We all know of the amazing powers of the Aztec Indian Healing Clay for acne and oily skin. When applied, you can literally feel the infamous clay mask pulsate on your skin, drawing out impurities. Although Aztec Clay may be relatively new to the Western world and skincare addicts, the star ingredient, bentonite clay, has been used for centuries in Iran, India, and other parts of the world for its beauty and pharmaceutical benefits.
Not only is bentonite clay good for your skin, but it’s the same benefits can be reaped by natural hair, too! Just like bentonite clay draws toxins out from the skin, it can do the same for your hair and scalp, acting as a clarifier and leaving your Type 3 and Type 4 hair soft, shiny, and moisturized. And the best part? It’s totally natural, with no additives, chemicals, or other junk. In other words, if you’re strict about using clean products in your natural hair regimen, you won’t want to skip out on bentonite clay.
So what makes bentonite clay such a miracle product for natural hair? What benefits can your natural curls reap from using it? We’ll talk about all of that and more below.
What is Bentonite Clay?
First things first. What exactly is bentonite clay? Bentonite clay is also aptly called healing clay. It contains volcanic ash most commonly found in Fort Benton, Wyoming. It’s derived from volcanic ashes in deep rock deposits, and has a high absorption rate of oil (which is why so many people with oily skin swear by it!) Bentonite is actually the given trade name for the clay, but some people often interchange the terms Montmorillonite clay and Bentonite clay.
Uses throughout history
Historically, bentonite clay had been used by physicians due to its healing qualities. Villagers used clay to deal with a wide variety of ailments, both internal and external. Some people consider bentonite clay to be an all-purpose solution for numerous medical issues. In places like Iran and India, medical specialists use bentonite clay to treat bug bites, digestive problems, and more. Bentonite clay gained a reputation among cosmetic industries for its purported cleansing properties.
How does bentonite clay work its magic?
When combined with water, apple cider vinegar, or any other fluid, bentonite clay becomes negatively charged, attracting positively charged toxins and oils from the hair. Acting like a magnet, it draws out all the impurities from the scalp. This deeply clarifies the hair follicles, making them more susceptible to water and moisture absorption for healthier hair. Not only does it draw out the bad stuff, it also contains regenerative and healing properties like magnesium, iron, and calcium, which aid in hair growth and provide deep moisture to the hair.
What are the benefits of bentonite clay for hair?
Now that we know how bentonite clay works, let’s talk about what it can do for your hair.
1. Provides deep hydration for the hair and scalp
Bentonite clay deeply cleanses without totally drying out your hair and scalp. In fact, it aids in hydration, while creating a protective barrier for your scalp. Think of bentonite clay like a shampoo and intense conditioner, all in one!
2. Intensely clarifies
Although everyone should clarify their scalp every now and again for healthy hair follicles, clarifying shampoos can be harsh and drying, stripping the scalp of its much needed natural oils. Because bentonite clay acts as a magnet drawing out impurities, heavy metals, and toxins, without strippingt the hair, you’ll be left with a 100% clean scalp using only natural ingredients.
3. Gets rid of dandruff and flakiness
Dandruff can occur due to a dry scalp or due to infections, extra sebum (oil) causing fungus, or conditions like seborrheic dermatitis. The bentonite clay soaks in the excess sebum, and due to its antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, fights fungus and infection. If you have dandruff due to dryness and flakiness, bentonite clay attracts flakes and debris, lifting them easily from the scalp.
4. Promotes hair growth
Dead skin cells on the head inhibit hair growth, since it clogs the follicles in the scalp. This mineral has great effects on your natural hair by removing dead skin and deeply cleansing the hair follicles, stimulating hair growth. As mentioned above, bentonite clay also contains calcium and sodium—the minerals necessary for healthy hair follicles and hair growth.
5. Reduces frizz and tangling
Bentonite clay can also reduce frizzy hair, and reduce tangling, promoting Type 3 and Type 4 curls’ natural shape and texture. In fact, many naturalistas swear by bentonite clay’s ability to clump curls together and make them juicy and bouncy.
6. Adds shine to your hair
Dull, lifeless curls can come from a number of reasons, from dry hair, or product buildup. Because bentonite clay is so good at clarifying and also contains moisture-boosting properties, you’ll get a two-fold effect, leading to shinier hair. If you choose to use apple cider vinegar when mixing the bentonite clay, you’ll also get its shine-enhancing benefits.
How to make a bentonite clay hair mask
Now that we’ve convinced you of bentonite clay’s incredible benefits (especially for curly and natural hair), how exactly do you use it?
In order to use bentonite clay on your hair, you’ll need to make it into a hair mask using water and apple cider vinegar to activate its negative charge. We like using apple cider vinegar because it creates a more even, clump-free paste than using only water, making it easily spreadable. Plus, apple cider vinegar has known benefits for moisturizing, cleansing, and providing intense shine to hair so you get a double-dose of goodness in one hair mask!
You can also choose to add a couple tablespoons of your favourite hydrating oil like sweet almond or coconut or a couple drops of essential oils, but this isn’t totally necessary. Just be sure that whatever you choose to use is safe for natural hair.
When gathering your supplies, make sure to use wood, plastic, glass or ceramic, as bentonite clay reacts to metal.
Here’s how to make a bentonite clay hair mask:
Gather your ingredients and supplies:
- ½ cup of bentonite clay
- 6 tablespoons of unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 6 tablespoons of warm water
- Optional: 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil, or sweet almond oil
- Optional: 1 teaspoon of lavender or rosemary essential oil
- Plastic, glass or ceramic bowl
- Wooden spoon
Step 1.Start by pouring the bentonite clay in the bowl, then add any oils you’ll be using.
Step 2.Pour the apple cider vinegar in, let it sit for 10-15 seconds, then mix together.
Step 3. Slow add water, mixing slowly to get the right thickness. You’ll want the clay treatment to have a yogurt-like consistency, so keep adding a bit of water until it’s right.
How to apply the bentonite clay mask to your hair
Now that you have your clay mixture, here’s how to apply it properly to your hair.
First, do a patch test to make sure your scalp won’t react to the bentonite clay treatment.
Then, work the hair mask through your hair starting at the scalp. You can choose to section off your hair to make it easier to apply the mask evenly. If you have a lot of hair, the clay mixture might start to dry, so keep a spray bottle on hand to quickly spritz any sections that are drying before you’re done applying the mask.
Make sure to work the mask all the way from the scalp to the ends of your hair. Then, put a shower cap on to trap in head and open up the hair cuticles for maximum absorption. Let the mixture sit in your hair for 20-25 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
Bentonite clay can replace your hair wash routine for the day, but if you feel like your hair's a bit dry, you can choose to use a light shampoo and deep conditioner after rinsing off the mask. The benefit of this is your hair will be totally cleansed and ready to absorb even more moisture from the conditioner.
Side Effects Of Bentonite Clay
Some are concerned that the bentonite clay contains aluminium and trace amounts of lead, however, there have been no drastic side effects reported for bentonite clay. In fact, the strong negativity from clay bentonite doesn’t penetrate the skin. If you’re wary, be sure to do a patch test first.
Can you use Bentonite Clay on highly porous hair?
Although bentonite clay is a beneficial mask for most hair types, it has a harsh effect on others too. Bentonite absorbs water from porous hair, so it’s not recommended for use if you have high porosity hair. Instead, you can just apply the clay mixture to your scalp to cleanse the hair follicles, avoiding the hair shaft.
Unlock your healthiest hair
If you’ve been experiencing dry hair, dull, lifeless curls, or a flaky scalp, give the bentonite clay hair mask a try. It might be exactly what your hair needs to clarify the scalp and restore hydration and lustre.
Have you tried bentonite clay for your hair? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.