Maintaining your hair in tip-top condition can be a daunting task. With all the different shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks, it’s easy to get left wondering if you’re using too much or not enough of one product.
If you’re wondering the same thing, we’ve gathered expert insights on how often you should apply a hair mask.
Here are their suggestions:
Dr. Jennifer Trent, MD, FAAD
Board-Certified Dermatologist | Medical Writer, ZELEN Life
It is best to use hair masks only 1-2 times a week
Hair masks are a great way to hydrate and nourish your hair, especially if you have a color or chemically treated hair. They can repair and strengthen your damaged hair and give it volume and shine.
They can also add moisture to your dry hair. Masks can penetrate into the cuticle to repair it, unlike regular conditioners which only sit on the surface of the hair and soften it.
Just like with skincare products, it is important to select a mask for your specific hair type.
If you have fine hair, do not select a heavy oil because it will weigh down your hair. Almond oil is a lightweight oil that is good for fine hair.
In addition to selecting the right mask for your hair, you must apply it correctly for it to work optimally. First, it is best to shampoo with warm water to open up the cuticle and allow the mask to penetrate. Next, you should towel dry your hair, before applying the mask.
When you apply the mask, start at the roots and work your way down. You can comb it through your hair to ensure the proper distribution of the mask. The instructions will tell you how long to leave it on for.
Some people wrap a warm towel around their heads to help the mask penetrate better. Finally, after you have waited the correct amount of time, rinse your hair with cool water and apply your conditioner to close up the cuticle.
It is best to use hair masks only 1-2 times a week, otherwise, you could cause more harm than good. If your hair is very dry, you may be able to use it 2-3 times a week.
Using hair masks daily can lead to build-up which can weigh your hair down and cause breakage. Also, if you leave a protein mask on too long it can cause hair breakage because too much of the product gets absorbed.
Dr. Isfahan Chambers-Harris
Owner, Alodia Haircare
If you have thick curly coily strands, it’s important that you deep condition your hair every week
Curly/Coily hair are dryer hair types that need products that are highly moisturizing. You should also look for key ingredients that are film-forming humectants such as honey, aloe vera, and marshmallow root.
Flexible films cover your hair and trap water near your hair to keep it hydrated or moisturized – but without being heavy or oily.
If you have fine straight hair, condition your hair weekly with lightweight conditioners
You should stay away from oil-based or thick deep conditioning masques. They will weigh your hair down, zapping any volume out of your hair and leave your scalp and strands greasy.
Instead, look to condition your hair weekly with lightweight conditioners that contain moisturizing ingredients such as aloe vera and proteins to strengthen the hair strands.
Luxury Celebrity Hair & Makeup Artist
I’ve got the hair mask secrets no one will tell you until you’ve bought too many products and give up!
Always shampoo and condition after you rinse out the hair mask. Why? Because you must remove all of the product otherwise it will be a greasy mess. Left over product build up is nothing short of disastrous when rushing out the door after blow drying only to find out it’s greasy and your hair is an oily mess.
Please read the directions, most masks are designed to stay on for 2 minutes and up to 15. It’s an easy way to incorporate a new regimen once a week if done as the manufacturer recommends.
A hydrating hair mask should be used once a week and if you have damaged hair, twice a week
As a general rule of thumb, a hydrating hair mask should be used once a week and if you have damaged hair, twice a week. I advise my clients who have curly, color-treated hair to sleep in the mask overnight for maximum results and use it on dry hair.
Resist the urge to use a hair mask too often, there is such a thing of “too much of a good thing” can be bad for you so scale it back as you’ll see a greasy, build up that will quickly be a turn off from using hair masks plus it wastes product and at the price point of most salon brand products, you’ll be literally throwing your money down the drain.
Do a DIY mask instead of paying a small fortune for a salon brand.
My secret recipe is:
- 2 eggs – bring on protein with eggs as they are rich in vitamins A, D & E and give your hair loads of shine.
- 1 tablespoon of honey – a natural humectant and soaks up moisture like a sponge to smooth and soften your hair.
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil – it’s great for your whole body for its moisturizing power, so why not your hair!
- 1 diced avocado – natural, healthy fat that has a ton of vitamins and minerals to repair damaged cells especially vitamins c and e.
- 1 peeled banana – loads of vitamins, rich in potassium, and helps lock in hydration and reduce frizz.
Mix together and I promise it won’t totally feel like you have guacamole on your tresses but stay with me and you’ll see that it will leave your hair frizz-free, shiny, and hydrated!
Cosmetologist and Hair Expert, TheRightHairstyles.com
What are hair masks?
I call hair masks “over-conditioners” for specific concerns. Your regular conditioner is light and takes care of a general problem. A hair mask, on the other hand, provides longer-term healing when you need vitamins, moisture, or a fix for frazzled ends. It’s used weekly, or even monthly, depending on the type.
Bi-weekly: getting an end treatment
Hair masks with keratin will often recommend that you apply the treatment to the lower half of your strands only. That’s to heal areas that have the most damage, including your ends.
Keratin seals areas of the hair shaft that are missing the cuticle because of heat or chemical damage. It helps to keep this hair-only treatment away from your scalp because the hair follicles can become blocked by it.
Weekly or monthly: moisturizing those tresses
A hair mask that fights dryness is not something you want to use every day. Most hair can benefit from a weekly application, but if your hair is very light and fine, the rich ingredients might make it limp. In that case, it’s best to use this kind of mask once a month.
Hair masks for moisture will contain oils like argan and babassu, and may even have shea butter or mango butter thrown in too. A really good one will also contain collagen for the elasticity of the hair and added moisture – kind of like a skincare potion.
Don’t be surprised if hyaluronic acid – another skincare moisturizer – is on the ingredient list too! Remember, you’re nourishing both your hair and scalp.
Weekly: clarification and vitamin power
When your hair is lackluster, make your own deep clarifying mask with vinegar. When added to the mix, eggs will provide Vitamin E and lots of shine. Or, well, just skip the whole thing and grab a jar of mayonnaise.
No, the smell isn’t that great. So unlike the others, this is a mask you apply before you shampoo. If you can’t hack the smell, try any overripe fruit you have on hand. Throw it in the blender with a few teaspoons of vinegar and a splash of olive oil. Apply it to damp hair and use a shower cap. All fruits are sources of vitamins that your hair can use too.
Beauty Expert | Founder, Essential Moves to Wellness
Your hair mask ingredients determine how often to use it
The ingredients of your hair mask are a reliable source on how often you should apply it. Some ingredients are heavier than others, and your hair will either emerge healthier than ever or look like you haven’t showered in a week.
There are several factors to consider when it comes to how your hair will react to a mask, like its texture, thickness, and how much TLC it needs on a regular basis.
If you prefer to make your own hair masks at home using heavier ingredients like coconut oil or Shea butter, then I would stick to masking once a week. You can do twice a week if your hair is recovering from major damage.
These ingredients give a lot of moisture for your hair to take in, and it will be a while before it starts to act thirsty again. Just be careful of ingredients that won’t work for your hair type.
For example, I would never tell someone with very fine hair to use a mask with castor oil in it. While it’s great for hair growth and scalp health, castor oil is one of the heaviest oils out there, and it could take several washes to get it out of fine hair. Heavily damaged hair that is very thick, on the other hand, would drink up castor oil like a refreshing cup of water!
Natural ingredients are best
It is my mission to educate people on the importance on ingredients in just about any beauty product, so please be careful if you decide to use a store-bought hair mask! While I’m sure it has great ingredients for your hair, it’s also likely to contain ingredients that could hinder your hair’s health and growth progress.
Common ingredients in hair masks and other beauty products include parabens, PPG’s, PEG’s, and much more. All of these ingredients have been linked to hormonal imbalances and irritated skin, among many other things, and won’t help your hair (or skin!) in the long run.
If your hair needs a little pick-me-up, just a couple of whole, natural ingredients will do the trick. A homemade deep conditioner hair mask will do wonders. Your hair will drink up the nutrients from ingredients like bananas, eggs, and avocados like a healthy smoothie.
Give lazy masking a try
“Lazy masking” is a term that I made up for when I want to give my hair some extra moisture and shine but don’t have the extra time. And you can do it as much as you want! Simply combine a couple of nourishing but light oils, like jojoba oil and avocado oil, with a few drops of essential oils for an extra boost if you have some lying around.
I love to use lavender essential oil for some added moisture!
Apply a small amount to your ends about 20 minutes to an hour before you shower. The key is that you want to cover your hair with the oil, but not saturate it. If you have the time, you can even massage a bit into your scalp to encourage growth.
Then when it’s time to shower, simply go about your routine! The oil should wash out without any extra effort because you applied a light enough layer, and you gave ample time for the oil to do its thing before your shower. You should emerge with shiny, healthy hair that look little to no extra effort on your part.
I love to do this ritual before showering in the wintertime, because the cold weather makes my hair extra dry. You can even combine your favorite oils into a bottle to save yourself even more time in the morning. If you’re trying to grow out your hair or go longer between trims, this will be a game changer!
Skincare Biochemist, The Derm Review
Hair masks are designed to be left on for 20 minutes or more
Your scalp is a part of your skin and sometimes needs some extra love much like the skin on your face, neck, and body. Hair masks that come in creams, gels, and oils are designed to be left on for 20 minutes or more, giving them time to help soothe, moisturize or support the health of your hair. Hair masks are growing in popularity as a way to moisturize, cleanse and even gently exfoliate your scalp and your hair.
Knowing how often or whether or not you should use a hair mask can be confusing to navigate, especially given the different skin conditions and hair types these masks are designed for.
Different skin types
Dry scalp and hair are one of the more common issues when it comes to scalp health. Those who experience dry scalp or hair often will also have a generally dry skin type. For those with dry scalps, moisturizing masks can be useful to help support the health of the hair and provide the scalp with a little extra oil to protect itself.
Oily scalp masks tend to be less common, not because oily scalps are less common but because they often don’t need the extra help as much. Oily scalps can benefit from exfoliating masks and even moisturizing masks. As both of these sorts of masks may help to balance out natural oil production and improve the health of the scalp.
However, it is best to moisturize or oil-based masks infrequently as they can leave the hair feeling a little greasy.
Those suffering with flaky skin on the forehead should consider that it could be a sign of seborrheic dermatitis which is caused by an overproduction of oil. If using things like hydrating hair masks, you should consider that they can often exacerbate the condition. It would be best to speak with your doctor or dermatologist to determine the cause.
If you buy a ready-made mask, look for one that’s well suited to your hair type and contains as few preservatives and chemicals as possible.
But how often is recommended?
Aim for 1 to 2 times per week
Avoid the temptation to apply hair masks on a daily basis, as luxurious as they can feel, the skin on your scalp doesn’t need that much help and it can leave your hair feeling greasy and weighed down.
Aim for 1-2 times per week (but always follow the directions on the product) to help restore dry scalps and hair without creating too much excess moisture and oil.
Those with healthier scalps will likely find that hair masks aren’t super necessary. However, that doesn’t stop them from being fun to use when you feel like it. It just may be best if you have a healthy scalp to use masks infrequently. Measure the results each time as you can always start off slow and increase the frequency accordingly.
Beautician | Hair Stylist | Organic Recipe Creator, Organic Beauty Recipes
The answer to this question is directly related to the condition of your hair
If they are damaged a lot, I suggest you wash them every 2 days and apply a hair mask to repair the strands. For this purpose, you can use any organic hair mask, for example, a Hibiscus hair mask or Oatmeal hair mask which you can prepare easily at home. Dry and damaged hair tends to absorb hair masks quickly because they are porous.
If your hair is already healthy and in good shape, don’t make the mistake of using a hair mask every day. In this situation, it is better to use the mask once or twice a week because overuse will have negative effects on your hair. For example, using a hair mask every day will make the hair greasy. Figure out what hair problem you’re trying to solve and then buy a recommended hair mask.
How to apply your hair mask
The ends of our hair are the parts that are most commonly damaged. To fix the split ends and to prevent further split ends, make sure that you apply enough hair mask to cover all of your hair ends.
Then apply the remaining mask to your scalp and do not forget to wear a shower cap for added benefits. Shower caps are actually very helpful when you suffer from dry or frizzy hair, they help lock in the moisture keeping them smooth and frizz-free. The best usage for a hair mask should be once or twice a week because as I mentioned before you do not want greasy hair.
If you have applied the mask to your hair using your hands, I would suggest comb through it with a wide-toothed comb. Combing the mask through your hair helps to evenly distribute it all over your hair. Rinse the comb out afterward to remove the residues.
Stylist and Managing Director, Windle London
The general idea with hair masks is to boost nourishment of the hair approximately once per week
However, more thirsty hair may need it more often. The best way to gauge this is to observe your hair. If it is getting too flat and limp ease off on the hair mask.
Everyone’s hair is slightly different so it is important to observe what the mask is doing for your hair. A mask that works for one person may not work for another person. Some masks contain heavy silicone and although it may feel conditioned, much of the mask will be just coating the hair and not feeding it.
Windle London mask contains Tahitian Monoi Oil, Babassu, and Baobab oil. This blend of oil is absorbed and doesn’t weigh the hair down. We use Shea butter to smooth the hair.
The Windle London mask can be used daily if you leave it on for 2 minutes. For weekly use, leave it on for 15 minutes or overnight. However, as I said at the beginning, most masks are quite heavy and should be kept to once a week.
Generally speaking, if the ingredient blend is good and of high quality, you can use it more often as it feeds the hair rather than a coating. Feeding the hair can give an accumulative effect which is much better.
Dalar Bansal, Ph.D.
Chemical Engineer | Co-Founder, Lemma Labs
How often you should use a hair mask largely depends on your hair’s properties, in particular: its thickness and porosity (your hair’s tendency to absorb water and product). Another major factor is the ingredients contained in the mask.
There are many products currently on the market that tout themselves as deep conditioning masks. One of Sephora’s best-selling products, for example, is Briogeo’s “Don’t despair, repair!”.
The difference between a deep conditioner and a regular conditioner is the concentration of conditioning agents and the length of time you’re directed to leave the conditioner on your hair. Deep conditioning masks also often contain protein, an ingredient that temporarily repairs hair.
Deep conditioning masks should not be applied more frequently than once every two weeks
If you have low porosity hair, though, it’s best to steer clear of this type of product entirely, as your hair may become overly soft or weighed down. If you have thick hair, steer clear of reparative deep conditioners with hydrolyzed proteins, as they can make thick hair feel rigid.
If you have thin hair, you may benefit from the proteins in the deep conditioner. Deep conditioning masks work most effectively on highly porous hair.
Simply applying coconut or grapeseed oil 30 minutes before shampooing your hair once every two weeks is a great alternative for those with thick and low porosity hair. Pre-shampoo adds softness, but not buildup, to hair.
Senior Copywriter, Vegamour
Why, when and how to mask
Let’s begin with a reality check: hair is never actually oily. Your hair does not contain sebaceous glands, so your hair is not innately ever going to be oily. A scalp with overactive sebaceous glands can produce greasy (or just well-moisturized) tresses but bear in mind that your strands in themselves cannot produce oil, or protein, for example.
Your hair strands are dead, like leather or wood. The strands were produced by living tissue, namely your scalp. But technically, hair is never “healthy” or “unhealthy”, since it’s quite literally already dead!
When assessing your strands, what you’re really judging are comparative structural and surface qualities. The strand may be thick or thin, curly or straight, limp or bouncy, shredded or smooth, fragile or tough.
Understanding the difference between scalp health and strand condition is essential when you’re in the mood to mask.
When choosing your mask, decide what you want to accomplish, taking into consideration the condition of your strands.
- Fine hair that’s feeling dry? Look for almond oil.
- Fragile, dry ends, and/or highlighted hair? Look for jojoba oil.
- Just plain dehydrated, though strand is basically normal: Go for panthenol (aka Vitamin B5).
Use hair mask for no more than 20-30 minutes
Experts like award-winning West Hollywood colorist, stylist, and hair educator Marco Pelusi recommend using a mask for no more than 20-30 minutes, applying it to towel-dried hair after a shampoo.
While it’s tempting to slather on a thick pack of something nourishing on parched frizz, and it seems like leaving it on overnight would do the most good, neither of these habits make sense.
Hair is more able to absorb ingredients when it’s warm and wet. Work the product into your strands, pile hair on top of your head, slip a plastic bag over the bundle and cover with a warm towel. Then, shampoo again and rinse well.
Amazingly, Pelusi tells his clients to beware of too much of a good thing, namely too much moisture and too much protein. “Too much protein, left on the hair too long, can overload the strand and cause breakage,” he says. And too-frequent hydration causes strands to swell, then shrink, a cycle that can exhaust the cell walls and lead to loss of elasticity.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief, MyStraightener.com
Figure out your hair needs
Not every mask can be effective for your particular hair type and condition. For example, if your hair is damaged by coloring, you should use a protein-based solution to restore the bonds of broken hairs. Overdried hair needs loads of moisturizer to remain healthy.
Every mask requires a specific approach
Every hair mask requires a specific approach, so you should carefully read the application instructions to reach the needed effect or make sure that there’s no effect without your fault. For example, if you have straight hair, you need to moisturize it not more than every 4 days to avoid the greasy scalp. On the contrary, curly hair owners can apply moisturizers every day!
As for protein masks, you can use them only once a week and avoid holding them for more than 30 minutes. Too much protein is also bad for your hair as it may lead to overdrying and brittle hair.
There are some masks that can be left for hours or even overnight, but only if it’s mentioned in the instruction and your hair condition requires deep treatment.
President, Renew Alliance
The use of hair masks depends on the condition of your hair
Using a hair mask regardless of need can also be damaging to your roots. For a balanced result, use hair masks regularly but by following a certain interval of time.
If you feel like your hair locks are damaged, then it’s advised to use a hair mask every day. If you have split ends combined with dry lengths then you should be applying a hair mask after your everyday shampoo.
The mask is quickly absorbed into the damaged hair due to various pores and can be very effective if you pick the right product. It is important to realize that a hair mask should never be applied to the roots, focusing on mid-lengths and ends is beneficial to the structure of the hair.
Many experts recommend using it twice a week as well so do your research before jumping on this trend accordingly.
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