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hair mask with wooden comb and green leaves and brunette hair

Hair masks: how to make and use them

23 Nov 2022 • 3 min read


Have questions about how to use hair masks? Or maybe you’re wondering which ones you should be using alongside your normal hair care products?

Whatever your query, keep scrolling down to discover more about these restorative treatments which can help you achieve silky and healthy locks.

What are hair masks?

Hair masks are nourishing treatments which are a little more intensive than your average, everyday conditioner. They either come in a tub, tube or individually packaged, and are typically infused with restorative ingredients like argan oil.

While some hair masks are designed to moisturise your hair and make it appear smoother and sleeker, others can help strengthen your hair or even help boost the health of your scalp.

Most are quite thick in consistency and are supposed to be left on for around ten minutes or so to really see results.

What are the benefits of using hair masks?

Making a hair mask part of your regular hair care routine could ultimately lead to luscious, healthy locks.

If you frequently use heated styling tools, dye your hair or have particularly dry hair naturally, you’ll benefit from hair masks as most are designed to moisturise your hair and replenish it of any oils it may have lost.

Those with fine hair which becomes greasy quite quickly may not benefit from a standard hair mask, as it could clog up your hair follicles and make your hair appear even more oily. Instead, try a more lightweight option that doesn’t contain oils or parabens.

You’ll also find hair masks designed specifically for curly hair, as well as options for those who regularly dye or highlight their hair or you can make your own DIY hair mask.

How to use hair masks

While your chosen hair mask will have detailed instructions about how to use it on the packet, you’ll usually follow these five steps:

  1. Wash your hair with shampoo. If you have very dry hair, you may want to condition it with your normal conditioner, too, to give it some extra nourishment.
  2. Towel dry your hair until it stops dripping and then divide it into sections to make it easier to apply the hair mask.
  3. Start applying the hair mask on the ends and middle section of your hair. If you’ve selected a mask specifically for the scalp, you can apply it there, too. To make sure the hair mask penetrates your hair properly, massage it downwards towards the tips as you apply it.
  4. Wrap your hair in a warm towel to help the mask activate quicker. Alternatively, you can leave your hair uncovered and simply drape a dry towel over your shoulders to stop excess water or the hair mask from dripping on to your clothes.
  5. Leave the hair mask on for however long it recommends on the packet. You should then rinse it off thoroughly with warm water and dry your hair as normal.

How to make your own DIY avocado hair mask

If your hair feels weak, brittle and lifeless, then don’t worry as there are some easy and inexpensive ways to nourish your scalp and restore the lustre to your locks.

Why not turn to the naturally nourishing ingredients found in nature and make your own hair mask? This rich hair mask is made from ingredients you might already have in your kitchen cupboards.

Handpicked content: 10 easy steps to get shiny, glossy hair


Avocado is a source of vitamin E, which has emollient properties. This means using avocado on the hair can add shine and gloss by helping to smooth along the hair shaft and trap in moisture.

Vitamin E can also help maintain a healthy scalp as it’s an antioxidant, which can soothe hair follicles, and might help prevent excessive hair fall.

Flaxseed oil

The omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid present in the flaxseed oil (which also contains vitamin E) is great at adding moisture to dry strands as well as sealing in existing moisture.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also very effective at nourishing the scalp and hair follicles and helping to prevent the scalp dryness that can lead to itching.

Almond oil and olive oil

Almond and olive oils are sources of omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-9 fatty acids include oleic acid, an emulsifying agent which helps your hair retain moisture and stops over-drying through styling.

Unlike most conditioners, natural plant oils can coat the hair to give it a healthy appearance.

Instead, natural oils penetrate the hair shaft and reduce the amount of water the hair absorbs through washing, which can damage hair strands through the constant process of swelling and drying out.1

Using omega-9 oils on your scalp will also help control the flakes associated with dandruff by moisturising the scalp.

Handpicked content: The best essential oils for beautiful skin and hair

The best DIY avocado hair mask recipe


  • Half a ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp flaxseed oil
  • 1tbsp almond oil
  • Shower cap or hair turban


  1. In a bowl, mix the ingredients with a spoon or a whisk until blended. Apply the mixture carefully to dry hair, and cover with a shower cap or hair turban to allow the oils a warm environment to penetrate the hair.
  2. Leave for 20-30 minutes before shampooing with a gentle shampoo, and conditioning as normal.
  3. Take care to wash your hair thoroughly to ensure there is no oily residue left behind.

You can do this mask once a week.

How to make your own DIY apple cider vinegar hair & scalp mask

Apple cider vinegar is delicious as a dressing for salads and offers a whole host of health benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Apple cider vinegar for hair

But did you know that this popular condiment is also a wonderful treatment for your hair and scalp?

Your scalp has a natural pH level of around 5, which can be disturbed by the average hair care routine which involves shampoo, conditioner and styling products which often have alkaline formulas.2

Having its pH thrown off balance can cause an overproduction of oil on your scalp. This can lead to blocked hair follicles along with itching and flaking.

Does your hair need a detox?

Has your hair been feeling dry, dull or worn out? Find out how to give it some extra care with these detox tips.

Just like your scalp, apple cider vinegar is mildly acidic. This means that rinsing the hair with apple cider vinegar could help restore your scalp’s pH balance back to natural levels.

Not only this, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar will clear up any unwanted residue lurking on your scalp.

The acetic acid also breaks down oils and proteins from the hair and removes product build-up which can occur as a result of a daily hair care regime as well as pollution from the environment.

Try this recipe for a simple apple cider vinegar hair mask. It could be the key to soothing your itchy scalp.


Make sure you choose an unpasteurised variety of apple cider vinegar, which will look cloudy in the bottle. This is a sign that the vinegar is in its natural raw state.

The best DIY apple cider vinegar hair & scalp mask recipe

  1. Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. The lavender oil will disguise the vinegary scent, plus lavender oil is thought to increase blood flow to the scalp when used in conjunction with scalp massage.
  2. Apply the mixture to dry hair and massage gently into your scalp. Cover with the shower cap or hair turban to allow the heat from your head to gently warm the oils to allow for better penetration into the hair.
  3. Leave for 10- 30 minutes and rinse thoroughly. You might need to spend an extra few minutes rinsing to ensure there is no residue from the mixture left behind. Use weekly.

Do not use apple cider vinegar or essential oils undiluted on hair as they might be too strong for sensitive scalps.

Last updated: 11 March 2021



Author: Doaa Al MosawiInternational Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Mar 2019

BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science

After completing her BSc in Biomedical Science, Doaa worked in Research and laboratory for 3 years. Doaa was also a member of a product development team in a manufacturing company specialising in sun care and personal care products, researching and providing regulatory advice regarding international regulations.

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