I wish I would have known that getting my curls to pop would be this easy...
Every once in a blue moon, the urge to DIY (or is it DIM?) strikes me. While I'm stil a long ways from whipping up my own kitchen conditioner, I do know my way around bentonite clay, thanks to my dalliances with the Max Hydration Method. I've since quit the MHM, but I kept the clay around for a number of reasons. One, I like using it for facial masks. Two, I like using it for hair masks. It looks like I'll be retiring the mask soon though, because I found another, much easier way to use clay: mud rinsing my natural hair.
Mud or clay washing for natural hair is nothing new. Many naturalistas have espoused the benefits of using clays to treat and cleanse natural hair, often recommending it as a clarifying alternative to shampoo. Unfortunately, one of my favorite science bloggers Jc of The Natural Haven has shown us with her microscope fancy-ness that clay doesn't actually cleanse the hair as well as shampoo -- it functions more as a co-wash. So all of the above listed benefits ring true, but the clarifying part doesn't. No biggie, because where there's a will, there's a way!
What is mud rinsing? Mud rinsing simply put, is an intermediate step between your cleansing and deep conditioning, where a water-based clay mixture is allowed to sit on the hair briefly prior to deep conditioning. It is most easily done in the shower, but can be done over the sink as well. Mud rinsing is singlehandedly responsible for giving me greatly improved curl definition, curl clumping, and significantly reduced frizz. Mud rinsing has also given my hair some serious shine, and I have yet to find a down side. I've incorporated mud rinsing into my last 5 or so wash days, and I must admit that I'm sold! Mud rinsing has been easier to do and easier on my strands than clay masks have been. Clay masks are thick, messy, and can sometimes difficult to work through my hair. But mud rinsing? Simple and fuss-free.
Here are a few more benefits of mud rinsing:
Here are a few more benefits of mud rinsing:
- It's all natural. One of the best thing about DIY mixes in general is that you get to control what goes into them. A mixture of earthen clay, oils, water, aloe, and apple cider vinegar? Talk about a dream for mixtresses and ingredient snobs.
- It's moisturizing and fights frizz. Due to the water content and the oils, the mud rinse hydrates the hair while the oils soften, and the aloe and apple cider vinegar help lay the cuticles to improve shine and moisture retention while reducing frizz.
- It detoxifies the hair and scalp. Bentonite clay is incredibly powerful, possessing a negative charge (anionic). It has the ability to remove positively charged (cationic) conditioners and products that can build up on the hair and scalp. It is also said to have the ability to draw out toxins, heavy metals, and chemicals. It lifts impurities from the hair, aiding in conditioning, shine, softness, and definition.
- It enhances curl definition. No one is quite sure why, but it does. I want to throw in some sciency jargon about ions and whatnot, but for the life of me it doesn't make sense. I just know that it works -- and not just on my hair either. Click here to see how bentonite clay fares on 4c natural hair. Since science can't explain it away for me, I'll just chalk it up to one of the good Lord's miracles and send a fist bump back to the ancestors because this stuff has been around for thousands of years.
- It works instantly. Back when I was doing clay masks post MHM, I was under the impression that it needed 20-30 minutes on the hair, like a deep conditioner. Nope! You can literally work the mud rinse into your hair, and rinse it right out.
- A plastic bowl and spoon (for mixing and measuring)
- A plastic applicator bottle with a nozzle tip (at least 8oz, this will make your application process a breeze)
- bentonite clay
- raw apple cider vinegar with mother (I use Bragg's)
- 2 - 3 of your favorite oils (I usually choose from Jamaican Black Castor Oil, avocado oil, argan oil, and coconut oil)
- aloe vera juice or gel (I use Trader Joe's brand)
- 1/3 cup bentonite clay (or roughly 4-5 heaping spoonfuls)
- 4 level spoonfuls of oil (I use 2 spoons of Jamaican Black Castor Oil, and 1 spoon each of two other oils)
- 2 level spoonfuls of aloe vera juice or gel
- 3 level spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar
|Your mud rinse will look something like this prior to being diluted.|
|Just add water, and boom! Mud rinse!|
- A detangling cowash or cleanser
- Your mud rinse
- A deep conditioner (or you can use the same conditioner to cleanse and condition)
How to Mud Rinse
Step 1: Cleanse
Go about your normal cleansing regimen. If you cowash, do that. If you shampoo, do that. This three step process works best if your cleanser can do double duty -- meaning it has enough power to cleanse, and enough slip to detangle. My current pick for this is Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner. I wash my hair in 4-6 sections, detangling each section as I cleanse.
Step 2: Mud Rinse
Now that all of your hair is detangled and coated in cleanser, it's time to rinse and mud rinse. Section by section, rinse the cleanser or cowash from your hair. Grab your mud rinse bottle and shake it up if the contents have begun separating (it's a DIY mix with no fancy emulsifiers). Take the nozzle and squeeze the mud rinse directly onto your scalp, all over your head. This will ensure that the rinse hits the roots first, which for many of us is the most frizz-prone area. Then, section by section, squeeze the rinse onto your hair all the way down the shaft to the ends. Twist each section after you complete it, to keep the rinse from dripping profusely from the hair. After you've completely covered your hair in mud rinse, you can either leave it as you complete your shower rituals, or rinse it right out. It works perfectly either way.
Step 3: Deep Condition (or Regular Conditioner)
After you've rinsed out the mud, you may notice that your hair is gorgeously clumped and shiny, but feels a little weird -- almost tacky. Fear not, it is a common occurrence among clay users. There are a few different ways to get the feeling to go away without losing your curl clumping goodness. One, you can apply your deep conditioner and let it sit while you continue your shower (using the steam to help it penetrate). Two, you could re-apply some of your regular conditioner to well, regular condition your hair and rinse immediately. Three, you could skip the heavier conditioners altogether and go right in to applying your leave-in conditioner out of the shower. I personally opt between one and two, because I like, never skip the opportunity to condition (especially deep) my hair.
For your curl poppage consideration, my product-free, mud rinsed curls:
That's it and that's all! Mud rinsing is really that easy. The proof is in the pudding: get a load of these curls. I conditioned my hair with Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle after rinsing my mud wash, rinsed about 70% of the conditioner out, and applied a palmful of Ouidad Whipped Curls on top. Here are my wet conditioner-only curls:
And later at night (roots still a little wet, but my ends are dry -- I had my hair back in a banana clip all day and during my workout), I applied a little JBCO to my ends:
My conditioner-only curls never look this good. Never. Will you be giving mud rinsing a try?