It is no secret that I am not a huge fan of shampoo; sulfate or otherwise...I have never found shampoo to be as beneficial to my hair as a good co-wash. However, I have been experimenting with various cleansing options and found something that may even give co-washing a run for its money every once in a while when my hair needs to be clarified and boosted with a bit of extra life. 

Using clay. 

Clays are not at all new to the natural hair community. Quite the contrary...women in regions such as India have been using clays to cleanse their hair for years. Clays provide extra minerals that benefit our hair and often cleanse our hair in a much less abrasive, abusive manner than traditional shampoos.

What's In Them: 

Natural rhassoul clay and bentonite clay are excellent, gentle cleansers that can be used on both your hair and face (two thumbs up for the double action!) . It takes some practice to get used to using a clay as opposed to a traditional shampoo (or even a co-wash) but the benefits are outstanding. 

Bentonite clay contains over 70 natural occurring trace minerals such as:

  • Silica- 61.4% (required for strong healthy hair growth and skin tissue regeneration)
  • Aluminum- 18.1%
  • Iron- 3.5%
  • Sodium- 2.3%
  • Magnesium- 1.7%
  • Calcium- 0.04%
  • Titanium- 0.02%
  • Potassium- 0.01%
  • Moisture- 7.8%
  • pH - 8.3 - 9.1 
Bentonite is derived from the deposits of weathered volcanic ash. Bentonite is purported to be an effective natural intestinal detoxifying agent that has been used for centuries by native peoples around the world. 

Rhassoul contains natural silicon, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium & sodium - with a deep cleansing, anti-microbial action that does not irritate the sebaceous glands. In fact, it regulates the amount of sebum secreted from the scalp. Rhassoul contains trace minerals such as:
  • Silica- 58% (required for strong healthy hair growth and skin tissue regeneration)
  • Aluminum- 2.47%
  • Iron- 0.64%
  • Sodium- 2.3%
  • Magnesium- 25.2%
  • Calcium- 2.34%
  • pH - 6.9 - 7.5
Between the two, my hair responded best when using rhassoul clay. It not only cleansed and clarified my hair, but it left my hair soft and less dry in comparison with general shampoos (even sulfate free ones). I found the bentonite clay to be more drying than the rhassoul clay (probably due to the higher pH). Bentonite clay is typically known to be better for defining curls, though this was not my particular experience. 

How to Use Them: 

Making a clay hair mask is fairly painless. Mix the clay with aloe vera juice or distilled water (I preferred aloe vera juice only because it made my hair softer and less dry) until you form a thin cake like paste. Only mix what you will actually use...preserving the mix past a couple of weeks becomes tricky and the texture of it tends to change making application tricky. Next, before getting into the shower, divide hair into four sections and begin applying the mix to each section (separating the four sections into smaller sections as you go along).  Allow the mix to sit on your hair for about 10 minutes and then jump on the shower. As you rinse the mix out, gently massage the your scalp underneath running water. This works best if your paste is thicker and not completely watered down...otherwise it is messy! 

Alternatively, you can use a watered down mixture and place inside of an applicator bottle. Work the mixture into your hair while in the shower for about 10 minutes and then rinse with cool water. Be sure to follow either method with SoVAiN Deep Moisture Repair Conditioner to add slip to your hair for easier detangling. 

The Results

Hair will be soft and have more bounce. 

Both clays can be found at Mountain Rose Herbs. If you're lucky, you can also find both clays at your local Whole Foods or organic grocery store (Aztec Bentonite Clay) is the brand I recommend). 

You can use the clays as often as once per week but be sure to follow with a conditioner for added slip and to seal your cuticles. I prefer to use the clays once per month (or every other month) to clarify my hair and co-wash in between, but you will find a routine that works best with your tresses. 

Have you tried either of these clays before? What has been your experience? 

Happy hair growing! 

Written by SoVAiN Williams — May 22, 2012

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