The Max Hydration Method (Explained in Details)

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Afro Kinky, natural hair, max hydration method

Max Hydration Method (MHM) has become popular among naturals over the last few years.  This method was designed for natural hair that tends to become too dry even after being moisturized.  The purpose of this method is to bring moisture to your natural curls and keeping the moisture locked in. It is mostly targeted at those with type 4 hair because such hair types have the most difficulty holding and keeping moisture.

What is the Max Hydration Method? Max Hydration Method is a 5 step method that is done continuously for a week to deeply moisturize your hair, improving the luster and manageability of hair. This method also results in more defined curls which are perfect for Wash and Go’s and reducing frizz.  

The reason why some naturals have problems creating defined curls is because of lack of moisture. This thought is not without much debate as it is perceived to paint a picture of what beautiful healthy hair is supposed to look like, especially among type 4c naturals who struggle to fit the popular standard that is considered appealing. Some people believe that the MHM feeds into the natural hair type desirability, which means that looser hair patterns receive more love in the natural hair community than tighter or nonexistent curl patterns.

The purpose of this post is to demystify the beliefs of what beautiful hair is supposed to look like. If you would desire to rock your hair in its cottony/kinky look, you should feel confident and empowered to do so and equally, if you would like to play around and see what your hair can do, you can try various methods to achieve looks like well-defined curls. It’s all about versatility and this is the spirit with which we write this article. We want you to learn as many different ways as possible to rock your hair.  

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Your hair needs lots of moisture. MHM positions your hair in the best possible way to receive the most moisture into your delicate strands. Without moisture, hair is likely to experience breakage. MHM clarifies your hair and opens the cuticle so that water and nutrients can reach the shaft. This method also works for those transitioning from dyed hair and relaxed hair to natural hair.

In this post you will learn about the following:

The Max Hydration Method Process

Enough explaining of what the Max Hydration Method is already. Let us dive into the details of the process. MHM is a 5 step process that should be done continuously for a week. You can change it if needed but it’s recommended to stick it out for seven days.

For this process you will need:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Bentonite Clay
  • Baking soda
  • Sulfate-free Conditioner
  • Leave-in Conditioner
  • Gel (Flaxseeds Gel)

Step 1: Cleanse your Hair

To do the Max Hydration Method, you need to make sure your hair is fresh and clean. Cleanse your hair with an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse. Use a 1:1 ratio of apple cider vinegar and water mixture. Pour the mixture onto your scalp first and massage to bring out dirt. Pour the rest of the rinse onto your hair evenly. Rinse your hair thoroughly when it’s clean.

You can also clarify your hair with a mixture of one to three tablespoons of baking soda, water and of silicon-free, natural conditioner. If you have hair that is fairly clean or sensitive to baking soda, be careful with the amount you use. Section your hair in at least four sections and add the mixture to your hair from root to tip.  Leave it on for around fifteen minutes and rinse out with warm water.

To achieve maximum clarification of your hair during this first step, you should not be a heavy oil user.  If you are only lightly oiling on occasion and washing your hair daily as required in this method then you might have better results.

Step 2: Co-Wash & Detangle

Split your hair again into sections then apply a sulfate-free conditioner on each section as you gently detangle hair. You can detangle with a wide-tooth comb or your fingers. After detangling, let the conditioner sit for fifteen to twenty minutes with a plastic cap on then rinse. Warm the silicon-free, moisturizing conditioner in the microwave for ten seconds. Make sure you are using a microwave-safe container to heat it. Apply to wet hair in sections and let sit under a plastic cap for fifteen to twenty minutes.

 If you can’t use a microwave, you can also apply room-temp conditioner, wear a plastic cap, wrap up your hair in a scarf or bonnet and sleep with conditioner overnight. It’s actually best to let it sit overnight and you will notice better results when you do this, but if you don’t have the time, the heated option works too. Rinse out.  Detangle with your fingers in the shower while rinsing. Do not leave the conditioner on your hair for longer than 24 hours because it could cause undesirable fungus growth or mildew.

The Max hydration method 5 steps

Step 3: Clay Rinse

After you completely rinse out your hair, apply a clay rinse. Start by mixing 1 cup of Bentonite Clay with two to three cups of warm water. Apply the mixture to your hair in sections. Let the mix sit on your hair fifteen to twenty minutes then rinse with warm water. Be cautious not to touch hair too much when rinsing because the clay is hard.

Another method of doing this is by mixing a cup of Bentonite Clay powder and two to three cups of warm water or aloe vera juice. Add a tablespoon of honey and olive oil if you want extra moisture.  The consistency should be somewhat thinner than yogurt. Add more clay or water or aloe vera juice as needed.Ensure that the water is warm or your clay won’t dissolve.Apply to wet hair in sections and very carefully with a t-shirt handy because this procedure is quite messy.  The clay will detoxify your hair and prepares it to absorb and retain moisture.

Rinse the clay out completely with warm water before your hair dries out.

Step 4: Condition & Gel

Split your hair into sections while it’s soaking wet and on each section, apply a sulfate-free, leave-inn conditioner. Distribute the conditioner gently and evenly through your hair with your fingers. After the conditioner, you apply gel then gently rake through the hair on each section and you’re done.For added curl definition, twirl hair with fingers after you apply the gel.

Step 5: Botanical Leave-in

In this step, apply your leave-in conditioner and immediately apply a botanical gel on soaking wet hair to make your curls pop. Botanical gels are made overwhelmingly with ingredients you recognize and can articulate. They are often full of oils, herbal extracts, and humectants such as aloe that not only help keep the hair from drying out, but that have conditioning benefits as well. Now that we have an idea of what botanical gels are let’s get back to the process. Always remember the wetter your hair is when applying, the better the product will dissolve and not leave that residue.  Do not use a gel with protein. It should be a botanical gel. You can also use flaxseed gel. Apply it from your roots to the tips. You can shingle it through small sections if you want for extreme definition, but you can also apply generously by raking through each section one or two times. Once you have completed the first day, repeat the second to fifth steps for the next six consecutive days.  You will have nice manageable hair in no time.

If you have residue, the following might have happened:

  • You used too much gel; when your hair is hydrated it needs less gel.
  • You did not smooth the gel through your hair.
  • Your hair was not soaking wet when you were applying the gel

If you are not a fan of gel, you can apply natural oils if you wish.  You just won’t achieve the desired definition.  Another alternative is to twist your hair and do a twist out if you wish. You may not notice a big difference in your hair after the first treatment or immediately.  But you will definitely see a difference from the third day.

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What Happens When You Stop the Method?

To get the best results, you should do the method regularly until your hair reaches max hydration.  You will know it has achieved max hydration as it will have a definition from root to tip when your hair is product free. After that, you should do all steps every three days to keep your hair hydrated.

What makes this method so thrilling for those who need to use it, is that it is extremely effective for taking your frizzy, dry hair, and transform them into a full head of beautiful and moisturized curls.  On top of turning your hair into beautiful perfection, it will also help you out if you are having any issues with knots, length retention, or dryness. So if you are having any of these problems with your hair, or have been struggling with for a while now, all of those problems will disappear after your hair has achieved its maximum hydration.

Basics of the Max Hydration Method:

Max Hydration Method in 4c hair

Avoid using products with sulfates, petroleum, silicones and drying alcohols on your hair. It is not advisable to use products with emulsified oils, aloe vera gel/juice, and glycerin. Many of us, even as part of our healthy hair journeys do not use appropriate products or techniques for our hair, this method helps by removing these damaging products and replacing them with natural ingredients. It is good to be aware of which ingredients to avoid, rather than having to hunt for specific Max Hydration Method products. Thereafter, you can easily choose products that are available in your area, and that match your price range.

Be on the lookout for following ingredients in your conditioners and gels:

  • Alcohol. Some alcohols are helpful to your hair, and some are disastrous. You can find cetyl and stearyl alcohols in various beauty products, and they work great for softening natural hair. However, you should avoid isopropyl and ethanol alcohols because they have drying effects on hair.
  • Cones. Silicones like dimethicone are only helpful occasionally when you decide to flat iron your hair and need a protective coat. Cones add a thick coating around the strand and stop moisture from entering. Using these additives will interfere with your efforts to moisturize your hair.
  • Petroleum and Mineral Oil. Petroleum additives form a protective layer around the hair strand. Petroleum’s coating effect would not be a problem if it was not so difficult to remove. Putting petroleum-based products in your hair slowly dries your hair out because it prevents water from getting in. You can use shea butter-based products instead.
  • Fragrance and Other Chemicals. The list can go on and on. Your best bet is to scan the ingredients on your bottle of the products you will be using in this process and see if most of them are natural. Using harmful chemicals on your hair means your respiratory system will also inhale them. A fragrance listing is good if it is an essential oil blend, but synthetic chemicals can cause damage to your hair and body.

 Now that you know what to be on the lookout for in the products that you use during max hydration method and even before and after the process, we can now safely and correctly follow the steps of this method to allow your hair to be the best version of itself that it can achieve. The regimen will not change the texture of your hair, but what it will do is allow you to wear your neat natural curls perfectly clumped in Wash and Go’s which remain tangle and knot-free.

Disadvantages of Maximum Hydration Method.

Many people with natural hair praise the Maximum Hydration Method for its ability to moisturize the hair shaft satisfactorily. It brings out defined curls which are badly needed for wash and go’s. But this method also has its drawbacks.

To start with, the method takes a long time to complete. You may wear yourself out after the first few days, but if you have 4c hair should try this method at least once in your hair journey. One of the side effects is that the baking soda can change the pH of your scalp, leaving you vulnerable to yeast overgrowth and mildew. Baking soda has a high pH level of 9, but the scalp only requires a pH level of 4.5-5.5 to remain healthy. Fungus grows in wet environments and thrives on an alkaline scalp.

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Doing the Maximum Hydration Method regularly might be too much of a good thing. If you find that your hair is always damp and never dries completely, you may have moisture overload. Lack of elasticity and dull hair is a sign of moisture overload.

 MHM has also received some backlash from the natural hair community because it allegedly promotes the loosening of hair texture, and it promotes the idea that something is not right with kinkier hair textures like 4C hair. Some people say it perpetuates the idea that the kinkier textures aren’t as good as other hair textures, and to make their hair acceptable, women with kinky textures should use the method to manipulate and loosen their curls, therefore creating a curl pattern. As mentioned earlier, it is a free world, you can experiment as much as you can, as long as you are comfortable!

Generally, daily washing can be hectic and it introduces the hair to a lot of handling wear and tear. Additionally, prolonged hair wetness has been linked to damaging the inner cuticle cement that holds the cuticle layers together. However, some people can daily wash and still continuously grow long hair, so you have to analyze the long term effects for yourself. This method needs you to embrace your shrinkage fully. This is normally true for curl enhancing methods.

Finally, there are no rules when it comes to your maximum hydration regimen, and it’s always good to do what works best for your hair. Make sure you follow the sequence well and avoid products that will suck moisture from the shaft while the cuticle is open and susceptible. It’s also a good idea to experiment with frequency and ingredients when doing MHM. You’ll probably enjoy the results of your maximum hydration session even if you only attempt it once. But I can guarantee you that if you do the routine once every 8-12 weeks you are likely to have hydrated hair throughout the year.

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