Since the dawn of civilization, we have been using oils and lotions to glossen our locks.
Ancient Egyptians applied natural argan oil to their straight-cut dos. In Victorian England, men searching for healthy hair were particularly fond of the decidedly greasy Macassar oil. Fast forward to the 21st century, and everywhere from the beauty counter to your favorite online stores are awash with an unending selection of hair care products.
Two such products stand out from the rest in popularity: hair conditioner and the hair masque (also known as “hair mask”). But what’s the difference? Below, we solve this coiffed conundrum once and for all.
What Is a Hair Masque?
Using a hair mask is akin to using a mask for your face. It envelopes your hair and scalp, creating a sweetly-scented barrier that locks in moisture. On curly hair that’s often prone to dryness, it’s a necessity.
How Does a Hair Masque Work?
You’ve likely had a hair masque applied at a salon. (Do you remember sitting in a salon chair for hours on end with a heat lamp on your head?) If you haven’t, maybe you did one at home yourself or with some friends on a girls’ night in?
Think of a hair mask as a nourishing, regenerating spa day for your head. The texture of the product is usually thicker and more luxurious than hair conditioner, and it can be used from root to end. Hair masques contain smaller molecules that diffuse more easily into every part of a strand: cuticle, cortex, and medulla.
Wherever you’ve experienced a hair masque application, you’ll know that it takes a long time. Certainly a lot longer than it takes you to apply and rinse out your regular conditioner (more on that later). This is because you need to give the active ingredients time to do their job.
When Should I Use a Hair Masque?
People usually apply a hair mask on their hair before they wash it. For the best results, the hair should be dry – not wet or even damp. Apply the hair mask before shampooing your hair and leave it in for anywhere between half an hour to twelve hours.
If you’re using a long-duration hair masque, for example, one that requires you to leave it on your hair overnight, it’s best to wrap your hair in a towel. This will ensure the product stays on your hair instead of getting all over your bed linen. Avoid using plastic shower caps: they don’t allow your scalp to breathe.
Because hair masks are made of ultra-moisturizing ingredients like oils, butters, and silicones, they can cause product build-up. To remedy this, simply use your mask less often. Beauty companies recommend anywhere between two or three times a week to once a month.
Check the instructions on the hair mask packing for brand-specific instructions.
Hair Masque Pros and Cons to Know
Of course, every beauty product on the market has its pros and cons. It’s up to the consumer to do their research and weigh the benefits and downsides concerning their hair.
Hair masque pros include:
- Gives you permanently shiny hair
- Provides long-lasting smoothness
- Can be applied to dry hair
- Heals the scalp as well as your hair
Hair masque cons include:
- Sometimes oily
- Can make hair look greasy or heavy
- May weaken hair if used too often
- Could cause an infection if left on too long
What Is Hair Conditioner?
When it comes to hair care, shampoos and conditioners are probably the products you’re most familiar with. Even the most laissez-faire and gents are likely to have a bottle of each in their bathroom. But because conditioner is so ubiquitous, it’s little understood.
How Does Hair Conditioner Work?
Hair conditioners, even deep conditioner or leave-in conditioner, are typically relatively thin and runny in consistency – especially compared with the paste-like texture of hair masks. Once you apply a dollop of conditioner to your hair, it breaks down quickly.
Conditioner is applied while you’re in the shower or bath and rinsed out thoroughly. It usually doesn’t weigh the hair down or lead to product build-up and can be used on everything from fine, thin hair to voluminous curly hair.
Because conditioner is made up of products with large molecules, it won’t penetrate deeply into your hair. It’s great for adding shine, softness, and smoothing out strands at a surface level, properties that tend to get stripped out when we shampoo.
Even the best conditioners won’t help your scalp, however, nor will they fix damaged hair. That’s just not what they’re designed for. For that, you need a quality hair mask.
When Should I Use a Hair Conditioner?
Conditioner is the practical option for people with busy lifestyles but still want a stand-out head of hair.
You can apply conditioner in the shower right after you’ve rinsed out your shampoo. Leave it on the strands of hair – avoid the scalp – and rinse it out after 3 to 8 minutes.
Best of all, you can achieve similar (albeit temporary) results to daily conditioning when using a mask just a few times a month.
Hair Conditioner Pros and Cons to Know
While the benefits of hair conditioner might be temporary, done regularly, they can still beautify hair. Before you head to the beauty counter, take some time to understand what’s excellent and what’s not about this essential hair product.
Hair conditioner pros include:
- Reliable results
- Can use daily if needed
- Makes hair easier to style
- Use on dry or wet hair
Hair conditioner cons include:
- Not a long-term solution
- Doesn’t heal dry or damaged hair
- Potentially damaging for the scalp
So What’s the Real Difference?
At the end of the day, the hair conditioner and the hair masque serve a similar purpose. Ideally, you would use both products in combination to achieve your hair-care goals.
The difference lies in the timing of their application. Conditioner is a use-often product providing instantaneous results. Masks are for occasional use and offer long-term benefits.
Whatever you choose to use, don’t forget you also need to dry your hair effectively for the best results. Shop for the original Turbie Twist online, and don’t forget to check out the other innovative hair-helpers for sale, too!