Shiny, smooth, well-moisturized locks: it’s the trifecta of hair goals. Thankfully, these results are more attainable than you’d think. The secret to covetable tresses can be as simple as adding a good hair mask to your weekly routine.
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While impeccably packaged options can be found in stores galore, don’t snub DIY options made with pantry and household staples. A bonus to homemade masks is having full control over what goes in and what stays out. After all, there are a lot of potentially harmful ingredients floating around in store-bought hair masks. Ingredients to look out for include the below.
Methylisothiazolinone. The European Commission has banned the use of methylisothiazolinone in leave-in products since 2017. However, it’s still used as a preservative in many rinse-off beauty products, like hair masks, sold in the United States. Strong evidence has linked this ingredient to immune system dysregulation, and it is often connected to irritation and allergic skin reactions.
Fragrance. The term “fragrance” is labeling lingo for “we put things in here to make it smell nice, but we won’t tell you what those things are.” Synthetic fragrance compounds have a proven knack for getting in the way of our normal hormone signaling and immune function. Plus, they’re linked to respiratory irritation, which isn’t ideal for a product that goes near your face.
Propylparaben. This ingredient is used as a preservative and belongs to a class of chemicals known as parabens. These chemicals are commonly brought up as concerning, thanks to their connections to hormone disruption. Parabens are often hidden under the term “fragrance” on labels.
Remember: If it’s going on your skin, it has the potential to be absorbed into your body. Choosing to slather food-grade ingredients on your hair ensures that your mask is made from the gentlest components with no toxic concerns for your skin (and hair follicle) cells lapping it up.
A whole world of creative DIY hair masks are at your disposal, but every good mask needs to start with a solid foundation. Some star ingredients worth experimenting with include the below.
- Coconut oil. Packed with moisturizing fats and skilled at deeply nourishing hair strands, this anti-microbial oil is a great baseline (or stand-alone mask) to help hair resist damage from styling.
- Honey. You might think of honey as an add-on ingredient but, honey, it’s the whole package. Chock-full of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, it’s been used in countless cultures throughout history to heal and dress full-on wounds. When it comes to your hair, honey does a fantastic job of conditioning your locks, soothing your skin, and balancing the pH of your scalp.
- Jojoba oil. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, jojoba oil has shown its usefulness in supporting healthy aging, healing wounds, and even fighting infection. Jojoba is also a moisturizing powerhouse shown to keep skin moisturized for at least 24 hours. Bye, dry ends! Catch you later, frizz!
Banana Moisturizing Mask
Banana is high in vitamins and minerals including silicon, an element important for improving strength and elasticity to skin and hair. Think of protein-rich yogurt as a fridge-available alternative to a keratin mask. Plus, it has the moisturizing benefit of a high fat content to help calm flyaways.
- 1 banana
- 2 tbsp yogurt
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp coconut or jojoba oil
Instructions: Mash banana until a smooth paste forms. Mix in remaining ingredients. Apply the mixture to hair in one- to two-inch sections, going from root to tip. Pin your hair up and allow the mask to penetrate for 10 to 30 minutes before rinsing it off.
Egg On Your Hair Mask
I know, I know, the idea of putting raw egg in your hair sounds gross. But research has shown that a lowly chicken egg yolk has the power to simulate growth factors in the hair follicles. So, if you’re looking to boost growth, say yes to the yolk. Eggs are brimming with protein and biotin to help coat your hair, which, when combined with the soothing and smoothing power of honey and oil, offers strands a serious boost.
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp coconut or jojoba oil
Instructions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl or squeeze bottle. Massage onto roots and throughout hair, taking special care to focus on ends. Tie hair up or cover in a plastic cap for up to one hour. Pro tip: Rinse with lukewarm water to avoid making scrambled eggs.
Peppermint Lavender Scalp Mask
A happy scalp is crucial for optimal hair growth. And really, is there anything more irksome than a dry, flaky scalp? This recipe is full of skin-soothing, inflammation-calming, microbial-fighting ingredients, along with essential oils that work double time by helping to thicken and support the skin of your scalp and boost hair follicle numbers.
- 2 to 3 tbsp coconut or jojoba oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 drops peppermint essential oil
- 3 drops lavender essential oil
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Dampen hair and apply the mask directly onto your scalp in a gentle massaging motion for about five minutes. Allow the mask to penetrate for 15 to 20 minutes and rinse thoroughly, followed by shampoo and conditioner as usual.