Growing up as a child in Trinidad and Tobago, I spent a lot of time with my sisters observing their haircare and beauty routines. Being of Venezuelan, Portuguese and African descent, they were always searching for the best shampoos, hair conditioners, hair oils and gels to calm their combination of thick, fine, wavy, curly and at times frizzy hair.
As I have recently started working in the Caribbean, I have noticed the plight of women (and men) trying to find the right moisturizers for their hair. We are constantly being told of the incredible benefits of natural oils for hair and skin, but oils can sometimes be a big part of the problem (where hair is concerned). So here’s the scoop on the difference in hair oil vs hair mask treatments and the benefits and problems of the two.
HAIR OIL TREATMENTS carry loads of nutrients that can benefit the scalp and hair. From adding vitamins to the scalp promoting hair growth, to adding shine while protecting the hair from styling tools like irons and dryers. However once the hair has absorbed what it needs from the oil, there’s something left behind: I call it the “slick,” which hair is unable to shed.
That slick can stifle the scalp and hamper healthy hair growth. If you think about it, what happens to the skin if oil is left on the face day after day? What will happen is obvious, clogging of pores, breakouts and flakiness. The same thing happens to the scalp. It will affect the hair, leaving it greasy, hard to style and limp. Limp is not good.
Then there’s the buildup that not even most shampoos can remove. For example, if you use oils regularly, chances are you have dry hair. As a result, you may use a moisturizing shampoo sometimes infused with oils. So although you’re shampooing, it’s not cleaning enough because its also adding oils. And let’s not forget, some of you use oils as a mild styling and conditioning agent (after shampooing and conditioning) while the hair is damp. I can hardly breathe thinking of how your scalp and hair is choking to death. OK, that’s a little dramatic, but you see my point.
Another mistake is thinking “all” oils are good for your hair.
In some homeopathic hair salons, they use a blend of natural oils to strip hair color. So chances are you may be ruining your investment, that fierce head of highlights or that gorgeous ashy brunette that you paid for. Some even believe that too much oil can result in hair thinning. I was also told to be aware of too much coconut oil, apparently it’s very high in protein and can snap fragile hair.
IMPORTANT: Every woman who uses hair oils should invest in a clarifying shampoo right away!! Here are some of my favorites. Use it once every 2 weeks to strip the hair and scalp of all buildup. Do not underestimate this tip!
HAIR MASK TREATMENTS are very popular and have been for a long time. These come in a variety of light or heavy creams. The good ones are water-based, however many will contain some oil and others some silicones. What’s important to know is they are not 100% oil-based.
Hair masks are generally applied after shampooing and towel drying the hair. The mask is then combed through the hair and left in for 10 or 20 minutes. For a more conditioning effect, you can even wear a plastic cap and sit under the hair dryer.
In some salons they may wrap your hair in a damp towel and put you under a steamer. Hair masks are then rinsed off of the hair and because most are water based it rinses off easily leaving you with hydrated and shiny hair.
Not all hair masks are great, there are so many on the market that some can be disappointing, so be sure you are not getting a hair mask thats full of oil.
OIL CARE RECOMMENDATIONS-
As far as hair oils go stick with Argan oils. Read the ingredients first and be sure there’s no silicone or other oils added. I love Orlando Pita’s Argan oil, it’s light weight and works on all hair types.
HAIR MASK RECOMMENDATIONS
Hands down Orlando Pita Argan Oil Hair Mask is the best!!! Especially for African, Latina and mixed hair. Infused with the right amount of Argan oils and water based conditioning agents, you will love it!!! Then of course there are the hair masks from Kerastase, which will also be at the top of my list forever. This company has revolutionized hair masks for hair that’s been over-processed, bleached, or relaxed till breaking. These masks (not all) will help you get on track.
For African hair I recommend using one of these together with a hair mask that has some oils, or an oil treatment. Its proteins will help reconstruct; without the oils it’s not taming enough for very textured hair.
Kerastase has also created power-packed, express spray treatments that can penetrate the hair more than a mask. They are stronger and anyone that uses them is hooked! I’ve used them for the past 10 years. It’s to be used on towel dried hair and left in for 5 to 10 minutes. It rinses easily from the hair, leaving it feeling silky and smelling great.
If you’re traveling to Europe or know someone that is, you can find these treatments. They are used in salons in the U.S. But in Europe they can be found in some beauty supply shops.