The Mistake That's Making Your Hair Masks Ineffective

Anyone who adores their enviably luscious locks — or, on the other hand, struggles with their seemingly unmanageable strands — might have a specific haircare routine that's meant to make their hair look good, feel great, and stay as healthy as possible. If that sounds like you, then you might also regularly use or be thinking about using a hair mask.

Whether you prefer to use the latest popular products that are found in stores or homemade concoctions that your family has been relying on for years, each can offer your hair various alluring perks. That might include giving it a softer texture and a gorgeous shine while also making it stronger. Beyond that, they can give your scalp a healthy boost and hydrate your hair while helping to prevent both frizziness and damage. On this, Aaron Grenia, the co-founder of IGK Hair Care, told Elle, "A good hair mask should provide nourishing nutrients and prolonged protection against environmental factors, and contain at least one oil rich in proteins, such as coconut and green tea oil, to keep your hair completely hydrated and healthy."

However, if you don't use the treatments correctly, then you may not see these benefits. In fact, there happens to be a particular mistake that may be making your hair masks totally ineffective.

Don't take your hair mask off too early

When you put a hair mask on, you need to be sure to use it properly in order for it to work in the way that it's meant to. That likely includes steps such as washing your hair, keeping it damp, and applying enough of the product or mixture to fully coat each strand. At the same time, there's something that you want to avoid doing and it has to do with timing.

Although shampoo can be used and washed away as soon as you're done with it, you need to use a hair mask more like you would use conditioner. Apply it to your hair and make sure that it covers as much as possible, which might require you to massage it into your mane with your hands or brush it through with a comb. On top of that and perhaps more importantly, you don't want to rush it. A hair mask needs time to settle in and do its work. In fact, hairstylist and TikTok user Matt Newman explained to his followers, "If you're not leaving your hair mask on for at least three to five minutes, you are not getting the full benefit of the product and you're kinda wasting your money."

While that might make you think that leaving a hair mask on for as long as possible may let it perform even better than expected, there happens to be another mistake that you need to avoid.

Don't leave a hair mask on for too long

Rinsing off your hair mask too soon may be a waste of time and money while the same can be said of waiting too long to wash it off. In fact, unless you're using an overnight mask, then leaving one on for longer than five minutes — or however long is mentioned in the mask's instructions — can end up damaging your hair.

When your hair is damp, it's more open and able to soak up whatever is in the mask, according to Garnier. If you're not careful and leave a hair mask on for too long, then it can end up becoming over-moisturized. This can lead to hygral fatigue, which can cause your hair to stretch in an unhealthy way, and because of this, it becomes brittle. In turn, your hair can suffer from damage more easily.

Beyond that, if a hair mask is made with protein, then it can be too heavy to be left on your hair for more than 20 minutes, according to Healthline. Otherwise, you might end up with broken strands. You'll also want to stay away from using a protein-filled egg-based mask for longer than necessary or your risk bacteria and a stinky odor. Finally, apple cider vinegar can help your body in plenty of ways, but the same doesn't go for your hair. If an ACV mask is left on for too long, then it can reduce the amount of protein in your hair.