuously working on this workspace and modifying it based on our customers feedback like you.
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The new Refine Edge works differently to the old but is capable of good results. I find for hair, a small brush at 100% hardness, 1% spacing, Radius 0px and smart radius OFF works well. Ensure that you are only asking refine edge to work on the edges (use "Show Edge" to check)
However- if a particular image causes issues, the old refine edge is still there. With a selection made, go to menu Select - then hold down the Shift key and click on the menu item Select and Mask. The old refine edge dialogue will open.
Oh Dave! Thanks! That's a life saver. I just can't get around that new "select and mask" tool.