At one point or another, we become attached to our grocery store shampoos and conditioners. They’re reasonably priced and the voice in the back of our heads tells us $10 will give us strong and luscious hair like Eva Longoria. However, there comes a time when these shampoos and conditioners fall short of achieving the self-care and attention we seek. Plagued by dust, grime and that ambiguous fluid that drips from overhanging AC units onto our heads, our hair needs a bit more love than Pantene or Suave can give.
DIY food-based hair masks are a simple and cheap way to target your hair with vitamins, nutrients and fulfill all of your hair-related dreams … most of the time. Not all masks are created equal, but I can promise that they are all accessible.
No extremely expensive avocados were harmed in the making of this article. All of the ingredients for the following three food-based hair masks can be found at Sidestein Market and purchased with dining dollars.
Note: Leave each of these masks on for 30 minutes under a shower cap or pseudo-shower cap, such as a plastic CVS bag. Then rinse.
Mask No. 1: Winter is Coming
4 packets of honey from Upstein’s Chick-Fil-A
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of plain Greek yogurt
Purpose: The ingredients in this mask are intended to cleanse the scalp, seal in moisture and increase shine.
Directions & Application: Using your fingers, mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, then divide the hair into sections and apply the mixture over the scalp, continuing down to the ends of the hair. I was very liberal in the application because I have 3B/3C type hair that is impervious to oiliness, but you should calibrate based on your individual hair type.
Review: My hair felt a bit cakey in places even after rinsing the mask out and letting it dry, although this might be remedied by using less of the mask in application. While my hair felt incredibly soft, I did not see much progress in terms of moisture. My scalp, however, felt extremely moisturized. I would definitely recommend this mask during the upcoming winter season for my pals with dandruff and dryness. It is important, however, to wash it out thoroughly to avoid buildup on the scalp.
Mask No. 2: Chaotic Energy
½ cup of mayonnaise
Purpose: The ingredients in this mask are meant to act as a deep moisturizer and cleaning agent. It also gives mayonnaise a purpose because really, it shouldn’t be a condiment in the first place.
Directions & Application: Because I don’t own tupperware or utensils, I was vastly unprepared for this project. Consequently, this hair mask was created in an empty Snapple bottle. Crack the eggs into your container of choice and then squeeze in the mayo until the mixture has a 50/50 ratio. Mix the ingredients (or in my case, shake the bottle). In terms of application, just pray, I guess, because it was literally liquid. I stuck my head over the sink and poured it all over my scalp and hair. On the bright side, it provided me with the motivation I needed to clean the sink.
Result: My hair was greasy and it smelled funky. Zero out of 10 — I did not enjoy any part of this process. I got very bad, chaotic energy from this mask and it was far more strenuous than any self-care ritual should be. If your hair is prone to extreme dryness and you’re willing to go through great lengths to find a possible solution, this might be for you. Or if you just want to get rid of your mayo.
Mask No. 3: Chunky Banana
1 (very ripe) banana
4 spoonfuls olive oil
Purpose: The ingredients in this mask are meant to increase shine and repair damage from chlorine, heat and chemicals.
Directions & Application: Buy one banana and let it sit in your minifridge until the smell begins to bother your roommates. The softer and riper the banana, the better. Using any container, pour in four spoonfuls of olive oil and incorporate the banana by smashing it in to the best of your ability. If for some reason you own a food processor, ignore all of these instructions. I used the same sectioning and application process as described under Mask No. 1. There will be banana chunks, so just make sure to rinse extra thoroughly.
Result: I smelled like bananas, but in a cute way. This mask is my favorite as it was great for frizz control and defining my curls. My hair is not super damaged by heat or chemicals, but I think the nutrients in this mask would help with that issue if used over an extended period of time. After just one use, my hair felt smoother without being greasy.
After my brief stint as a homegrown beautician, one thing became quite clear: I want to put in minimal effort and somehow arrive at surprisingly good results. This theory applies to more than just hair masks, but I digress. Self-care means not sacrificing the process if you’re looking for a desirable end result. Getting mayonnaise and egg mask in your eye and risking salmonella for moderately moisturized hair is not self-care. Finessing a banana with your meal exchange to fix up split ends is far more soothing. Know yourself, know your hair and rinse thoroughly.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, print edition. Email Trinity Casimir at [email protected]