Welcome to Texture Talk, a column that celebrates and deep dives into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of curls that are free flowing to strands that are tucked away in a protective style.
This article was originally published in January 2022.
As the seasons change, so too do our curls. The unforgiving nature of the Canadian winter means taking refuge inside our dry, heated homes and putting our curls (which spend the season fighting the friction of wintry accessories from toques to on-trend balaclavas) up into a protective style. The result? Dehydrated hair in desperate need of extra attention in the form of a restorative hair mask.
Much like clothing is seasonally swapped in and out, your hair products should also rotate to match the outdoor environment. Elisha Gotha, owner of acclaimed Toronto curly hair salon The Curl Lounge, explains that the use of hair masks is particularly beneficial for curly hair due to its fragility, in comparison to other hair types. “We have a lot of natural broken bonds in our hair, which on a molecular level means that we have a lot of twists and turns that can cause more breakage,” says Gotha.
In such a vast natural hair market, curly customers are spoiled for choice. To narrow down the search for a winter-ready mask, Gotha suggests avoiding products largely composed of heavier oils (think shea butter, castor oil and coconut oil) which can create product build-up and prevent hydrating ingredients from penetrating the hair. One word you do want to seek out? Hydration.
Below, find the best hair masks for curly and natural hair to lean on this winter.
Canadian zero-waste hair and body brand Everist just dropped a plant-based deep conditioning concentrate that curls will love. Its major focus? You guessed it, hydration. The 100ml tube is packed with pumpkin seed oil and more than 20% aloe vera to back up its smoothing and detangling properties — all without harmful ingredients like parabens, silicones and synthetic fragrances. It can be used as a daily hair conditioner or left on for 15 minutes to really penetrate the hair as a deep treatment mask.
In all honesty, any hair product named “Confident Crown” sounds good to us already, but this conditioner from The Potion Studio walks the walk, too. Formulated with wheat protein, mango butter, and organic coconut oil, this product can double as a deep conditioner to moisturize and smooth all curls and coils — because founder Aziza El Wanni believes in helping curly-haired customers simplify their hair routines. If that weren’t enough, did we mention it’s vegan?
Caring for curly hair is generally time-consuming — and deservedly so — but if you’re pinched for time and still need to work a treatment in, K-18’s molecular repair mask promises to reverse hair damage and deliver lasting results with its patented hair science in just four quick minutes. The mask’s patented K18Peptide repairs keratin chains within the innermost layers of hair to restore its strength and elasticity. All that in four minutes? Consider us sold.
In support of HairToStay, a nonprofit helping cancer patients afford scalp cooling treatments, Amika released a special, limited edition of its ultra-rich jojoba seed oil and sea buckthorn powered nourishing mask. Available in both its 16oz value size (for extra-thirsty curls) or standard 8oz tubs, $4 of each purchase will be donated to HairToStay for this important cause.
Don’t let the cost discourage you, this value size bottle will give you 33 ounces of reparative goodness that’ll outlast other masks — it’s clear Briogeo understands curls require a lot of product to get the job done. “It’s a little easier on the budget because you can get such a big size and it’s both hydrating and reparative, whereas some other masks can just be packaged so small,” says Gotha.
Claiming to improve hydration, texture, elasticity, shine and manageability, Moroccanoil’s Intense Hydrating Mask truly lives up to its name. This product provides instant hydration, says Gotha, who recommends this mask for those suffering from severe dryness. Due to its ultra-hydrating properties, this formula fares best with medium-thick textured hair.
While hydration is key during these icy months, it’s also important to protect our textured tresses. Gotha’s top pick? Olaplex’s hugely popular Hair Perfector No. 3. “Olaplex has changed the game — it has bond rebuilders and it’s unlike anything else. Its patented technology helps reform your hair and the broken bonds we naturally have as curly girls,” she says. This treatment will help strengthen hair to withstand even the toughest winter accessories and protective styles.
When using this mask by Innersense, less is more. “It doesn’t have a lot of water content, and it’s very concentrated. A little goes a long way and it’s activated by the water that’s already in your hair,” explains Gotha. Packed with the right balance of nourishing nutrients and hydrating oils, Innersense skips out on damaging toxins to give you an organic, clean concoction of hydration in a bottle.
Oh, honey. If you’re in search of a budget-friendly treatment mask, Gotha recommends looking no further than TGIN’S Honey Miracle Hair Mask. “While it does contain some olive oil, the other ingredients are simple and it doesn’t have any damaging or filler ingredients,” says Gotha — meaning, no need to worry about the parabens or sulphates common in standard hair formulas. Thanks to the star ingredient of raw honey, this mask will leave your hair looking good and smelling good. Plus, it’s safe for colour treated curls too.