On Monday last week, I tried out the Max Hydration Method. It’s a way for naturals to define our curl patterns and keep moisture locked into the hair.
My experience should have been called the Maximum Frustration Method. Smh. It seemed easy enough from the directions I found on Pinterest and a couple of different natural hair blogs.
Let’s start the clock. I started the process at 10 a.m.
Step One: Clarify hair and scalp with apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water. This step opens the hair cuticles to hydration. I mixed 2 parts apple cider and one part water in an applicator bottle, then massaged it like shampoo. No, it did not smell good, and yes, it burned when it inevitably got in my eyes.
Step Two: Deep Condition. I went for my go-to, because my mom has used this forever. I know it by scent alone. Not only is it a bit of nostalgia, it doesn’t seem like the formula has changed much over the years. It still does what it says it will do. My hair leans toward dry, so I leave deep conditioner on for forty-five minutes to an hour. I grabbed a book and waited.
Step Three: Put an Atztec Bentonite Clay Mask in wet hair. That was unexpected, but I already had clay on hand. It has worked miracles on my skin. Sure, I’m game, let’s put it in my hair and see.
I was floored. Whose hair was this? Certainly not mine, my Afro is frustratingly hard to identify. My curl pattern is all over the place. It’s 4a, 4b, 3c, and 3a at the nape of my neck.
Surprised isn’t a good enough word. Shocked, that’s the one. I figure I’m off to a good start if my hair curled up that easily. I left it on and let it dry out under a plastic cap for thirty minutes or so. Rinsing it out was not easy. I couldn’t tell when the water ran clear, because surprise: the shower drain started to clog almost immediately. Another thing? My shower has glass walls. There were clay streaks and spots everywhere. That was a later-Rachelle problem.
Step Four: Apply oil and leave-in conditioner. I didn’t have any leave-in on hand, so I made my own. I found this light Rose Water conditioner and mixed it with water. I used coconut oil as well. The instructions said to apply both to wet hair, so I did. At this point, I worried that all the products would cause a breakout. Spoiler alert: I broke out.
Step Five: Apply gel to drenched hair. Here’s a fun fact. My hair doesn’t like gel. It makes my scalp feel sticky and itchy. My skin doesn’t like gel, either. It clogs my pores and makes me breakout. But the instructions said gel. So I gelled. The photo below was taken at about noon.
All I had to do was wait for my hair to dry after that. I pulled a Superman and tied a towel around my neck. At some point I had the bright idea to run back and forth in the house. My logic was that I could shake the excess water onto my towel cape. That ended in mopping up extra slick gel-laden water from our living room and kitchen. Not my best idea.
I tried sitting outside in the sunshine for a few hours. My hair was a little more fragrant than I thought, because the mosquitos came in droves. I sprayed myself down with bug spray and stayed outside all afternoon. I got in some serious reading time. When I went inside around 5 p.m., my hair was still wet! I went back to the shower and shook my hair out a few times. It kind of helped, but not much. That was also when I broke out the Drano and various cleaning supplies to deal with the clay. It took three tries to clear the drain. The clay was also stubborn as heck on glass.
I made dinner. I ate. I cleaned that up. I chatted with my fish for awhile. Don’t judge. I watched two episodes of Rick and Morty. I went for a night time stroll to check the mail sans towel cape. I got ready for bed around 9:30. My. Hair. Was. Still. Wet. Most had dried, but the very back middle part where my hair is the thickest stayed wet. I didn’t blow dry it, because I’m trying to use minimal heat. I wasn’t going to stay up all night, so I Kanye-shrugged, put my bonnet on and went to sleep.
I woke up to a gel-down helmet of curls. I was not too happy with the result. My curls had shrunk in half and were matted to my head. I tried spritzing with rice water and fluffing the roots with a pick. I ended up with this:
Most of the curls were saved, thank goodness. But my hair still did not dry fully until about 3.p.m. I started my hair on Monday morning. Yikes. I also had to go to the gym that evening, and sweat mixed with conditioner, gel, and oil did not make my skin happy. There were new black heads, white heads, and other fun new additions by the end of the week. I have to start all over on the skin battlefield. Fail.
I ended up using head wraps for the rest of the week, because my hair shrank more and more as the week progressed. It was quite the let down after seeing all that glorious definition. Apparently, I was supposed to repeat the whole process a few times during the week to really get the weighed down super hydrated coils and curls.
Thus ends the story of the Max Frustration Method. Was having one day of super defined curls nice? Yes. Will I be doing this again? Uh…