There has been a lot of hype surrounding various clays for hair – bentonite, rhassoul, kaolin, etc – mostly in the natural hair community, but as always these practices can be applied to any hair type and texture. Clays (also called mud washes) are used as natural alternatives to shampoo for cleansing your hair and may be used on natural, relaxed or transitioning hair, you just have to determine what works best for YOUR hair. The purpose of this post is to explain the origin and benefits of some of the most popular clays for hair care.
Bentonite Clay: According to NaturallyCurly.com, Bentonite is an impure clay that usually forms from the weathering of volcanic ash and in the presence of water. Its uniqueness is due to the clay’s ability to produce and electronic charge upon contact with water, capability to absorb and remove toxins, heavy metals, impurities and chemicals. Therefore this clay can both clarify and chelate your strands. Most ladies mix their bentonite clay with water to create a paste to apply to the hair and scalp, but some mix the clay with aloe vera juice to lower its pH down to match hair’s naturally acidic pH. There are several types of bentonite clay, each named after its respective dominant element, like magnesium, potassium, aluminum, etc. It has been said NOT to mix the clay with a metal spoon or tool supposedly because the minerals will interact with the metal and decrease its effectiveness. The most popular bentonite clay for hair seems to be Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay.
Rhassoul Clay: Also known as Moroccan Ghassoul Clay, this mineral-rich clay is found in the Atlas mountains from Morocco. It has the ability to absorb impurities from the hair, unblock pores, reduce flakiness and dryness of both the scalp and skin and aid in detangling. While this clay also cleanses, unlike bentonite, it is said to leave the hair very soft so it doubles as a natural cleanser and conditioner. It is a bit pricier than Bentonite, some of the most popular brands are Kae Natural and Anita Grant Rhassoul Deep Conditioning Cubes and it is most commonly mixed with hot water and applied as a hair mask.
Kaolin Clay: Also called white clay, Kaolin is the most commonly used cosmetic clay. It is rich in silica and can also detoxify hair along with restoring moisture to dry and brittle hair.
Multani Mitti Clay: Commonly found in Indian groceries, this clay is a type of kaolin and is the result of decomposed volcanic ash. It is a very popular facial cleanser and mask but may also be used on hair to naturally cleanse tresses by absorbing oils and detoxifying the scalp. This is most commonly mixed with rosewater and your favorite oil and applied as a paste to the hair.
One of the advantages of clays in general is that they often are as beneficial for skin as they are for hair, making them very multipurpose. I’ve been using the Multani mitti on my face for weeks to help calm my acne and mothers use clay mixtures to naturally relieve diaper rashes, just to name a few uses outside of hair. Many of these products can be found locally if you are lucky enough to live in a region that has a natural hair care or even health food store. Happy hair growing!