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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 This strategic hair moisturization method was created by (no longer active) YouTuber Pinke Cube.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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Soothe your Itchy Scalp with Baking Soda!

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This blog post contains affiliate links (e.g., to Amazon, eBay, etc.), which means that if you click on one of the product links and place an order, I’ll receive a small commission. This helps support my blog and allows me to continue to create content like this.

Thank you for your support!

 

Creative Commons License by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Trash Can Image Shared by RyGuy
Chalice Image Shared by Locutus Borg (José-Manuel Benito Álvarez), Photo Adapted

 

While doing research for a natural hair treatment to calm a pretty bad seborrheic dermatitis flare up I’ve been experiencing recently,  I stumbled upon a DIY scalp mask made with baking soda. I almost didn’t try it because the testimonials seemed evenly split down the middle between raving reviews and angry backlash! Some naturals said it broke off their hair and swore never to use it again on their tresses while others claimed to have finally found their holy grail hair product. I spent hours trying to figure out which camp to believe more. Out of desperation for wanting to relieve my itchy, inflamed scalp, I ultimately decided I had NOTHING to lose (given all the ups and downs and downs and downs my hair has gone through in the last two years). And, I have to tell you, I’m so glad I did!

For months years, I have been struggling to maintain the moisture:protein balance of my hair … and failed miserably! I would spend most of my free time attempting to moisturize my dry, parched mane … to no avail most days. I grew weary of trying various hair moisture products, techniques, and trends—all of which didn’t seem to do much, at least not long-term. After a few mildly successful short-term fixes, I inevitably ended right back where I started, with dry hair and an inflamed scalp!

I initially started out with a 50:50 ratio of baking soda to conditioner (½ cup each), but the mixture was a little watery. So, I ended up adding another 2 ounces (¼ cup) of baking soda to the mixture. However, it still wasn’t quite thick enough for my liking, so I ended up sprinkling more baking soda into the mix until the thickness I wanted was attained. So, I probably ended up using about 1 cup of baking soda to ½ cup conditioner. The application process was pretty simple. I started by pre-pooing with my Honey Blowout treatment, then I layered on my Pantene Moisture Boost Shampoo. After rinsing out my hair, I used my microfiber turban to soak up the excess water. Next, I mixed the baking soda and conditioner together in an applicator bowl. I tried to localize the application of the mask to my scalp, but that proved impossible, so I ended up applying the mask from root to tip to ALL of my hair.

I created workable segments by dividing my hair into quadrants. I used an applicator brush, and applied the mask to my scalp and hair in small sections (like you would a relaxer). After each section was completely coated, I smoothed it from root to tip to make sure all of my hair was coated. I repeated this process for the remaining three quadrants of my head. When I was done, I popped on a processing cap and waiting an hour.

I instantly noticed that this scalp treatment seemed to have a similar effect as henna on my hair in that my curls became very defined and super elongated (as long as the mix remained in my hair). Unfortunately, although the application process was easy, it was SUPER messy! Messier than henna treatments! The baking soda/conditioner mix got everywhere … on the bathroom counter … the floor … the wall … everywhere! It was sort of a nightmare. I also felt like I almost needed to take a shower again. I had so much baking soda on my face and my neck that I had to use several facial cleansing cloths to remove it!

I later found out that I should have let my hair dry to about 80% before applying the mask, but who has time for all that (LOL)? After an hour, I rinsed the mask out of my hair without much incident. Next, I deep conditioned my hair for 30 minutes with ion’s Summer Solutions Deep Conditioning Treatment, and rinsed it out. I would say that I detangled my hair next but, honestly, after the baking soda mask and deep conditioning treatment, my hair basically detangled itself. I ran my fingers through my hair from root to tip, and it was virtually tangle free.

This baking soda treatment instantaneously assuaged my itchy, flaky scalp, and calmed all inflammation. After two weeks of a brutal seborrheic dermatitis flare up, that’s no small victory! I also noticed a difference IMMEDIATELY in the look and feel of my hair. Before even using the LCO method to moisturize my hair, my fine, low porosity strands were noticeably smoother, less frizzy, and slightly elongated. Days later, my hair was still moisturized and only started to feel slightly dry (on the ends of my hair) on day 3! Can you say, “game changer”?

I used VO5’s Tea Therapy Blackberry Sage Tea Revitalizing Conditioner. I initially thought that next time I should use a slightly thicker conditioner, so the process won’t be quite so messy. However, upon reflection, my final mixture was fairly thick. So, I’m thinking the fact that I didn’t let my hair dry sufficiently before applying this baking soda mask is what caused all of the mess. Next time, I’ll try not to be in such a rush and will wait at least an hour before applying the mix to my strands. Other than that, my scalp loves the results!

I think the reason this worked so well is that I have (1) extremely low porosity hair and (2) product buildup. Even though I wash my hair weekly and have a shower filter, I live in a very hard water area. Over time, I think my hair just became coated with mineralized water and too much product. I think that may be the reason why I have been struggling to moisturize my hair in the last two years! Honestly, I didn’t think I had any product buildup, but because my hair is low porosity, it is more prone to it. One of the things I haven’t really been doing consistently the last couple of years is clarifying my hair. I’m realizing now more than ever that clarifying is a must for my fine, low porosity strands. So, I will probably start doing it on a monthly basis (in combination with a healthy rotation of deep conditioning and protein treatments) from now on to better maintain the moisture:protein balance of my hair.

Need a hair reboot or scalp refresh? Here are the basic steps:

  1. Wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo or gentle cleanser.
  2. Let hair dry to 75-80%. Avoid using this mask on dripping wet hair. (You’ll thank me later!)
  3. Mix baking soda and conditioner. Baking soda is a “weak alkaline” with a pH of 9. However, how much you use will depend on your hair’s porosity, how fine or thick your hair is, and how adventurous you feel. So, you will likely need to play around with ratios. Some only use 1 TBSP of baking soda to a ½ cup of conditioner. Others, like me, go full strength and use ¾ cup to 1 cup of baking soda to ½ cup of conditioner. If you have high porosity, relaxed, or colored hair, I would use a smaller amount. If you have low porosity hair, you can probably get away with using more. When in doubt, be cautious and start out small. You can always build up to a stronger mix later if you feel your hair needs it.
  4. Divide hair into quadrants, apply the baking soda mixture from root to tip. Working in sections makes the application process go much more smoothly.
  5. Don a processing cap. Wait 30-60 minutes.
  6. Rinse hair with warm water.
  7. Deep condition hair with a moisturizing hair mask for 20-30 minutes, and then rinse out with warm water. Because I have low porosity hair, I always deep condition under a hooded bonnet dryer.
  8. Use an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse (or other hair neutralizer) to rebalance your hair’s pH level. I used a 50:50 ratio of ACV and distilled water.
  9. Detangle.
  10. Moisturize and style hair.

 

WARNING:

If you have high porosity or chemically-altered hair (e.g., hair that has been relaxed, permed, color-treated, etc.), I highly recommend (1) a patch test or strand test first and then (2) using small quantities of baking soda (i.e., 1 tsp to 1 TBSP max) with a conditioner. Water mixtures, alone, are not enough to off-set the alkalinity of baking soda. While doing my research, I found that most of the people who experienced “breakage” or excessively dry hair either only dissolved the baking soda in water (instead of conditioner) or had highly porous hair. So, if your hair starts to feel dry or brittle after using the mask, refrain from using the baking soda hair mask until you feel your hair needs it (i.e., has product buildup, becomes resistant to most products in general, etc).

 

 

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