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Making The Most Of Hair Masks

You most probably have heard of facial masks that help revitalize your skin, but have you ever heard of hair masks?

(Most Hair Masks Are Sold In Small Tubs. Above: Handmade Solid Hair Masks)

Hair masks are deep conditioning treatments formulated with a high concentration of hair nourishing and hydrating ingredients. They are generally intended to help repair and improve the texture and appearance of our hair. Masks are typically applied and stay on the hair longer than shampoos or conditioners, giving the beneficial ingredients sufficient time to penetrate into the hair and delivering dramatic improvements after the application.

Are hair masks necessary? It's a matter of preference, and they are very good to include in a haircare regime. After all, our hair goes through daily stresses from blow-drying or ironing, hair styling products, our environment, or even just brushing. Using a hair mask occasionally will help to rejuvenate hair and bring that some of that natural bounce and softness to it.

What Are The Benefits of Hair Masks?

The benefits of hair masks are many. If you have damaged hair, using a mask will help it to appear and feel better. It can also reduce hair breakage by strengthening it. As such, the overall appearance of your hair will be improved.

Aside from that, hair masks can help protect the hair from the natural elements as well as the use of commercial hair styling products. For people with frizzy hair, using a hair mask will get that under control as well. And the best part of it - you can do the treatment at home. While you let it sit in your hair, you can go about your other home activities or chill in front of the TV.

How Do You Use Hair Masks?

You can absolutely apply on the hair mask to your own hair. Depending on the hair mask you use and the usage instructions, it is generally applied on clean hair. Most hair masks are applied in the same way you would use a hair conditioner, the difference being that the mask treatment stays on your hair for a longer time.

How long would you need to leave the mask on? Again, this depends on the formula of the hair mask, but generally treatments stay on for between 10 - 30 minutes, but some masks can also be left on overnight.

How often you use the mask depends on the condition of your hair. My recommendation is to use a hair mask at least once a week - but if your hair is damaged or very dry, you could use it twice weekly.

It isn’t necessary to use a hair mask every day because other than the time spent, our hair actually has a limit on how much it can absorb. If you apply too much or too often, the ingredients willl simply get washed away. Depending on the formulation of the hair mask, over-using a treatment may weigh down the hair and cause it to look greasy - or worse, may cause the hair to become brittle over time.

As such, be sure to purchase the right mask that is suitable for your hair type and follow the included usage instructions for maximum benefits.

What Are Hair Masks Made Of?

Here are some of the most common ingredients found in hair masks:

Oils and butters – these are deeply nourishing and repairing. Some oils penetrate deeply to support the hair from within, others provide a protective coating to prevent hair strands from rubbing against each other thereby creating friction which then causes static. These can be beneficial to irritated or flaky scalp as well.

Proteins and keratins – proteins are building blocks of our hair and so they are able to repair and helping the hair grow stronger and longer. They can be plant or animal-derived, and they can be synthetic or natural. Depending on the size of the molecule, some are able to penetrate deeper to prevent water loss thereby keeping the hair hydrated. These are excellent ingredients for people with fine hair or even normal hair. Those with brittle or coarse hair, you might want to limit the amount or regularity use of these.

Antioxidants – these are protective ingredients that will shield our hair and scalp from free radicals and oxidative stress. They can be found naturally from the oils and butters, especially if these are unrefined. Sometimes, Vitamin E can be found in the hair mask because not only does it provide antioxidant benefits, it also helps promote healthy hair and scalp.

Humectants – Humectants are ingredients that increase the hydration of hair. These would be important hair or even skin care ingredients during drier months such as the winter times because they help to keep the moisture in. Examples of commonly found ones would be Glycerin, Sodium Lactate or even Panthenol, which is also known as Pro Vitamin B5. However, for some hair like the frizzy hair or in high humidity environment, humectants might attract too much water to the hair shaft causing it to swell and hair become even frizzier.

Botanicals and extracts – these ingredients provide different benefits in the hair mask, ranging from adding shine and silkiness, antioxidant protections, scent, colours, etc. For instance, Green Tea Extract and Aloe Vera are two well known ones in hair care.

We hope this post helps to provide a better understanding of what hair masks can do and what they're made of, and we hope you get to enjoy using this treatment to pamper your hair!

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