The Max Hydration Method: Day 1 First Impressions [Part 1]

The "baking soda rinse is running down my face"
It's 11:00pm on Thursday night.

As I write this blog post, I am sitting at the foot of my bed hair slathered in Ouidad 12-Minute Intensive Repair Deep Treatment (is this a MHM-approved product? We'll get in to it soon). I'm not gonna lie to ya'll -- I'm a little overwhelmed by the overzealousness of the Max Hydration Method Challenge already -- and it's only day 1. I apologize if this post is a little erratic. I was trying to figure out how to share my experience with the Max Hydration Method on day 1, but all I could do was type out my thoughts as I experienced them:

1. It's simple...yet complicated.
Even though I wrote the article breaking the Max Hydration Method down...I still had to go back again, again, and again to to double fact-check what I thought I knew. There are some steps to me that are normal (like applying a leave-in and gel), and others are a little unclear (deep conditioning overnight = cowashing?). So I did what to me, made sense:
  • cowash and air dry (the hair is supposed to be dry for the Cherry Lola Treatment)
  • Cherry Lola Treatment
  • baking soda rinse/clarify (I just added baking soda to my conditioner)
  • deep condition overnight (which I'm doing as I type this)
This seems pretty straightforward and like it wouldn't monopolize an entire evening, but it did, kinda. Which brings me to point #2.... 

2. This s#!t is time consuming.
Whenever conversations about the Max Hydration Method come up, comments like "doing too much", "seems like too much work", and "I don't have time to wash my hair every day" are common. Ladies, I hear ya. Maybe it's because so much of this is DIY, or maybe my regimen is just really, really lazy and riddled with product. Either way it goes, I spent a lot more time on my hair than normal, especially not to have any style to show for it just yet. Maybe I just have the day 1 blues, because I had to do the Cherry Lola Treatment as the first step, which required me to cowash my hair and let it air dry for a few hours (I followed the instructions and recipe of OG Cherry Lola herself). After waiting for it to air dry, I had to apply it and then let it sit for another hour and a half. And after rinsing, clarify with my baking soda/conditioner/water concoction (I added water because I refused to hop in and out of the shower to do each step), and leave it in for 15 minutes before rinsing. And then, deep condition -- which is where we are now. Tomorrow, it's the clay rinse for another 15 minutes at least, THEN I get to add my leave-in and style.*faints slightly*

3. My hair doesn't like food.
Speaking of Cherry Lola, I had high hopes for the frothy DIY mix. Every single person I've ever googled in life that tried the CLT has loved it, raving about getting amazing results like super soft hair, shiny hair, student loan forgiveness, de-frizzed hair, elongated curls, and gas for 89 cents a gallon. I followed Cherry Lola's instructions to a TEE, down right to letting the concoction sit and rise for about 15 minutes. The Max Hydration Method calls for the Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment, but cites that the original Cherry Lola Treatment can be used as well. I opted out of the hybridized treatment because I was not buying molasses, honey, or fooling with banana. All I have in my pantry is agave, and I need that for my coffee (grin). The last time I put banana in my hair, I was pulling chunks out for days. #nothankyou


But back to this Cherry Lola Thing. I was expecting a miracle, and got...nothing. My hair looked no different than it does following a rinse-out conditioner. Maybe my hair isn't used to juices and berries, or maybe, just maaaaybe, it doesn't like food. I don't put food in my hair regularly (save for oils and ACV), and every time I call myself using foodstuffs for hair products, I end up with disaster. Some of ya'll may remember the Oat Flour Tragedy of 2012. Maybe I'll revisit the treatment (I have enough yogurt for one more) in a week after my hair is accustomed to the lack of cones and whatnot (more on this later).

4. Baking Soda = Total Win! 


I was introduced to the concept of incorporating baking soda into conditioners to clarify via my visit to Devachan Salon. To lift my product buildup, dirt, cones, and even help control my scalp flaking, DevaCurl No Poo and Baking Soda were mixed and used to vigorously scrub my hair. I remembered liking the results, but like the true PJ I am, forgot all about actually applying the method at home. So hats off, Max Hydration Method -- this step is probably the highlight of the regimen. In all honesty, my hair looked more amazing after the baking soda clarifying wash than it did after the Cherry Lola Treatment. My curls popped after rinsing my mix out. For those that are curious, I took a bottle of Shea Moisture African Black Soap Conditioner (it was like 1/3 full and I wanted something with a pump), combined the rest of my watered-down Tresemme Naturals Conditioner that I detangled/cowashed with before the Cherry Lola Treatment, added approximately 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and water. I shook it up, and ended up with a runny conditioner that seemed to soak right into my strands and de-frizz them.

5. About those approved products...
There is a limited (albeit growing) list of Max Hydration Method-approved products. I looked them over, but wasn't moved to strictly adhere. I looked over what ingredients to avoid, and I'm confident that I'll be just fine without going to buy more products (besides the Tresemme). Pinke Cube (MHM creator) doesn't strike me as a product junkie, so I doubt she's had the time or opportunity to explore all the products that are out there that could possibly be used. Or maybe she has, and that many natural hair products are jacked up. Either way it goes, I'll be deviating from the rigidity of the approved products in the following ways:
  • Polyquats, panthenol, hydrolyzed proteins: I think there may be some misinformation around the way these products are presented. Polyquats are not the same a silicones. Polyquats (polyquaternium-_____(insert number here) are cationic (positively charged) compounds that stick to the hair -- often used to condition, de-frizz, and encourage curl clumping. Polyquats target the damaged areas of hair and make them smooth -- similar to silicones. Polyquats, unlike some cones can not inhibit the uptake of water in hair. The fact that polyquats are likened to cones that cannot be completely removed, save for SLS shampoos does also not sit well with me. For that matter, the same goes for conditioning agents like behentrimonium chloride -- but nobody's complaining about that. As far as panthenol goes, there is no evidence that substantiates claims that it causes waxy buildup on the hair. Lastly, hydrolyzed proteins are an important part of my natural hair regimen. I'm not clear how proteins are bad for low porosity, type 4 natural hair -- maybe someone with that hair profile can shed some light? Either way it goes, I'm not giving them up.
  • My Tresemme Naturals isn't the same: The specific Tresemme Naturals Conditioner (Radiant Volume) does not exist in stores I've visited. I'm lucky to get the Tresemme Naturals Conditioner (Nourishing Moisture) I did get.
Needless to say, I'll be moving forward with products that fit the general profile of what I think will work best for my hair, and not impede maximum hydration. The hardest part will be going 'cone-free (some of my favorite conditioners are coney). Good thing I've got plenty of Eden BodyWorks, Camille Rose Naturals, Ouidad, and Obia to get me through! Who knows? I might even go full-on cone-free after this!

I am not an expert on the Max Hydration Method. All research and credit for developing the regimen goes to Pinke Cube, and Miss Dee Kay has done a wonderful job with videos and blog posts to lay everything out. I simply took their template and did what you're supposed to do with this natural hair thing -- I made it work for me. You can go as by-the-book as you like, or deviate based upon your preferences. Make it work for you!

I survived Cherry Lola, baking soda, and deep conditioning. Ready for the rest of my day 1 experience (or is it day 2)? Click here for Part 2!


  1. So is the new formula for the Curl Maker ok for this?

  2. Alwina, thanks for stopping by!!!! It is definitely not for the faint of heart initially. The biggest adjustment is how frequently you wash your hair. If you're not used to washing your hair 1-2x/week, then getting into MHM mode will definitely be difficult. Keep us posted on whether you decide to do it or not!!!

  3. Funny I just came back here to reread about the clay mask...I'm on part 1 of day 1...makes any sense...I'm do the clay mask, leave in and gel tomorrow but I said I was going to use the Curl Maker MHM ok or not...I sent 22 bucks on it...yea I'm use it. I also used the new Shea Moisture (the manuka honey one) conditioner and deep conditioner and OMG I was going to post pics in the a.m. but idk if its because I put baking soda and 16 pumps (which was not a lot at all) of the conditioner in a container and used that for my baking soda wash or if this Shea Moisture is just ALL that but I'm go back and get more. Hack I'm not for sure if they are MHM approved (you said the dc was) but as long as it works im go with it.

  4. Will do! Thanks!

  5. I'm am confused. Now I keep reading that the Tresemme Radiant Volume approved Conditioner isn't available in stores, but I bought mine at Wal Mart a few weeks ago. I even double checked to make sure it has the same ingredients.