Guest post from Allison Matthews, edited by Heather Katsonga-Woodward.
The Max Hydration Method (MHM for short) is, according to maxhydrationmethod.com, “a 5 step regimen that systematically increases moisture levels in the hair until Max Hydration is reached.”
This method, championed by Black Hair Media Forum VIP Member PinkeCube promises to turn the notion that wash and go’s don’t work on type 4 hair on its head. In addition to forum posts, and social media accounts dedicated to the Max Hydration Method, PinkeCube has launched a blog where everything about the method can be found — maxhydrationmethod.com.
So what exactly is the Max Hydration Method, how does it work, and are the results for real? Let’s explore:
Who is the Max Hydration Method for?
The Max Hydration Method is articulated as being designed for type 4 hair, specifically low porosity 4c natural hair.
What does it do?
PinkeCube, MissDeeKay, and other proponents state that the Max Hydration Method will transform dry, frizzy, undefined hair into coils and curls that clump — with or without product. Additionally, they claim that once your hair reaches max hydration, many of the issues that plague type 4 hair (dryness, styling, knots, length retention) will cease to occur.
The Max Hydration Method initial period lasts for 7 consecutive days. You can stretch your re-wetting/styling to every 2-3 days, but daily is recommended for best results. As far as products are concerned, you’ll need:
- Pre-step: Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment
- Step 1: Baking soda rinse (baking soda + conditioner) or apple cider vinegar
- Step 2: Detangle and co-washing with a good conditioner
- Step 3: Clay rinse (bentonite clay + pure honey + olive oil + water)
- Step 4: Leave-in conditioner
- Step 5: Botanical gel
As mentioned previously, the Max Hydration Method is aimed at being a 7-day cycle, but can be adjusted according to your time constraints and the needs of your hair. The method goes a little something like this:
- Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment or Clarify: First-timers are to complete the Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment on Day 1 instead of clarifying. After the initial treatment, you can do the Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment every 2 weeks, monthly, or however frequently your hair requires. Days 2-7 call for a baking soda or apple cider vinegar rinse every morning, where the ingredients sit on your hair for 15-60 minutes.
- Deep Condition Overnight: This step is optional, but recommended to facilitate increased hydration. If you skip the overnight deep conditioning session, simply condition your hair, allow it to sit for 15 minutes or so, then proceed to finger detangle your hair while rinsing it out.
- Clay Rinse: After rinsing and detangling, apply your clay mix thoroughly to the hair and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes.
- Leave-in & Curl Definer: After rinsing the clay thoroughly, while hair is still soaking wet (preferably in the shower), the leave-in and curl definer are to be applied section-by-section from root to tip. If portions of your hair begin to dry out, simply re-wet them and move along. The Max Hydration Method allows for LCO layering of products underneath gels, but never LOC because oils are occlusive and will prevent water-based moisturizing products from penetrating and hydrating the hair.
- Repeat steps 1-4 daily, or every 2-3 days depending upon your hair’s needs. After one Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment, the other days call for the baking soda or apple cider vinegar rinse.
Users of the Max Hydration Method are encouraged to use only approved/botanical products throughout this process. Although I am still trying to identify a consolidated list of products, the general idea is sticking as closely to the Curly Girl Method as possible (no sulfates, no cones, etc.). For starters, Miss Dee Kay outlines her list of Max Hydration Method-approved conditioners here.
Additional reference: The Max Hydration Method Detailed Regimen
This all sounds very interesting and I love that the natural hair community is always trying to come up with new solutions to dryness, however, whilst I haven’t yet tried the method I think there are four very important issues with it that will probably stop me from ever trying it:
- There are A LOT of heavy products involved but no shampoo mentioned anywhere in the process. For my hair, I see shampoo as a very necessary step to remove dirt and build-up which all these products will inevitably lead to. My hair loses its gloss if I don’t shampoo build-up out. Importantly, I am a very regular swimmer and the max hydration method doesn’t seem to be too compatible with that.
- Conditioners and other chemical ingredients are absolutely, 100% not supposed to sit in your hair for more than 30 minutes let alone over night. Some people who do this will get negative results, e.g. one fan wrote to me saying that she woke up with a bald patch when she slept with conditioner in her hair - ouch. Ask any qualified trichologist or cosmetics formulator about sleeping with rinse-out products – I doubt they will approve.
- Baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar have completely different pHs (Baking soda pH = 9.0, ACV pH = 3.0) so it doesn’t make any sense at all that they can be substitutes for each other. I personally disagree with the use of baking soda on dry hair types but ACV is alright as it is acidic like hair.
- Last but certainly not least, is this a step too far in trying to achieve “the perfect curl”. As someone who has been sharing various images of natural hair for over two years now I know for a fact that the kinkier the hair, the fewer the likes it gets. Are 4Cs such as myself finally succumbing to the pressure to convert a kink into a curl or do users of this method just see it as another option. One of the reasons I love being natural is that I don’t have a laborious regimen such as the Max Hydration Method, I embrace the kink and the afro and I will continue to do so.
What I would really love to know is:
- Have you used this method exactly as recommended for two months or more?
- What was the impact on your hair?
- Did you observe any negative consequence due to not shampooing?