“Homemade” is not part of most people’s hair vocabulary. Do-it-yourself products like a DIY hair mask might seem hard to make, or like they won’t actually work. But hair masks can really help to treat some of your hair concerns. And while local drugstore shelves are filled with a variety of premade masks to choose from, you can also make a homemade hair mask with ingredients found around the house, like coconut oil, avocado, or honey. And these at home hair masks can help with everything from dryness to repairing damaged strands.
Do DIY hair masks actually work?
“DIY hair masks can work, but are often not engineered as elegantly as products found in salons,” explains Dr. Stefani Kappel, a dermatologist in Newport Beach, California. She notes, however, that there are certain ingredients you can add to an at-home mask that can help improve the texture and health of your hair, without having to spend a lot on store-bought hair products.
Ashanti Lation, Normani’s hairstylist and founder of VIP Luxury Hair Care, agrees. “Depending on the ingredients and the integrity of your hair, DIY hair masks can be really good,” she says. “But you do have to be really careful how you blend and strain to avoid residue in your hair.”
While DIY hair masks may not be as strong as salon-quality masks, which are specially designed to target specific conditions like color-treated hair or strengthening keratin bonds, experts tend to agree that DIY masks can often be helpful in between salon visits.
What can I put in my hair as a mask?
There’s a bit of a formula for homemade hair masks: Lation suggests starting with a base, like yogurt, biotin-rich avocados, bananas, or mayonnaise, to act as a binding agent. Next, you can add a humectant like honey, which can serve as a moisturizer. Then, mix in an oil like grape-seed, olive, or almond to repair damage. “I normally avoid anything that is hard to rinse out or that solidifies, like cocoa butter, or beeswax,” Lation explains.
Kappel says natural hydrophilic lipids go a long way in creating a hydrating hair mask. “Some of the best readily available ingredients at home include avocado oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil,” she says. These natural oils can assist in repairing damaged cuticles of the individual hair shafts in processed hair, making them great choices for hair masks for dry and damaged hair. “In addition, egg whites and yolk are also very effective,” she explains. These are high in vitamins A, E, biotin, and folate, which can help strengthen the external cortex and the cuticle of the hair. Apple cider vinegar is another good choice—it helps boost shine.
Kappel says to avoid citric agents like lemon, lime, and other acidic fruits, as they can lead to brittle, damaged hair, altered hair color, or can cause irritant contact dermatitis in your scalp. It’s also important to refrain from using any ingredients you are allergic to.
What is the best DIY hair mask?
When it comes to DIY hair masks, there really is no one best mask. Finding the right DIY hair mask recipe, says Dr. Geeta Patel, a Houston-based dermatologist, comes down to your hair’s individual needs. “Every ingredient targets different needs, so there are different ‘bests’ for different purposes,” she explains. For instance, some people may need a shine boost, while others need help de-frizzing.
Here are 12 DIY hair mask recipes to try, no matter what kind of TLC your hair needs:
1. Coconut oil, mayonnaise, yogurt
Great for: Damaged hair after coloring