This is week 2 of my little hair experiment inspired by the Maximum Hydration Method (MHM), which I’m calling Maximum Moisture Therapy (MMT), since I’m not following all the steps and recommended product lists. Last week I did a two step system of nightly co-washing and styling, which was quick and easy. This week I’m adding in a third step – a Bentonite Clay mask, to see if that will aid in clumping and coil definition. The thing about clay is… It’s a nightmare to mix. Mixing small batches by hand has never gone well for me. It always ends up a lumpy mess! So how was I going to get through a whole week of making it?! “There’s got to be a better way” I thought. Luckily, I had a little epiphany (along with some research) and discovered two easy ways to mix it which pretty much guarantees a smooth silky paste every time.
- Bentonite Clay
- Oil of choice
- Filtered/Distilled/Deionised Water
- ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar)
Adding the glycerine and oil makes the mask much more moisturising and less likely to dry out your hair with regular use.
How to mix
Method 1 – The Glycerine Method
- Add clay into bowl/jug (I used 2 tablespoons)
- Add in enough glycerine to mix clay into a smooth paste (I used 2 tablespoons)
- Add as much oil as you want and mix (I added 1 tablespoon of fractionated coconut or olive oil)
- Add water a little at a time whilst mixing until the consistency is like thick yoghurt (about half a cup). If you want it looser, add more water
- Add ACV and mix again (I used 1 teaspoon)
Mixing the clay and glycerine together first allows the glycerine to coat the clay which stops the clay from turning really lumpy (it’s a little trick I learnt which is very handy when making gels using powders like Xanthan Gum to stop it from going lumpy). You can try and substitute the glycerine with honey if you prefer, but when I tried it, the honey was too thick and sticky to mix into the clay well enough, and I didn’t like the way it made my hair feel. When you add the water it will clump up on you (especially if you add in too much at once), but as you mix it, it will smoothen out into a silky paste. Just keep mixing until it’s nice and smooth. I made up a fresh batch each day in the morning and kept it in the fridge until I needed it in the evening. This allowed the clay to thicken up more without needing to use too much clay to make it thicker (a real money saver) and saved me time in the evening (when I knew I just wouldn’t be bothered to make it, lol). The ACV lowers the pH of the mix to about 5.0 (I tested it using my pH strips), which is within the ideal acidic range for our hair. I used this method from days 1-6.
Method 2 – The Soaking Method
- Measure clay directly into container of choice (I used 2 Tablespoons)
- Add in all the water you want to use (I added half a cup)
- Lightly stir to ‘wet’ the clay. It will be very lumpy, which is fine.
- Cover and put in the fridge for a few hours to overnight to allow the clay to absorb the water.
- When ready to use, mix the clay well to smoothen out any lumps (which should be really easy) adding more water if needed.
- Add in the glycerine (you can sub with honey here), oil and ACV, if using, (I used 1 teaspoon of each) and mix again to incorporate.
This isn’t as instant as the first method but it certainly is easier. You don’t have to wrestle with it to get it smooth, it just does it’s thing in the fridge. It’s great for anyone who doesn’t like or want to use glycerine (or use as much as the first method requires). I recommend mixing the clay/water in the evening and soaking overnight if you’re going to use it in the morning, or mixing it in the morning and leaving it to soak for the day if you’re going to use it in the evening. I used this method on day 7.
I have an under-cut style, so I don’t need much clay. Anyone with longer, fuller hair will need more. Double or triple the recipe to get as much as you need.
Here’s an outline of my regime:
- Thoroughly Detangle – Tresemme Naturals Conditioner, Tangle Teezer
- Clarify – Tresemme Naturals Shampoo (Scalp and roots only)
- Deep Condition – Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Mask (the jar, not the bottle). Left in for 20 mins with heat.
- Clay mask – Applied in small sections to ensure even coverage. Left in for 20 mins, uncovered
- Styling Products – Tresemme Naturals Conditioner, home-made Eco Styler Custard (recipe below)
- Co-wash and Finger Detangle – Tresemme Naturals Conditioner
- Clay Mask – left for 20 mins, uncovered
- Styling Products – Tresemme Naturals Conditioner, Eco Styler Custard/Eco Styler Gel, applied to soaking wet hair. No towel drying.
I finger-detangle by taking the section and gently separating the hair (pulling the strands sideways). Then, using my fingers like a wide tooth comb, I rake the section in a downward motion from root to end (my fingers touch my scalp with every stroke). If my fingers snag on tangles, I separate the tangle pulling the strands sideways and continue raking downward. This ensures that my roots are detangled as they are prone to matting. The roots can matte up even when the ends are nicely separated so raking from the roots downwards ensures they stay ‘free’.
After I apply my styling products to soaking wet hair (no towel drying), I lightly wrap a t-shirt around my head and whip my hair up and down and side to side to soak up the excess water and help clump and define my coils. I’m doing this regime at night so I won’t have dripping wet hair during the day.
The Eco Custard I made last week (see previous post) was a bit on the thick side. I wanted the custard slightly lighter and easier to work into my coils, so i thought adding water would do the trick. It did. I really liked it (for a while anyway, see day 5 below). Here’s how I made it.
Eco Custard Recipe
- Eco Styler Gel – 1/2 Cup
- Olive Oil (or oil of choice) – 1 Tablespoon
- Distilled/Deionized/Filtered Water – 2 Tablespoons/30ml (add more if you want it ‘looser’)
- Preservative of Choice – Enough to preserve the extra 30ml of water. Amount As per instructions on the bottle
How to mix
- Measure out Gel into bowl
- Add in Oil and mix with hand mixer until creamy
- Add in water one tablespoon at a time with mixing
- Add in preservative and mix well
You only need to add preservatives to your products if you’re adding extra water. The preservative I used is Geogard 221 which I bought from Plush Folly, although they no longer stock it. You can use any other one that you have on hand. Please don’t use Vitamin E, Grapefruit Seed or Rosemary Extracts as preservatives here. They are antioxidants and stop oils from going rancid, they don’t inhibit bacterial and fungal growth in water-based products. If you don’t have any preservatives on hand, make a small batch and use quickly (within a few days) and store in the fridge. Check out these articles on preservatives to learn more.
Here are the pics of the daily results:
At this point I was getting a little frustrated because I wasn’t able to maintain the clumping and definition the clay was giving me once I rinsed it out and applied my styling products. Yes, my hair WAS making progress overall, but something just wasn’t quite right. I noticed that when applying my Eco Custard Mix, it would pretty much obliterate the clumping formed by the clay and leave it mostly frizzy. I wasn’t sure why (I’m still not) but I knew I had to make a few tweaks to what I was doing. I decided I was going to leave out the conditioner step when styling and try the plain Eco Gel straight out of the container instead of the custard and see if that would make a difference. Here are the results of that.
I used double the amount of the clay mix on day 7 so I could really saturate my hair. I made it using Method 2 (detailed above), which I really liked. And I think my hair prefers it too. So I’ll be sticking with this method in the future.
I think My hair responded better to plain Eco Styler Gel rather then the Eco Custard mix. It certainly smoothed on better and I didn’t get the white residue the custard creates while wet. I sprayed on a little oil in the morning to reduce the crunchiness. My hair is still very frizzy, but I’ve only been doing this for a week! Lol.
7 Day Snapshot
I’ve noticed that my hair doesn’t photograph well. The pictures don’t really do it justice. Because of my hairstyle, what you see in the pics are mostly ends. That’s why it always looks frizzy (although it kind of is, lol). Here are some texture shots from day 7 to show my clumping coils and kinks.
OK… There are WAAAAYYYY too many pics in this post. Next week I’ll cut it down to only the 7 day snapshots to make the post shorter.
Tips & Bits
- It’s all about trial and error. I have a general idea as to what I want to do and then I tweak and adjust as I move forward, listening to my hair as I go. That’s the only way to learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
- I covered my hair loosely at night with a large satin wrap, making sure to smooth my hair downward when wrapping. My hair was definitely ‘squashed’ in the morning, but nothing a little upside down shaking of the head couldn’t fix. This may have contributed to a little stretching and less shrinkage too, although my hair was a lot damper in the morning then it was last week when I didn’t cover my hair with anything.
The clay made a real difference! It really aided in clumping and coil definition and weighed down my hair sufficiently enough to reduce shrinkage after it had dried. I’m really loving the results of this weeks experiment compared to last weeks. Those with a similar hair texture to mine, type 4’s, will really benefit from the clay mask step to really get the best of clumping and definition in wash n’ go styles such as this, although you would have to experiment with styling products to find the right fit .
I came across this YouTube video which recommended a lady called Dubaidee4c (the link is to her YouTube channel) and her way of doing the MHM which is simpler and could possibly give better results (the results of her MHM makeovers are amazing!!!). I checked out her blog and read the breakdown of her adapted routine, which is basically water rinsing, the clay mask, styling gel and oil, no conditioner at all and the occasional Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment for protein boosts. I thought it was very interesting, so I’m going to try her way (with a few tweaks of my own) next week and see how that turns out. I’ll probably begin the week off by doing some kind of protein treatment as my hair is definitely feeling over-moisturised right now. I also want to try using milk instead of water in my clay mask as I’ve heard good things about that.
Join me next time to see the results.