How to get shinier, healthier, stronger hair is an ongoing mission for us here at Byrdie UK, and now our latest tactic involves borrowing savvy innovation straight from the skincare sphere. Yep, multi-masking for your hair is now a thing, and we’re pretty excited about the science behind it.
You see, while our skin can vary in its needs, the hair-growth cycle means that sections of your tresses will have different needs too. The tips, for example, are much older than hair near the roots, so may be prone to dryness or splitting, and in need of serious moisture. But for your scalp? Well, that can suffer from a buildup of oil and styling products, warranting a deep yet nourishing cleanse. So when you think about it, multi-masking for hair just makes perfect sense—especially if you have multi-textured hair. But you don’t need to just take our word for it because as always, we’ve tapped the experts for the full low-down.
Hair Multi-Masking: Why Do It?
As a trichologist, Anabel Kingsley is keen to stress that looking after your scalp is just as vital for healthy hair (if not more), as keeping the ends and lengths in good condition. After all, the scalp is where it all begins. “You take your scalp to the same places you take the skin on your face—and it is exposed to the same environmental pollutants and damaging free radicals (wind, rain, UV rays, etc),” she explains.
“If you don’t wash your hair often enough, dead skin cells, dirt and oils can build up, aggravating the scalp and allowing bacteria and yeast to thrive. Just as a good skincare regime can do wonders for the health of the skin on your face, taking care of your hair and scalp benefits them immensely.”
The traditional way of applying hair masks, however, doesn’t necessarily address the real needs of both your scalp and lengths, and if you have multi-textured hair, you’ll almost certainly need different treatments to really nurture all of your natural tresses. This is where multi-masking comes in.
“The hair structure is different in different places,” adds Laura Luciani. “On the regrowth area close to the scalp it is healthy, thick and reactive to any treatment, on the middle shaft it is damaged, a bit porous and likely stressed due to chemical treatments or heated styling tools, while the ends are dehydrated, really porous, and do not retain any colour or any styling.”
“So, using different masks according to the needs of the different areas of the hair and scalp will allow you or your stylist to treat the hair properly and give a hyper-performing treatment with an immediate and visible effect on the entire hair.”
Looking After Your Scalp
While applying a hydrating treatment to parched ends is nothing new, taking a hair masking approach to your scalp is likely something few have really considered. So how to go about it? “You wash your face frequently to remove dirt and oil; do the same for your hair,” says Kingsley.
"Use scalp toners to soothe irritation and reduce bacteria, and apply an exfoliating scalp mask once a week. We make one at Philip Kingsley called Exfoliating Scalp Mask (£8) to help clear dandruff and remove dead skin cells—you don’t want them building up or they can contribute to hair loss.”
Our top tip: Remember to ensure you rinse your hair well after using a scalp treatment so that you aren’t left with any build-up or residue that can make your hair feel heavy, or irritate your skin.
How to Multi-Mask Your Hair
“The most important thing to understand is if your hair has two or three different areas or textures. Then as with multi-masking in skincare, you need to choose your products according to those needs,” explains Luciani.
So if you have an oily scalp or greasy roots, with hair that’s lost its radiance in the mid-lengths and ends that feel dry or damaged, for example, you’d apply an exfoliating or purifying mask to the top, a shine-enhancing mask to the middle, and a reparative mask to the tips.
“For better penetration of the products, it is important to divide the hair into sections and to massage each single strand," notes Luciani. "Timing is also crucial, it’s better to leave your masks on for longer than not long enough.”
The Best Hair Masks for Multi-Masking
If you're ready to start multi-masking, scroll through the gallery below for the best hair mask to suit your hair type...
While this is a great deep cleanser for “normal” scalps too, the Philip Kingsley contains aloe vera extracts to help soothe irritated skin, clear dandruff and leave your scalp feeling hydrated and comfortable.
This oil can be applied to the lengths and ends, and massaging it into the scalp is a great option for getting some much-needed hydration at the source. Rich in fatty acids, vitamins, phenols and carotenes, its organic formulation is completely unrefined, so you’ll get raw goodness straight to your skin and hair.
If you get a lot of oil buildup at the roots, you need to stage a deep clean. For that, we love Davines Purifying Circle Mask, which contains skincare-inspired ingredients to care for the scalp, including bamboo charcoal to detoxify and absorb impurities, plus matcha tea extract to neutralise free radicals. Apply it to the roots to cleanse away excess oil and nourish your scalp.
Enriched with super moisturising avocado, sweet almond and argan oils, plus keratin protein, work a dollop of Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask through your mid-lengths and ends to flood strands with deep hydration, boost shine and increase elasticity.
If your colour has lost its vitality, Christophe Robin award-winning Cleansing Mask is just what you need. Lemon zest, chamomile and St. John’s Wort extracts nourish your locks to restore shine and rebalance the pH to help prevent the loss of colour pigments.
If your curls need a serious hydration boost that won’t weigh down your hair, try the Leonor Greyl Masque à L’Orchidée. Vegetable oils, ceramide and silk proteins combine to moisturise, detangle, reduce frizz and boost shine.
Whether it’s over-styling, chlorine, colour or just plain old life that’s left your hair dry and damaged, the highly moisturising ingredients in Davines The Renaissance Circle mask can help to restore vitality. Yellow clay gets to work on restructuring each strand from the outside, while babassu butter delivers much-needed moisture.
Frizzy hair needs moisture, so try a super-hydrating formula like the Aesop Rose Hair and Scalp Moisturising Masque, which you can use on either the ends or the roots. Sweet almond oil, soybean and grapefruit seed restore your strands, while lavender and carrot oils condition and smooth.
If you’ve got two or more textures going on in your mid-lengths, this mask is ideal for when you’re not quite up to applying a different mask to each smaller section. The treatment is rich in proteins from silk, wheat and henna extracts, to help strengthen weak strands, leave the hair shaft smooth and boost shine. It’s 100% natural, too.
If you need some extra oomph in your mane, try the David Mallett Mask No.2: Le Volume. Work it through the mid-lengths to replenish your strands. The seaweed extract, sweet almond oil and wheat proteins work to boost strength and volume.
Hair gets dull when the fibres of the hair shaft become coarse or rough. The answer to smooth them back into place with lightweight, hydrating ingredients. Davines The Spotlight Circle was designed for a pre-party shine boost, with moringa oil to replenish and illuminate.
Split ends need nourishment, so look for a reparative mask like the Rahua Omega 9 Hair Mask, which contains strengthening plant proteins and moisturising omega-9 molecules to repair, hydrate and “reverse” the appearance of damage.
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