The Moisturizing Hair Mask My 74-Year-Old Mom and I Swear By for Keeping Our Dry, Thick Hair Soft and Smooth

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There’s no mincing words when it comes to my hair. Every time I sit down in a stylist’s chair, I hear the same sentence uttered pretty much immediately. “Wow, you have really thick hair.” It’s been that way since the day I was born, when my newborn hospital photo showed me with what can only be considered a full spike. I even had my scalp analyzed by a trichologist once, and discovered that I have three hairs in every follicle. While I’m not complaining, it can be challenging to find the right products to maintain said thick hair, especially since it also tends to feel dry. Thankfully, I discovered the Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask ($32) this year—and it hasn’t left my wash day arsenal since.

Throughout my teens and early 20s, I wasn’t quite sure how to manage the mountainous tresses emanating from my scalp. To that end, I’d frequently have what my best friend refers to as “triangle head" (you know the look). In the past decade, though, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks for maintaining my thick hair, even as it starts to approach mermaid lengths.

I learned about the mask earlier this year from a coworker who has similar hair to mine in terms of texture and thickness, and immediately added it to my cart. And, that’s not all—I got my 74-year-old mom to buy it, too. Spoiler alert: We’re now both so in love with it, we've each purchased it three times.

What are the needs for hair at different ages?

My mom and I have pretty different hair textures—in part because of our age difference, and in part because hers is a bit finer and thinner than mine I was curious about how one mask could work so well for both of us, so I reached out to hairstylist Gina Rivera, Founder of Phenix Salon Suites, to find out why that is.

“As you mature, your hair texture can change, and it’s not uncommon to have to adjust your products accordingly,” she says, pointing out that hormones play a large part in the hair changes we experience as we age. As you get older, hair tends to get dyer, coarser, and thinner, so needs more moisture to stay healthy.

“Someone in their early ’20s will have different hair needs from someone in their ’50s—this is why product choice is important,” says Rivera. “Hair masks are important for any age, however, different ages will have different needs...[Mature] hair can become coarser, so a deep mask may be beneficial but used more infrequently."

She also recommends working with a stylist who knows your hair “so they can tailor a conditioning regimen for your specific hair type.”

The product: Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask

This hair mask by Amika is formulated with a host of vitamins and nutrients to help moisturize, soften, and smooth hair at any life stage. It’s ideal for fine, medium, and thick hair types, and can be used on a variety of textures. “This mask is very hydrating,” says Rivera. “Most hair types need hydration at some point. This is an all-around great mask that will cater to every hair type.”

The mask is rich in jojoba seed oil (which contains powerful antioxidants and the vitamins A, D, and E) and sea buckthorn (rich in fatty acid omega 7), to boost hydration, impart shine, and leave hair feeling soft and manageable. All of which add up to my mom and me falling head over heels (pun intended) for this rich, nourishing, miracle-working mask.

It also comes in three different sizes—an 8-ounce tub, a jumbo-sized 16-ounce tub, and a 3.3-ounce tube that’s perfect for travel. My mom and I both keep the 8oz tub in our shower caddies, and she also has the tube on hand for weekends away from home.

The review

Call me lazy, call me skeptical, just don’t call me consistent. While I’ve known how beneficial hair masks can be for hair routines, I had never truly incorporated one into my own before this. But I can truthfully say that this Amika hair mask is never, ever leaving my side—or my shower. My mom and I both love how much softer, shinier, smoother, and more manageable our hair is since we began using it this year.

The mask has a rich, thick, creamy texture, almost similar to a whipped cream but with more heft. It also smells delicious—it’s sweet, but not overly cloying. I wash my hair once a week. I start by shampooing my hair and then squeezing out the excess moisture. I then apply quarter-sized amounts in sections—roots and scalp, pulling my hair to one side and pulling down the hair shaft, flipping my hair over to get the underside, then once more down the hair shaft. Then I complete the rest of my shower routine (body wash, shaving, cleansing and exfoliating my face) and rinse after about 4-5 minutes.

And voilà. Those 4-5 minutes are all it takes for my hair to be soft, soft, SOFT. I’ve actually completely foregone the use of conditioner ever since I started incorporating this mask into my hair routine. I just no longer need it. I do still use a leave-in conditioning spray, mainly to reduce static—but I can finger comb my strands with ease after just using this mask, which has never been the case before.

Like me, another Amika Soulfood shopper loves how soft and hydrated her hair feels. “WOW! I cannot believe how amazing this product is,” she writes in a five-star review. “It smells so good and it makes my hair look so healthy and repaired. It has helped my split ends and has helped give my hair a refresh.”

And, if you really want to know how much this hair mask has helped both my mom and me? Just turn to what she told me when I asked why she loves it so much. “I’ve never liked my unmanageable hair,” my mom says. “It ruins all of my pictures. But when I use Amika, I can stand how I look!”

I can’t think of a better reason than that to try this mask immediately, if not sooner. Pick one up for yourself—prices start at $18 on Sephora.

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