Life After the Max Hydration Method

Life After the Max Hydration Method

Back in early October of 2014, I did an all-encompassing article for Black Girl with Long Hair, summarizing my experience with the Max Hydration Method. At the time, I had just finished day 7 of the MHM, and was riding a tidal wave of accomplishment (for a product junkie), and awe at my well-behaved curls.

Well, a lot has changed since then. 

Since my MHM days, I've gotten a number of questions and e-mails about whether I still do the Method or not, and why. Since I'm many months past the MHM, I'd like to share my answer to those questions in more depth. I know this seems so far removed form my experience, but I gave myself a little more time because I wanted to experiment and see which portions of the method I'd be able to rule out and still reap benefits. Well, the time has come, and I've made a few decisions. Keep reading to learn what I've kept, eliminated, and modified.

[More: 4 Major Mistakes I've Been Making with My Hair]

I (Don't) Got Baking Soda, I (Don't) Got Baking Soda!
One of my goals for 2015 is to get with someone like Sister Scientist or Jc of The Natural Haven and get to the bottom of one question: what happens to hair that is consistently exposed to baking soda long-term? This is one of the main things I was quick to drop post-MHM, for two reasons. One, I felt like the baking soda was beginning to do too good of a job at de-frizzing my hair. Yes, de-frizzed curls are cute, but with my big head, the baking soda was beginning to give me less bulk and volume. The second reason I ditched baking soda has everything to do with my hair color and henna. While doing the MHM, I absolutely could not do my regular henna treatments to strengthen, treat my scalp, and add a lil' color. Why? Because as soon as that baking soda x conditioner mix hit my tresses, all henna stain bets were off. And if the color deposits were running away from my strands, you can bet the strengthening properties were too. Oh, and baking soda after getting my hair professionally dyed? Fah-geddaboutit!

My Shampoo Fallback Game Strong
Another eye-opener for me was shampoo. I never really considered that the root cause of my frizz came from my beloved shampoos, because some of them seemed to really abate my frizz problems (at least temporarily). But for several washes after the MHM, I used two of my favs -- Ouidad's Superfruit Renewal Clarifying Cream Shampoo, and TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate-Free Shampoo. My hair felt great and looked decent enough, but I noticed more frizz and poof following these cleansings than I had come to expect from my hair. While on the MHM, the baking soda co-wash left my hair virtually frizz-free -- and that just wasn't the case post-shampoo. Ironically, I used to rely on Superfruit Renewal to deliver de-frizzed results....until I learned what my hair really looked like sans frizz. Since this revelation, I have adopted a 3:1 ratio -- over the course of the month, I use conditioner (minus the baking soda)to co-wash for 3 weeks, and on the 4th week, shampoo.

I Need Cones (And Protein)
When I'm alone in my room, sometimes I stare at the wall, and in the back of my mind, I hear my deep conditioners call... Lol. I didn't mean to give ya'll classic LL, but I really did a reach an "I need you" moment with silicones and protein. The MHM had me seriously curving some of my favorites -- ApHogee Texture Treatment, Eva NYC Therapy Session, and TGIN Triple Moisture Replenishing Conditioner to name a few -- in the name of going cone-free. Don't get me wrong, there are some good cone-free deep conditioners out there (Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi was my rock during the MHM), but my hair absolutely could not function post-color job without silicones and protein. My hair, and deep conditioner with proteins and silicones enjoy a rather salacious relationship, one that I now know cannot be allowed to suffer. When it comes to hair color, proteins help to strengthen strands weakened by dye, and silicones help smooth the rough patches. That's a tall order that the MHM-approved type deep conditioners couldn't fill. If I wanted my hair to stay attached to my head, I had to bring back my A1 from day 1 roster.

Life After the Max Hydration Method
Bentonite curls for the masses!
Bentonite is Bae
So, what exactly did I keep from the MHM? Bentonite Clay! For a while, I was doing the masques, but that got to be entirely too messy and caused me to run through the clay too quickly. Although clay is like $11 a pop for a 2lb jar, buying bentonite every few weeks can add up. My workaround and saving grace on that end has been mud rinsing. I incorporate mud rinsing into my wash day near the end, and although the results aren't completely identical to the MHM bentonite clay, they're pretty darn close. I get curl clumpage and tamed frizz without suffering from de-bulked hair. My curls pop and have awesome definition without losing their strength or vibrancy. And because everything happens inside of an applicator bottle in the shower, there's no mess, no drama, and I'm able to make a little clay go a long way.

For the full breakdown of my Max Hydration Method experience, click here!

Are you still doing the Max Hydration Method? Why or why not?


  1. Not completely. I was skurred of the baking soda, and my HI-PO 4c coils weren't achieving comb free curl formation. I went back to shampoo but remained on a no-cone regimen. I was tried HEHH co-wash regimen after my initial big chop 5 years ago, but my hair remained dry as the Sahara, so curly-girl method resonated with me.
    I still have bentonite, rhassoul, and Terressentials Lavender Garden clays, but I don't have that kind of time. Going out in this weather (East coast mid-Atlantic) with a wet head is bare foolishness. But I'm going to try your mud rinse method!
    I still use KCCC/KCKT weekly and ALWAYS recommend PinkeCube's YouTube wash n go video to everyone who asks, "how did you get your hair like that"
    I found a some of the MHM approved gels to be a bust for my 4c coils; Giovanni LA left my strands dry and flaky, Alaffia Beautiful Curls had zero hold, and FSG - well yuck.
    I want to try the Camille rose curlmaker gel, but really need the film forming quality of KCCC for my 4c coils. Tired of buying products that don't work - playing with my money is like playing with my emotions!
    Thanks for your review!

  2. Your curls stay on #fleek! I haven't tried the MHM although I've been interested in trying it for quite sometime. The fact it's a 7 day process has been the real deciding factor that's kept me at bay. When I can commit to the full week I plan to try it & I'm so thankful that I can come to you for an abundance of information. Thanks Chrisitina, you're the best!

  3. Thank you TC!!! Girl, that 7 day process is something else. Whether you do it every 3 days or every day for 7 days consecutively, it truly does take time. It ain't for the faint of heart. Good luck!!!! And thank you <3 <3

  4. That last line though -- "playing with my money is like playing with my emotions"!!!! And yes, even though I've got 3 something curls....they are RUDE! I had to realize that I can't use those light gels (like DevaCurl & Ouidad) like the other curly ringlet hair swallows that junk whole. I have to use heavy gels like Eco Styler and Obia to give my hair a fighting chance. Curl Maker does have some hold, but not as much as the others. I have KCCC, but for some reason no matter how sparingly I use it, my hair looks stringy instead of clumped. I need to crack that gel next! Let me know how mud rinsing works!!!

  5. It was great! Prepooed with coconut oil and co-washed with TJ TTT last night . Mixed up Aztec secret and added a tablespoon of Terressentials Lavender Garden for fragrance (Braggs ACV= pew!). Conditioned with Shea Moisture Manuka & Mafura masque. Hair felt really moist, heavy-like. Styled with KCCC/KCKT, 4c coils softer and springier to touch with slightly less shrinkage. Will be adding clay rinse to regimen!

  6. *sigh* This is gonna be long...
    After doing MHM for 7 days, I loved my results enough to continue the regiment every 2-3 days. I found that the ACV and the baking soda were not clarifying my hair enough so, I started over using shampoo for four days. ( Tea Tree Tingle from Trader Joe's). That seemed to re-set my hair ( remove the build up the ACV and BS could not).

    My color treated hair also began to fade and tangle on the ends more than it ever had since I've been natural ( 4 years). I have Demi permanent color applied by a pro every 6 weeks. Cutting 5" didn't make a difference. I had to let go of the baking soda and add protein and a little silicone back into my routine. I probably didn't have to cut off so much hair. (My hair is super cute so, No complaints).

    I'm not a regular wash and go kinda girl but I found the KCCC and the Camille Rose Naturals ( even though it has panthenol) to work best on my hair. I also messed around with a few flaxseed recipes. I liked those results but the hold was different and the less work I have to do, the better. ( flaxseed IS crazy economical, though). I mostly do twist and braid outs. The Camille Rose Naturals Almond Jai Twisting Butter is what I am currently and madly in love with in place of gel. Would love to try something else if anyone has suggestions.

    Little things like tools ( I like to keep it as clean and organized a possible) made a huge difference in efficiency and saving product. For instance, using a whisk ( found a rubber one with an acrylic handle at Ross for $1.99) to whip the bentonite clay mixture, saved about 1/3 c. of my clay and eliminated all the clumps each time I made it. (Before adding water and clay, whisk other ingredients together, in a bowl. Then, begin mixing in the clay, a little at a time until it begins to get pasty. Alte rate adding water and clay until you reach the consistency you want to work with. Then add to applicator bottle using a funnel. I kept the left over in the container I mixed the clay in and added water, if necessary, when it was time to refil my applicator bottle. I've since switched to a clay rinse (thank you for that, Christina! MUAH!) I will do the original way once a month or so but, that clay rinse is the business! Faster, easier and I'm just as pleased with the results.

    Overall, I really like what it did for my hair outside of loosing more fullness than I prefer. I'm Positive letting go of the BS did the trick. I've since modified the entire routine. I can do it all in under an hour and there is hardly a difference in my results. I've figured out that once I got the build up off my hair, it's was all about the moisture (water) and keeping it strong. I'm all about the CG method. My hair has been much healthier and easier to control. Once I figured out what works got me, the MHM has been an improvement on top of what I've been doing.

  7. Thank you so much for this!!! I found that the lack of protein was really causing my hair to suffer. I will definitely be on the lookout for a wisk, that makes total sense. So what's your regular routine now? Is it co-wash, condition, mud rinse? I'm curious!

  8. I've been meaning to do the entire challenge but what had happened was.... I tested out the baking soda part and was floored. I remember putting straight baking soda/water on my head when I first went natural and thought I relaxed my hair, never touched it again. lol So upon researching the method and reading your posts I decided to try again and actually dilute it properly with conditioner. BS gives me what shampoo doesn't, soft, clean hair. Non-sulfate shampoos don't clean my hair and most shampoos I have to dump a gallon of conditioner on my head to rebalance the moisture level since they're so stripping.

    I incorporated that step and kinda of just stayed there. lol I already know bentonite clay is def bae. Even so in 2013, Amla powder became a go to for me as well, you should try it if you haven't dipped your toe in ayurvedic products yet. It's like a cleanser and conditioner, def felt like it reset my hair yet kept it soft. Additionally, I just can't get jiggy with the product rules. I love small businesses and natural products, it's just not convenient. My rule is all my staples have to come from a store and can be easily replaced (in case I ever go broke again) which is why I stick to basics most of the time. My hair just doesn't care about different rules so why stress myself and my wallet to follow them?

    Another pause on my MHM journey happened when I ended up watching a video from Taren Guy with Anthony Dickey. He demonstrated how kinkier haired girls like myself despite common notions can achieve wash and go's. I didn't need 50'levem steps to do it either just (surprise, surprise) conditioner. That one changed the game for me.

    Finally, in 2011 I was on my natural hair science kick and learned how our hair truly only needs water, so that's when I tested out washing my hair twice a week instead of going a week or two without drenching my hair. I feel like that concept is the keystone to MHM. Yet, it's been a natural practice for me now not to go more than 5 days without putting water on my head.

    I am intending to do the challenge but just the research and looking into MHM alone has benefitted my hair. Just doing 2 steps yielded results for me, but one day I'll get to all 5.

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  10. Thanks for this update! Yes almost year later I stumbled across this post lol. I am thinking about doing the MHM but I don't mess with baking soda after a previous bad experience so I'm glad to see you say you did the method without. ACV works just fine for me. I have very fine hair so the dramatic swings in PH balance with the baking soda was just a no-go and made my strands very weak and break-off. Instead of doing the full regimen I think i will just incorporate mud rinsing into my regimen and see how it goes from there. Great post! And yes I read all of the other posts too from your MHM day 1 to day 7 updates. :)

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