If you’re one of the people who are embracing their naturally curly hair, you may have already heard of the max hydration method. If not, or if you’ve heard the name and want to know more about it, read on.
We’ve compiled all you need to know about this haircare technique — what it is, how to do it, and why you definitely need to try it out.
Okay, So What Exactly Is The Max Hydration Method?
The maximum hydration method started making waves back in 2014 when natural hair forum member Pinkecube first posted about it. It’s a moisturizing system formulated with low-porosity hair in mind. Since the hair’s cuticle layer is tight against the hair shaft, it can be difficult for any moisturizing product to truly penetrate the hair.
It not only nourishes and moisturizes your hair, it also softens and defines your curls, letting you rock wash-and-go styles no matter what your hair texture. Yes, even if you’re 4C! Sounding good? We thought so.
How to Use This Method?
Step One: The Cherry Lola Treatment.
Depending on which source you consult, you’ll see several different recipes for this treatment – we’ll include one recipe we like below. Whichever ingredients you ultimately choose to include, the two most important ones are yogurt and amino acids.
The yogurt is incredibly nourishing, while the amino acids clarify your hair and scalp, preparing it for the rest of the treatment. An important note: the Cherry Lola Treatment is only recommended for use once every two weeks.
Otherwise, the moisturizing ingredients can throw off the balance of your hair (yes, you can moisturize your hair too much!). Other times you use the max hydration method, simply skip this step.
So, on to our favorite version of the Cherry Lola Treatment. You will need:
- 2 cups plain full-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp amino acids
- 1/2 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tbsp unsulfured molasses
- 1/2 overripe plantain or banana
- 3/4 tbsp avocado
- 1 egg (optional)
Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, then transfer them to a bowl. Apply to dry, detangled hair, making sure to saturate the strands from root to tip. Let it sit for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on your hair type, then rinse it out.
Step Two: Clarify
Next, you’ll want to clarify your hair (and this will be your step one on days you don’t use the Cherry Lola Treatment). You have a few options here. You can use a mixture of 1 1/2 tbsp taking soda to 1/3 cup conditioner and let sit for 10-30 minutes.
Or, if baking soda throws off the pH balance of your hair, mix a 1:1 ratio of apple cider vinegar to the conditioner and let sit for 30-60 minutes. If neither of those sound appealing, use a Castile soap diluted with conditioner and let sit 10-15 minutes. Then rinse out.
Step three: Co-Wash
Since many shampoos can strip hair, co-washing can be a better option. There are products made specifically to co-wash. They condition and gently cleanse without stripping away the hair’s natural oils — but a deep conditioner will also work for this step.
As with the other steps in this process, you have a few options for how to proceed.
You can warm up the co-wash or conditioning product in the microwave for ten seconds, apply it to wet hair, and let it sit under a plastic cap for 15-20 minutes. Or you can use a room-temperature conditioner, and steam your hair under a plastic cap for 20 minutes.
Finally, you can apply the conditioner and cap, wrap your hair in a silk scarf, and condition overnight. The important element is to heat up the conditioner to let it really penetrate the hair shaft. After all, we are going for the maximum hydration!
Step Four: Bentonite Clay Mask
Bentonite clay, the key ingredient in this step, can be found at health stores or online. You’ll need one cup of the clay and, depending on what recipe you consult, anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 cups water or aloe vera juice.
We recommend using however much you need to achieve a consistency a little thinner than yogurt. Just make sure the water is warm so that the clay dissolves properly. You can also add 1 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp olive oil for extra moisture.
Apply in thin layers to wet hair, separating out each strand as you go. This will help assure that you saturate each strand from root to tip. We also recommend having a towel handy for this step, as it can get messy!
Leave the clay in for 15 minutes, and then wash it out thoroughly. Make sure to completely wash out all the clay, as any residue left behind can dry out your hair.
Step Five: Styling Products
Finally, you’ll apply a leave-in conditioner and styling gel. The conditioner should be applied when your hair is soaking wet — and we do mean soaking! Some people prefer to do this step in the shower while the water is still running so that as soon as their hair starts to dry out in places, they can re-wet it and continue the application.
The gel can also be applied in the shower if you’d like – the wetter your hair is when gelling it, the better it’ll dissolve into the hair, which will prevent residue from forming as it dries.
Once you’re done, let your hair air dry. Flip your hair forward over the bathtub and shake your head to remove excess water and help define your curls. If you need to shorten drying time, you can also gently squeeze out your hair with a t-shirt. Don’t use a towel, as that will cause frizz.
And that’s it! You have now successfully completed the max hydration method!
How Often Should You Use The Max Hydration Method?
As mentioned above, the Cherry Lola Treatment step should only be used every two weeks. All the other steps should be done on the following schedule.
If you’re doing the max hydration method for the first time, ideally you should be doing it once a day for seven days. This allows you to get your hair extremely moisturized, as chances are it’s pretty dry starting out.
But we know this treatment is very time-consuming, so even if you only do this method every other day for the first week, that should still be enough to kick-start your hydration journey. After that, use this method once or twice a week, depending on your hair’s specific needs.
And if you don’t have the time to go through the whole process every time, just clarifying the scalp with apple cider vinegar and using a Bentonite clay mask to help retain moisture can have fantastic benefits.
Phew! This method is time-consuming and may take a bit of practice to get the hang of, but it’s definitely worth it! Especially when used along with the Cherry Lola Treatment, it can help moisturize low-porosity hair, define curls, and even add strength to the hair strands.
Of course, your hair and its needs are as unique as you are, so the best version of this method for you may not be exactly what we listed here. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit with recipes and frequency to find what works for you. And most importantly, get ready to start rocking your sleekest, most hydrated curls yet!
Leigh C is a 28-year-old creative type living in the Pacific Northwest. Her obsession with aesthetics started with experiments in designing clothes, and she has since cultivated skills in makeup and hair care as well. She lives with her cat, who is always there to make sure her hair color is bright, and her eyeliner wings are even.