The MAX Hydration Method … Modified! (A DETAILED OVERVIEW)

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After my successful experiment with a baking soda scalp treatment back in August, I finally decided to take the plunge and try the Max Hydration Method (MHM). This strategic hair moisturization method was created by (no longer active) YouTuber Pinke Cube. The MHM was originally designed for type 4c low porosity hair, but it has been used by those with type 3 and even type 2 hair hair. The theory is that once maximum hydration is obtained, your dry, frizzy, and undefined curls and coils will be fully hydrated, well-defined, free of tangles and single strand knots, less prone to breakage, and therefore more easily able to retain length.
Dry, tangled hair has plagued me since the beginning of my second year as a natural. Needless to say I was intrigued! I did extensive research and quickly realized there was more involved than I had thought. The MHM involves an intense 4-step process over the course of 7 days. See the traditional MHM below.

TRADITIONAL Max Hydration METHOD

    1. CHERRY LOLA TREATMENT: If this is your first time attempting the MHM, you are supposed to start with a Cherry Lola Treatment (CLT). This protein treatment was created by UK natural hair blogger Cherry Lola in 2009 to help strengthen hair follicles and prevent damage. Because I saw recipe after recipe with ingredients like bananas, molasses, and the like, I knew immediately that I would skip this step. However, after a super deep research dive, I found out that the original CLT only has 3 ingredients (see the original recipe below). The other ingredients likely are an amalgamation of the CLT and a DIY Carmel Treatment. The original Carmel Deep Reconstructing Treatment is by E’TAE. To apply the CLT, mix together all of the ingredients and apply it to your entire head of hair. Leave on for 20-30 minutes, and then rinse out completely. This protein treatment should be done bi-weekly (every two weeks), monthly, or how frequently your hair requires (i.e., once a quarter).Several people who use the CLT, especially those with high porosity hair, reduce the baking soda and liquid amino acids to 2 TBSP each.
      NOTE #1: (OPTIONAL) OVERNIGHT DEEP CONDITIONING TREATMENT—Some MHM users do an optional overnight deep conditioning session (after the CLT) to further encourage increased hydration.
      NOTE #2: The NEXT STEPS are intended to be done EVERY DAY for 7 consecutive days!
    2. CLARIFY: After an initial CLT, you must then clarify your hair. This is usually done the next day (after the CLT). You can either do an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse (with a 50:50 ratio of ACV to distilled water) or a baking soda treatment (with 2 TBSP of baking soda, 2 oz. of conditioner, and 4 oz. of distilled water). Allow the ACV rinse OR baking soda treatment to sit on your hair for 20-30 minutes. Recommended conditioners include: [i.] Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-in Conditioner/Detangler, [ii.]  Kinky Curly Tiny Twirls Detangling Conditioner, [iii.] Curls Curl Ecstasy Hair Tea Deep Conditioner, [iv.] Curl Junkie Beauti-Curls Leave-in Hair Conditioner, [v.] Curl Junkie Curl Rehab Moisturizing Hair Treatment, [vi.] Jessicurl Aloeba Daily Conditioner, [vii.] Jessicurl Too Shea! Extra Moisturizing Conditioner, [viii.] Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment in Citrus Lavender, Island Fantasy, or Unscented, [ix.] Botanical Skin Works Leave-in Conditioner, [x.] Giovanni Nutrafix Hair Reconstructor, [xi.] Giovanni Direct Leave-in Weightless Moisture Conditioner, and [xii.] Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner with Peppermint and Eucalyptus.
      NOTE: If you have high porosity hair, opt for the ACV rinse. If you have low porosity hair, do the baking soda treatment instead, using one of the recommended conditioners!
    3. CO-WASH & DETANGLE: Use one of the “approved” conditioners (above) to co-wash your hair. Also, gently detangle your hair during this step.
      NOTE: 
      (OPTIONAL) OVERNIGHT DEEP CONDITIONING TREATMENT—
      Some MHM users do an overnight deep conditioning session (in lieu of co-washing) to further encourage increased hydration. However, under the original MHM regimen, this is an optional step. 
    4. CLAY RINSE: After co-washing (or deep conditioning) and detangling, apply a clay mix thoroughly to your hair and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. Recommended clays include: [i.] Bentonite clay, [ii.]  Rhassoul (aka Ghassoul) clay [iii.] European clay, and [iv.] French green clay. However, if you don’t want to create your own clay rinse, you can buy a pre-made clay hair wash by Terressentials. To make the clay rinse, combine 1 cup of clay with 1½ cups of ACV (or warm distilled water), 1 TBSP of honey, and 1 TBSP of olive oil.
      NOTE: The clay rinse recipe (above) provides rough measurements as the exact amount will depend upon the length and density of your hair.
    5. MOISTURIZE & STYLE: Apply your leave-ins to soaking wet hair in sections from root to tip. Mist your hair with water if it starts to dry out. Recommended gels/stylers include: [i.] Giovanni L.A. Natural Styling Gel, [ii.] Herbal Choice Mari Hair Styling GEL for Him & Her,  [iii.] Beautiful Curls Curl Defining Gel, [iv.] Epiphany Naturals Curly Creme with Argan Oil, [v.] Kinky curly Curling Custard Natural Styling Gel, [vi.] .Koils by Nature Herbal Curl Defining Gel, and [vii.] Camille Rose Naturals Almond Jai Twisting Butter. Style your hair according to personal tastes (i.e., in a wash ‘n go, twist-out, or stretched style).
      NOTE #1: With the MHM, products must be layered onto the hair via the Liquid Cream Oil (LCO) or Liquid Cream Oil Cream (LCOC) methods. A botanical gel or curl definer can then be applied on top as the final layer. Because oils are occlusive, it is believed that the LOC method should NEVER be used as it could prevent water-based moisturizing products from penetrating and hydrating your strands. 
      NOTE #2: 
      Repeat steps #2-#5 DAILY for 7 consecutive days (or at least every 2-3 days), depending upon your hair’s needs. Once your hair reaches “max hydration,” you can scale back on how frequently you utilize the MHM. For more detailed information about the traditional MHM, read this post from the creator Pinke Cube, herself, in the Black Hair Medium forum.

 

MY MODIFIED Max Hydration METHOD

  1. CHERRY LOLA TREATMENT: Now that I know the CLT only contains plain yogurt, baking soda, and liquid amino acids, I may try my hand at the treatment sometime in the near future. However, for the month that I chose to do a modified version of the MHM, I elected to skip this step entirely. I did this to save time and because I had already successfully given myself several intense baking soda scalp treatments.
    NOTE: To save time, I performed all of the next steps TWICE a week instead of for 7 consecutive days!
  2. CLARIFY: Because I have have low porosity hair, I did the baking soda treatment (instead of an ACV rinse) by combining 2 TBSP of baking soda in a large spray bottle with 2 oz. of conditioner and 4 oz. of distilled water. Because I didn’t have any of the “approved” conditioners on hand in my stash, and I already had more product than I care to admit in my beauty cabinet, I didn’t want to purchase any new product. As a result, I just used what I hand on hand: VO5’s Tea Therapy Blackberry Sage Tea Revitalizing Conditioner. The combination of the Blackberry Sage Tea Revitalizing Conditioner with the baking soda was life-altering! LIFE-ALTERING, I SAY!!! All I did was divide my hair into quadrants and apply the concoction to each section (from root to tip). I smoothed it all over my strands, secured each quadrant into a large Bantu knot (to keep it from tangling and to help me work in manageable sections), and left the mix in my hair for 30 minutes. After half an hour, I hopped in the shower, and rinsed the mixture from each quadrant. My hair was instantaneously tangle-free, smooth, and more defined. I finger detangled my hair while in the shower, but there was truly no need. My fingers literally glided through my hair from root to ends! I was super excited because this was only the FIRST step! Honestly, even though this was only the beginning, I was already sold!
    NOTE: If you have high porosity hair, an ACV rinse is recommended. If you have low porosity hair, do the baking soda treatment instead (like I did), using one of the recommended conditioners (listed above under step #2 for the traditional max hydration method).
  3. CO-WASH: Because my hair felt so silky, I opted to skip this step every time I used the MHM. I went straight to the deep conditioning step (after clarifying my hair with the baking soda treatment).
  4. OVERNIGHT DEEP CONDITIONING TREATMENT: Although an optional overnight deep conditioning session is recommended to expedite the hydration process, unless I am utilizing the Baggy Method or the GHE to correct a specific hair issue, I don’t believe in overnight hair treatments (i.e., where product is left in your hair for hours on end). Also, scientifically speaking, after a maximum of 30 minutes, your hair has adsorbed all that it can, so there is no need to deep condition past the 30-minute marker. I rotated a moisturizing deep conditioner with a hair mask that contained light protein to maintain the integrity of my hair. So, on MY FIRST HAIR WASH of each week, I would use my ion Summer Deep Conditioning Treatment, and on MY SECOND HAIR WASH of each week, I would use my ion Keratin Smoothing Masque. I felt that this balanced my hair appropriately. Each time, I applied the deep conditioner to my hair in quadrants and secured each quadrant into a large Bantu knot. Then, I donned a processing cap and sat under my stand bonnet dryer for 30 minutes before rinsing each section. At this point, my hair felt twice as hydrated as it did in the clarifying step, and I can hardly believe it.
    NOTE #1: Both my ion Summer Deep Conditioning Treatment and my ion Keratin Smoothing Masque contain “dimethicone.” Under the MHM, silicones generally are not permitted due to the tendency to have to use harsh cleansers to remove them fully from one’s hair. However, because I have fine hair, I’ve experienced no difficulty with removing any buildup from my hair. By step #5, I’m pretty confident my hair is completely free of all product and residue.
    NOTE #2: Here is the full list of “banned” ingredients: (i.) hydrolyzed wheat protein/peptides—considered “bad for low porosity hair and most kinkier Type 4 hair,”(ii.) panthenol/pro-Vitamin B5—because it “acts like protein” and can cause build-up, (iii.) triethanolamine (TEA) and other ethanolamines such as MEA, DEA, etc.—because these are drying alcohols derived from ethanol, which can cause long-term damage to the integrity of one’s hair with prolonged use, (iv.) mineral oil and petroleum jelly—because the residue they tend to create is difficult to remove without the use of harsh shampoos, (v.) silicones/polyquaternium—often require sulfate shampoos to remove product buildup and residue, (vi.) salts and sulfates—leave hair parched and dehydrated, and (vii.) lye, i.e., sodium (NaOH) or potassium (KOH) hydroxide—permanently damages hair after prolonged use.
  5. CLAY RINSE: I like to use bentonite clay because it is inexpensive and easily accessible. The original rough measurements for the clay rinse call for 1 cup of clay with 1½ cups of ACV (or warm distilled water), 1 TBSP of honey, and 1 TBSP of olive oil. Because I have fine hair, I used ½ cup of bentonite clay with 1 cup of very warm distilled water), 1 TBSP of honey, and 1 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil. This makes enough for two generous applications (for me). However, if you have very thick (or long) hair, I would suggest starting out with the larger measurements from the original clay rinse recipe. I apply the clay to my hair in quadrants and once again secure each quadrant into a Bantu knot when I am done. I leave the clay in my hair for 30 minutes and thoroughly rinse each quadrant, making sure not to miss my front hairline and the nape of my neck. By this time (after just ONE application), my curls are popping! Even the stubborn 4B coils above my ears and near my temples! My hair felt soft, looked SUPER defined, was COMPLETELY tangle-free, and even slightly elongated.
    NOTE: NEVER use metal bowls or spoons when using clay as it absorbs the metal and makes the mix less effective.
  6. MOISTURIZE & STYLE: After rinsing the clay thoroughly, while my hair is still wet, I applied my leave-ins of choice via the LCO method. I use the following: (i.) a mist of additional water, if necessary, or a DIY leave-in like my multi-use beauty spritz or super moisturizing lavender spritz. Then, I add (ii.) a creamy product like Care Free Curl Activator or Naturally Silk Elements Whipped Curl Cream. Last, I use (iii.) a natural oil like extra virgin olive oil or castor oil, or a serum like Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Miracle Dry Oil.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6: I utilized the MHM twice a week (about every 3 days) due to my busy schedule, lifestyle, and complete lack of patience in utilizing this effective but time-consuming method every day. Despite not using it every day, I used it twice a week for an entire month, and I received amazing results. if you have extremely low porosity hair like mine or hair that seriously struggles to remain hydrated or retain length in spite of your most Herculean hair care efforts, I would definitely recommend giving this hair regimen a try.

 

GENERAL GUIDELINES & TIPS

  • If you choose to try the TRADITIONAL MHM, I recommend doing this on the weekend (or your day off) so that you can get a true sense of how long it takes you (from start to finish) to do all of the steps. It takes me 3-3½ hours to do the MODIFIED version of the MHM. So, try not to start it unless you have the time to dedicate to the requisites of the regime.
  • The CLT IS NOT done every time you do the regimen. However, it can be done at any point, after starting the regimen (i.e., monthly or quarterly), depending on your hair’s needs.
  • If you have high porosity hair, consider reducing the amount of some of the ingredients or diminishing the timing of each step (i.e., instead of 30 minutes, try 15).
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