I Tried the Max Hydration Method...and I Liked It! (MHM Recap + Day 7 Update)

Article also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair!

Back in August, I wrote an article breaking down what exactly the Max Hydration Method (MHM) is, and what it claims to do. The comments on the article were all over the spectrum -- from devout followers of the MHM, to skeptics and those who loathe the concept of "chasing a curl pattern". In case you missed the article, click here for a full breakdown.

I understand, different stroke for different folks. I'll be debunking myths about the MHM later on my blog, but for now I just want to share my experience for those that are curious and want the facts before taking the plunge.

I know I don't have type 4, low porosity hair. I know the Max Hydration Method wasn't designed with me in mind. Although it was championed for naturals with type 4 and more specifically, 4c hair, creator PinkeCube also shared that any natural hair type can follow the method if they're intersted in achieving better definition, and improving the health and length retention of their hair while decreasing dryness, knotting, and breakage.

So again, I'll re-iterate that I don't fit the intended profile of a Max Hydration Method challenge participant. But let me share why I decided to embark on the 7 day (I'll explain what that means for me in a bit) journey:

1. I fully believe in investigative bloggerism. I don't like to sit up on some social media perch and just throw information. It has been my intention since I first wrote the article on the method, to actually try it and develop an informed opinion on the process and results.
2. I live in LA -- I've got dry air, hard water, and pollution (and traffic lol) working against me. The amount of clarifying and detoxifying involved could potentially stand to greatly improve the overall health of my hair.

3. I've got problem areas. My crown, and the front/center section of my hair are notoriously fuzzy, difficult to define, and more prone to breakage. I also have really dry ends. If the Max  Hydration Method could help rectify those, I would be eternally grateful.

4. It could help me build a more disciplined regimen. For those that have been hanging out with me since my transitioning days, you know I've never been a huge fan of regimens. I just did what I needed to do to my hair when I felt like doing it. That  "when I felt like doing it" part sometimes gets me into trouble with my hair -- resulting in more tangles and dryness (and sometimes breakage) than necessary. Following such a strict and thorough regimen via the Max Hydration Method would help me basically, get my life.

Now that you know why I would do such a thing, let's get on with my experience -- the good, the bad, the ugly, and the jaw-dropping.

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! 

Day 1
Day 1 for me was an absolute mess. I was exhausted, confused, and overwhelmed. Even though I wrote the article breaking the Max Hydration Method down...I still had to go back again, again, and again to maxhydrationmethod.com to double fact-check what I thought I knew. Looking back, the source of my irritation and frustration was definitely the Cherry Lola Treatment. Having to cowash, air dry, do the treatment, and then let it sit for an hour and a half on my hair definitely took all the wind out of my lil' sail. After doing the baking soda cowash/rinse (Tresemme Naturals Conditioner + water + baking soda), I barely had the energy to deep condition. So I broke one of the cardinal rules (haha) of DC'ing -- I did it overnight. Although many folks frown upon lengthy deep conditioning sessions (see hygral fatigue), the MHM guidelines suggest that if you can't complete all the steps in one day, leaving the deep conditioner or clay in overnight is fine. I continued day 1 on what was technically day 2 (I'll explain that ball of confusion a little later), and got really excited after the clay mask. I was shocked to find that by the time I was ready to put my leave-in and styler on my hair, I had significantly less poof and frizz than I normally do. At this point, I knew for me the game changers would be the baking soda cowash and bentonite clay mask. 

Days 2 through 7
After the day 1 debacle, the regimen fell into place for me. I made modifications where necessary (more on that later also), and things began running like clockwork. Baking soda cowash, deep condition, clay, style. After day 2, I really started to wonder if I was just being melodramatic. It really wasn't that bad, and it was the same number of steps that I normally do on any given wash day -- 4. Detangle, cleanse, deep condition, style. The only major change is that I'm detangled with the baking soda cowash instead of using a separate product beforehand, and added in the clay. I will say, that the process is still not for the faint of heart. If you're a every 2-3 weeks hair washer, upgrading that to every 2-3 days will have you contemplating if it is at all worth it (the answer is yes). 

In addition to the fact that the process ran much smoother on the days following, I began noticing some things about my hair: the definition was improving, detangling was getting easier, my rough ends began disappearing, those trouble patches of hair were fading into obscurity, and finally, I was using less product to achieve my desired wash and go results -- which is major. If you know me, you know I'm heavy handed. I'll use an entire 8oz jar of curl definer without batting an eyelash, on one wash and go. The majority of the jar would go to taming those difficult to define sections, and combatting frizz. Because the MHM was taking care of those issues for me, I was able to achieve the same definition with substantially less product. Ironically, the process that I thought would cost me a lot of money was actually making my pockets smile. Note: I didn't stick to all MHM-approved products (really, I used virtually none of them). I'll explain a little later.

Look at all that product left! I'm getting more than one wash and go out of this!
By the time I reached days 4, 5, and 6, I was doing the method like it was the only thing I had ever done to my hair all my life. My hair was responding incredibly well -- the promises of less tangles, dryness, frizz, breakage, and knotting were definitely being delivered. I was seeing definition (with minimal product, mind you) in places that wouldn't define on their own soaking wet with the stiffest gel. I used to have tons of little wisps of hair (due to my dry ends) every wash day, but now I was seeing them less and less, and eventually, not at all.

My hair also had more "hang time". I'm still on the fence about whether to call it elongation, because elongation suggests a loosening of the curl of sorts. My curl pattern didn't loosen, it just stopped drawing into itself as much. The definition in my hair improved all over, and I really started to feel like my hair was healthier without the use of siliciones.

By the way: I got my wash day down to an hour and thirty minutes. That's an accomplishment for ANY wash day, MHM or not.

Day 7
Mama I made it! By the time day 7 rolled around, I felt some strange sense of accomplishment. I stuck to a regimen, and pretty much used the same products (as far as cleansing and deep conditioning are concerned, at least) throughout. My hair appeared to be in impeccable health, quite possibly the healthiest it has ever been. Every single claim Pinke Cube made was true, based upon my experience. You can officially count me among the believers in the Max Hydration Method. This is going to sound really corny (and I mean really), but I feel like the MHM unlocked my hair's potential. In the back of my mind, I always felt like my hair wasn't being all that it could be. Don't get me wrong -- I love my hair, but I've always felt like something about it was a little off. Like it shouldn't be so parched (even though LA air has like, zero moisture), it shouldn't frizz so easily, and it darn sure shouldn't require so much product. Maybe I should've listened to the folks at Devachan who nearly a year ago told me that my hair was "dehydrated" and I needed to go "silicone free" (sheepish grin). Regardless, I am happy that I embarked on the Max Hydration Method challenge. How many more days/cycles will I do? Who knows. Am I going to stay cone-free? I don't want to think about it right now (because it means getting rid of some favorites). So to answer the one burning question that everyone has about the Max Hydration Method -- does it actually work? In this blogger's opinion, yes.

Hair about 75% dry, but well-defined and pretty frizz-free.
And now, for the portions I told you I'd explain a bit later.

Max Hydration Method Lingo: "Days"
One of the most confusing things about the Max Hydration Method is how days are defined. The regimen is set up to be completed over 7 consecutive days (which constitutes one cycle), but can also be done every 2-3 days. I chose every 3 days, because that was closest to my normal wash pattern of twice per week. Every time you complete the cleansing, conditioning, clay, and styling, that is considered one day -- even if it is three days later. So what could have been accomplished over the course of a week took me nearly a month, because I only advanced 1 day every 3 (and sometimes 4 but don't tell nobody) days. Once you complete 7 days, it is considered a complete cycle.

Max Hydration Method "Approved Products" + Making it Work for You
As with everything in this natural hair community, there are those that adhere strictly to guidelines, and those who go with the spirit of things and tweak guidelines to their liking. I'm a product of the latter. I will say it again and again until I'm blue in the face -- do what works for you! 

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 felt that there was some misinformation around how ingredients like polyquats, panthenol, and hydrolyzed proteins are presented. For more on what I mean by that, click here. Beyond ingredient selection, I refused to make the MHM challenge more expensive by rushing out to buy or order new curl definers and leave-ins. As much as I'm a product junkie with a penchant for small business brands, I felt completely comfortable in the hands of Obia, Camille Rose Naturals, Kurlee Belle, TreLuxe, Eden BodyWorks, and others. I tweaked the clay mask recipe to my liking, and even used a different Tresemme Naturals Conditioner (I could only get my hands on the Nourishing Moisture one, which isn't MHM-approved). I still got pretty good results, because I made the conscious decision to incorporate more of the products and ingredients that work well with my hair.

As far as making the regimen work for me, I already mentioned that I did it every 3 days (I stretched to 4 days like twice), and I even skipped a day (read about that here) and got right back on track. I followed this basic regimen which married the general ideas around the MHM with my regular wash day routine:
  • Detangle and cleanse hair in 5-6 sections with Tresemme Naturals Conditioner + water + baking soda cowash using a plastic applicator bottle. Note: vinyl gloves are incredibly helpful in this, and every other step up to and including the clay mask application.
  • Rinse baking soda cowash and apply deep conditioner (I used Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner for most of my days). Deep condition with heat for 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse deep conditioner and apply clay mask in small sections (click here for my clay mask recipe), allowing it to sit for up to 30 minutes before hopping in the shower to rinse. Once in the shower and the mask is rinsed out, I apply a little Tresemme Naturals Conditioner and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes before rinsing it about halfway out (sometimes I use Tresemme as my only leave-in, sometimes I add another on top). 
  • After the Tresemme, I either add another leave-in or moisturizer, or hop straight to sealing with an oil (typically coconut). Once out of the shower, I apply my styling product in sections, raking and smoothing it through.
Another concern with the Max Hydration Method is the amount of money it takes to embark on the challenge. The reality is, it is only as expensive as you make it. Since beginning the MHM challenge, I've spent roughly $34:
  • Tresemme Naturals Conditioner $20 (4 bottles)
  • Arm & Hammer Baking Soda 67 cents
  • Plain Yogurt for Cherry Lola Treatment $3
  • Indian Healing/Bentonite Clay $10 (I needed a replacement jar after I used the last half of my jar that I've had for over a year)
I already had my own Bragg's Liquid Aminos for the Cherry Lola treatment and as I mentioned previously, I spent no additional money seeking out leave-ins, curl definers, and even deep conditioners. If I choose to continue with more cycles of the MHM, I'll only need to buy more conditioner, baking soda, and clay. 

I think that about covers it, but if you're interested in more nitty-gritty details on my experience with the Max Hydration Method check the links below:

Will you be trying the Max Hydration Method?


  1. Is it okay to just incorporate parts of the MHM into your already existing regimen? Are you still doing parts of the method that you enjoy, like the clay wash or the baking soda rinse?

  2. So will you still be using the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black
    Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner with this method?

  3. I haven't picked it up in a while...Honestly I have so many great leave-ins I like to rotate lol. But yes, using the SM JBCO leave-in is totally an option, IMO!

  4. I would think so. Now that I'm not doing it anymore, I kinda just wing it. Occasionally a clay mask, or something :)

  5. Since you're just winging it, do you find your hair still at its max hydration as when you completed the cycle? If so, Could you please elaborate as to what you are doing. My hair is pretty ok, but like you I've always believed my hair could be more.