Most of us share a common in-shower routine: we start off by shampooing our hair to cleanse our scalps, and conclude by massaging our tresses with conditioner to nourish, revive, and smoothen. And, sometimes, we intersperse this routine with masking: DIY or store-bought. We’ve ritualised this regimen over the years; but a lot of us don’t understand the distinction between these hair-care formulas. What sets apart a mask from a conditioner? And how do they benefit us? Let’s find out.
Let’s revise our fundamentals. A conditioner is a hair-care staple that concludes our in-shower routine (even though a lot of us are reversing the traditional routine by conditioning our tresses before shampooing them). A conditioner detangles, rehydrates, and softens; wards off frizz; adds a sheen to the hair; reinstates the luster of our tresses; and repels sun-induced damage you might’ve subjected your hair to. It delivers shots of synthetic oils to your hair in order to restore the sebum your tresses lose during the process of shampooing.
The employment of a conditioner in any routine is simple. You towel-dry your hair after shampooing to maximise absorption of the conditioner (ensure you’re detangling your hair before you step into the shower to prevent breakage), run a little bit of the formula through your length as well as your tips (while steering clear of the scalp), allow it to marinate for a few minutes, and wash it off after. And that’s it.
A mask is a corsage of nourishing oils and ingredients that intend to counter the problem of dull, frizzy, lifeless, or dry hair (you can choose one depending on your concern) from the inside-out to produce long-term results. It enhances the health of your scalp, provides additional moisture, strength, and hydration to your strands, and improves the pace at which your hair grows. One thing that sets apart a mask from a conditioner? A mask can penetrate the shafts of your hair more effectively to address an issue from the root. Literally. A conditioner cannot quite do that.
This staple is meant to sit on your hair for about 20 or 30 minutes. And you don’t need to limit it to the length and tips. You can coat your roots in product as well (divide them into smaller sections to ensure that the product is distributed evenly throughout the hair), and repeat the process twice a week. Try masking in in conjunction with steaming: it opens up the cuticles, and facilitates better absorption.
Conditioners aren’t exclusive to a certain type or style of hair. Regardless of the condition of your hair, you must invest in one. There are countless formulas crafted for different concerns, needs, and types of hair—just choose one that fits the bill. And conditioning must come after shampooing.
Masks, on the other hand, are more for repair and revival of damaged and dry hair. If you’re exposing yourself to the sun frequently, colouring or bleaching or chemically-treating your hair excessively, or heat-styling them unnecessarily, you’ve got to indulge in some hair-care to neutralise the side-effects. You can mask before shampooing, and go about the rest of your regimen as you would. Don’t overindulge though—experts suggest masking once or twice a week.
If your hair is fine or oily, a mask might just weigh it down. Or make it greasier than usual. Just ensure you’re understanding the nature of your hair before picking or preparing one.
Conditioners, in simpler terms, are equivalent to primers, and are sought-after for their ability to enhance the appearance and feel of our hair. Masks are moisturising treatments infused with hair-loving nutrients that can fix or improve the condition of your hair in the long-term. Basically, you need both in your life is what we’re trying to say.