Picture yourself enjoying a luxurious day at the spa. Your mental image probably involves a green face mask and a couple of strategically placed cucumbers,right? Face masks, known for their ability to moisturize and revitalize your skin, are a common part of many skincare routines.
Want the same benefits for your hair?
Hair masks perform a similar function, with benefits including smoother, stronger, and more moisturized locks. Learn more, including how to use hair masks, how often to apply them, and the best ones to choose, below.
What Is a Hair Mask and What Does It Do?
A hair mask is a deep conditioning treatment that can help revive dry or frizzy hair. Typically, you apply a mask for longer than you would a traditional conditioner – anywhere from three minutes to overnight. Masks also are not the same as leave-in conditioners, which are generally lightweight enough to be left in the hair to act as a styling product. Hair masks are thick and moisturizing, designed to be applied for longer periods of time, and then rinsed out.
There are a wide array of hair masks available, touting a range of different formulas and benefits, but the most effective products contain natural oils and lipids that can infuse moisture back into your hair. When choosing a mask, it’s important to take a close look at the ingredients to make sure you avoid harmful additives like parabens, phthalates, and sulfates.
In fact, the most effective mask treatments aren’t always specifically labeled as hair masks. New Wash Rich, for example, is a shampoo alternative that, with added heat and time, can double as a deep conditioning hair mask. Rather than add more steps to your routine (and bottles to your shelf), New Wash Rich simplifies the process; with one application, you can cleanse and moisturize.
Hair Mask Benefits
- Added moisture: Dealing with dryness? Causes of dry hair include frequent heat styling, over-washing, and using harsh chemicals found in many common hair coloring and styling products. Hair masks provide a high-impact dose of moisture.
- Smoother, less frizzy hair: Frizzy, brittle strands, which can result from coloring, sun, harsh detergents, chlorine or salt water, can be helped by masks that include nourishing essential oils.
- Stronger hair that’s less prone to breakage: A deep conditioning mask can’t repair damage that’s already done, but it can strengthen new growth and protect your hair from further deterioration.
How Often Should You Do a Hair Mask?
If you have healthy hair of any type – fine, thick, curly, or straight – you don’t necessarily need a hair mask. Cleansing with a detergent-free shampoo alternative gently removes unwanted impurities and product buildup while preserving the natural oils your hair needs for optimal moisture.
However, you can always add a mask into your routine to address any concerns or simply maintain your already healthy hair. In either case, your frequency of use should depend on your specific hair type and issues:
Fine Hair: Once a Week
If you have fine hair, aim for once a week. Using a mask more often than that can overwhelm your hair and weigh it down.
Thick Hair: One to Two Times a Week
By using a mask on healthy, thick hair once per week, you’ll add nourishment and weight without sacrificing natural texture. However, if you have additional concerns – like dryness or damage – try increasing to twice a week.
Curly Hair: One to Two Times a Week
Curly hair is often highly porous, which means it can usually benefit from added moisture (like with the LOC method of layering liquid, cream, and oil). With that in mind, you can use a hair mask once or twice a week. Look for a product specifically designed with curls in mind. New Wash Rich, for example, contains curl-specific oils to revitalize your spirals.
Dry Hair: Twice a Week
Because hair masks boost moisture, it makes sense that dry hair, can use a mask more often – about twice a week. Once you feel like your hair is back to a balanced, hydrated state, you can scale back to once a week.
Oily Hair: Once a Week
Similar to fine hair, using a mask too often on oily hair can weigh it down, so apply it just once a week. You may also consider focusing the mask primarily on your ends, which can be thirsty for moisture.
Damaged Hair: Two to Three Times a Week
Before you slather on a product, it’s important to note that no hair mask can undo damage like breakage and split ends (you’ll need a trim for that!). However, the right nourishment can restore moisture, ensure new growth is healthy and strong, and protect against additional damage. To reap those benefits, use a hair mask two to three times a week.
Step by Step: How to Use Hair Masks
Step 1: Wet Your Hair
Thoroughly wet your head, and then squeeze out any excess water with a towel – your hair should be damp rather than soaking wet. (With a traditional mask, you may be instructed to wash your hair before applying the product; however, New Wash Rich cleanses and hydrates at the same time, so there’s no need for that step when using it as a mask.)
Step 2: Apply the Mask
Work the mask into your hair, starting at the ends of your strands and working through the shaft and up into the scalp. It can be helpful to use a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute the product, or try using a scalp brush to massage it into your scalp for a few minutes.
Step 3: Add Heat
Heat can maximize the benefits of a mask by opening your hair cuticle and allowing the product to penetrate the shaft. To create and seal in heat, first put your hair in a shower cap, then wrap a hot, fresh-out-of-the-dryer towel around it. Or, if you want an all-in-one product, you can purchase a microwavable heat cap designed for deep conditioning treatments.
Step 4: Let the Mask Work Its Magic
Now, all you have to do is wait!! At a minimum, aim to leave the product in for about three to five minutes, although you can get additional benefits (and moisture) by waiting 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re up for sleeping in a shower cap, some people even opt to keep a mask in overnight.
Step 5: Rinse and Cleanse
When the timer is up, rinse the product from your hair. Instructions for some masks may recommend shampooing to ensure you get all of the product out of your hair – but an added benefit of New Wash Rich is that it is a cleanser, so once you rinse it out, you’re good to go.
Like a face mask, you don’t have to use a hair mask daily – but when you need a boost of moisture, it can do wonders for all types (and conditions). But also keep in mind that you don’t have to line your shower shelf with an array of different formulas. When you cleanse (and mask) with New Wash Rich, you can get all of the benefits of a hair mask with a single product.