PHOTO BY OnlyOneJess

If you feel like your hair won't hold onto moisture no matter what you apply to it, it's likely you have low porosity hair. Here is a moisturizing routine that was created just for you. Be forewarned, this is not a quick and easy process for the lazy natural - but the key is it works. If this process looks altogether too lengthy, read on for a simplified version. 

What is the maximum hydration method?

The maximum hydration method is a regimen that is mostly directed to naturals with low porosity, 4C hair to achieve intense maximum moisture. It was created by Pinke Cube, an active member of Black Hair Media, and blogger MsDeeKay has been a strong advocate of the method. This regimen must be done every day for one week because the goal is to open up the hair cuticles so they can absorb a ton of moisture. After one week the regimen can be done every three days, but no longer stretches than that. Even if your 4C hair isn’t low porosity, give it a try! Other textures can use this method but with few adjustments. These steps must be done consecutively. 

How to do the maximum hydration method

Pre-Step: Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment (optional)

For low porosity hair, the Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment must be the first thing done. It prepares the hair for optimal moisture absorption by lifting and opening the hair cuticles. After the first time, it can be done once every two weeks, but no more than that. Doing this treatment every two weeks is not necessary, especially not for high porosity hair. In general, doing this treatment a few times a year is fine.

Step 1: Clarify

What you need 

  • Baking soda
  • Conditioner
  • Empty spray/normal bottle

Directions

  1. Mix ½ tbsp. of baking soda and 1/3 cup of conditioner into a bottle
  2. Saturate hair in sections
  3. Let sit in hair for 10-30 min
  4. Rinse out

This step is best done the night before washing your hair and before the next step.

Step 2: Co-wash and Detangle

What you need

  • Botanical conditioner
  • Shower cap
PHOTO COURTESY OF MS. DEE KAY

Step 3: Bentonite Clay Rinse

What you need

  • 1 cup bentonite clay (ideally recommended), 1 cup rhassoul clay or Terressentials can be used instead of bentonite clay
  • 1.5 cup apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.5 cup warm water
  • Bowl
  • Shower cap

Directions

  1. Mix everything into a bowl
  2. Apply to hair in sections
  3. Let it sit for 15 min with a shower cap
  4. Rinse out

Step 4: Botanical Leave-In Conditioner

What you need

  • Botanical leave in conditioner

Directions

  1. Apply thoroughly in sections
  2. Apply using any technique you'd like (raking, smoothing, etc.) 

Step 5: Botanical Gel

What you need

  • Botanical gel
  • Oil (optional)

Directions

  • Coat hair in gel using any styling technique

Optional: Apply any oil to hair, but apply before the gel and after the leave in

Step 6: Stretching (optional)

  1. Section hair and twirl/twist/roll/french roll and clip it into place
  2. Leave the clips in for about 30 min and then take out

 Helpful Tips

  • The easiest way to do this regimen is to clarify at night, right after clarifying deep condition overnight and rinse out the conditioner in the morning and continue with the next steps.
  • Start this regimen on the weekend so you can get an idea on how much time it takes you to do this regimen for the upcoming week.
  • If you have high porosity hair you may want to cut down on the amount of ingredients and the timing of each step.
  • The Cherry Lola Treatment is not done every time you do the regimen. It can also be done at any point after starting the regimen.

You can watch OnlyOneJess use this method to revive her dry curls here:

Simplified Maximum Hydration Method

Like we said, this method is time-consuming, so if you don't have time for the full and complete maximum hydration method that is understandable! Faye in the City has created an abbreviated version of this method that she says does the job of moisturizing hair in less time. Here are the steps she follows:

Skip the Pre-Step

Faye skips the Cherry Lola Treatment. It's important to note that she has medium porosity hair so she does not find this step necessary. She recommends using a pre-poo with heat rather than following the Cherry Lola Treatment. 

Step 1: Clarify with a clarifying shampoo 

Rather than making a DIY with baking soda, use a pre-formulated clarifying shampoo. Faye uses the melanin haircare African Black Soap Reviving Shampoo. Here are more gentle clarifying shampoos to choose from. 

Step 2: Co-Wash & detangle

Again, Faye skips the DIY and uses a co-washing product. She uses the Soultanicals Butta Shampoo

Step 3: Rhassoul clay mask

Faye doesn't prefer the way bentonite clay makes her hair feel "rough," so she uses rhassoul clay instead. Bentonite clay draws out impurities and helps to restore the pH balance of your hair, while rhassoul clay can remove product buildup while moisturizing and softening hair. You can learn more about the difference between bentonite and rhassoul clay here, so you can make an informed decision on which is going to work best for your hair.

What you need

  • 1/2 cup rhassoul clay
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. glycerin (optional)
  • 1 cup warm water

Directions

  1. Apply thoroughly in sections
  2. Put on a shower cap, leave on for 15 minutes

She mixes Life-flo rhassoul clay with apple cider vinegar, honey, glycerin, and water (instead of measuring these she eyeballs this to save time). Section and apply the mixture, cover with shower cap and let it sit for 15 minutes. 

Step 4: Leave-In Conditioner

What you need

Step 5: Styler

What you need

You can watch Faye's full routine here, and follow her for more of her hair journey:

This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated to include the simplified maximum hydration method.