Do you use a hair mask before or after shampooing?

correct use order

Should hair masks be used before or after washing your hair?


  • You should always, absolutely always use the mask after washing your hair with shampoo.
  • And it doesn’t matter what type of mask you’re using. This law applies to hydrating masks just as much as to nourishing ones.
  • As an ampoule or cream or even spray, the mask should always be used after shampoo to maximize the effects on your hair.


I would say that it’s almost a matter of common sense. Why? Because the masks are a part of the regimen of intensive nourishing and hydration treatments for your hair.

 So, the idea is that you give them enough time to take action to be able to notice changes in your hair. 


Of course, in many instances, common sense would seem to have taken a vacation.

Take the example of my client, Marisa.


Marisa comes to the salon once every twenty days because she loves to try different hairstyles in her curls. Truthfully, she has a fantastic head of hair, both in quantity and quality.

But, I should tell you that she takes really good care of her curls so that they always look good; for example, often when she comes, she takes some masks with her to apply at home.


The last time she came into the salon, between laughs, she told me that her masks weren’t giving her good results. I was surprised by what she said, because the ones I sell in the salon are really good quality, so it set off an alarm for me.

What was going on?


When I asked her how she was using them, I found the answer to the problem. Marisa was putting them in her hair, and afterward, she was washing it, to top it all off, with shampoo. 

Oh, Marisa, Marisa! Why didn’t you read the instructions for the correct usage of the product?


How was it going to work on your hair if you made it so it was like you had never even applied it?

If you like to use masks a lot, then, keep reading, because I’ll let you know:

  • Why masks should be used before shampoo
  • How to apply a mask in the correct way to take advantage of all of the benefits
  • The most common types of hair masks

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Why masks should be used after shampoo

use it before washing hair

Hydrating or repairing masks are intensive treatments to recover from hair damage caused by different factors, such as chemical processes like bleaching or the use of heating tools, like the hair straightener or curler.

Masks perform a specific function: repairing.


Shampoo has a completely different use: cleaning dirty hair and removing grease.

 If you apply a hydrating or repairing mask and then wash your hair with shampoo, you’ll be taking out the hydrating elements that the masks leave behind in your hair. 


  • Also, you shouldn’t forget that the majority of shampoos contain sulfates, something similar to dish soap, although in a smaller proportion.
 Make sure to remember this fact that I’m telling you: the more foam your shampoo makes when you’re rubbing it in your hair, the more sulfates it has. 


And these sulfates wash out all of the nutrients of hydrating and repairing masks that you put in your hair.

What about shampoos without sulfates? Can I wash my hair with them after having applied a mask?


  • Definitely not! Because the function of the shampoo is still to clean your dirty, greasy hair. And it will also eliminate the effects of the mask.

The advantage of sulfate-free shampoo is that it’s less damaging for your hair—it’s recommended that you use it if you’ve dyed your hair, to not dull the dye as quickly as with the sulfate-containing shampoos.


 But whether you use shampoo with or without sulfates, you should always apply the mask after washing your hair. 

After all, close your eyes and think, “What is my normal routine for washing my hair?”


  • If you are like most people, surely you’ll wash your hair first with shampoo and then afterward you’ll put in the conditioner. Because the function of the conditioner is to hydrate your hair and to leave it soft and shiny.

In a way, masks replace conditioner.


  • Hydrating or repairing masks are like conditioners but more powerful—that is, what a conditioner can do with 20 applications, the hydrating or repairing mask does with just one.[/su_highlight]

They may be small, but they are powerful! Because, unlike conditioner or cream rinses that rest at the surface level of your hair, a mask enters the cuticle of your hair fibers.


  • But so that they can take action, your hair must be perfectly clean. There shouldn’t be any dirtiness or dye or in your hair.

However fundamentally, washing your hair with shampoo opens the pores of your hair fiber, and in this way, when you apply the mask, your hair will be ready to absorb all of the hydrating nutrients it contains.


How to correctly use hair masks

  • After washing your hair, dry it with a towel, and choose the best hair mask that fits your needs. In a minute, I’ll tell you more about that.
  • Distribute the product evenly in your hair, from the roots to the ends, and comb your hair with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb.
  • To obtain máximum benefits, I recommend that you leave the mask in for 20-30 minutes and cover your hair with a moist towel.
  • Finally, rinse with cool water, without using any shampoo.


While we’re talking about masks, it seems like a good opportunity to tell you the types of masks that are available on the market. In this way, you’ll know how to best invest your money to nourish and moisturize your hair adequately.


What mask to choose according to your hair needs

In the stores, there are all types of masks to choose from, from masks to toners, which are an intensive treatment for hair repair.

And they don’t all necessarily have a creamy consistency, although that’s the most common—you can also found them as ampoules, oils and sprays.

But remember, don’t let the consistency trick you—you should always use them after washing your hair with shampoo.

Let’s see the uses of each mask type.


  • Cream masks: These are the most common. They are used for hydrating and nourishing your hair. Most contain keratin, collagen and silk protein, which make your hair bright and shiny. That said, after applying them, you should rinse your hair just with water.
  • Repairing ampoules: Repairing ampoules are specially designed to repair damage at the ends of your hair, although some brands have also developed ampoules for nourishing the roots and growth of your hair. They will leave your hair shiny and strong, repairing the split ends and stimulating new growth. Some of them you don’t need to rinse out, but remember that if you rinse your hair, you should only do it with water.
  • Hydrating spray: This type of masks are of frequent use, as you can apply it as many times as you want throughout the day, because you don’t have to rinse them out. They will make your hair shiny and keep it hydrated, especially during the summer or after a strong chemical treatment, like bleaching.


Do you have damaged hair because of bleaching? Then, I recommend that you apply a mask with argan oil.

For dry hair or curly, wavy hair with frizz, the best option is intensive hydrating masks.

The best ones are those that contain oils, like almond oil, light and excellent for thin hair; oil of jojoba, which is better for dry, fragile ends and hair with highlights, and panthenol which is a derivative of vitamin B5, which is combined with water molecules for hydrating hair.

While for thinner hairs, the best mask is one with proteins for adding strength to your hair.


Now you know how to correctly use hair masks, and which is the best for your hair type and the result you’re looking for.

What type of mask do you think your hair needs?


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