This Hair Mask Is So Good, I Look Forward To Wash Day

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I have a lot of hair, so the process of wash day is a long and laborious one — and one I’m trying to luxuriate, rather than treat like a learning experience. I’ll admit that this makes me check out of Beauty Reviewer Mode and into Amanda Is Washing Her Hair Over The Course Of Four Hours Mode. When you’re trying a tonne of new products all the time, it can be hard to keep track of what is actually working and what isn’t, especially when the wash day results in soft, silky hair as desired (and therefore nothing problematic to write home about). But there’s one product that I haven’t been able to stop using since it entered my hair arsenal, and that’s how I know it’s special.
Enter: Oribe’s new Hair Alchemy Strengthening Masque.
This hair mask has not only cut my wash day process in half, but my hair has never looked (or felt) better since I started using it six washes ago. I met with the brand for a styling session with Miles Jeffries, a celebrity stylist and Oribe ambassador, and when he applied the pale yellow bottle of miracles to my hair the first time, he said, “Oh, your hair loves this.” And it’s true! The Strengthening Masque joins Oribe’s existing Hair Alchemy collection, which is devoted to fortifying and strengthening hair. It’s great for anyone with weak and brittle hair but will work on all hair types, including more dehydrated and highly textured ones like my 4ABCDEFG12345 hair. (Truly, there are, like, 19 different hair textures on my head.)
As a person with a near-constant breakage problem, I’m always looking for preventative ways to keep my hair strong and healthy. At long last, I've finally found a product that makes me eagerly anticipate wash day.

What's in the Oribe Hair Alchemy Strengthening Masque?

Basically, the Oribe Hair Alchemy Strengthening Masque has a whole bunch of ingredients that your hair (and your body) loves: chia seed, plant-based protein and bio-fermented bamboo leaf all work together to help strengthen the hair and protect against breakage. In addition to that curative blend, castor seed oil and shea butter seal the hair’s cuticle to lock in moisture, which is so important for a hair type that is usually dry, like mine. “Textured hair is put through a great deal of manipulation — styling, washing, combing, using tools and potentially chemically processing — which causes a lot of stress on the hair,” explains Jeffries. “Textured hair can be weak, whether it’s inherently or because of processing, so it needs extra care to keep it healthy and reduce the impact of that stress.”
I’m also hyper-aware (and terrified) of protein overload when using protein-based hair masks. When products are overused, too much protein prevents the absorption of moisture and nutrients, which can cause the hair to break. But this mask adds the right amount of moisture to find that perfect balance of elasticity through nutrients and hydration. Oribe actually recommends using this mask in place of conditioner.

What are the benefits of the Oribe Hair Alchemy Strengthening Masque?

The formula also falls into the hybrid category of hair-care-meets-skincare, a trend we’re seeing in more and more hair products lately. “Skincare science has always been advancing, and now hair is catching up,” says Jeffries. Just like taking care of your skin, taking care of your hair is an inside-out kind of job. You don’t want products to sit on top of hair; you want the product to be fully absorbed and take on the benefits of the ingredients. This mask really feels like it’s going into my hair.
Recently, in preparation for a hair appointment, I had later in the day (because yes, Black women have to do their hair before going to get their hair done, if you didn’t know), I had to wash my hair in less than 30 minutes. Instead of my usual double shampoo / conditioner / hair mask for 45 minutes / rinse / hair serum / rinse again (I do the most), I only had time for a double shampoo and conditioner round. But I used this mask for 10 minutes in the shower and had one of the best results ever. The skincare elements feel like they’re helping to treat the hair at a deeper level and actually mending my breakage, making strands less brittle, instead of just acting as a temporary fix.
Of course, at $104, this hair mask doesn't come cheap. But never fear. I also like Davines LOVE Smoothing Hair Mask, as well as Ceremonia Mascarilla de Babassu Hydrating Hair Mask, the latter of which similarly boasts chia seed oil. Also try Bread Beauty Supply Hair Mask, which contains shea butter and is silicone-free, like Oribe's.
I’m still working on not completely dreading my wash days, possibly even getting to the point of romanticising them. Doing my hair has lost its place in my self-care routine, and that’s something I’m unpacking and where I’m trying my best to shift my perspective. Finding and using products I like, and that are effective, should be as important for my hair as it is for my skin, right? But that requires a lot of focus and intention, and being insecure about my hair and my ability to do or not do it myself shouldn’t be a part of why I dread all of this.
“My philosophy on self-care is that it should be intentional and informed. We hold so much in our hair, that we have to be very intentional about what we do to it and how we take care of it,” says Jeffries. “I recommend products that not only make the hair look great in the moment, but help take care of the hair in the long run. It’s important to invest in the health of your hair as a form of self-care.” And he’s right: I’m thrilled to find a product that, for the first time in a long time, I’m not only excited to use but makes me excited to take care of my hair in a way I haven’t in years.
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