If you read my hair care posts, you know I've been struggling with a dry scalp that gets very bad, then gets better, then gets worse... no matter what I do. I'm excited to tell you guys I found the culprit: it's hormonal. Yeah, chalk that up to another unfortunate side effect of being female, I guess; some people struggle with a dry scalp at the same point in their cycle every single month. Once I started tracking my scalp problems in my cycle-tracking app, I noticed that my scalp got much drier between when I ovulate and when I start my period. Every. Single. Month.
So, that's exciting! At least I've found an answer, after a year of struggling. I use hair masks and heavy conditioning on my scalp just before when I know it's going to start getting bad and I've noticed a huge improvement.
However, I get asked by almost everyone I know: how do you know what hair mask to pick for your hair type?
A lot of hair masks are designed for hair that is not like mine. And I'll admit right now that I have a very basic, easy hair type. There is nothing special about my hair! There seems to be gaps at both ends of the spectrum for hair: most masks are designed for people with straight-to-wavy hair that is thick and not too curly. A lot of people are left out that way, but don't worry, hope isn't lost! I've still found some great hair masks.
Regardless of your hair type, I have a few tips for picking the right hair mask for you.
1. Read the entire packet.
This goes without saying, but read the entire packet that you're looking at! I've make the mistake (one too many times) of tossing a few hair masks into my basket and then when I get home, realizing they are way too heavy for my hair type.
There are some types of oil that work better for different types of hair. If you have very curly, coarse hair then your hair can withstand using things like shea and coconut oil. But for finer hair, those oils can be too heavy and cause build up; fine hair works best with jojoba and other light seed oils. Paying attention to ingredients is a big step towards finding the right mask for you.
2. Know what your hair needs.
Is your hair dry? Or does it get easily tangled? Do you need to add shine back to your hair? Or are you trying to grow it out?
Depending on what you need, that will determine your mask type. Because my hair is quite long and my scalp needs extra conditioning, I often buy masks that are designed for dry hair; I use them on both my scalp and my hair. However, I will often also buy masks that advertise themselves as sealing (to help with preventing split ends). Again: read the packet fully and know what you're looking for.
Here are a few recommendations I have for different hair needs!
For Damaged Hair
For Dry Hair
For Hair Growth
- Not Your Mother's Matcha Green Tea and Wild Apple Mask, $8.99
- Maui Moisture Thicken & Restore Mask, $8.99
3. You don't have to use the entire packet.
Many hair masks come in packets that seem to suggest they are a single use. (If you're using from a tub, this doesn't apply! But we will get to how much mask to use). If you have very dry, damaged hair, you might need to use a lot of a hair mask; however, just because it comes in a packet doesn't mean you can't use half and get an extra conditioning. This also helps you avoid waxy build up if you have fine hair. (Oh and it saves money, of course!)
Most people don't need to condition their scalps. In fact, most masks say to avoid your scalp (as this can make your hair greasier). I don't subscribe to that logic because my scalp is the part of my hair that needs moisturizing! However, most people can get by with masking just the bottom 50-75% of their hair. Really! So if you want to try a hair mask that is perhaps heavier than what you would typically use for your hair type, remember: you can only use half!
4. Don't be afraid to try a few things.
I love hair masks and I've used a ton... but I've also found myself thinking, this mask didn't do anything. And that's ok! Not every mask is going to be a miracle worker. But when you find the mask that works for you, it will be worth all the duds you found along the way. And one person's dud (Pacifica's Banana Love mask, for me) could be someone else's holy grail!
This is why I recommend buying packets of hair masks (or getting samples) first, then splurging on a tube or tub! That way you aren't stuck with a lot of something that you just won't use. As well, when it comes to repairing damage or rehydrating dry hair, it won't be an overnight or single use shift; it will require a lot of change on your part. For example, if you have split ends, a keratin-based hair mask can help--but you'll have to use it regularly, alongside avoiding additional head damage and stress damage, at the same time! Hair masks are great, but they aren't miracle workers.
Do you use hair masks? What are your favorites?