You’re applying that hair mask all wrong

10 ways to get the most out of your treatment mask

How often do you use a hair mask? Be honest, once a week? Or more like once a month? It’s okay, no judgement here. You’re not alone. Most women are still nervous about using masks on a regular basis, in part because they aren’t quite clear how exactly they work. What if it makes my hair greasy? Will it wash out when I try to take it off? Do I have to sit still for five hours if I use one?

You may think that once a month is better than nothing, but if you’re applying heat products to your hair, colouring it, or putting other kinds of strain on your strands, a hair mask should be a standard part of your washing routine. It’s the antidote to damage. Think of it like taking a probiotic alongside a bout of antibiotics – it can replenish vital moisture and rebuild protein bonds. 

To detail just how simple using a hair mask really is, we’ve listed ten ways to get the most out of your treatment below:

  1. Once a week will do.

Even if you think your hair is relatively healthy, the change of seasons can be hard on your strands, so it’s good to get in the habit of using a mask weekly to make sure you’re giving your hair the moisture it needs.

  1. Choose the right treatment for you.

One hair mask does not fit all. From strengthening (try Iles Formula Haute Performance Hair Mask), to restorative (like Virtue Labs Restorative Treatment Mask), to neutralising (Christophe Robin Baby Blonde Variation) and deeply hydrating (Oribe Signature Moisture Masque). There are endless options, and your hairdresser can help you find a formula which will work for your hair type. 

  1. You can apply to dry hair.

One of the great hair mask myths is that you need to apply to wet hair only. In truth, applying to dry hair is perfectly fine if you’re willing to make the time commitment. Let it sit and absorb for 20 minutes on a Sunday morning before you take a shower. 

  1. Sleep in your mask.

This is also totally acceptable, and an efficient use of time. Simply add the mask at the end of your shower (or apply it to dry hair), cover with a shower cap or a silk scarf and then rinse it out in the morning. You’ll have the glossiest hair on your morning commute. 

  1. Two minutes will do.

Many are intimidated by the effort usually associated with applying a hair mask the ‘right’ way. Reality check – it’s better to apply it for two minutes while you shave your legs in the shower than not at all. Your hair will still absorb vital nutrients from this short time, and get the moisture boost it needs. 

  1. Mask first, shampoo after.

Contrary to popular opinion, you should always use a hair mask before you wash and condition hair to ensure there isn’t any leftover product build-up. 

  1. Ditch it if it’s not working.

If your hair has suddenly become a greasy mess since using a new mask, you are most likely using something that’s too heavy for your hair type.  Look for one that’s specific to your hair (whether it is fine, curly, etc.) and that should lead to better results. Also, don’t go overboard with the application—a little goes a long way.

  1. Concentrate on the ends.

Your ends are the most fragile part of your hair (split ends anyone?), so always concentrate your mask to the ends of your hair as they are most likely the part that needs the most loving.

  1. Comb the mask through.

After you’ve applied your mask, use a wide tooth comb to spread the mask evenly through, from the roots to the ends before letting it sit. This will ensure an even distribution and also feel great on your scalp. 

  1. The right way to wear a mask. 

Vincent Nobile, co-owner and colour director at Headcase Hair kindly shared some detailed instructions for applying a hair mask effectively: “Spread the cream evenly throughout your hair, piece by piece. Massage the product in from the roots to the tips then comb through your hair with your fingers or a wide tooth comb.” To optimise the mask’s effects, cover your head with a hot towel for at least 10 minutes. That way, the mask is in direct contact with your scalp so it can be absorbed more easily. “Leave the mask on for up to 20 minutes, depending on your hair’s condition.” Lather with cool water before rinsing gently.