by Cindy Tawiah
Hair masques have been in existence since the beginning of time with numerous examples of women in history mixing and applying various homemade preparations into their hair. Even in ancient Egypt, famous women such as Cleopatra were not only known to have bathed in milk and honey, but were also known to have applied exotic oils and fruits, such as avocados and bananas which were made into a smooth paste and applied to their hair.
Nowadays, leading beauty companies have us searching through aisles at the nearest Target or Rite Aid, looking for the best deep conditioning hair masques to quench our dry and thirsty strands. The options we have can be daunting but the truth is: all conditioners smooth the cuticle, (first layer of the hair), soften, add shine, and restore moisture to the hair.
A hair masque is a deep conditioning treatment for the hair. It should be applied once every two weeks to a month to increase moisture in hair, prevent breakage and help prevent frizz. They are also known to make hair soft and shiny. Hair masques contain conditioning and moisturizing agents such as shea butter, avocado oil, and botanical and fruit oils or extracts. Some hair masques may contain vitamins and can be used on all hair types. These are especially great for dry and over-processed brittle hair that has been damaged from the use of hair color, chemicals, and/or heat.
Application usually occurs on wet hair which enables the ingredients to be absorbed into the hair’s cuticle. The recommended time interval to leave a hair masque on the hair is 20-30 minutes; they may be used with or without a processing cap. Although a processing cap and heat from a dryer is known to aid in better absorption of the product, absence of a hooded dryer will not affect the adeptness of the product.
They can also be applied to dry hair and the hair may be rinsed the following morning, if one chooses to sleep with the product applied. This will not cause damage, but rather make hair softer. This is a process used by some ladies with natural hair. Hair should not feel heavy or greasy after using a hair masque, and to ensure proper distribution throughout the hair, it should be combed to the ends. Some women shampoo and condition their hair after applying a hair masque, especially if the oils leave a heavy residue on the hair.
The Cost of Nourished Hair
Hair masques are usually more expensive than regular conditioners; prices range from $10 for a 4oz. jar to $35 or more, depending on the brand. Salon exclusive brands tend to cost more.
With the high cost of hair masques some women are opting for a more economical option by mixing and applying their own preparations at home. We all know from a professional standpoint that homemade remedies—although they may appear to be a safe and economical option—may not give the same great results as a manufactured brand which has all the proprietary and essential ingredients added to give hair the proper nutrients. The botanical ingredients listed in some of the popular name brand hair masques include the following: ginger, hydrolyzed keratin proteins, monoi oil, hydrolyzed silk, macadamia oil, argan oil, tea tree oil, chamomile oil, aloe, algae extracts, seaweed, and jojoba.
Upon closer examination of hair masques, they appear to use the same terminology and claims as deep conditioners and hair re-constructors. A few of these terms and claims include:
• deep conditioning mask
• makes your hair smooth manageable and shiny
• powerful protector for your hair
• moisture-based product
• less frizz
• for hydration and shine
• enhances the color of your hair
The best type of hair masque is one containing keratin, amino acids and fatty acids. Why? Because hair is made up of keratin and protein, and these ingredients rebuild hair structure.
The Future of Hair Masques
As a result of the many processes a woman's hair goes through like coloring, heat application, styling, and exposure to environmental agents (cold temperatures, heat, etc.). Which can cause here to become dry, brittle and damaged. The future of hair masques is firmly established in the beauty industry. We will continue to see its evolution and growth in the coming years with both large and small companies formulating and launching new products with buzz words such as “masque” and ingredients which will move the consumer to action. The overall goal is to create products which will help resolve any problem women may experience, such as shedding, breakage and dryness.
In a marketplace driven by appearance, putting your best foot forward is one of the keys to convincing consumers to buy a particular brand of hair masque. By that, we mean packaging, which plays a key role in influencing consumers’ decisions to buy products. An array of colors—green and brown earth tones, golden hues with iridescent tones, and varying shades of blue—have dominated the market. Point-of-sale materials, magazines and popular media depict images of women with their hair coated with different formulations. At the heart of all of this is the quest to find the best product or hair masque.
The key to finding the best product is testing for quality and performance, along with reading reviews about the product. Taking note of some of the guidelines listed above should also help you make an informed decision on which brands to carry in your store and which ones to reccommend to your customers.