Friday, June 3, 2011

Adventures in Bentonite Clay!!

I have blogged a couple of times about the importance of clarifying your hair, natural or relaxed. Clarifying is super important for maintaining a healthy scalp and stripping the hair of excess product residue that can cause your hair to look dull and feel stiff. Sometimes I forget this very important step in my haircare routine for a couple of months and I end up wondering why my hair looks soooo blah.

Usually I use cheapo Suave clarifying shampoo and sometimes a few drops of Dr. Bronners Tea Tree Castille Soap followed by a moisturizing shampoo. However, regular clarifying shampoos can end up being extremely harsh on the hair, even when moisturizing products are applied afterwards. Natural clarifyers such as bentonite clay, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda are a gentler option. And being the willing guinea pig that I am, I have embarked on an exploration starting with bentonite clay for your viewing pleasure :-)

Bentonite clay is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate, consisting mostly of montmorillonite usually forming from the weathering of volcanic ash, most often in the presence of water. (wiki). According to more than alive:
Bentonite clay is one of the most effective and powerful healing clays used to treat both internal and external maladies. Bentonite can be used externally as a clay poultice, mud pack or in the bath, and in skin care recipes. Internally, it can be added to water or glazed upon food to help those with sensitive palates. It has a very fine, velveteen feel and is odorless and non-staining. Its highest power lies in the ability to absorb toxins, impurities, heavy metals and other internal contaminants. Bentonite clay's structure assists it in attracting and soaking up poisons on its exterior wall and then slowly draws them into the interior center of the clay where it is held in a sort of repository. To state it another way, Bentonite is swelling clay. When it becomes mixed with water it rapidly swells open like a highly porous sponge. From here the toxins are drawn into the sponge through electrical attraction and once there, they are bound.

Sounds pretty great right? I decided to do a hair AND face mask...a whole little 30 minute spa day =)  

For my first attempt with the clay, I purchased the loose variety like the one pictured above from the bulk bin at Whole Foods. It was $1/oz, which I thought was pretty good but I don't think I purchased quite enough. Maybe about 3 ounces or so. The powder was chalky white and when mixed with warm water as I had seen online (mixture should not come into contact with metal), the result was a thick chunky paste. 

I applied as liberally as possible with the amount that I had to my hair and face.

The second time I used a popular brand that I had seen on the net, Azteca Indian Healing Clay. 

This one is strictly for external use only (food grade versions can be taken orally for internal detoxifying). I bought it from a local health food store for about $9 for a 1lb tub. Way better deal then loose version at Whole Foods. You can find it even cheaper on the net. 

This one mixed into a much smoother concoction and this time I added a little apple cider vinegar as I had seen done in youtube tutorials. (Darn my lack of scientific method lol) 

This mixture also had a more "clayish" texture and color that I was expecting the first time. I mixed quite a large amount and applied liberally to my hair and face.

This stuff dries to a super crisp very quickly. It's not recommended to keep this on your hair until its completely dry and should only be left on your face for 15-20 minutes.

Cute...I know :)
The result was definitely better the second go round. Probably because I was able to saturate my hair better with the larger quantity of clay. After rinsing out all the clay and deep conditioning, I was left with light feeling shiny bouncy happy curls. 


As for the face mask, I did feel like my skin had a little glow to it after I washed it off.  My skin was definitely as soft as the back of a baby's knee. :-)

Well, waddya think? Lol

Overall, I think this was definitely a great natural alternative to the sometimes harsh clarifying shampoos on the market. It's always fun experimenting with these things and I will be trying other experimental options in the future. But for me...its soooo much easier to just grab the bottle of shampoo. So I'll be on a quest to find the perfect one. *rings product junkie bell*




  1. Do you havec sensitivevskin? Is this recommended for those who do?


  2. I just recently heard about the apple cider vinegar. I'm going to have to read up more on that.

  3. Kanae - I would say my skin is somewhat sensitive and I definitely avoid using anything harsh on it. From what I have read some say it is not recommended for dry skin (because it draws out oils as well as impurities, therefore great for those with oily skin and/or acne). For very sensitive skin, the directions recommended that it only be left on for 5 to 10 minutes and a spot test should be done first (some temporary redness is normal).

  4. Sherice - The only thing I don't like about apple cider vinegar is the smell! But I love it for it's many benefits. I do plan on trying it as a clarifier soon.

  5. Any tips for my mom? She wants her to be manageable, soft, and if possible help define her curl pattern. She has a natural

  6. Hmmm. I guess the main thing I can suggest for manageability is to keep it detangled and do protective styles at night. Use a good leave-in conditioner (I like paul mitchell or shea moisture curl smoothie) and an oil on the ends (olive, coconut, castor, jojoba). Because I like to keep my curl pattern as defined as possible with as little frizz as possible, I usually only detangle in the shower and then try not to touch it after I apply products. At night she can put it in twists, braids, or a loose bun on the top of her head if long enough and sleep in a satin, scarf, or bonnet or use a satin pillowcase. Hope this helps!! =)

  7. help i use it on my face , and when i use it alot of pimples appear on my face what is that about

    1. Hi D! I'm so sorry the clay has caused this reaction on your face! I would suggest you stop using it immediately. Perhaps you have an allergic reaction to it or have extremely sensitive skin. Please do a spot test in the future whenever you are trying something new. I hope it has cleared up!