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.


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?

Original publication date: 21/09/2014

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