How I Learned to Maximum Hydrate My Hair

Roseann V. Warren 
By Roseann V. Warren

My big chop occurred about 18 years ago after I had my son, and looking back it’s weird I had made such a massive step with no post-chop plan. I figured it’s only hair, not factoring that I hadn’t handled my hair in its natural state since I was 15! So I embarked on this steep uphill journey through hair-discovery. The early days were terrible and got worse as I experimented with products that promised lustrous, soft, silky curls. But all I was experiencing was significant frizz and crispy hair! Now I realize poor “Sheila” (my hair) was sick and I didn’t know how to care for her.

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A friend introduced me to DevaCurl, a product I tried but garnered the same results of frizz. The founder of DevaCurl, Lorraine Massey, published the book, Curly Girl: The Handbook, where she expertly breaks down the anatomy of hair, which opened my eyes to what frizz means. And it’s never about hair being dry. At the time, I was trying my hand in co-washing (using only conditioner to wash my hair). However, conditioner alone cannot cleanse afro hair, especially when using sealant products like heavy oils, pomades, and gels as moisturizers. When we shampoo, we cleanse the hair of oils and open the hair shaft to receive nutrients from the conditioner, and as a result of co-washing, my hair was never truly free from oils; the conditioner could not reach my hair shaft. Sheila was reaching out into the atmosphere for food, and the result was a big ball of frizz – which is a representation of a hair deficiency. Bottom line; Sheila was looking like a hot mess! (See pics below.)


In May of 2015, an aunt in Jamaica sent me a link to read about the Maximum Hydration Method, a method designed to dispel the myth that Wash N’ Go’s on 4C is unachievable, and that 4C hair can have defined curls after a Wash N’ Go, if moisturized well. While my hair is between 3C/4B, I was intrigued to learn more about the method. By clarifying and cleansing your hair first, you open your hair’s cuticles to receive what’s good for it – the leave-in conditioner – and then you use your gel and carrier oils as a sealant. The signature ingredient of the MHM is Bentonite Clay, an ash composed from volcanos. The clay draws metals, toxins, and impurities out of the hair providing the benefits to help condition and moisturize hair, restore shine and softness, increase curl definition, and heal the scalp of conditions such as eczema. 

The original MHM is about 5-steps that can take up to 2-hours to complete! When I started the MHM method, I tried to stick to the regime by washing my hair every three days, but found it exhausting and to be honest, I don’t like the Wash N’ Go look on my hair. My hair has high shrinkage. I prefer to stretch hair with two-strand twists. Though the MHM is an excessive amount of hair washing, I began to see a huge difference in how my hair looked and felt with using less product. I now do the method once a month, with the most significant lesson learned, is knowing how to identify what works for Sheila. I now make Flaxseed hair gel as store-bought gels cause frizz. Sheila is practically a vegan!

Below I will walk you through my MHM. There are a few bonus items I use that add benefits your hair will gladly receive.

Modified Maximum Hydration (Once a month)
Clarifying your hair assists in removing all product from hair. Afro hair, in general, requires oils but to promote healthy growth, it is important to frequently remove sealant products from hair to reapply conditioner and gels and moisturizers. 

Step 1 - Clarifying Ingredients
· 2 TBSP Baking Soda
· 1 TBSP Kinky Curly Knot Today
· 1 Cup Distilled or Filtered Water

Add these three ingredients into a small coverable container and shake until mixed. The water should be watery in consistency with the conditioner adding softness and a little thickness to the solution. Apply by raking the solution to your hair in sections, until it is evenly distributed on your hair from root to tip. Cover hair with a plastic shower cap and leave the clarifier on for 15-minutes. Do not exceed the time, as it will dry hair and can cause damage. Clarifying is also achieved by using Apple Cider Vinegar. Rinse hair thoroughly after 15-minutes.

Step 2 – Bentonite Cleanse Ingredients
· 2-3 TBSP Tablespoons of Bentonite Clay
· Distilled or Filtered Water

Mix about three tablespoons of Bentonite clay into a small coverable container. Be sure to use a plastic spoon to mix the clay. Bentonite clay removes metals from the hair; so it would be counterproductive to use metal to stir the clay. Add water until a thick paste consistency is achieved. Rake through hair with fingers in sections until hair covered from root to tip. Cover hair with plastic cap for 30-minutes. I usually keep this on for a few hours. Sometimes overnight). Then thoroughly rinse the clay out of hair. List of recommended Bentonite Clay.

Step 3 - Leave-In Conditioner


· 2 TBSP Conditioner (my preferred conditioner is Kinky Curly Knot Today)
· ½ Cup Distilled or Filtered Water

Add the conditioner and water to a small container that can be covered over. Cover the container and shake to mix ingredients. The conditioner should be loose and frothy in texture. Create sections and rake with fingers through hair. Make sure to apply conditioner over entire head from root to tip. You will be using this time to detangle hair with fingers. *You can also cover hair with a plastic cap for deep conditioning or sit under a hair steamer for 15-minutes. Ms. DeeKay lists more options on recommended MHM conditioners on her website.

Step 4 – Gel Application


I make Flaxseed Gel with Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil and a few drops of Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils (See this YouTube tutorial for a recipe.)

With the Leave-In Conditioner wet in hair, create a medium sized section of hair and apply the gel evenly, as you are smoothing the gel from root to tip. You can use this time to detangle if your hair feels like it needs it. I usually make about 20-25 two-strand twists throughout the entire head. Here’s Chroncurls YouTube tutorial for the two-strand twist technique (but ignore the product use). Bottom line, as you two-strand twist, you want to be twisting the hair before you cross over to join your twist (if that makes sense). I prefer to air dry hair, but if you’re pressed for time, you can sit under a hooded dryer on medium temperature to dry hair for about 30-minutes until hair is completely dry.

For the weekly wash, eliminate Step 2, and start by cleansing hair with Dr. Bonner’s Lavender Soap, foaming and rinsing hair 2-3 times as Step 1. Then complete Steps 3 and 4. Total time on weekly wash is approximately 1-hour.

In a nutshell, the MHM is not about using a lot of product to tame your mane, but rather to let your hair breathe and receive the nutrients it needs. Softer water helps towards hair hydration, so invest in a water filter for your shower head. I spend considerably less on hair products. Kinky Curly Knot Today costs about $12, but in MHM conditioners are diluted and will last a lot longer. A two-pound container of Bentonite Clay, costs $14 and lasts 6-8 months. The essential oils cost the most and will last a couple of years. So financially you are winning with the Maximum Hydration Method.
After much hair-searching, I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m happy that Sheila is finally happy! My length and fullness have increased, one-strand knots have decreased, and I seldom use combs or brushes. I challenge you to give the MHM a try and join in all the “Oh Sheila” fun! *flips hairs*

Have you used this method? Will you try it?
Roseann V. Warren is the founder and editorial director of MuphoricSounds.com, and a developmental book editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She proudly calls herself a Prince head, and believes Hersey's chocolate is a crime. Follow her on: Twitter | InstagramFacebook |RoseannWarren.com

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