As Phoebe Waller-Bridge said in Fleabag, hair is everything, so we ought to keep it in top-notch condition, rain or shine. However, with so many products on the market, it’s easy to give up and opt for shampoo only. Using a hair mask, in particular, is often avoided — who even has time to wait until it soaks up?
Yet, there’s more to hair masks than meets the eye. Chock-full of hydrating ingredients that are just waiting to give the hair some shine and strength, if hair masks aren’t on your radar yet, you better keep on reading.
Hair Mask as the Holy Grail
Hair damage is a real concern for most people, so investing in good-quality products is a must. Nevertheless, the impact of our lifestyles is sometimes unavoidable, making a hair mask an essential part of the hair care routine.
You’d think that doing something drastic to your hair, such as exposing it to bleach and the sun, is the only way it could get really damaged. Yet, even things like air pollution, chemicals in water, and windy weather could make it brittle and prone to fallout.
Of course, we don’t even have to mention how heat could damage your hair. The use of heat protectants is still not as widespread as it should be. Thus, a hair mask could be a way for many people to offset some of the damage at least.
Can We Get By With Just Using a Lot of Conditioner?
Unfortunately, no, we cannot. The difference between a hair mask and a conditioner isn’t just in the consistency. They contain different ingredients, with hair masks offering copious amounts of hydrating compounds that somewhat heal the hair over time.
Hair consists of three layers, with the outermost layer being the one that is the most damaged. Once that happens, the inner layers are exposed to all sorts of things and need extra help. Otherwise, the hair, no matter how well it’s cut, becomes brittle, dry, and frizzy.
So, what makes a hair mask special? If you compare conditioners to hair masks, you’ll see that the former is much thinner in texture than the latter. Moreover, it doesn’t have to stay on your hair for too long. In most cases, conditioners make the hair more manageable, whereas hair masks, because they’re thicker, i.e., contain a greater number of ingredients, offer deep nourishment.
In essence, it’s quite simple. For short-term results, a conditioner is a solid choice, as it can make the hair prettier temporarily. However, to ensure the hair’s health over time, it’s imperative to opt for a hair mask. With proper application and diligent use, it could help regenerate your locks.
Would Any Hair Mask Do?
Just like with conditioners, we have to pay attention to the type of hair mask we’re using. Protein-based masks are quite popular, as they strengthen the hair — and we all know that bodes well with long-haired enthusiasts. However, if our hair isn’t flat or limp and thin, such a mask could have the opposite effect. Instead of making it stronger, it could make our hair dry.
Sometimes, choosing a proper hair mask requires some trial and error. Still, to make it a bit easier, remember that:
- Curly or kinky hair needs something to define the curls and is often dry. So, opt for natural oil masks, such as those that contain argan, coconut, or avocado oil.
- Lifeless hair that just falls all over the face needs something to make it stronger. Thus, protein masks are the best in this case.
Do know, however, that dry and frizzy hair, especially the one that’s often in a tight ponytail or bun, would benefit from a hair mask the most. Such hair is already somewhat damaged, so acting fast is key to bringing back the shine and bounce.
Oily Hair Is a Menace, and a Hair Mask Could Make It Worse
Some of us often refrain from using hair masks because we believe they could make our oily hair even oilier. To an extent, that is true — but only if we use the wrong type.
Oil-heavy hair masks can add shine and regenerate the strands. However, at the same time, they could make oily hair limp and dirty-looking, which is the exact opposite of what we’re going for.
Luckily, the hair industry offers plenty of hair masks designed for oily hair. Look out for ingredients such as lavender, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils. These should balance out the production of sebum and nourish your locks.
Also, consider the fact that even though your hair is oily, it has extra protection. The sebum isn’t accidentally there — it’s trying to protect it from damage a bit. Nevertheless, even in the case of oily hair, dry ends are common, so you could even get away with using any sort of hair mask, provided you apply it strategically — never on the scalp.
Bonus tip: Clay masks have become quite popular in recent years, and they’re a real godsend for those with extremely oily hair. These can remove product buildup and even some of the oil from the scalp!
The Wrong Way of Using a Hair Mask
Is there a particular way we ought to use hair masks? Well, it depends on what we’re using.
Some masks are meant for dry hair, while others work only with wet hair. In any case, what matters the most is that our hair is clean as a whistle before applying the mask. Otherwise, the ingredients won’t be able to penetrate the follicles as much as they should, leaving us with lackluster results.
Unlike shampoo, which goes on the scalp, and conditioner, which goes on the ends, a hair mask can be applied everywhere. In fact, we can even keep it on our hair overnight to ensure we’ve given it enough time to soak up all the ingredients.
But, remember — you should shampoo and condition your hair afterward to avoid the mask leaving an oily residue. Even in the case of hair masks, leaving the product in the hair could weigh it down.
Final Piece of Advice
A hair mask should become a central part of your hair care routine if you’re looking to grow nourished, long hair sans the split-ends. However, don’t overdo it. It’s best to do the mask at least once a week. More frequent use could, again, have the opposite effect.
And as a final piece of advice, let us leave you with a strange thought — try adding heat to the equation! By using a blow-dryer or a simple hot towel, you could boost the end results. The heat will lift the hair cuticles, letting them soak up the hair mask better and leaving you with hair anyone would envy.