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How to wash your hair with bentonite clay

Commercialism is a double-edged sword, but once you understand the game, they will never win again. As a Jamaican born American woman, I have kinky hair. Kinky hair means extremely tight curls. For decades kinky-haired people like me had no other choice but to use products designed for European typed hair. I have bought and tried a ton of products out there, but there is one product that has remained my staple, and it is this bentonite clay.

As part of the ‘natural hair movement’ that we black folks have experienced, I stopped straightening my hair and embraced what grows out of my scalp. During my obsessive web searching for the best hair products, I come upon several blogs and forums referring to using bentonite clay to wash hair. For a while, I ignored it, because how can dirt clean dirt?

Boy, was I wrong! Dirt cannot clean dirt, but this is clay! If you’ve heard of clay masks for face, this is the same thing, except that you put it on your hair. It pulls impurities from where it is applied, and it does it with zero percent lather. That’s also another thing; we somehow equate lather to cleanliness. Manufacturers add synthetic ingredients to their products whose sole purpose is to generate enormous amounts of bubbles.

All hair types need moisture from kinky to straight hair. The difference between straight hair and their curly siblings is the ability of natural sebum to travel to the end of the strand. Sebum travels quite easily on a straight strand just like a kid zooming down a water slide. Unfortunately, the journey has a lot more twists and turns for curly hair and so much more for kinky hair that the sebum gives up before it makes it to the end of the strand.

Bentonite clay works for everyone, whether you have greasy hair or you are the type that loves to plaster your hair with vaseline (I see you, mom). As a kinky girl, I add some oils to the mixture to balance out my moisture needs. Other hair types will have to adjust the oil levels accordingly. So how do I use this clay to wash my hair?

1. Add 1/4 cup bentonite clay to a bowl

Bentonite clay
Bentonite clay in a bowl

There are several brands of bentonite clays out there, and I haven’t tried most of them, but I mainly use the Aztec Secret brand. You can check the price on Amazon here.

Warning: Use plastic, wood or glass equipment with bentonite. Do not use metal. The metal reacts with the clay, or so I have heard. I have never used metal so I have no idea what happens if you do, just dont use it to be safe.

2. Add one tablespoon olive oil to the clay and mix

Bentonite clay with olive oil
Bentonite clay with olive oil

Mix olive oil and bentonite clay well, but this will be a little clumpy. That’s ok; we’ll get it smooth soon.

3. Mix three tablespoon apple cider vinegar and two tablespoon water

This mixture turns out to be a little more than 1/4 cup. The best apple cider vinegar is the one with the ‘mother’ like this one.

Apple cider vinegar and water mixed
Apple cider vinegar and water mixed

4. Add apple cider mixture to bowl with bentonite clay and mix well

The mixture should have the thickness of peanut butter. You don’t want it to be runny because let’s be real; there is nothing comfortable about a brown substance running down your neck.

5. Apply to damp hair

Prior to applying the mixture to your hair, make sure your hair is properly detangled. I first co-wash my hair with conditioner, detangle and then dry the excess water out.

Just like a smear campaign, get up all in your hair like nobody’s business. Then put on a plastic cap and chill. You can keep it in your hair anywhere from 10 minutes to all day. If you have to do some housework, do this first and let your hair enjoy an all-day spa treatment while you work.

6. Rinse well

Shampoo and conditioner bottles say ‘rinse well.’ Let me emphasize that what you need with bentonite clay is to ‘RINSE WELL.’ You are working with clay people, and it dries hard. You need to make sure that stuff gets out of your hair. This warning is not to worry you; it is to teach you. It is not difficult to rinse out, but you have to make sure the water runs clear at the end of your rinse.

Next, look carefully in sections of your hair to check for residue.

7. Condition (optional)

As mentioned above (and I am sure the pictures prove it), I have kinky hair. It means that moisture is my friend. What I love about washing with bentonite clay, is that my hair feels clean but not stripped afterward. The residue is lifted off my hair, and it finds a new life. This result is the effect that keeps me using it. Shampoos can be way too drying for my hair, even ones that claim to be sulfate-free.

I follow up with a conditioner because I need the added moisture. Next, I use leave-in, add more oils, and then style. If this seems excessive to you, then you most likely have no problem with hair moisture. You can experiment with bentonite clay by using less (or more) added oils to the mixture, avoiding conditioner afterward, or skipping a leave-in.

You might not need the conditioner because the bentonite doesn’t strip your hair dry, and this happens no matter what kind of hair you have. If you do, then I highly recommend this brand.


I want to wrap up by saying that I don’t avoid shampoos forever. I do shampoo every few months or so. I do believe the bentonite clay is a miracle worker, but since it doesn’t strip hair of all its moisture, I do have small amounts of build-up. Also note that I do use other products such as leave-in conditioners, oils and hair masks on my hair, which contributes to product build-up.

If your hair doesn’t need these things, you can likely use bentonite clay forever with no signs of build-up. But, if you get hooked like I do and suddenly realize the effects are wearing off, it’s time to clarify your hair.

I make my clarifying rinse by adding one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water. If you have oily hair you can try adding more apple cider vinegar (up to 4 tablespoons per cup of water).

Good luck on your hair journey and be sure to let me know how it works for you! If you like this article please share it on social media.

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