This Silk & Shine Conditioning Hair Mask is a decadent hair treat, leaving your hair noticeably more shiny and manageable. It’s packed with nourishing oils, rich conditioners, and goodies like silk and panthenol to leave your hair feeling its best. Simply work a generous amount through wet hair, leave it in for a few hours, and shampoo it out—a lovely recipe for ultra-silky hair and a nice bit of self-care ❤️
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So, what makes a hair mask a mask and not just a conditioner? Mostly marketing, really. Knowing a leave-in hair mask will be used less frequently than a rinse-out cream conditioner or conditioner bar (and knowing it will be shampooed out of the hair), I did make this Silk & Shine Overnight Hair Mask much richer than I’d make a rinse-out cream conditioner designed for regular use. The reason my “regular” rinse-out conditioners are lower in oils is that my hair is not hugely tolerant of oils. If your hair loves oils you might find this extra rich hair mask makes a wonderful regular-use conditioner for you! You might even like small amounts of it used as a leave-in conditioner. There are so many different kinds of hair (not only in the way it grows out of your head, but also from different treatments like dying + heat treating) that different products can easily meet different needs for different people with different hair.
Our water phase features all kinds of things that are lovely for the hair. Panthenol (vitamin B5) and luxurious hydrolyzed silk protein dd shine and bounce. Cationic guar gum and polyquaternium 10 bring all kinds of gorgeous conditioning goodness while also thickening the hair mask, adding body. I’ve also included a small amount of Cocamidopropyl Betaine to aid in rinse-out, as this hair mask is quite rich.
I tried an earlier version of this hair mask with more cationic guar gum (0.5% instead of the 0.2% seen here) and polyquaternium 10 (1% vs. 0.2%) and that made for a much gummier end product. I share a side-by-side comparison in the video so you can see just how big of a difference 1.1% of gums and thickeners can make to an end product!
The oil phase stars some lovely vitamin-rich, luxurious argan oil and glidey coconut oil—one of the very few oils that can penetrate the hair well (argan oil does as well, to some extent). Both oils work together to add shine and slip to the hair. Some cetearyl alcohol adds further richness and body, and BTMS-50 functions as our emulsifier while also bringing all its gorgeous conditioning goodness to the party. Seriously—if you haven’t tried BTMS-50 + hair before, I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve tried quite a few cationic emulsifying waxes, including several more natural ones, and the BTMS’s (50 & 25) are consistently my favourite. Learn more here in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia!
I have included some fragrance, but I’ve kept the amount low. Between the somewhat fishy-smelling cationic ingredients and the silk, this hair mask does have a bit of scent on its own, and I wanted to mask that with something a bit more pleasant. I started with 0.3% fragrance and found that was too strong for something I was applying in large amounts (I use about 50g [1.76oz] hair mask for one application) so close to my nose, so I dialled it back to 0.1%. If you’re using essential oils instead of fragrance oil you can likely use a bit more as essential oils aren’t as potent. Give this a read for more information.
To use, apply a generous amount of the hair mask to your hair—I prefer to apply it to wet hair, but you can apply it to dry hair if you prefer. Clip up your hair and leave it in for a few hours, and then shampoo it out and condition as usual (if you want to). Let dry, and enjoy your silky, shiny hair! You can also sleep with this mask in, though you’ll want to wear something like a shower cap to protect your bedding. I’ve tried this in the past and didn’t enjoy the crinkling of my shower cap all night long, but if you have a quieter hair covering that would likely work wonderfully!
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Silk & Shine Conditioning Hair Mask
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
Weigh the heated water phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Weigh the heated oil phase into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes the oil part should be completely melted and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh the water phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating, and then pour the water part into the oil part. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Grab your immersion blender and begin blending the lotion, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid lotion doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. Blend for about a minute, leave to cool for ten, blend for another minute or two, and repeat this blend-cool-blend cycle until the outside of the glass measuring cup is barely warm to the touch and the lotion is thick and creamy.
When the lotion is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of lotion on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of lotion, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of lotion. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
And that’s it! Package the mask in a 120mL (4 fl oz) wide-mouthed jar or tub for easy application. To use, apply a generous amount to the hair and leave it in for at least a few hours, or pop on a shower cap and leave it in overnight. Shampoo it out afterwards, and enjoy silky, shiny hair!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this hair mask contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 100g, which is approximately two applications for my hair.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list (panthenol, BTMS-50, argan oil, cetearyl alcohol, coconut oil) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could use regular guar gum instead of cationic guar gum, or replace it with more water.
- You can use polyquaternium 7 instead of 10. You could also use honeyquat, though I hate the way it smells.
- A different amphoteric surfactant will work instead of Cocamidopropyl Betaine, or you can replace it with more water (this will decrease rinse-out).
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
The 100mL (3.3fl oz) black plastic tub was gifted by YellowBee.