Overnight Hair Mask: Is It Safe? How To Use It?

by Arshiya Syeda

You generally wash your face every day with soap or a facewash. But when you feel your face needs some extra care, you opt for a face mask. Face masks are usually kept on for extended periods – around 30 minutes – before you take them off.

Similarly, you might wash your hair regularly, but you can opt for a hair mask when your hair needs upkeep. Hair masks come with different formulas. Some hair masks are applied only for short periods, while other types of hair masks can be worn overnight and washed off in the morning.

There have always been safety concerns regarding the impact an overnight hair mask has on your hair. Does an overnight hair mask damage your hair due to its long contact period? Is it beneficial at all compared to conventional hair masks? Let us explore these through facts and research.

Benefits Of An Overnight Hair Mask

The benefits of an overnight hair mask depending on the kind of ingredients it is made of. However, there are a few benefits that you can expect from almost all overnight hair masks. Keep in mind that no scientific research has been conducted to prove the same:

1. Intense Moisturization

Having a layer of nutrients from the roots to the tips overnight gives a lot of time to your hair to absorb all the nutrients and deep moisturization. The overnight hair mask ingredients are said to coat the hair follicles and retain the moisture inside the hair to offer improved shine.

2. Frizz Control

An overnight hair mask helps in improving the texture of your hair. It helps in keeping your hair tame and frizz-free. Applying any moisturizing mask helps your hair adhere to its natural flow and not get excessively frizzy. An overnight hair mask makes this adherence last for extended periods.

3. Improves Hair Health

In general, an overnight hair mask is supposed to have nutrients that your specific hair type lacks. With the help of these nutrients, the overnight hair mask will target your hair’s problems. The mask works towards making your hair healthier by giving it extra nourishment. Depending on what the main ingredient of your overnight hair mask is, it can improve your hair’s quality in different ways. For instance, an egg yolk-based mask will contain vitamin E. This antioxidant reduces hair damage (1).

4. Reduces Tangles

Just the way conditioner makes your hair soft and tangle-free, an overnight mask also helps detangle the hair and make it easy to comb. Though applying an overnight hair mask has multiple benefits, are all of them safe for your hair? We discuss the risk factor that comes with using these hair masks in the next section.

Are Overnight Hair Masks Safe?

Hair masks are supposed to be good for your hair. However, when you keep them on overnight, you increase the chances of adverse reactions on the scalp. This may lead to hair damage.

The most crucial factor is to be fully aware of the ingredients in the overnight mask. Certain ingredients can be helpful if used for a specific amount of time. If you cross that time, they can harm your hair.

Read on to find out how different ingredients affect your hair, and make a hair mask choice accordingly:

1. Overnight Hair Masks With Protein

Protein is a great ingredient that helps with hair growth. However, there is a limit to it as well. Avoid using protein-rich ingredients in your overnight hair masks as it is claimed to lead to hair breakage. If your hair receives an excess of protein, but the moisture it receives is not enough, there is a considerable possibility of the hair follicles becoming brittle and causing hair fall. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove the same.

2. Overnight Hair Masks With Apple Cider Vinegar

The hair care community knows apple cider vinegar for its ability to make your hair shiny. However, apple cider vinegar has a low pH which makes it highly acidic. Keeping it on the hair for a prolonged period can strip away your hair’s protein. Additionally, exposing your scalp to any acid for a prolonged period can lead to scalp burns.

3. Overnight Hair Masks With Egg

It is best to avoid ingredients like an egg as it can impart a foul odor to your hair when you keep it on overnight. It also runs the risk of bacterial or fungal development that could occur because of the hair mask’s overnight application. It may be beneficial for the hair if used for a shorter time. Additionally, if you have an egg allergy, you should stay away from an overnight hair mask that contains eggs.

Now that you know what kind of ingredients you have to stay away from in an overnight hair mask, keep reading to find out what kind of ingredients you can use on different types of hair.

Overnight Hair Mask For Dry, Frizzy Hair

If your hair is dehydrated and gets frizzy often, you must use an overnight hair mask containing moisturizing ingredients to hydrate and restore it. If you want to add moisture to your hair, two great ingredients are banana and honey.

Bananas contain silica. Silica is used in many hair conditioners to reduce frizz (2). Honey is an excellent conditioning agent that adds moisture to your hair. It also contains vitamins and minerals that can further strengthen your hair (3).

What You Need

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1-2 ripe bananas

What To Do

  1. Mash the bananas with a fork. Use one or two bananas, depending on how long your hair is.
  2. Add the honey to the mashed bananas.
  3. Blend this mixture until you get a smooth paste.
  4. Start from the scalp and apply the overnight hair mask up to the tips of your hair.

Read on to know what sort of ingredients you need for an overnight mask for damaged hair.

Overnight Hair Mask For Damaged Hair

If you have an outdoor work environment or style your hair often, your hair can undergo significant damage. If you take care of your hair regularly, you can stem the progress of this damage and restore your hair’s natural texture. Two primary ingredients that can help alleviate hair damage are coconut oil and aloe vera.

Coconut oil has a low molecular weight and gets absorbed into the hair follicles easily. Additionally, it is integral to use coconut oil if you wish to stop protein loss from your hair (2). Aloe vera contains antioxidants, enzymes, fatty acids, and vitamins that can ensure a healthier scalp (4).

What You Need

  • 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel
  • 2 tablespoons non-refined coconut oil

What To Do

  • Take the two tablespoons of coconut oil in a glass bowl and microwave it till it is warm.
  • Add the aloe vera gel to the oil.
  • Stir the ingredients until the consistency of the paste is uniform.
  • Apply the paste from the scalp to the tips of your hair.

Now that you know how to make overnight hair masks, let’s talk about how to apply them.

How To Use An Overnight Hair Mask

After you have selected the right kind of overnight hair mask for your hair problems, it is time to ensure that you apply it correctly.

  • Wash Your Hair: Wash and condition your hair like you usually do.
  • Dry It Partially: Use a microfiber towel or a soft T-shirt to wring out the extra water from your hair. Do not use a blowdryer as your hair needs to be damp when applying the mask.
  • Apply The Mask: Divide your hair into sections with a comb. Use clips or hair ties to keep them apart. Unclip one section and start applying the hair mask to it, starting from the roots and moving down to the tips. Repeat this process until you have applied the hair mask to all the sections of hair.
  • Comb Your Hair: Once you have covered every inch of your hair and scalp with the overnight mask, use a wide-toothed comb to spread the mask evenly.
  • Secure Your Hair: Put on a shower cap to keep all your hair in place. You can pin up your hair if you have long hair. Lay a towel on top of your pillow before you go to sleep to avoid staining it.
  • Wash Your Hair: The next morning, wash your hair with plain water. Make sure you wash off the mask completely.
  • Dry Your Hair: Dry your hair with a soft towel. Style it as usual.

So how often should you be using these masks? Read on to find out!

How Often Should You Be Using An Overnight Hair Mask?

If your hair is dry or damaged, you could benefit from using an overnight hair mask once or twice a week. While you regularly apply this mask, keep track of any scalp or hair issues that come up due to overuse. If you feel itchiness or thinning in your hair, stop using the overnight hair mask.

If your hair is oily but not damaged, you do not need to use an overnight hair mask as often. Restrict use to once every two weeks.

If you have been using an overnight hair mask for a few months but do not see a change in your hair texture or any damage reduction, you should consult a dermatologist. Do not try to increase the concentration of ingredients in the hair mask.

Wondering what happens if the mask is left on for too long in your hair? Find out below!

What Happens If You Leave A Hair Mask On Too Long?

When you use an overnight hair mask that you bought off the shelf, you should make sure you use it as per the directions for use. Keeping it on for too long can potentially make your hair brittle and susceptible to breakage. If you make the overnight hair mask at home, make sure to use mild ingredients and not keep it on longer than overnight.

Final Words

An overnight hair mask can add moisture to your hair, reduce frizz and tangles, and generally improve your hair’s health. However, it would be best if you avoided using hair masks that contain any acid, vinegar, or egg yolk as they can lead to hair or scalp damage. Depending on your hair’s quality, you can make different types of overnight hair masks at home. At the same time, it is prudent not to use overnight hair masks too often and to not keep them on for extended periods.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Can I apply a hair mask on colored or bleached hair?

Yes, you can use a hair mask on colored or bleached hair.

Can I use an overnight hair mask on extensions?

Yes, use an overnight hair mask on extensions.

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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).