My research lead me to what is known as the Maximum Hydration Method. Having been natural from 2010-2013 I was somewhat familiar with the use of Bentonite Clay to encourage curls, and had even tried it in the past but failed to see any results. Several bloggers and vloggers with type 4 curls shared their experiences with and their results of the Maximum Hydration Method, and I was confident that I too could get popping natural curls if I implemented that same method. As I mentioned in my return post, I spent a short three months transitioning and used Bentonite Clay as my cleanser during that time. Once I removed my braids and cut off the small amount of remaining relaxed ends I jumped headlong into the full Max Hydration Method (MHM).
What is the Max Hydration Method (MHM)?
For those of you who may not be familiar with the MHM I will provide a brief summary.
MHM is a method of hair care cleansing, conditioning and styling that is touted to improve moisture levels in the hair strand thereby encouraging clumping and curling of type 4 hair. The method essentially evolves four steps that are to be done for seven consecutive days, then once every 3-7 days until maximum hydration levels are reached. According to the creator of the method, maximum hydration is reached once a single strand of hair curls from root to tip without the help of styling products. Steps of the MHM include:
- Cherry Lola Treatment - A mixture of full fat, plain, organic Greek yogurt; Braggs Amino Acids; and 1 Tbs baking soda. Mixture is applied to damp hair and allowed to sit for 30 minutes beneath a shower cap or plastic bag.
- Clarify - Once the Cherry Lola Treament is rinsed out clarify your strands using either an ACV rinse or Baking Soda rinse.
- Deep Condition - After cleansing deep condition with a quality conditioner that does not contain silicone.
- Clay Treatment - Mix bentonite clay with apple cider vinegar (ACV) and apply to damp hair. Cover with plastic cap and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes.
- Leave In Conditioner and Botanical Gel to seal and set - after thoroughly rising the clay apply a quality leave in conditioner and botanical gel (recommend Kinky Curly Knot Today & Curling Custard). Allow hair to air dry or diffuse.
My Results with MHM
I noticed immediately that my hair did not like the Cherry Lola Treatment and I truly believe it was due to the use of baking soda. This step left my hair dry, brittle, and frizzy. After further research I discovered that when used over a long period of time baking soda can cause harm to the hair strands. Knowing the potential for harm along with the results I experienced lead me to cut this step completely from the Maximum Hydration Method.
For steps 2 - 7 I made the following adjustments:
- Step 2: Opted to use a ratio of 3 parts water and one part ACV to clarify
- Step 3: Used Kera Minerals Deep Conditioner although it was not silicone free. I found this conditioner gave me excellent results.
- Step 4: Followed clay making steps per MHM creator's instructions
- Step 5: Used Kinky Curly products to seal
After eight months I finally visited my stylist for a trim and she talked me into getting a protein treatment known as the BASIC One Step Treatment that is supposed to improve manageability of tightly coiled hair (I will provide a run down of this treatment in a later post). Obviously to properly trim my hair my stylist had to blow dry and flat iron my strands and it was at this time that I saw the true effects of the MHM on my hair. It took her six hours to blow out and flat iron my hair and at the time I had a small TWA. The process was painful and as she worked the tools through my hair I could see my strands falling around me. She ended up having to remove almost 4 inches of my hair and I will never forget her surprise as she asked "What have you been doing to your hair?!" My hair was a dry, gnarled, crispy mess! My ends were eaten up with split ends and single strand knots; I have never seen my hair look that bad.
After that visit I immediately quit the MHM and have been using quality shampoos and conditioners since. Three months later I visited my stylist again for another trim and it took her 2 hours to blow dry and flat iron my strands, she only trimmed about an inch, and my strands were moisturized and shiny.
Would I recommend the MHM?
In spite of the long term effects I would still recommend the MHM to those struggling to get their curls to pop. However, I would recommend doing the method for no longer than the initial seven days. Based upon my own experiences long term use of bentonite clay and ACV may have a damaging effect on your strands.
I also still use clay but I do not do so as often. Last weekend was the first time I did a clay mask in at least six months. This time I shampooed my hair first, applied the clay mask, and only allowed it to stay on my hair for five minutes. I do intend to do this once a week for the next few weeks as I am trying to improve curl definition on the sides of my head.
Have you tried the Maximum Hydration Method? What were your results?