Senior beauty writer Hanna Ibraheem swears by hair masks. Her favourite? A three-ingredient mixture she can make at home…
Growing up, it was a weekly ritual that every Sunday morning I sat on the floor while my mum massaged coconut oil onto my scalp and down the lengths of my hair. I’d wash it out in the evenings and wake up for school with my natural curls healthy and bouncy. But for as long as I can remember, my mum has used a slightly different concoction on her own hair and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I asked if I could try it too.
This at-home hair mask is something my mum learnt from her mother when she grew up in Yemen – and it’s likely that her mum learnt it from her mum, too. It involves just three ingredients: coconut oil, vitamin E and rosemary. It quickly became one of the best bits of my beauty routine thanks to the smell of the rosemary - also, it’s always nice to give yourself a little scalp massage, isn’t it?
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The quantity you need for each ingredient will depend on your hair length. I have quite long hair, so I use three tablespoons of coconut oil which I melt into liquid. I usually do this by filling a large bowl with hot water and sitting my hair mask bowl on top (similar to when you melt chocolate). Once it’s melted, I add one tablespoon of rosemary oil and 10 drops of vitamin E.
When I apply the mask, I focus most of it on the scalp. I always take the time to really work it into my roots and give myself a scalp massage to encourage circulation. Then, I take anything leftover down the lengths of my hair.
While you can leave the hair mask in for as long as you want, or even overnight, I prefer to apply it first thing in the morning and to wash it out at night. That way, my hair can soak up the ingredients and I don’t ruin my pillows. Once it’s washed out, my hair feels smoother and softer.
But what exactly are the benefits of each individual ingredient? I asked Stephanie Sey, expert trichologist for Nizoral, and she broke it down for me…
“Vitamin E is a natural anti-oxidant which combats free radicals and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can damage the cells in the hair follicles. It is also believed that it can improve the shine and condition of the hair.”
“Rosemary oil is great for hair. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can improve scalp circulation, preventing hair loss. Beyond hair growth, rosemary oil is believed to prevent dandruff and may also help dry or itchy scalp.”
“Coconut oil has great conditioning properties for hair. It has very small molecules which can penetrate deeper into the hair than other oils so rather than acting merely on the surface the effects of the oil are longer lasting.
“Additionally, coconut oil is slightly positively charged (cationic). The reason this is important is because weathered/damaged hair is negatively charged (anionic). These opposite charges result in the coconut oil being attracted to the hair meaning that it will soften and protect it. Coconut oil is also rich in vitamin E and fatty acids: helping to give the hair moisture and add shine.”
Main image: Hanna Ibraheem