3 Popular and Affordable Clays for Natural Hair

Do you have issues with shampoo? Are you feeling like you need something a little stronger than a cowash? Maybe you just want to try something more natural, with ingredients you can pronounce...and without breaking the bank. Whatever you're looking for, I'm almost certain you can find it with clay.

Born of the earth, clays are natural, potent, and mineral-rich options for cleansing, detoxifying, and conditioning the hair AND skin. They are affordable, widely available, and highly customizable. Read on to learn about the three most popular clays, where to find them, and how to mix them!

Note: NEVER mix, store, or otherwise let clays come into contact with anything metal. There is potential for reactivity, and reduced effectiveness

Bentonite Clay: Detoxify & Restore pH Balance
The 411: Bentonite is an amazing natural clay that forms as a result of aged/weathering volcanic ash and water. There are many different types of Bentonite Clay, and each bears the name of the element it predominantly contains. For example, the ever popular "Indian Healing Clay" is actually Calcium Bentonite Clay. Other popular variations include potassium, aluminum, and sodium.  Bentonite is incredibly powerful, possessing a negative charge (anionic). This makes it an ideal clay for cleansing and detoxifying, as 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, chemicals, and impurities. It helps cleanse and lift impurities from the hair, aiding in conditioning, shine, softness, and definition. For best results, use Aloe Vera Juice and/or Apple Cider Vinegar instead of water. These will make your mix more acidic, and closer to the pH of your hair.

Cost & Availability: Bentonite Clay is widely available in stores and online, from about $7 - $10 for a 1lb jar. Most naturals opt for the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, available at Sprouts, Vitamin Shoppe, and Whole Fods for $7.

Recipe: Here is a popular Bentonite Clay recipe. Feel free to play around with ratios and ingredients.
  • 4-6 heaping teaspoons Bentonite Clay
  • 1/2 cup Aloe Vera Juice
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or oil of choice)
  • 2-3 drops of Essential Oils of choice (such as Rosemary, Peppermint, Cedarwood, Thyme, Lemon, or Lavender)
Kaolin Clay: Gently Cleanse Dry Hair
The 411: Of all the clays, Kaolin (often called "white" or "China" clay) is the most commonly used in powdered and dry cosmetics. It also happens to be the most gentle. It has great adsorbent properties, and is able to gently exfoliate while stimulating circulation and cleansing - making it ideal for use on the scalp. It does not do a great job of drawing out oils, so it is not recommended for use on hair with large amounts of buildup. However, if you have chronically dry hair, Kaolin Clay is an ideal cleanser that won't rob your hair of moisture. Kaolin Clay is rich in silica, a naturally occurring element that supports a number of important functions. It absorbs toxins on the hair and scalp, increases strength and elasticity, and can help slow the aging process of hair. Kaolin Clay is also available in green, pink, and yellow variations, based upon mineral content.

Cost & Availability: Kaolin clay can be purchase from bulk vendors online at Amazon,from about $10 - $15 per pound. If you're not into DIY mixing, Wonder Curl's Detoxifying Clay Cleanser ($24) is made with Kaolin Clay, as is FancyNaturals Kaolin Hair Mask Restructurizing Treatment ($10).

Recipe: Popular Kaolin Clay recipes mix the powdery clay with hot water. You can also steep some of your favorite herbs and teas to add soothing or stimulating properties to the mix.
  • 4-6 heaping teaspoons Kaolin Clay
  • 1/2 cup hot water (or hair tea/steeped mixture of choice)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of honey or glycerin
  • 2-3 drops of Essential Oils of choice
Rhassoul Clay: Soften & Moisturize
Also known as Moroccan Red Clay, is naturally found and mined from ancient deposits in the northeastern region of Morocco. Rhassoul clay is mineral rich - being higher in silica content than Kaolin, and also containing significant amounts of magnesium. Rhassoul clay is great for reducing dryness in hair, improving elasticity, removing toxins, and leaving hair with body and bounce. It is also great for exfoliating and removing buildup from the scalp. Users of Rhassoul Clay commonly report that their hair is more moisturized, softer, less brittle, smoother, and stronger overall. In addition, Rhassoul Clay can also be used to help soothe scalp issues such as dandruff and psoriasis.

Cost & Availability: For around $6, 6oz of Rhassoul Clay can be purchased from online vendors at Amazon, or at Vitamin Shoppe. Again, if you're not one for the mixing, Purgasm Shop Wild Cherry Treatment Hair Truffles ($12) and All Things O' Natural Natty Cupuacu & Rhassoul Deep Conditioner ($20) are both made with Rhassoul Clay.

Recipe: Get the most from your Rhassoul Clay with this mixture:
  • 1/4-1/3 cup Rhassoul Clay
  • Hot water (to desired consistency)
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil of choice (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Grapeseed Oil, etc.)
  • 2oz plain greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 pureed banana (or banana baby food)

Of course, there are tons of variations, mixes, and types of clay out there. What is your favorite clay and mixture?