Winter Hair Repair 101: Hydrating Masks

Janell M. Hickman


Winter’s chill isn’t just nipping your fingertips—it’s also wreaking havoc on your hair. From scorching hot blow-dryers to frigid open-air commutes, your delicate strands crave moisture thanks to extreme temperature variants. The key to revival? A heavy dose of hydration from within courtesy of hard-working hair masks. We caught up with three top hair experts to shed light on finding the perfect version just for your hair texture, type and length.

Know The Difference
“A regular conditioner is used daily (or on a more frequent basis) to help smooth, condition and balance the hair. [Conditioner is] applied throughout wet hair directly after shampooing, combed through and  finally, rinsed out,” explains Ric Pipino, Celebrity Stylist and VP of Global Creative for Alterna Haircare. “[On the other hand] a hair mask is best used on towel dried hair, then applied throughout the hair in large sections,” he explains. “[Masks should be] deeply worked into the hair from root to ends (alternatively, you can pin up your strands) before letting the formula sit for 20-minutes to overnight.”

Work a Treatment Into Your Routine
“Masks deliver a rush of moisture into the hair’s cuticle which can prevent future hair breakage,” explains Elizabeth Cunnane-Phillips, a consultant trichologist for Philip Kingsley. “[They also] simultaneously provide suppleness, elasticity and bounce for a healthy hair look. I recommended applying a treatment, like Philip Kingsley Elasticizer, once or twice a week depending on your hair texture.”

MORE: 8 Amazing Hair Masks For Every Kind of Complaint

Find a Formula That Works
“The most hydrating [masks] ingredients are vegetable glycerin, aloe vera, shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil,” shares celebrity hair stylist, author and SheaMoisture beauty ambassador, Diane C. Bailey. “There are many excellent masks for all hair types on the market, and many women like to make their own masks with natural ingredients.” Looking for inspiration? Check out YouTube vlogger Naptural85 for DIY-recipes.

Mask Myths Revealed
“A mask, like Yucca & Baobab Anti-Breakage Masque can temporarily seal healthy cuticles of the hair. However, masks can’t ‘mend’ split ends,” shares Bailey,” “Trimming your hair regularly [is the only way to banish] split ends. Another myth busted? Using the same products has fewer benefits over time. “There is no scientific proof of this to be true—the hair is like a sponge, it will absorb what it needs. Seasonally, your hair may need more moisturizing oils at other times it may need more protein.

The Truth About ‘Over Conditioning’
“Conditioners often get a bad reputation because people find they weigh their hair down or make it look greasy or dull” explains Cunnane-Phillips. “However, this will only happen if you choose the wrong product for your hair type—by choosing the correct products based on your hair type, [you simply] cannot over condition. Of equal importance, conditioner use should take hair length and level of processing into account.”

MORE: Simple DIY Hair Masks That Naturally Revive Dry Hair

Apply Your Mask Like A Pro
“Hair masks are often prescribed by stylists after chemical damage from coloring or straightening treatments, as well as those who frequently heat style their strands,” explains Bailey. “Always apply your mask on clean, damp hair, finger comb though and then gently comb with a wide tooth-comb. You can even apply a plastic cap or steam the hair with a steamer, such as Q-Redew Handheld Steamer to lock in additional moisture.”

Know When To Call It Quits
“[An at-home mask] should easily last for 2-3 months —I wouldn’t throw it out [before then],” explains Pipino. “You should see improvement in your hair condition quickly, so I’d suggest you to not use it as often i.e. monthly instead of weekly.”