Can You Use a Hair Mask Before Shampooing?


How you use your hair mask can have a monumental effect on the overall health of your hair. That’s why it’s crucial to nail your hair mask routine down in a way that best serves your hair. One of the main questions people have about using hair masks is whether they can use one before shampooing. In this article, we’ll share whether that’s an option for you. Let’s get right into it!

You Can Use a Hair Mask Before Shampooing

In most cases, you’ll apply your hair mask after shampooing, and the reason for this is that the shampoo removes anything from your hair that could stop the mask’s ingredients from getting to where they need to go. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t use a hair mask before shampooing. If you’ve run out of your pre-poo treatment and are in a time- or money-crunch, you can use your hair mask to protect your hair from the potentially harsh ingredients of your shampoo. This is one of the only reasons you might use a hair mask before shampooing.

In addition to that, hair masks can be messy. So, if you find that your hair feels coated in product or smells bad after using your mask, be sure to shampoo after using it. If you want the absolute best results, wash your hair before using the mask (so there’s nothing to block it from penetrating your hair) and then wash it again after the mask is done processing.

How to Use a Hair Mask Before Shampooing

If you plan on using a hair mask before shampooing, here’s how the process will go. Essentially, you’ll separate your dry hair into at least two sections and then apply the mask to your hair section by section. Once you’re done applying the mask, you’ll wait a couple of minutes while the product works its magic (this may be up to 20 minutes or so). Then, rinse the hair mask out of your hair and follow that up with your shampoo of choice. 

When Not to Use a Hair Mask Before Shampooing

The main instance where you won’t use a hair mask before shampooing is when you want to use your hair mask as a deeply restorative treatment vs. a pre-poo. If you want the hair mask to do everything it promises to do, your hair needs to be as clean and free of residue/buildup as possible. If this is what you’re looking for, definitely use your hair mask after (not before) shampooing. 

How to Use a Hair Mask After Shampooing

If you’re new to using hair masks, it’s easy to become confused about how to use them. We’ll shed some light on the basic process in this section. Here’s how to use a hair mask after shampooing: 

  • Squeeze out any excess water from your hair after rinsing the shampoo out. 

  • Part your hair into 2 to 4 sections and secure each of them with a ponytail holder. 

  • Undo one of the sections and begin applying the hair mask to the hair. Try not to miss any spots - be very liberal with the product. Repeat this on all the rest of the sections. 

  • Allow the mask to sit for about 30 minutes to an hour. Cover your hair with a processing cap to maximize the mask’s penetration. And if you want to further increase the mask's effectiveness, sit under a hooded dryer for up to a half hour. 

  • Rinse the mask from your hair. If it smells bad or leaves your hair sticky, follow up with shampoo. 


So, there you have it - everything you need to know about whether you can use a hair mask before shampooing. We hope you found all the information you were looking for, and we wish you the best with your hair now and in the future. 




Author: Andrea Reyes

Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.