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Your hair regularly undergoes a lot of damage due to pollution, exposure to sunlight, and the harsh chemicals in shampoos, conditioners, or dyes.
While there are many treatments and products that claim to repair your hair, they often come with some drawbacks.
A lot of them contain toxic chemicals and preservatives such as parabens, formaldehyde, alcohols, and sulfates that do more harm than good by further drying out your hair and scalp. And the products that are actually worth their salt usually come with a hefty price tag.
A far better alternative is to try some simple DIY hair masks that only contain natural ingredients that can do wonders for your hair with regular use.
This article presents a number of easy-to-make hair mask recipes, with papaya as the star ingredient.
Know Your Ingredients
You can prepare various versions of a papaya hair mask using the following ingredients, each exhibiting hair benefits:
Papaya is great for both your skin and hair due to its several bioactive components, including vitamins C and B, carotenes, and key minerals.
Studies have demonstrated that the topical application of papaya extracts can help stimulate hair follicles for fast and healthy hair growth. (1) Moreover, papaya is credited with antifungal properties that can help treat dandruff. (2)
Papaya deeply nourishes and hydrates your hair to become soft, smooth, and shiny. It contains substantial vitamin A, which promotes sebum secretion in the scalp to keep it moisturized. (3)
Ripe papaya has much higher concentrations of hair-strengthening nutrients than unripe ones, making it the preferred choice for hair masks.
The oils that can be used in a papaya hair mask include coconut oil and olive oil.
Plant oils such as coconut oil and olive oil are added to papaya hair masks for their rich reserve of lauric acid and linoleic acid. Both these fatty acids are readily absorbed in the scalp and hair to keep them moisturized.
Moisturization helps prevent scalp dryness, which is often the source of dandruff and other scalp infections. (4)
Coconut oil, in particular, is highly absorbed and reaches deep inside the hair to positively influence the basic hair protein. Thus, regular application of this oil can strengthen the core of the hair structure to prevent split ends, breakage, and premature graying. (5)(6)
Honey is replete with the natural sugars sucrose and fructose, which bind the moisture in your hair and scalp for long-lasting hydration. This humectant effect makes honey a boon for your dry, frizzy, worn-out hair.
Honey also has a rich reserve of antioxidant polyphenols that help fight and repair the hair damage caused by free radicals, which triggers premature aging of hair. Free radicals are unstable molecules that unleash oxidative stress and damage or destroy cells in the process.
Raw, organic honey should be your first choice for hair masks as it has the best nutritional value, but you can also use medical-grade honey. One key identifier for good-quality honey is its color: the darker the color, the richer the honey.
Bananas and avocados are popular hair mask ingredients known for their ability to smoothen and enliven dry, dull, and damaged hair.
Bananas are loaded with potassium, which is an important hair-building nutrient, while avocados work as a natural hair conditioner due to certain vitamins and fatty acids present in them.
5. Aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel is mostly composed of water, which hydrates the hair and scalp. Not just that, the mucopolysaccharides found in aloe vera gel lock the moisture in your hair for a prolonged conditioning effect.
Aloe vera gel also contains several nourishing compounds that help prevent and repair hair damage. It is also known to exhibit antiseptic properties that inhibit the growth of scalp infections. (8)
DIY Papaya Hair Mask Recipes
Here are some easy ways to prepare a papaya hair mask at home using the above-listed ingredients.
Disclaimer: Patch test the hair mask on the underside of your arm or a small portion of your neck to make sure you are not allergic to any of its ingredients.
- Peel and cut a ripe papaya into cubes.
- Blend ½ cup of papaya cubes in a mixer or food processor.
- Pour ¼ cup of coconut oil or milk and 1 teaspoon of honey into the papaya pulp and blend all the ingredients for a few minutes to form a smooth paste.
- Put half a papaya and 2 bananas in a mixer to make a thick smooth paste. If you don’t have bananas, you can add a scoop of avocado instead.
- Pour ½ cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of honey into the paste and mix all the ingredients well.
- Put a few papaya cubes in a blender and turn them into pulp.
- Pass the blended papaya through a strainer to separate the juice from the pulp. Collect the papaya juice in a container.
- Add 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel to the papaya juice and mix the ingredients well to form a paste.
- Indian lilac (neem) and yogurt are two ingredients that can enhance the effectiveness of all of these masks, but adding them is completely optional. They exhibit significant antimicrobial activity that can help treat or prevent scalp infections, while also adding a healthy shine to the hair. You can use these ingredients in place of honey.
- You can also add 2–3 tablespoons of plain or Greek yogurt to any of the recipes alongside the mentioned ingredients.
- A few drops of lemon can also be added to treat scalp issues and yeast overgrowth/dandruff.
How to Apply the Hair Mask
- Wash your hair properly with plain water.
- Generously apply the mask all over your damp hair and scalp.
- Gently massage the paste into your scalp for a few minutes to let the ingredients be absorbed and to stimulate blood circulation.
- Cover your hair with a shower cap and let the mask do its work for half an hour.
- Rinse the mask out with lukewarm water.
- Shampoo and condition as usual.
Papaya is a nutritional powerhouse that can breathe life into your lackluster tresses when used in hair masks. This cheap, easily available fruit is a far better bet than the expensive, chemical-laden hair care products that you find commercially.
But for the above-mentioned hair masks to do their magic, you must use them at least every week for a few months. Use only the best-quality ingredients for the mask to achieve the desired results.
Always conduct a patch test on the underside of your arm before applying the mask to rule out any unknown allergies or sensitivities.
Note that one single remedy alone cannot repair your hair completely. You must include these masks as part of an overall wholesome hair care routine along with proper lifestyle and dietary choices.