Should I Put a Hair Mask on Clean or Dirty Hair?


Hair masks are among the most potent products you can use in your hair regimen. They can transform your hair for the better in as little as one use. But you can’t expect to reap the complete benefits of hair masks if you don’t use them correctly.

One of the main questions new hair mask users have about the product type is, “Should I put a hair mask on clean or dirty hair?” This question is extremely important, given that the way you apply your hair mask has a direct and substantial effect on how well it works. In this article, we’ll answer that question in detail, so you’ll have no doubt. 

You Should Not Put a Hair Mask on Dirty Hair 

Putting a hair mask on dirty hair is not advisable. That is if you want all the benefits a hair mask offers. Your hair won’t fall out in clumps the second the hair mask touches your dirty hair; the issue is that the mask may not be able to penetrate your strands. And that leads to a less-than-effective conditioning session and potentially wasted time and effort. 

For your hair mask to do what it needs to do, your hair must be clean, free of debris that could hamper the penetration of the hair mask. That way, the nutrients and goodies in the mask can get to where they need to go, and your hair can benefit fully. 

Wash Your Hair Before Your Hair Mask 

If you remember nothing else from this article, remember to always wash your hair before doing a hair mask. And the best way to cleanse your hair will depend on how dirty your hair is. A regular shampoo session is all you need if your hair is not extremely dirty but hasn’t been washed in a few days or is already covered in product. It will give your hair a clean slate and prepare it for your hair mask treatment. 

On the other hand, if your hair is covered in oils, buildup, or heavy products, you’ll need more to get your hair clean. Instead of your regular shampoo, get your hands on a clarifying shampoo. It’s a shampoo with a high concentration of cleansers - it has extra cleansing power to lift away all of the gunk.

You’ll apply it to your wet hair, focusing intently on your roots and scalp. Then, move the shampoo down the length of your hair, wait a couple of minutes, and then rinse thoroughly.  If your hair isn’t completely clean after the first wash, do a second wash identical to the first one. 

Once your hair is clean, you’re ready to do your hair mask. 

So, there you have it - applying a hair mask to dirty hair is not a good idea. You should wash it first. We hope you found all the information you were looking for, and we wish you the best with your hair going forward. 



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.