hair care

How to Find the Right Hair Mask for Your Hair Type

How to Find the Right Hair Mask for Your Hair Type | Writing Between Pauses

I do a lot of hair care. Like, a lot. I've written reviews about all the shampoos and hair masks I've tried over the last year. 

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. 

Hair masks for thin hair

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

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? 

Beauty Review: Brite Briteplex Unicorn Masque

Beauty Review: Brite Briteplex Unicorn Masque | Writing Between Pauses

My hair, and scalp, has been one of my biggest struggles for the last year. I've always bounced back and forth between long hair and very short hair--but this is the longest I've had significantly longer hair. And my hair is actually the longest it has been since I was... 15 or 16, I think! 

A few months ago, I was in Ulta looking for some things to buy with a 20% off coupon and I found a bunch of hair masks from BRITE Organix. I had never heard of this brand before, but they are cruelty free and vegan, two things that are pretty important to me. I decided to go for it and try the Briteplex Unicorn Masque. Here's why: 

You totally deserve a treat.

I’m your weekly or twice weekly repair treatment. If you want to I can even sleep over (yup you can use me as an overnight masque).

We all know things get pretty rough when you bleach and colour frequently.

Urgh even hot irons and blow outs take their toll, so we’ve created a professional hair treatment for you to use at home and added a bit of sparkle to make things super fun and sparkly while you repair your hair.

I’m packed full of bond building ingredients to repair your damaged hair, fight frizz and create healthy hair between chemical services (like bleaching and colouring).

Those are some promises! As I've mentioned, I've struggled with dry, itchy scalp for almost a year now--probably because my hair is quite long, I wasn't using inappropriate shampoos and not conditioning my scalp, and the ends of my hair were damaged from not getting hair cuts (oops). Switching shampoos, using oil, and trimming my ends has helped my scalp problems... but the ends of my hair are still fried and I'm still putting off getting a hair cut. (I would have to stop working on one of my million projects to do it, wouldn't I? *insert panicked mom gif here*) 

This mask promises to heal hair damage, basically, and help bond hair. I use split end sealer and jojoba oil on my ends daily, and while it certainly helps, I knew I could be doing more. This mask seemed like the perfect option. 

I bought this mask for $12 at Ulta. That's quite expensive for a hair mask; however, I've used it probably 5 times already and have enough for another 1 or 2 uses. That's pretty good and evens out to a fair price. Brite is an Australian company, so their website is in AUD--however, all their products are available at Ulta, but they do also ship worldwide. 

My Experience

I used this mask after washing my hair with OGX Coconut Milk shampoo; I then put on the mask, pretty heavily, and tied my hair up in a bun. I let it sit for about 20-25 minutes while I read. It smells really good--a faintly sweet smell, not too medicinal and not too heavy. When I rinsed it, my hair instantly had that really soft feeling that often happens when I use conditioner. Once I let it dry, my hair looked a lot shinier and my ends didn't look quite as frazzled. 

You know what's odd? While reading the reviews and product description, it seems to suggest there is glitter in this mask. I didn't notice or see any glitter. Granted, I haven't used the entire package yet, but I'm squeezed up from the bottom and... no glitter or sparkle. Isn't that odd? Perhaps it's just the one I got, but that was something very strange I noticed while reading reviews. I'm kind of glad, as I'm not sure my scalp could tolerate glitter of any kind. 

Aside from that, I did really enjoy this mask. My hair felt quite soft for several days after using it. I try not to use it more than once a week, however, as it could easily weigh down finer hair. I'm quite happy with the results and will definitely be repurchasing! 

4 Tips for Winter Hair Care*

4 Tips for Winter Hair Care | Writing Between Pauses

While my skin has always been a struggle for me (as my post about my acne demonstrates), I've always been incredibly blessed to have good hair. My hair is naturally very dark (almost black); it grows incredibly fast; and it's a good texture (very fine, but I have a lot of hair... like double the amount most people have). In many ways, having good hair has made up for my bad skin; if nothing else, my hair always looks great. 

Aside from graying pretty early in life (my first patch of gray hair was discovered at age 11), my other hair is has always been having a dry scalp. How is it that I struggle with way too oily of a face, but a bone dry scalp? What is going on there!? 

Every winter, undoubtedly, my scalp starts to really struggle. It gets itchy and flaky, even when my hair is greasy. I either wash too much or too little--and I can't tell which is worse! I spend a fortune on fancy shampoos, trying to find something cruelty free to use... only to crawl back to Head & Shoulders because while it is chemically blue and tested on animals, damn, at least it works, right? 

This year, I started my research early. I wanted to avoid the Head & Shoulders crawl and find natural, cruelty free products that worked. I was lucky enough to receive a sample of Tea Tree Oil shampoo from Maple Holistics.

I decided to write up my 4 tips for hair care during the winter. These tips will keep your scalp clean, non-itchy, and moisturized, while ensuring your hair looks gorgeous. 

1. Find a Good Shampoo

Like I said, I feel like I spend a small fortune every winter trying to find a shampoo that will help my scalp--and yet, I always end up back at Head & Shoulders. I'm so glad I was able to find a shampoo that actually works. 

The Tea Tree Oil Shampoo from Maple Holistics* really is one of the best shampoos I've used for my scalp. It has a lovely, tea tree and rosemary oil scent and helps keep my scalp from flaking and getting too dry. Maple Holistics also has an amazing free sample program, so if you want to try some of their products, you can sign up for that here.

While it might not be the perfect shampoo, it's definitely worth a shot--and at $8.95 for a bottle, it's very affordable; as well, it's cruelty free and made with all natural ingredients. And for me, that's worth a lot! 

2. Shampoo When Your Hair Needs It

For a few years, there has been a back and forth about how often to wash our hair. Growing up, I was taught to wash my hair nearly every single day. Skipping a day, to my mom, was really gross. However, as I got older, I realized that washing my hair every day made my scalp really dry and my hair really frizzy. In college, I would go 2-3 days between washes, but I still kept a very strict schedule. Recently, my friend said that her dermatologist's advice was: "wash your hair when it needs it." 

God, that seems so simple, right? If your hair is greasy, wash it. If your scalp is dry and itchy, wash it. If your hair feels like it needs washed, wash it! Even if it was just yesterday the last time you washed it. You don't have to follow anyone else's schedule for their hair. 

3. Use Jojoba Oil 

I've seen lots of posts about using coconut oil for your scalp. I've used baby oil and olive oil in the past as well, but as I've written before, jojoba oil is the closest oil to what we produce naturally. Therefore, I just trust it more when it comes to moisturizing! Coconut oil made my scalp break out severely once (it is comedogenic, so never ever use it on your face... seriously), so I don't recommend it. However, a few drops of jojoba on my scalp at night before bed, especially when the weather is cold and dry helps my scalp to not be so itchy. 

4. Avoid Wearing Hats & Ponytails With Wet Hair

What's the number one cause of dry itchy scalp? Popping a hat on your hair when it is still wet or putting it into a ponytail or bun when it is still wet. This traps moisture on your scalp, which makes it a breeding ground for bacteria--causing dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and more. If you need to wear a hat, make sure you blow dry your hair thoroughly or let it air dry before putting it on; same with a ponytail. 

*Disclaimer: As always, use of a single asterisk in the post title denotes that I received free product or payment in exchange for this post. However, all recommendations and opinions remain my own! You can read more about my disclosure policy here