As someone with difficult combination skin, I’ve always been a big fan of a good facial—I even went as far as getting a series of facials in the weeks leading up to my wedding day to get my skin looking its absolute best. I’m a total skin-product junkie, and as a consequence have my cleansing, toning, moisturizing, masking, and scrubbing routine down to a fine art.
My hair is a different story, though. I’ve never paid too much attention to the products I use to wash it, I usually try to avoid going to the salon for haircuts until it’s in desperate need of a cut, and my daily approach to it usually goes something along the lines of: Does it look passably clean? Is it dry? Have I brushed it? Good, let’s go.
I know I’m not the only one to take my hair for granted. In fact, my passive neglect is probably better than a lot of other people’s bad hair habits: excessive use of hair dryers, straighteners, and curlers; rough towel drying; unhealthy chemical products; and dyeing. All of that, plus the unavoidable environmental damage we all experience in our day-to-day lives, has a huge impact on our hair’s condition.
Thankfully, a new trend in the beauty world is changing the way we think about our hair and providing us with an easy way to take better care of it from home. Multi-masking for skin has been a trend for a few years now, the idea being that you create a tailor-made face mask based on what different areas of your face need. Now the same idea but for your hair is gaining traction in the beauty world.
I asked Clover Jalil, a stylist at Hoskins Hair in the U.K., to explain the science and how-to behind the multi-masking trend as she gave me an in-salon treatment using Davines’ new range of natural hair masks. The result was shinier, healthier, stronger hair that I could maintain easily for myself at home.
What is multi-masking for hair?
Multi-masking your hair is basically like giving your hair an intensive, highly tailored facial. Just like our skin, our hair has varying needs; the ends are much older than the roots where the hair has recently grown from the scalp, so it makes sense that the different areas would need different treatments to look their best.
If you’re having a multi-masking treatment in a salon, the stylist will ask you questions about your lifestyle, health, diet, and general wellness before carefully assessing the condition of your hair and diagnosing any problem areas and unique needs that your hair may have. They will then apply a series of hair masks to different areas to help restore it to its best condition and can advise you on which masks to invest in and take away to continue using at home.
Jalil told me that I have combination hair (just like my skin), which means that I tend to get greasy roots around my sebaceous glands and tangled, dry ends. She recommended three masks (my hair is pretty short—Davines has five different formulas in total): a purifying mask for my oily scalp, another for adding shine and radiance to my dull mid-lengths, and a third to moisturize and soften the ends.
After thoroughly applying the three masks to different areas of my hair, she covered it to allow my head to generate some heat and further activate and absorb the ingredients. We let the masks work their magic for about twenty minutes.
What are the benefits of multi-masking for your hair?
Once the masking process was finished and my hair was dried and combed, it looked and felt incredibly soft and shiny. I also noticed that the color looked brighter and my natural highlights were more noticeable; Jalil told me this was because as well as improving the overall condition of my hair, the masks removed a buildup of impurities, which helped show off my natural color at its best.
As Jalil put it, “You should think of your hair like a silk garment.” It’s like a fine and delicate fabric that needs careful care and the right kind of washing, at the right temperature, with the right detergent. The multi-masking method acknowledges that your hair is as unique as you are; our hair care should be as different from the next person’s as our skin care regimens.
If I had applied a single hair mask to my hair, it may have helped the dry ends but over-saturated the scalp and roots; using several different masks meant we could tackle the different problems of each area.
Tips for Multi-Masking Your Hair at Home
The great thing about multi-masking for hair is that you don’t have to have the treatment in a salon (although it can help to have the first one in a salon if you want advice on what routine and products to use at home).
01. Test porosity levels.
Jalil recommends testing your hair’s porosity levels (meaning how well your hair retains moisture) by running your finger up a single strand of hair from the tip to the root. Low-porosity hair will feel very smooth as you run your finger along it; this type of hair has very tightly closed cuticles and is extremely resistant to moisture, and it will likely float if you put it in water. High-porosity hair will feel very rough; this type of hair has very open cuticles and should sink if you put it in water. The ideal porosity is somewhere in the middle; you should feel a bit of resistance but not too much. If your hair is too absorbent, it will be prone to being dull and greasy, even lank, and if it’s not absorbent enough, it will be dry and tangle easily, lacking in shine and resistant to products.
02. Divide hair into sections.
Once you’ve diagnosed the overall condition and porosity of your hair, try to think of it in sections: Look at the condition of your scalp, the hair near the roots, the mid-lengths, and the ends. Now you can choose different hair masks for each area of your hair (people usually need anywhere from two to four masks, depending on the length and condition of their hair).
03. Apply mask.
Apply the masks to the appropriate area when your hair is clean and damp (but not sopping wet), and rub each one in carefully with your fingers, making sure that you work it into the hair shafts. It can help to comb it with a wide-toothed comb as you work through it. Wash your hands between each mask so that you don’t mix them, and then cover your hair with plastic wrap to help it generate some heat from your head. Jalil advises leaving the masks on once you’ve applied them all for at least fifteen minutes but preferably longer (if you’re using a natural mask such as The Circle Chronicles range from Davines, you can’t really leave it on too long).
04. Rinse and repeat.
Rinse your hair well, and then gently pat it down before leaving it to air dry, if possible. Depending on how dry your hair is, it can benefit from this repeated routine every ten days or so (more frequently for extremely dry or damaged hair).
Once you start to think of your hair the same way you’d think of your skin, you’ll notice that it looks a lot healthier, shinier, and stronger. It seems like such a common-sense approach that it’s about time it caught on in mainstream hair care, so here’s to working with your hair’s natural condition and texture to help it look its best, every day.