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Hair Mask 101: What Is a Hair Mask? What Does It Do? How to Use It?
Hair Mask 101: What Is a Hair Mask? What Does It Do? How to Use It?

Hair Mask 101: What Is a Hair Mask? What Does It Do? How to Use It?

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    Are you struggling with dry damaged hair? Maybe you have just bleached your hair and are looking to protect it from further damage. Or have been thinking about incorporating a hair mask into your hair care routine but weren't sure where to start. Well, look no further! Our haircare expert has broken down all the questions you may have on how to best use a hair mask to suit your hair type, leaving you with luscious healthy hair.

    What Is a Hair Mask?

    First things first, what is a hair mask? A hair mask is an intense treatment used to deeply nourish, rehydrate and strengthen the hair follicles to repair any damage or breakage. It is not to be confused with your day-to-day conditioner despite it being formulated with ingredients such as proteins, vitamins, and moisture barrier agents to treat damaged hair. 

    They come in a wide range of forms such as creams, gels or balms and are designed to treat different issues such as dryness, growth, damage, and frizz or to bring back a natural shine. Due to the potency of the product, they are designed to be used less frequently than conditioners and should not be used in conjunction with them.

    hair masks

    What Does a Hair Mask Do?

    Depending on what issue you are trying to solve, it is important to select a hair mask that specifically addresses it. Whether you have damaged hair from heat styling or chemical treatments or are just looking to incorporate a deep conditioning treatment into your hair care routine, hair masks provide a plethora of benefits. Here is how a hair mask works and how to best select one for your specific hair issue or goal:


    Hair masks that are designed to bring deep conditioning to your dry, damaged hair will contain ingredients such as shea butter or aloe vera to lock in moisture and create a barrier around the hair shaft; supporting moisture retention and hydration throughout the day. When looking for a hair mask that offers intense hydration, select ones with natural oils or glycerin as these ingredients work in conjunction with shea butter or aloe vera to help to lock in moisture.

    Repair and Strengthening

    Repair and strengthening hair masks work to smooth over your hair cuticles to improve your hair's overall health and appearance. Look for ones containing ingredients such as jojoba seed oil or avocado oil as these hair oils are rich in vitamins that bring balance back into your scalp, promoting a healthy environment for your hair. Additionally, ensure they contain proteins such as keratin or hydrolysed quinoa to help create a barrier around the hair shaft and fill in any gaps, reducing further breakage and split ends.


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    Enhanced Shine and Smoothness

    To increase your natural shine and smoothness, select hair masks with coconut oil or argan oil as these ingredients leave your hair glossy and provide a natural alternative to the sleek appearance you temporarily achieve with silicone-based products.

    Hair Growth

    While hair masks generally support hydration and nourishment of the hair follicles rather than stimulating growth, look for hair growth masks that promote healthy scalp environments or ones that contain jojoba seed oil. This is due to jojoba seed oil closely mimicking the natural oils created in our scalps, promoting a healthy scalp environment. Selecting one that contains biotin or antioxidant properties will also promote a healthier environment and stimulate hair growth.

    Colour Protection

    If you have taken a recent trip to the salon for a new look, incorporating a colour-protection hair mask into your routine could do a world of wonders. Keep an eye out for one that is formulated to lock in colours or provide UV protection. If you have recently bleached your hair, be sure to use a blonde hair mask to keep the brassy tones at bay. After using the hair mask, rinsing your hair with lukewarm to cold water will also help protect your colour-treated hair from fading.

    Anti Frizz

    Masks designed to reduce frizz will help smooth the cuticle over and bring nourishment to your dry damaged hair. This will also tame flyaways and make your hair more manageable. Look for anti-frizz masks that contain argan oil or shea butter as they effectively detangle and de-frizz your hair, leaving you with shiny locks.

    anti frizz mask

    How to Use a Hair Mask?

    Implementing a hair mask into your hair care routine can do wonders to strengthen the hair follicles and leave your hair healthy and hydrated. Here is how to incorporate them into your hair care routine:


    After washing your hair with a silicone-free shampoo, gently remove any excess water as your hair should be clean and damp to start.


    On towel-dried hair, begin applying your selected hair mask on the mid-lengths to the ends of your hair, focusing on the sections that are damaged.


    Using a wide-tooth comb, begin combing through your hair to evenly distribute the hair mask. You can also do the praying hands method by which you place your hands in a prayer position, with your hair in between, and gently glide the product from the top of your hair to the ends.


    Time varies depending on the specific hair mask you select. Generally, it is anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes for best results. However, always follow the  suggested time on the product. 


    As hair masks can be quite thick, it is important to fully remove the product to prevent product buildup and your hair looking weighed down. Thoroughly rinse your hair with lukewarm water, ending with a cold blast to seal your hair cuticles.


    How often you use a hair mask is dependent on which one you select, always follow the manufacturer's advice and adjust the frequency according to your hair needs.

    Differentiating Hair Mask vs. Hair Conditioner, Hair Oil, Hair Serum

    Hair Mask

    Hair Conditioner

    Hair Oil 

    Hair Serum


    Offers deep conditioning treatment for dry or damaged hair to repair and nourish. 

    Used in conjunction with shampoo or as a co-washing method to condition and detangle your hair.

    Hair oils provide nourishment, and hydration to the hair follicles; they can also be used as a scalp stimulant. 

    Used as a styling aid to add shine, and reduce frizz and flyaways. 


    Best applied once a week or as needed.

    Use it every wash or every other wash. 

    Applied to the affected areas- either the scalp or to the ends of your hair. Can be used weekly as a deep conditioning treatment or post-wash. 

    Applied onto dry or damp hair as needed. 


    A hair mask is an intense treatment to penetrate the hair follicles and bring hydration back.

    Offers a conditioning and rehydrating product for your hair. 

    Rehydrates and deeply nourishes your hair and scalp.

    Gives your hair extra shine and makes it easier to manage by smoothing the cuticles. 


    Generally thicker than conditioners- comes in a cream, gel or balm form.

    Lighter consistency than a hair mask and comes in the form of a cream. 

    Comes in light to thicker consistency depending on the hair oil. 

    Lightweight texture.


    FAQs about Hair Masks

    Can a hair mask be used as a conditioner?

    Hair masks can be used instead of conditioners if your hair needs a deep conditioning treatment. However, hair masks should not replace conditioners as they tend to be quite thick and can clog your hair follicles if used excessively.

    How often should you use hair masks?

    How often you should use hair masks depends on the health of your hair and the specific product recommendations. As a general rule of thumb, once a week is sufficient. However, everyone's hair responds differently so begin with once a week and increase or decrease frequency as needed.

    Which hair mask is good for hair fall?

    When selecting a hair mask to protect your hair from falling out, look for ones containing protein-rich formulas such as biotin, and keratin or hair oils such as argan oil as they help fortify hair strands and reduce breakage.

    growth mask

    Can you leave a hair mask in overnight?

    It depends! Some hair masks are designed for overnight use, however, if your hair is fine or thin it might cause product buildup on the hair follicles, leading to your hair becoming weighed down. The best practice is to follow the instructions of the product manufacturer to ensure you are getting the best results from it.

    Is it okay to use a hair mask every day?

    Unfortunately not, using a hair mask every day can lead to product buildup and have your hair look weighed down. If you are struggling with dry hair, try a lightweight hair oil instead and stop using sulphate-based products as they can be drying and lead to your hair looking lacklustre. For more information, check out our comprehensive guide on how to care for dry and damaged hair.



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