Hair masks can coat the cuticle of the hair to make the scaly surface of the hair follicle less apparent. Read more...
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Do DIY hair masks actually work?
DIY hair masks are effective to restore hydration for dull, dry hair. When the hair is dry, the cuticle of the hair can start to peel back and appear frayed. This can result in easy hair breakage. Hair masks can coat the cuticle of the hair to make the scaly surface of the hair follicle less apparent. The scalp skin can also benefit from this added protection and hydration.
DIY hair masks can provide much-needed hydration to the hair and can be comparable in terms of results to salon or branded products. The main difference may actually be ease of application. Many salon products are formulated with similar ingredients, blended with a base that can be simpler to apply for even distribution.
Are homemade hair masks as effective as salon or store-bought masks? Are they as strong as what your hairstylist can do for you in the salon,? If not, can they still really help in between visits?
Many salon and store-bought masks have the same or similar ingredients as DIY products. They can be comparable in terms of strength with regard to how much hydration they can offer to the hair. Most products use olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, honey, aloe, and/or avocado oil. Homemade hair masks can help tame frizz and add restore shine to hair.
Aside from these common hydrating ingredients, salons may also use products attempting to restore hair. A common product used in salons contains Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. This ingredient is referenced as a “bond builder” to help restore the disulfide bonds in hair to improve its overall appearance. I could not find studies to confirm that actual bonds are rebuilt but I did find studies showing some benefit to the appearance of the hair after use.
What can I put in my hair as a mask?
Olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, honey, aloe, yogurt, and/or avocado oil… Try to avoid lemon if you prefer to maintain your current hair color as lemon can potentially lighten it.
Olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil are relatively thick and can coat hair follicles effectively. Eggs contain biotin in addition to being viscous.
What is the best DIY hair mask?
Olive Oil is a common go-to for many home remedy seekers for hair and skin. There is very little research to support its use however it may have some benefits. It is a relatively thick monounsaturated oil. When the hair is dry, the cuticle of the hair can start to peel back and appear frayed. This can result in easy hair breakage. Olive Oil coats the cuticle of the hair to make the scaly surface of the hair follicle less apparent. The scalp skin can benefit from this added protection.
Given the high viscosity of Olive Oil, the oil tends to coat the hair follicle and can make it very oily and greasy initially but can leave a shine after being washed out that can potentially last through a few washes.
The other ingredients to consider depend on the desired effect - is it just a shine or are dryness or dandruff-related concerns? See below for hair masks and their benefits.
DIY Hair Mask Recipes
Olive Oil + Avocado Hair Mask
Lackluster, dry hair. The hair shaft is technically not smooth- it is scaly. When we lose moisture from the hair, it can look dry, dull, and even brittle. Olive oil coats the cuticle. Avocado actually has a higher concentration of monounsaturated fats than olive oil. The two together will add to the overall shine left behind for your hair to enjoy!
¼ cup Olive Oil
Place the avocado in a bowl and mash it to a smooth paste-like consistency. Add in the olive oil and continue to mix the two together using either a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon or fork.
Olive Oil + Honey Hair Mask
Dandruff, itching. Adding honey to an olive oil hair mask can add several benefits. Honey is known to have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. This means it can improve dandruff and inflammation in the scalp while also serving as an emollient for the hair.
2 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Place the olive oil in a bowl. Add in the honey. Use the back of a spoon to gently mix and mash together. The honey is actually water soluble and will not easily dissolve in the honey. If you struggle to make a nice smooth mask it helps to warm the mixture. To achieve the best results, try placing the bowl in warm water to heat the base of the bowl slightly or microwave for 5-10 seconds at a time to avoid overheating the mixture.
Olive Oil + Egg Hair Mask
Dull dry hair. Egg yolks are rich in fat, protein, and biotin. Although these proteins may be too large to penetrate the follicle itself, they can coat the hair follicle to add a glossy look. By combining this with olive oil, your hair should achieve a shine that lasts through a few washes.
1 Egg Yolk
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Place the egg yolk in a bowl. Add in the olive oil. Use a fork or a whisk to gently mix together. Do not heat this as it will cook the egg!
Olive Oil + Coconut Oil Hair Mask
Brittle hair. Coconut oil, unlike olive oil, can actually penetrate the hair follicle to strengthen it. Coconut oil is a triglyceride that is attracted to the proteins in the hair follicle. By penetrating the hair follicle, coconut oil can prevent protein loss from the hair.
1 tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tbs Olive Oil
Add coconut oil and olive oil together in a bowl. Use a whisk to mix them together. Coconut oil can thicken a bit at room temperature. Gently heating the bowl by placing the bowl in warm water or microwave for 5-10 seconds can help make an even mixture.
Olive Oil + Mayonnaise Hair Mask
Frizzy hair. Mayonnaise contains egg yolks, vinegar, and other oils. Mayonnaise hair treatments have long been loved to help add shine to dry frizzy hair.
2 tbsp Mayo
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Add mayo and olive oil together in a bowl. Use a whisk to mix them together.
Olive Oil + Bananas Hair Mask
Lackluster, dry hair. Bananas are rich in antioxidants, potassium, and nutrients. Used in a hair mask, these can help nourish the hair in addition to adding shine.
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Add a cut banana to a bowl. Add olive oil. Use a fork or the back of a spoon to mash and mix together into a paste.
Applying the mask to wet hair to facilitate application. Also, remember to apply to the scalp in addition to the hair. Part the hair into sections. I tend to find that 5 sections- the middle part, and two sections on either side of the scalp work well. Apply the mixture starting at the scalp and work your way down the hair to the ends. For even distribution consider using a wide-toothed comb. Leave in place for 30 minutes, then rinse out.
(Note: Recipes show ratios that can increase proportionately based on the amount of hair/scalp to treat.)