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Does your hair need a night cream?

July 6th 2016 / Anna Hunter


From BB creams to overnight youth boosters, haircare is taking a cue from the skincare market, but does your hair need the same TLC as your face? We do some digging…

Chances are you dedicate a good few minutes at the end of the day to apply a lotion or potion of some kind to your visage, but it’s highly likely that you don’t give your hair the same kind of daily attention. Despite the fact that hair doesn’t suffer woes such as fine lines, wrinkles and age spots, the anti-ageing market for hair has been bubbling away nicely for a good few years now, with Mintel underlining in 2013 that haircare companies are setting their sights on delivering technology and anti-ageing ingredients to rival the skincare sector:

“Haircare has become an exciting space. Manufacturers are trying to convince consumers that they should adopt a haircare regimen to match their skincare regimen, and they’re doing this by adopting a new lexicon, learning from other categories and extending formats into new segments.”

The same moisture binding molecules that give your nightly facial serum such clout are being added to conditioning ‘night creams’ for hair, while concentrated botanical oils are navigating nicely from skincare shelves to haircare aisles. The likes of Pantene Pro V Youth Protect 7 BB Crème £6.99, Alterna Caviar CC Cream for Hair, £24.95, and ‘youth activating’ Kérastase Densifique Sérum Jeunesse, £49.90, prove that not only is the language of skincare migrating into the haircare market, but skincare inspired hair innovations are holding sway from high street to high end.

Despite developments, is ‘skincare’ for your hair really necessary? Can the right night cream ensure endless good hair days? I turned to award winning afro hair stylist Charlotte Mensah to determine whether skin-influenced hair products are the future of follicular greatness, or simply a fad.

Get The Gloss: Is an overnight cream for hair a gimmick or worth the investment?

Charlotte Mensah: Overnight creams are a worthy investment because the product will work as you sleep to moisturise, repair, restore, strengthen and improving elasticity so that when you wake up, you have beautiful, shiny hair.

GTG: Do you think that a conditioner left on overnight could achieve the same effect as an overnight cream?

CM: Yes, a conditioner could achieve the same effect as an overnight cream as they’re great for hydrating dry or damaged hair. Just like overnight creams, conditioners contain proteins and active ingredients to strengthen hair. If you’re using a conditioner overnight, I would suggest avoiding applying it to your roots. Most overnight creams are very light and don’t need to be washed out so they can be applied to your entire hair/scalp, although conditioners tend to be thicker in density so it could cause build up on the roots and would need to be washed out in the morning.

GTG: What's the protocol when using an overnight hair treatment?

CM: When using an overnight hair treatment, it's really beneficial to wrap your hair in a silk scarf so that the active ingredients can deeply penetrate the hair throughout the night to replenish it. By using silk, rather than cotton, all of the oils and moisture will be retained rather than dried out. If using a conditioner as an overnight treatment, I would recommend covering your hair with a shower cap before wrapping it in a silk scarf as the hair can get quite damp.

GTG: How do leave-in skincare-like hair treatments work?

CM: They normally work by penetrating the hair/scalp overnight. Depending on which overnight cream you’re using you may have to rinse it off in the morning, although if you’re using conditioner, you should definitely rinse and shampoo hair as normal when you wake up. The majority of overnight creams can be applied to dry hair although do check the instructions on each product.

GTG: Are there any exceptional products that you love for afro hair?

CM: Not to toot my own horn, but my Charlotte Mensah Manketti Hair Oil, £42, is an amazing hydrating product that can be used overnight to condition your hair and scalp. As it’s packed with vitamin E rich manketti oil, it will soften and help protect hair to deliver a moisture-rich yet lightweight sheen. Comb through dry hair, wrap locks in a silk scarf and rise with shiny, smooth locks. As it is an oil, if you use a lot of it in your hair, I would recommend washing it out in the morning to avoid build up, although if you only use a few drops on the ends to deeply moisturise over night, it is lightweight enough to leave in the next morning.


Another great overnight treatments is the MIZANI H2O Intense Night-Time Treatment, £10.75, as it helps reduce split ends, enhances moisture retention and leaves hair feeling light.


GTG: Who else might benefit from an overnight 'skincare for hair' treatment?

CM: If you have extensively dry or damaged hair, you will definitely benefit from an overnight ‘skincare for hair’ treatment. Using it on curly hair, which can tend to be drier, will also leave it more supple and soft.

GTG: Should anyone in particular avoid such treatments?

CM: People with fine hair don’t need much product in their hair anyway, as it can weigh it down, although if you have fine, dry hair, you can still benefit from an overnight treatment. I would just suggest not using as much.

GTG: How often should you be using an overnight treatment?

CM: I think once or twice a month is sufficient. It’s also great to alternate the hair treatment. For example, one week you can wash your hair and apply a deep conditioner and the next time wash your hair and apply an overnight treatment, then keep switching it up. Also, if you have recently been using too much heat during styling, have coloured your hair or have had braids or hair extensions taken out, that’s a great time to use an overnight treatment to help to rehydrate and strengthen.

GTG: Should you always wash them off in the morning?

CM: Each product differs. Some overnight treatments you will need to wash off in the morning and some you can leave in, although if you’re using conditioners, it should definitely be rinsed out!

Five products leading the ‘skincare to haircare’ evolution

Sachajuan Overnight Hair Repair, £35

Look to the Swedes for stronger hair; this award winner packs in sea algae more commonly found in pricey moisturisers (ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Marine Cream I’m looking at you). The ‘Ocean Silk Technology’ claims to restore hair’s resilience and elasticity, and the fact that shiny haired Lara Stone is a fan adds kudos to the luxe formula. Apply after washing and by morning hair will feel restored to glory, with no greasy sheets. If you are very fine of hair, you may want to wash it out post-use, but go with the flow.


Phyto Secret de Nuit, £28

A potent cocktail of antioxidant plant extracts and fatty acids, this nocturnal elixir is free of the usual ‘silken’ silicones, instead relying on the likes of macadamia oil to nourish hair back to good health. Brush through dry hair after washing, avoiding roots and repeating up to three times if hair is particularly straw-like. This one definitely doesn’t need rinsing in the morning, and ends certainly look more supple and less raggedy post-use.


Windle and Moodie Invisible Day and Night Cream, £18.50

With a UV filter, calming aloe vera and shine infusing monoi oil, this multi-purpose moisturiser provides around the clock care for hair that’s in need of both gloss and protection from the elements. A puts up a good fight when it comes to resisting humidity too. Those ‘all in one’ skincare marvels have met their haircare match with this one.


Percy and Reed Wonder Overnight Recovery, £20

Designed to address the frazzled perils of ‘hair hangover’ after a blast of intense heat styling or gung-ho colouring session, this nighttime conditioner absorbs quickly and is intended to be washed out come morning (no additional conditioner needed). Follow John Frieda Stylist Damien Bluring’s guide to application of wash-out conditioners such as this:

“Shampoo the hair, and towel dry, before applying the conditioner, as this will open the cuticle allowing the conditioner to penetrate deeper into the hair. Conditioners work by plugging the holes in the shaft of the hair, and smoothing the cuticle, giving the appearance of healthy shiny hair. Using an overnight conditioner is more beneficial than using an everyday conditioner, they work better because an overnight conditioner has longer to soak in, then you can rinse it out in the morning. Remember that overuse could result in greasy texture, so keep it to once a week max, and possibly avoid completely if you have very fine hair that’s lacking in body.”


Nioxin Night Density Rescue Treatment, £31.99

If hair loss is a concern, this leave-in targeted treatment could help to reduce fall out caused by oxidative stress on the scalp via UV exposure, pollution and other environmental damage. Caffeine, biotin, vitamin E and ginger root extract stimulate the scalp, while the soothing fragrance was blended to help you to drop off.


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