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For those who say that natural hair is a chore, hard to maintain and unmanageable, surely you haven’t tried Bentonite clay.

I first discovered bentonite clay from fellow natural hair blogger, Fatsani Banda from Mistress in the Kitchen. I saw how she was attempting to cut down the ‘wash day’ process to just one step; meanwhile I, at the time, was literally putting aside a whole afternoon for washing my hair, with pre-poo and post-poo, and everything in between.
The second time I heard a good review about bentonite clay was from Ruth Mafupa, owner of Natural Moisture. I had gone to her shop to find a replacement for my Tresseme Naturals Shampoo and conditioner, and she told me about the wonders of Bentonite Clay. She told me about how she uses it particularly after taking out a protective hairstyle like braids, she does absolutely no detangling or cleaning of the hair before, she simply puts in the bentonite clay mixture, and rinses it out to find perfectly clean, soft, and detangled hair. I had to give this stuff a try- I was sold.

Bentonite clay powder is composed of ash from volcanoes, so this cleansing powder is straight from mother nature herself. It is a natural cleanser that has been used for centuries to detoxify the body externally as well as internally. According to Dr Axe, in its natural state bentonite clay has negatively charged molecules, most toxins and heavy metals have positively charged molecules. This allows the two to bind together easily and stay united while the toxin removal process happens. When mixed with a liquid, the clay forms an electric charge that allows it to draw toxins from whatever it comes into contact with. On top of being able to absorb toxins, it has a myriad of beneficial nutrients, namely iron, copper, sodium and potassium; so whilst it is cleansing, it is also providing nutrition. We think it’s a win-win!

While bentonite can be taken orally for stomach problems such as diarrhea and constipation, applied topically on the skin as a mask for conditions such as acne and eczema, we are most interested in what it can do for the hair, so here’s the low down… I have now had two consecutive washes with bentonite clay, and the biggest thing that I found was how soft my hair came out the next day. The first time I used it was after having taken out my braids, I did not comb out the oil clots that remain after taking out braids, I simply applied my home mixed bentonite clay mask, and when I washed it out my hair was completely clean! Whilst you can do a pre-treatment and condioner before and after the bentonite clay wash, I don’t think that it is completely necessary; it would simply depend on how much time I have whether or not to add those two extra steps, but I do believe (from my own experience) that the one step clay mask is sufficient. Make sure to experiment with both, do your own research, listen to your hair; and draw your conclusion from that; as every head of hair is different.

I find that with doing a bentonite clay wash, instead of shampoo and conditioner, I don’t feel the need to wash my hair as often, now again this may be different for you, if you use gels you may need to wash your hair more often because gels cause buildup that weigh your hair down over time. I, however, don’t use those kinds of styling products, my staples are castor oil, Shea butter, and water pretty much, so I am now considering changing from washing my hair once a week to once every three weeks, using my bentonite clay mask. Bentonite clay can be quite strong so be wary of using it for a weekly wash, you may want to try using your regular shampoo and conditioner weekly, and then doing a monthly clay mask as a sort of deep cleanse.
How you mix:

This varies depending on how much hair you have.

• 2 tablespoons of bentonite clay

• 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

• 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (you could add olive oil, or any oil you like for your hair)

• Water

Make sure that it is of a consistency that you can spread it easily into your hair, so not too thick, but also not too loose and watery. Cover your hair with a plastic bag, and leave it in for about 20 minutes. The best thing about bentonite clay is that it’s very affordable, you can find it for R36.95, but I prefer to support a local natural hair brand Natural Moisture, they sell it for only R50.

This is why I say that whoever says that natural hair is hard to maintain has clearly not used bentonite clay, because it is literally a one step cleanser and nutrient, it is not a lot of work, and in fact there is so much out there to discover; so many natural ingredients from the earth that we can utilize for our hair. It is all about being open and doing the research.