I bought a huge tube of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay and I found a new use for it. My hair was oily after a heavy co-wash and I remember how this clay sucks oil right out of my pores when I used it as a mask. I could feel a strange contracting sensation on my skin as it dried so this clay is powerful stuff.
Calcium bentonite clay has lots of uses from insect bites to clay body soaks. It can be used to clean hair naturally. There are several ways of preparing it as a hair wash. I felt the important thing was to ensure that the ph of the mix was not too acidic because apple cider vinegar was the common ingredient to neutralise the the clay which is alkaline.
There needs to be a balance in ph for hair. I've used Dr Bronners Soap to wash my hair and ended up with a matted knotty mess. That's because the soap is very alkaline, causing the hair cuticles to open and the strand's surface becomes rough. To keep hair smooth and the hair cuticles lying flat, products needs to be a ph of 4-5, the natural ph for hair.
So I started with a simple mix of 1 part clay to 1 part apple cider vinegar. I'm trying to achieve cleansing properties so I didn't add oils. Some recipes call for baking soda but it's of my opinion that the clay substitutes for that since it is also alkaline. If baking soda works for you, the mix needs to be a ph greater than 7.
I bought a book of litmus paper from Ebay when I first started making my own hair products. It's really useful to know the ph because it has a direct impact to your hair and the product's effectiveness. After mixing I put some on to the paper and the wet part changes colour to reveal the ph.
I compared the colour on the chart and it was 3, slightly acidic. I mixed a little more water (typically a ph of 7) and clay to make it more alkaline. As you can see in the second reading underneath, the ph has changed to 4.
I then diluted the mix so it was runny. The clay is very drying so I didn't to apply it thick. I mixed it with my leave-in hair conditioner mix to get a liquid consistency and put it in a bottle with a nozzle. The ph was 7, which is considered neutral. I could have added more vinegar to bring it down to hair ph but I didn't want to make the mix runnier.
I gave my first batch of clay wash a try. Since it was really watery I applied it straight on to my scalp and dry hair and distributed it around. (I didn't apply to my lengths because they didn't need to be de-greased. My ends were dry enough already!) I let it sit in my hair for 15 minutes before rinsing and doing a light co-wash.
The results were good. My hair was clean, shiny and felt soft. There was no frizz! Next time I'll skip the co-wash and make the mix a little thicker. It's a case of getting the proportion of ingredients right but I'll practice. Washing with clay does work and it cleans better than a co-wash. I would use this once a week.
For convenience I keep premixed clay/apple cider vinegar on hand to use as a face mask or mix with water/ACV for a hair cleanser. The clay is so versatile and best of all, 100% natural!