How long should you leave a hair mask on your hair?

How long should you leave a hair mask on your hair?

Hair Romance - How to use a hair mask

Ever wondered how long you should leave hair masks on your hair? Or why you should even use a hair mask? It kind of depends on the type of treatment you’re using.

Hair treatments and hair masks are a bit of an obsession for me. I have curly hair, which is naturally dry plus I colour my hair.

That’s a double dose of damage that requires some serious moisture to get my hair back to ‘normal’. Well, I don’t think there is a normal, but masks stop my hair feeling like straw, so I love them.

I use a hair mask almost every time I wash my hair. Most of the time I just do a quick treatment so I can do it in the shower. Once a fortnight, I’ll do a proper treatment and let me hair really soak up all the goodness from the hair treatments.

How to use a hair mask

Here are three easy tips for using a hair mask.

  • Apply a hair mask between your shampoo and conditioner. The exception is oil treatments which you need to shampoo out of your hair and then condition.
  • Concentrate your mask on the ends of your hair. The ends of your hair need the help the most. Apply your treatment on the midlengths and ends of your hair.
  • Comb your treatment through. After applying your mask to the ends of your hair, use a wide tooth comb to distribute the product through your hair. Once your time is up, rinse it out and apply your conditioner.

How long should you leave hair treatments on your hair? – Hair Romance Hair Mask Cheat Sheet

So how long should you leave your mask on your hair? It’s important to follow the instructions on the bottle, but if it’s not clear then follow my quick cheat sheet to hair masks.

Protein treatments

10 minutes

  • If you have coloured or damaged hair, be careful with protein treatments. Follow the instructions on the product though as a general rule, never leave them on longer than 10 minutes.
  • Always use a timer and pay attention when using protein treatments on dry or damaged hair. Over use of protein treatments can make hair brittle and cause more damage.
  • Apply protein treatments after shampooing your hair but before conditioning.
  • It’s recommended to only do protein treatments once a week or once a fortnight.

Hydrating treatments

5-20 minutes, or even longer

  • Moisturising treatments can be left on your hair for any time. After a certain time you don’t get any more benefits from the products.
  • Use hydrating treatments for 5-20 minutes. Do follow the directions on the product for specific timings.
  • Apply hydrating treatments after shampooing your hair but before conditioning.
  • You can do extra treatments for an hour or overnight but you’ll get almost the same benefits as doing the treatment for 20 minutes.

Coconut oil

30 minutes or overnight

  • You can use coconut oil as a treatment before you wash your hair. Leave coconut oil on your hair for at least 10 minutes. You’ll get better results if you leave the oil on longer – say 20-30 minutes.
  • Apply the oil to your hair, concentrating on the ends. It’s great for a head massage too.
  • You can also do an overnight oil treatment and then wash your hair in the morning. It’s more convenient to do this, just make sure to put a towel on your pillow!


10 minutes minimum but the longer, the better

  • Olaplex is a bond restorer that is applied during colour treatments though there is a take-home treatment. Don’t confuse this with a conditioning treatment (like I did!).
  • Leave the treatment on your hair for a minimum of 10 minutes. Ideally, you should leave it on for 30 minutes, or even longer.
  • Apply Olaplex to clean, towel-dried hair. As you have to leave it on so long, I usually get out of the shower and let it work, then hop back in to rinse it off and apply conditioner.

What’s your favourite hair treatment or hair mask? How often do you treat your hair and how long do you leave your hair treatment on your hair?

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