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Maximum Hydration Method

Maximum Hydration Method

This post is dedicated to the Maximum Hydration Method on natural type 4 hair.

Because without this trend it would have taken me more years to really believe and see that my type 4c hair strands can actually clump. People are talking about the No Oils No Butters trend by Black Girls Curls today, but to me it’s not something new or out of the blue. For me, this trend has a lot of similarities with the MHM and Curly Girl Method in the way that curl clumping is promoted. All these methods advise regular hair washes, the use of no to less oils & butters and something to seal those clumped hair strands.

Can 4c hair clump together in a uniform way?

This is something, that most naturals (including myself) have said it’s impossible! To be honest, I didn’t completely believed it can’t happen, because some strands grew out of my scalp in a coily, spirally clumped way beginning from the roots.

But at that time in 2010 I’ve never seen or read about somebody with my hair type that could clump. So the main consensus was, it’s simply not possible and our hair is not designed to do so.

I can’t exactly say anymore if it was Youtube or Forum Black Hair Media that brought me to the Maximum Hydration Method, but what I definitely know is that I was totally fascinated to see ladies with the tiniest clumped curls on earth ever! From roots to ends!

This was really amazing because it is something I secretly assumed my hair could do when I observed my own strands. But I had absolutely no clue why only certain areas grew out of my scalp in a clumped way and the rest totally stayed cloudy.

Curlism? Why chasing clumped curls!

Some naturalistas may argue I was unnecessarily chasing curls. But that’s not really the case because my own hair was my proof that type 4c strands can somehow unify themselves into tiny spirals. If some areas wouldn’t have done this naturally, I would not bother. When I was transitioning in 2009 I even cut some of these clumped coils from the relaxed ends and put them in a box. Just to take pictures of them one day and share it online. Unfortunately I don’t know where I put these strands away. To be honest, I’m also kind of tired with this argument.

What’s the reason behind doing twists or braid outs? Isn’t it also a way of trying to achieve a pattern that we naturally don’t have? Aren’t there many ladies around that want to achieve the best and long lasting definition with these styles? So why does the response always has to be negative when type 4b and 4c ladies find some methods to define their natural curl pattern? It’s something that our hair can also do and if ladies or gentlemen want to wear their hair like this, let them be! I don’t really get the division.

Hair porosity

The Maximum Hydration Method also brought me to dealing with hair porosity. Something I’ve never really taken in account. Before that I just observed what my hair did. It actually acted like a water repellent and I had the feeling it never really got wet. I could condition for five minutes or deep condition for two days – my hair came out the same way after the product was rinsed out. The water droplets/products were just sitting on my hair and it dried really fast. This brought me to believe that my main hair is actually low porosity. And only the clumped coils that grew out of my scalp had somehow normal porosity levels.

So what does the MHM do?

It promises to get any type 4 hair that couldn’t clump to clump. So with other words ‘nappy’ hair that was said it couldn’t washngo could actually do so. It was especially created for Wash and Gos as the main hair style on type 4b & 4c hair. By doing these regular and frequent wash and gos overtime, the MHM claims to safely and temporarily manipulate the hair cuticle into accepting moisture. This will lead to better hydration or in other words it will build up the lacking moisture retention in your hair and eventually lead to Maximum Hydration. If this happens, you’ll have clumped curls from roots to tips without the help of any products.

Ms Pinkecube was the original creator and I’m glad her thread from 2014 is still online in Forum Black Hair Media. This is where I’ve gathered information from. These days there are a lot of variations of this method online which sometimes have absolutely nothing to do with the original besides using clay masks. I feel like preserving this on the blog if people want to try out the original method one day just like I did in 2015 after my second big chop.

What are the principles?

  1. Consistent and frequent applications
  2. Daily washngos
  3. No silicones, parabens, sulfates, glycerin, Ecostyler gel
  4. Knowledge of hair porosity
  5. Knowledge of what products blocks your hair from absorbing liquids
  6. Knowledge of which products aren’t effective enough to seal the hair
  7. It’s mainly for type 4 naturalistas with low porosity hair
  8. A porosity hair strand test is recommended

Why are gels recommended as a Sealant?

Pinkecube says that gels keep the hair clumped together which help avoid hair tangles and knots. They also simply do a better job as a longterm moisture sealant than oils. Many Oils do only temporarily seal the moisture in the hair. But a lot of the time the majority of the water ends up evaporating into the air. That’s why oils don’t work on their own efficiently enough.

If you scroll down the thread of almost 300 pages, you’ll notice that Uncle Funky’s Daughter was recommended by her. I find this amazing since a lot of followers of the No Oils No Butters movement use the gel and it’s quite trending at the moment!

How to do it?

The MHM is actually divided into many steps. It comes with a prep where it is advised to do the Caramel Treatment or Cherry Lola Treatment. Then comes steps where you clarify, deep condition, detangle and co-wash before following up with a clay rinse and the styling process.

Step 0 – For first timers starting with the method

Pinkecube also created a combination of the Caramel Treatment and Cherry Lola Treatment which is the recipe I’m posting here:

– Greek yogurt, 2 cups (about 450 ml)
– Baking soda, 2 tbsp
– Organic apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp
– Raw coconut aminos or regular aminos, 2 tbsp
– Raw honey, 1.5 tbsp
– Unsulfured molasses, 1 tbsp
– Over ripe plantain or banana, 1.5
– Avocado, 3/4 tbsp
– 1 egg, optional

Everything will be finely blended in a blender. Then apply the mask on dry and detangled hair. Cover your hair with a cap or foil and let it sit for 1.5 to 2 hours. After rinsing the mask out with warm or hot water you’ll need to co-wash with a botanical, a curly girl friendly conditioner or a product that has no cones, parabens, sulfates and drying denatured alcohol. Then use some conditioner as a leave-in and seal it with a botanical gel.

This Prep Step is advised to be done every two weeks after the first application until the strands clump from root to tips.

Optional: Instead of a co-wash you can also do the Green House Effect or deep condition overnight. The next morning it is then advised to close the cuticles with something acidic or just proceed to a wash and go. By doing this it may lead to faster hydration retention levels.

Step 1 – Clarifye Hair

It is meant to clarify the build up you have on your hair. This is one of the major things that blocks moisture from entering the hair shaft. Choose between these options below.

Option 1. Mix apple cider vinegar with water with a 1:1 ratio and apply it on the hair in sections. Let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour and then rinse it out.

Option 2. Mix 1.5 tablespoons of baking soda with 1/3 cup of conditioner and apply it on the hair in sections. Let it sit for 10 to 30 minutes.

Option 3. You can also alternate between both options every other day. It’s up to you to find out what works.

Step 2 – Co-wash & Detangle

This step is meant reopen the cuticles and allow for hydration to happen. 

Option 1. Warm up your conditioner in a bowl and apply it to your hair. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Then detangle the hair before or while you rinse it out under warm running water.

Option 2. Apply conditioner to your hair in sections, cover your hair and deep condition overnight. Then detangle in the morning or under running water as you rinse the conditioner out.

Option 3. Apply conditioner to you hair and steam it. Then detangle the hair before or while you rinse the conditioner out.

Step 3. Clay Rinse

This step will further clarify your hair and also opens the cuticle while it detoxifies your hair. 

Option 1. Bentonite clay with water

– Bentonite clay, 1 cup
– Warm water, 1.5 cup
– Honey, 1 tbsp
– Olive oil, 1 tbsp

Option 2. Bentonite clay with apple cider vinegar 

– Bentonite clay, 1 cup
– Apple cider vinegar, 1.5 cup
– Honey, 1 tbsp
– Olive oil, 1 tbsp

Option 3. Store bought bentonite clay mask or any other type of clay (Rhassoul, Kaolin, Green, Pink Clay) to mix like the recipes above.

Step 4. Leave-in Conditioner

Now that your cuticles are open the leave-in conditioner will better seep into the hair instead of sitting on it.

The MHM says to follow the Curly Girls rules in avoiding any conditioners with silicones, sulfates and drying alcohols. It’s best to apply it on wet hair and do whatever technique you find helpful (for ex. smoothing, raking and twirling). Just make sure that you apply enough so that your hair glides through and you feel the slip.

Step 5. Apply Botanical Gel of your choice

This step is meant to seal in the moisture and prevent the majority of it from evaporating.

It’s the last step and should be done in sections. Apply as much gel until you feel the slip from the gel gliding through your hands. Then you know you have coated the hair strands with enough product. Do whatever technique you find helpful in defining the strands. (for ex. smoothing, raking and twirling). This is the process where the curl clumping begins.

Optional: You could use a small amount of oil as an extra sealant before you apply the gel for more softness.
Layering options could be LCO but never LOC. Since oil isn’t a moisturiser but a sealant. I love the way Pinkecube described it: ‘You wouldn’t put gel on before conditioner, so don’t practice that with oil!’

How long to do this routine?

Pinkecube advised to do it every day for at least a whole week to get the hydration levels started. Then you can repeat the routine every 3 days until you reach the maximum hydration in your hair. This would mean that your hair will be able to absorb liquids to it’s maximum potential, resulting in softer and clumped hair strands from the roots to tips. So if you spread this routine out, for ex. once a week, it would actually mean that you would need to do this routine for at least seven weeks. So it’s kind of comparable to the trending 30 Days Detox, right?

What are my thoughts?

As soon as I did the second big chop in spring 2015 I tried the MHM out. I did not disappoint me, it really defined my teeny weeny afro and I saw clumped curls everywhere from roots to ends. My main products where the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Bentonite Clay, Kinky Curly Knot Today as deep conditioner/leave-in and Kinky Curly Curling Custard as my sealant.

But the downfall was that these products where really on the expensive side and it was always sold out. I tried to look for other brands and gels, but it was very limited in Germany. Camille Rose Naturals Curl Maker always left tiny water or gel droplets on my hair which had a sticky feeling at that time. I’m not sure why it did that because I don’t have the same issue anymore.

Also, the Aztec Clay wasn’t really affordable for me. I experimented with different clays and found out that rhassoul clay worked fine and I could easily buy it in the stores.

I could also not order the raw aminos recommended for the Prep Step at that time in Germany. While searching for substitutes I found out about hydrolysed proteins and have used them until today. Using yoghurt, avocado, banana, eggs or plantains is not the perfect source of protein. In fact, these proteins are too large to bond the hair cuticles. A DIY mask will make your hair feel nice, but I doubt, it does anything further in your hair.

One more issue I also had was the use of baking soda. In the Prep Step the mask is balanced out with apple cider vinegar. But is baking soda really a good method to clarify your hair as advised in Step 1? It has a ph of 8 to 9, which will raise the cuticles just like a clay mask would when mixed with water only. Buildup can be removed easily and this is why it’s also used to clean dirty grills, stoves and pans. But is good for the hair?

The answer is no & yes. Baking Soda is also known as Sodium Bicarbonate. It is much more alkaline than many commercial shampoos. The tiny crystals are really abrasive and can tear your strands to split over time. But MHM says that since it’s dissolved in a lot of water, it is therefor not abrasive and will not do any harm. What about raising the cuticles to cause water absorption?

It sounds like a good thing to do in low porosity hair, but doesn’t too much absorption lead to breakage? Mild bleaches are within the same ph range as baking soda. They lift the cuticles to strip the natural hair colour. But who would bleach the hair every day for a whole week and then every 3 days? Shampoo can do the job of cleaning the hair too!

Now also looking back, I wonder if apple cider vinegar was really an option to clarify the hair. Because apple cider vinegar will close the cuticles even if it is believed to clarify the hair. So doesn’t it mean that it brings the ph down? Isn’t it something to avoid on low porosity hair when you just want to get started with the hair wash? I think it would be easier just to use a good clarifying shampoo.

And then comes my biggest issue with the MHM. The hair stays consistently wet. If you do this routine straight for a whole week, chances are higher to have more hours of wet than dry hair. And indeed, my hair never dried. Also when I was stretching it out to every three days it took me two days to have an air dried twa. This is really strange because why does very short hair needs two days to completely dry?

This actually made me think and made me move away from this method. The drying time would have certainly be faster with a blow dryer or a hooded one, but still, having to consistently manipulate the cuticles by opening and closing them with baking soda doesn’t sound healthy to me. With time, it can also bleach your hair strands.

But is there really something like “Max Hydration” and is it related to Curl Clumping?

This is really complicated to answer. I’ll just make it short. A lot say that hydrated type 4b/c hair has absolutely nothing to do with curl clumping. But I certainly believe that hydration has also something to do with clumping in curly hair. If hair has bends and kinks, it has also a curly, coily and wavy pattern somewhere. Even if we can’t see it. Otherwise where does the shrinkage comes from? I don’t believe anymore that every single strand of type 4c hair is supposed to grow out of the scalp in different directions.

I really think it’s our own hair practices that leads our hair behave the way it does. And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the wooly frizzy texture will suddenly disappear and transform into silky shiny hair. But what I really mean is that these strands can unify themselves and form a pattern just like hair types within the curly range – of the tiniest version of it. It can look wavy like a zig zag pattern, curly like an S-pattern and coily like spirals forming an O-pattern. I find all these patterns in my hair when I pull some clumped strands out.

When I use shampoo or a co-wash now, my hair has clumped curls, almost like after a clay mask rinse. My hair is able to retain moisture better than it used to do and looks more ‘wet’ than ever. I’m not sure if it was ever low porosity or if the buildup caused my hair to repel water that strongly. It can clump very well with water based products from roots to ends. But it can also have a silky straight look when I use oil based products and comb the strands out before the styling.

So I can say NO, I still haven’t reached maximum hydration. I have no roots to tips definition without the use of products. I’m somewhere in the middle. Besides the strands that have been already naturally clumping, the rest of my hair clumps only from the ends to the middle. Moving up to the roots it’s cloudy. But it was not the MHM only that brought me where I am today. I gave up this routine in summer 2015. So about 3 months after success, trial & error and also inconsistency.

The MHM and CGM became my inspiration, which brought me to my own regimen of washing my hair on a regular basis, including the use of clay masks. I also have a better understanding of what products block my hair from receiving moisture or absorbing other liquids well. Without Pinkecube threads I would have not gone so far. Raw oils and butters are also not my main products, I use them sparingly and like to rinse them out. I’ve been mostly doing a summer of washngos and will continue to do so for autumn and winter 2021. So I want to challenge myself and see if I could also achieve the root to tip definition without having to manipulate my hair strands in the way MHM does. Here’s a picture of my wet hair on wash days. Looks pretty wet and defined to me.


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