News of the Aztec Clay Mask broke out in the natural community a few years ago. Since then, a lot of naturals have found it to be something that revitalized their curls, bringing them back to life and giving them a newfound freshness. This, of course, made it very appealing to transitioning naturals looking to combat heat damage and avoid doing the big chop.
When you think of clay, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of it when it’s dry, hard, and chalky. Or maybe your go-to thought is of it when it’s still wet, unsolid, and thick. One of those descriptions doesn’t sound that pleasant to put on your hair while the other description is a little better. No matter how unappealing it may sound to use clay on your hair, there are actually some benefits that may not be so obvious. Here, we’ll look into the Aztec Clay Mask and breakdown why it could benefit you to try it!
Aztec Clay Mask: What Is It?
The clay used in the Aztec Clay Mask is called Bentonite Clay. The Aztec Clay Mask that most would recognize is a brand marketed as the “Indian Healing Secret”. Despite the name, it seems most of the Bentonite Clay you get in the states are sourced from Death Valley California and are then processed and distributed throughout various places throughout the country.
There are some masks in this brand where the label indicates it was made in India. The source of the clay for these masks isn’t clear, however it is most likely sourced from somewhere near or in India. You can also find Calcium Bentonite Clay from a lot of other places around the world, beyond America and India! The source of your clay really depends on where you’re ordering it from and where you are in the world.
Despite where the clay is sourced, processed, and distributed, it is all the same kind of clay – Calcium Bentonite Clay. In general, Bentonite Clay originally was volcano ash. Overtime, as the elements worked the substance, it became a mineral clay compound, giving it the many properties it has today.
There are two kinds of Bentonite Clay. The one used cosmetically for hair and skin (also the clay we are referring to throughout this blog) is Calcium Bentonite Clay. The other kind of clay, Sodium Bentonite, is a swelling clay that has the ability to draw toxins to it’s surface after they’ve been absorbed. This isn’t used so much for cosmetic application since it would behave more severely on the skin. It also is not as widespread around the world as Calcium Bentonite is.
Aztec Clay Mask: How Is It Beneficial?
Now that we know what (Calcium) Bentonite Clay is, let’s look into exactly why it’s so good…
- Detoxifies: Bentonite Clay is an extremely detoxifying ingredient. It draws toxins from the hair that are present through exposure to the hair (that contains pollutants). This also makes it a good option for those who are testing different cleansing options and are trying to move away from sulfate shampoos. Because the mask is extremely cleansing, you may not need to go in and shampoo after using it!
- Anti-inflammatory: The clay works to fight any irritation on the scalp, making it a good option for those who struggle with dry scalp or dandruff. Part of the calming effect can be attributed to the water you mix into the clay. The water in combination with the vitamins and minerals in the clay do well to moisturize the dry areas on the scalp.
- Antibacterial: Another part of the calming effect can be attributed to the detoxifying properties. Any bacteria under and on the skin causing irritating, itchy flare ups will be drawn out from the skin. This makes the clay mask an easy, at home remedy for those who can’t see a dermatologist for their chronic dandruff.
- Conditions: Bentonite Clay provides amazing vitamins that essentially feed the hair, softening it and allowing it to thrive. These vitamins, along with the hydration of the water in the mask, makes the hair resistant to breakage and damage in general. This makes the mask a good option for those who are experiencing dull, dry, or damaged curls.
Aztec Clay Mask: How To Do It?
Now that we’ve been over the benefits, let’s look into how to actually make and use a mask…
- First you want to get your Calcium Bentonite Clay. You can choose to get your clay from the popular brand or you can get it from a smaller business. Like mentioned before, where your Bentonite Clay is sourced can depend on where you are in the world and where you are buying the clay from. Despite the numerous places you can get your clay from, there is no variation in quality.
- Next, decide whether you’d like to add Apple Cider Vinegar into your mixture. Apple Cider Vinegar is a balancing ingredient that can help with the health of your scalp and smoothing down the hair’s cuticles. Adding Apple Cider Vinegar into the mix will enhance the clarifying properties of the Bentonite Clay, serving as an exfoliator that refreshens the scalp and loosens up any dirt or excess oils.
- Whether you are using Apple Cider Vinegar or not, your next step is to make the mixture. Combine as much Bentonite Clay, Apple Cider Vinegar (if using it), and water as it takes to make a clay-like paste. It should be thin enough to easily spread on your hair but thick enough to where it can be formed together like mud. It is recommended that you use warm water for the paste; this will help the clay dissolve better as well as activate the nutrients in the clay to work more effectively. Warm water also opens your hair cuticles, allowing for more moisture to absorb into it.
- When it comes to application, some decide to use the mask on cleansed, shampooed hair. Seeing as the mask is already cleansing and clarifying, we don’t see a need to use shampoo before applying the mask. You also can choose to apply the mask on damp (uncleaned) hair, however that may change the consistency of the mask. Because of this, we recommend applying the mask on dry (uncleaned) hair.
- So now that you’ve got your mask ready, it’s time to apply it. Section your hair off and apply the mask to each section at a time. When applying the mask on your strands, make sure you take your time to smooth the mask into your hair. Repeatedly smoothing the mask and running your fingers or palms down the sections will help the mask absorb into your hair better. It also will smooth your cuticles, adding to the smoothing effects of the clay mask itself. While applying the masks, make sure you’re getting your scalp as well. This will help moisturize your scalp, balance it’s PH level (from the Apple Cider Vinegar), and nourish your follicles.
- After the mask has been applied to the whole of your head, you want to let it sit for around 5 to 15 minutes. Depending on how dirty your hair is or how deep of a treatment you want, you’ll want to leave it on for the full 15 minutes. Normally, when using a deep conditioner like our Ice Cream Treatments, you would leave them in for up to 45 minutes. You don’t need as much time for the clay mask due to the nature of the ingredients and how they affect the hair.
- Once you go to rinse the mask out, don’t be afraid by the hardness of your hair! Once warm water touches the dry clay, it will smoothly melt off of your hair. Even if your hair is normally weak and brittle, the mask will help to fortify your strands; there is no need to worry about the clay breaking your hair off! So when you’re ready, go ahead and apply warm water to your hair to remove the mask. It may take a little time to rinse all of the clay out of your hair, but it will eventually come out. You don’t want the water to be too hot, otherwise you run the risk of damaging your hair with the heat.
- After you rinse all the Bentonite Clay from your hair, there is no need to follow up with a shampoo or cleanser. If your hair is extremely thin and is easily weighed down, you can use an extremely hydrating cleanser to clear any clay residue from your hair. Our Low Poo Miracle Cleanser with Mango and Coconut is a great product to use when you’re looking for something cleansing that will also moisturize. It doubles as a cleanser and a conditioner and is very hydrating, softening, and restoring. If you don’t choose to follow up with a mild cleanser, you should still apply a deep conditioner since you’ve technically cleansed your hair with the mask. A hydrating deep conditioner will help to keep your hair hydrated and add to the nutrients gained from the mask. Our Hydrating Ice Cream Treatment could be a good deep conditioner to follow up with if your hair is normally dry. If you are using the mask to help restore your curls, our Curl Defining Ice Cream Treatment would be a good treatment to use after,
- After rinsing and deep conditioning, you want to make sure you apply moisturizing products that will prep your hair for the rest of the week. Leave-In Conditioners and Moisturizers will help to restore any moisture lost in the process of “washing” your hair and will help to maintain any moisture absorbed. Our Hydrating Leave-In Conditioner and Hydrating Moisturizer are great products to use throughout the week to ensure your hair is adequately moisturized until your next wash day.
- The Bentonite Clay Mask acts as a shampoo and therefore can be used weekly (or biweekly) in your regular wash day routine. You would just replace your shampoo or cleaner with the clay mask. It is important to note that you should be cleansing your hair and scalp regularly with a purifying agent. “Cowashing”, in other words just applying conditioner to your hair to “cleanse” it, is not recommended. Unless the conditioner is formulated to cleanse your hair as well, it will not remove any buildup from your scalp or strands. Not properly cleansing your hair can lead to breakage, and irritated scalp, or a loss of curl definition.
- For added nutrients, you can add your favorite oils into the mix. This also would help with the slippage of the mix so it’s easier to glide your fingers through your strands. The addition of oil would also help lock in all the benefits of the clay mask into your hair. When using oil, it may take a longer to rinse the mask completely out of your hair.
- It is best that the clay mask sits on detangled hair. You can either detangle before application or detangle while applying the mask. If you detangle before application, you want to be very gentle with your hair as it will be dry. If you detangle during application, you want to be gentle as well, since the clay can be a little heavy on the hair. The clay mixture itself doesn’t have much slip, but it is very moisturizing. Because of this, it isn’t likely detangling with the clay will be damaging to your hair, just time consuming. You could use a gentle brush to detangle your hair if you can’t do it by hand. Our Detangling Brush and its shape/form is a good example of a gentle brush you can use on your hair.
- If you are going to apply the mask on damp hair, make sure to apply less water into your mixture. This will prevent the mixture from becoming watery as you’re working it into your hair.
- If you’re looking for more of a cleansing treatment, you can add more Apple Cider Vinegar than water into the clay mixture. This will yield a more clarifying solution as opposed to a hydrating solution. Either way, your hair will be conditioned and defined.