Sunday, 21 September 2014

Curl clumping in type 4c hair - Hair Conditioner vs Bentonite Clay

I am trying to answer as many of your questions as possible and one that frequently comes up after I did the clay cleansing post is about curl clumping with bentonite clay. Many naturals do report curl clumping after using bentonite clay and having purchased some for the cleansing experiment, why not try it for a clumping experiment?

The Experiment
- My own hair - 7 inch segment cut from the crown area (details here). This cut is selected for this experiment as all the hair comes from the same general area and should therefore clump if it can. Hair is kinky curly with very tight coils. I am not a fan of hair typing but most would call it 4c hair.
-Hair unbraided and detangled first then shampooed (2 mins), rinsed (2 mins), conditioner applied (1 hour with heat) and  imaged before being  rinsed (2 mins) and applying bentonite clay suspended in water applied (20 mins) and one final rinse (2 mins). Leave in applied to soaking wet hair followed by gel (except in one case where no gel is used. Hair then dried and imaged.


Results

1. Detangling and Shrinkage

As a starting point I unbraided and detangled the hair first after misting the section with water which induced shrinkage This is an image to illustrate to you the level of shrinkage that is normal for my hair .Yes 7 inches to just 2.5 inches - Fascinatingly this 2.5 mark does not change even when my hair  is longer.

2. Hair Conditioner Results

For some naturals, conditioning hair is sufficient to create curl clumping. For my hair this is not the case. The hair does start to form coils and hang but not clump.
Hair conditioner does not induce curl clumping on my 4c hair


3. Bentonite Clay Results

Bentonite clay in the case of my hair did induce curl or if you wish coil clumping. The hair is elongated from the 2.5 inch full shrinkage to around 4 inches.

Bentonite clay curl clumping on 4c hair (clay still on the hair at this point)

4. Do the clumped curls stay?

After the clay is rinsed off,  a leave in conditioner was applied in one case and in the second a leave in conditioner with gel. The end result was the same in both cases at least from my view point. Some of the curls stay clumped but quite a bit of frizz also developed.  The gel gives extra hold allowing the hair to stay clumped for longer even when handled but the hair with no hair gel will frizz up faster.

Dry hair post bentonite clay rinse


5. Is that really 4c hair? 

4c hair - full shrinkage
Just another shot of the full shrinkage to remind you that it is 4c hair.

 
Additional Notes:
Conditioning time: In practise, I never usually use heat or condition my own hair for extended times 20- 30 mins at most, but in the interest of doing what many naturals do, I chose to apply heat and extend the conditioning time to the swatches

Products: Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo, L'Oreal Eversleek smoothing conditioner, Bentonite Clay from Sheabutter cottage , Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave In, Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel


Please note that these results are for my hair. Your hair may behave differently which is perfectly fine. For my hair, bentonite clay does induce curl clumping, the same may not be true for everyone! What are your results? Have you tried bentonite clay?

34 comments:

  1. That is very very cool! I absolutely have to try it on my daughter. Would you mind explaining exactly how or why the clay works on the hair? What is it that makes the coils defined and elongated? Could the clay harm the hair in any way (dry it out or cause breakage?) or is it safe to use? Thanks! :-)

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    1. Eek my chemist consultant (hubby) is yet to look at some of my theories and research. When he has a free moment we will discuss the science journal articles and then I will publish my take. I just need him to look at some chemistry for me before I throw out the theory :)

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    2. Ok, thanks! I look forward to that :-)

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  2. Hold up. Did you CUT your hair for this experiment?? Did I read that incorrectly? I've read some great things about Bentonite clay! Thanks for going through the steps of testing it all out.

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  3. Whoops! guess I should have read your link first before commenting. Whew! My blood pressure has now returned to normal, lol.

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  4. I love your experiments. I used bentonite clay on my transitioining hair and yes there was lots of curl clumping. I'm looking forward to when I'm fully natural

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  5. That is not 4C hair.

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    1. lol that is so funny to me ! My hair has actually been described as 4z because someone could not understand why it was so kinky.......first time ever someone has said it is not 4c.......rest assured it is the kinkiest tightest coil I have ever seen and I am Kenya which if you believe the research is the home of the tightest curls :)

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    2. "Just another shot of the full shrinkage to remind you that it is 4c hair."

      Lol! The comment above makes it even funnier. Not sure why folks like to debate about 4c so much. My hair looks just like yours, and I am definitely 4c. There is nothing else it could be.

      When I first went natural my hair was fuzzy and hard. As I learned how to care for it, my hair softened and curls appeared. My theory is that fuzz and frizz indicate very small curls/bends in the hair. To get the fuzz/frizz to turn into discernible curls, the hair has to be in good condition and you have to use the right products. For me, the right products are a heavy leave-in (regular conditioner, actually), castor oil, and gel. Also, bristle brushes and over-combing destroy curls. Think about it – no matter the texture of the hair, anytime you brush curls you get frizz. My curls really improved when I stopped using combs or brushes to style my hair.

      Also, thanks for showing the shrinkage. The only way that I know my hair is growing is because the volume increases. The visual length doesn't really increase. Instead, the longer my hair gets, the tighter the coils get!

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    3. Im gonna post my daughters hair tonight. She has the tightest coil ive ever seen. It has no kink but the hair is super fine and the coil is super tight. My hair has little coil (until water hits it) looks almost exactly like yours but my coild are slightly smaller

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    4. AyB interestingly, we have similar routines with no combs and using a leave in and gel. I think you are right that combination helps to not disrupt clumping plus it keeps hair shrunken so that the curls can find their matching partners.

      I do think 4c hair is put in a box where only full shrinkage or full stretch are the norm but curling is not regarded as 'normal'.

      Anon, good luck!

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  6. This is very interesting!! I eagerly await your theory.

    Gorgeous hair, by the way!! It looks so healthy. :o)

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  7. Very interesting! I'm wondering how the hair looked post conditioner, just for comparison.

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    1. I think I did take some photos after rinsing, I will look through them and update if I have one.

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  8. What did you mix the clay with?

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  9. Cool and interesting article. Thanks for posting this. Keep it up! :) Have a nice day!

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  10. Thanks for the post. I remember you writing once that when hair clumps it is stronger than when the hairs are separated which makes me think that inducing clumping might lead to an easier detangling method for my 4c hair.

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  11. Hi JC, this is so kool and interesting as I used the Bentonite Clay on my hair over the weekend, I will have to say that I put some oils in my clay (two random kinds of oils - just whatever I had in my stash) I loved the cleanse and the slip. After I rinsed the clay from my hair I did a tea rinse and on top of that I did a DC (left both on overnight) - rinsed them out and WOW - I was totally amazed at how my hair felt and CLUMPED - something that I have not EVER had happen before. I will be trying this again on wash day... time will tell - so for the most part I'm a happy 4C-Kinky-Hair-Sista (smile)...

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    1. Hey bentonite clay is interesting stuff isn't it! The clumping is very curious to me.

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  12. Hi Jc, Do you know if you had added baking soda in step one when you detangled, it would have been the MHM lol? It is really fun to be able to follow along with each step demonstrating what you did and being able to see what happens to your hair. I have finally figured out how to embrace my shrinkage and use it to create different hair styles. Thank you for taking the time to do these experiments and share them with us. I look toward to future articles.

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    1. lol I thought MHM had to be done every day/ every other day too. I am actually going to kick off an experiment on some swatches this week because readers want to see the hair under the microscope.

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    2. The method only has to be done every day for one week then after that once every 3 days then when you've reach 70 percent max hydration once every 5 days...then once you reach complete hydration..once every 7 days.

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    3. But you can do the maximum hydration method once and still see results. Cottony Curls is right..if you had added baking soda/acv you would have been doing the method...well a modified version of the method

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    4. I tried this on my daughter. The results were AMAZING! She has the tightest coil ever, and very very fine strands that are a nightmare to detangle. The clay just melted away the tangles, I could just run my fingers through her hair, and for the first time ever she had defined curls. These microscopic teeny-tiny (elongated) coils!! I could not believe my eyes.

      Now I REALLY want to know, what in this stuff makes it work like this. Someone has to have an explanation. Does the clay leave something on/in the strands, or is it just the hair finally getting moisturized? I need to know!!

      Also, if the clay works this well, why would anyone bother with the MHM, that is so timeconsuming and has to be done every day?

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  13. Would you expect the same results with rhassoul clay? Would you expect the same results witha different leave-in conditioner?

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  14. I've been wondering if it's the clay or the process or some combination of both. When I use henna and just glob it on, I get a frizzy mass... when I actually take the time to smooth and coat thickly it helps to define my curls.

    Same thing with Ayurvedic power washes, if I make a tea no definition but if I make a mask I it clumps with definition IF the strands are smoothed in small sections. Glomping causes no real definition.

    I can guess that the powders mixtures (clay, henna, amla, bramhi, etc) are all alkaline but I'm, not sure how that would make it easier for "like to be attracted to like". I suspect some sort of charge is possible also did you take any pictures post clay but before conditioner?

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  15. I have used both bentonite clay and rhassoul cosmetic clay.

    I used the bentonite first (it was easier to obtain) and I can not say that I did not have any results. But first I want to say that my attraction to use the clay was from the same results that a sister on Youtube had. I used it and discovered that the clay resolved a problem that she and I both shared, hair on our crown was always thick, tight, and unruly, assuming from multi textured hair and past relaxer use from small (childhood). I begged my mother to relax my hair. When I first attempted to go natural the crown didn't really bother me but as time of growth and length became an issue, the crown was a serious problem. I want to say that the clays removed heavy metals that were lock in the crown of (our) heads. This angry hair texture controlled everything from my styling to the persistence to forge ahead into going natural. I had been natural for many years but the crown was very uncontrollable. So my first attempt with the bentonite released a portion of that tightness. So I researched the difference between the bentonite and the rhassoul (online) and discovered that rhassoul was more refined and not as dry as the bentonite (the feel of the texture between my fingers)

    Today.....I use rhassoul once a month and have been doing so for about a year now. I use it as a wash (wetting it with Aloe Vera juice or gel but it was too messy that way, so now I make a paste of it (still no water added). I will do this after a ACV wash that I rinse out thoroughly before applying the clay. I leave it in for 20 to 30 minutes, rinse it out well and apply conditioner after for an assurance of removing the clay and I am proud to say that my crown is elongated and my whole head is wonderfully manageable.

    I also wanted to stress..... that if you have used the clays once, once is not enough to judge it. It works great on old hair and renews the scalp but it is sweeter on new growth.....as I used rhassoul over time, I could see and feel the difference between the new growth and old hair and that's why I continued to use it, without regret. It helped in the retention of moisture in my hair......I chose not to live without it and faithfully keep a supply of it on hand.

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  16. Please, forgive me for posting without praising you for the wonderful and informative work you do on your blog. I am enthusiastic about the clay washes and anxious to share. Love your dedication and knowledge, may you continue to be blessed and grow! Sincerely...Debora

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  17. Hey, came here from BGLH for more info. I have to say, your hair experimenting is super innovative! Though I am still a little tripped up about you having swatches of your own hair. Lol. Where do you store them, might I ask?
    Also, African naturalistas, what whaaaaaat!!! lol

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  18. Dear Jc:

    Your positing that 4c coils also kink (29 May 11) was a game changer for me!

    I never understood why my 4c hair was so prone to breakage. :-(

    Thanks for all the good research you do. I started MHM back in June and can't wait to see the results on your MHM microscope swatches!

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  19. How much of the clay should i use?

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