- Advertisement information: this post discusses items gifted to me with no obligation to share them (marked *). In addition I have / have had a brand relationship with Cult Beauty (gifting). My blog has Skimlinks and RewardStyle installed to automatically monetise purchases of products I link on my blog, therefore this post may contain affiliate links. All opinions remain my own and please refer to my Disclosure Page for further detail -
Today we're talking about one of the most-hyped haircare launches I've come across in a while: the K18 Leave-in Molecular Repair Hair Mask* | £55. Obviously it's not cheap, there are a lot of big claims around it and using this within your routine is a very different experience than you'll have had with any other 'hair mask'. So, let's bottom out if it's worth the hype...
Ok, the first thing to say with this product is that the way it works and the way in which you need to use it will probably feel quite unintuitive but you kind of have to trust the process and be ok with doing your haircare routine a little differently. You apply 1-2 pumps from roots to ends, depending on how much hair you have. It's £55 for 50ml and it's leave-in, so you really have to get out of that 'slather it on' mindset that I have and that I'm sure you have with traditional wash-out hair masks. Additionally: you shampoo your hair (if you use a lot of product, you may want to reach for a a clarifying formula so the product can get in), apply this and they recommend you don't condition afterwards. It's a leave-in product that you need to let activate for a minimum of 4 minutes before applying any other oils or styling products (leave-in conditioner, detangler etc.) But, essentially: your hair needs to be as clean as possible without any residue or product on it when you use the treatment and it needs to be damp but not soaking wet. The product is designed to be left in the hair. This is a pretty big shift for a lot of people, though once you get into it, it is refreshingly quick and simple; perfect for weekday mornings. You can't really overuse this product either - if you want to reach for it for every wash, you can totally do that. I personally used it for every wash for a few weeks and then shifted to once a week (I typically wash my hair 2-3 times a week, for reference). It's also designed to work for all hair types, from straight and fine through to a 4C.
Just to pedal things back a little, let's talk about what this does and how it does it. The patented K18 peptide works by repairing damaged bonds (as a result of heat of colour damage) vertically, as opposed to bond builders that operate horizontally. This means you're rebuilding the hair from the root so it's strengthening the foundation of your hair, and from the inside, by rebuilding polypeptide chains, rather than just smoothing the outward appearance of the hair.
Now I've given you the layman's version of how this product works, let's move onto my personal experience with it. It was definitely an adjustment for me to forgo the rich, oil-focused hair masks I usually reach for and pin everything on this. It also took me a while to figure out how much to use. I appreciate that it won't be for everyone and for my other wash each week, I do still incorporate nourishing haircare into my routine, alternating it with this because I do still thing moisture and hydration are important (they just work in a totally different way to the K18). The very first time I used this, I was definitely struck by the fact that my hair didn't feel deeply nourished but it had a smoothness to it that was really something. I dried my hair and styled it and definitely noticed a sleekness, a shine and a healthy look. Over maybe the 6 weeks I've now been using it, I do feel I've seen a real improvement in my hair's quality that's not just surface level. It's so hard to describe; it's easy to compensate for every hair issue by slathering on oils and nourishment - and don't get me wrong, I love that too - but this gives my hair something beyond moisture.
Additionally, I did see that K18 have advised on their socials that so long as you leave the mask in for those 4 minutes to work it's magic, technically you could go on to condition and rinse that out as you usually would. There could definitely be added benefits from leaving the product in in (I personally notice a sleeker finish when I do), but it's not like you're wasting your money and washing away the benefits if you do rinse after the activation period. If not being able to condition afterwards is a dealbreaker for you: there is still a way of working this into your routine!
I really recommend checking this out - even if you just get a smaller bottle of it to see how you get on and if it works in your routine. Yes, there is a bit of a knack to it but if you follow the instructions: I'm sure you'll see the results that I have with this formula!
Have you tried or will you be trying the K18 hair mask?