Step 1: Clarify with Baking Soda

For many people who would like to undertake the Maximum Hydration method challenge, they stumble at Step 1. Specifically, they have an issue with the baking soda (or Bicarbonate of Soda). I went to the Maximum Hydration Website and found they have a specific post dedicated to debunking what they call baking soda myths. I read and researched and came to the conclusion that while baking soda is on the higher end of the pH scale, the presence of conditioner in the mix and following it up with a co-wash detangling Step 2 was sufficient to smooth any cuticles, restore pH and add slip to the hair. Also, considering my low porosity hair, a product to ‘lift’ my cuticles so to speak was necessary.

I have copied and pasted here directly from the Maximum Hydration Method website, which I strongly urge you to visit if you are to hear about this regimen from the originators and understand and apply it correctly. You will also find lots of information from others who have tried it, read about their experiences and see their testimonial pictures. Where there is a specific comment from me, I have prefaced it with #ZH.

The baking soda and conditioner creates a mixture that looks like watered down sour milk

The baking soda and conditioner creates a mixture that looks like watered down sour milk

Step 1: Clarify

Option 1: Baking soda rinse. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda into thick 1-2.5 oz conditioner. Add 4-8 oz of water. Shake. Apply to hair in sections and let sit on the hair for 15-60 minutes. If being done on product free hair, lower baking soda measurement to 1-2 teaspoons.

#ZH: This point is important because they are saying that if your hair is dirty, use the full 1-2 TB is BS. However, if your hair is clean, reduce the amount of BS. This step is ideal for low porosity hair, since it lifts the cuticle as well.

You can use any silicone-free conditioner. I use Tresemme Naturals or if you would like cheaper alternatives, there is a Aquamarine Detangling Conditioner available in some stores. The ingredients are not quite on a par with Tresemme Naturals, but it works to reduce costs.

Option 1.2: Alternate Baking soda rinse

  •  2 tablespoons baking soda (Bicarb)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6-10 oz of water

Option 2: Apple cider vinegar rinse. You do a 1:1 ratio of apple cider vinegar with water in an 8oz applicator bottle. Apply to hair in sections from tips to the root, and on scalp. Let it sit in the hair for 15- 60 mins before rinsing. Note you can choose to only do the acv for 15 minutes, like the BS, but the longer you can leave it the better.

#ZH: Here in Zambia, organic ACV is expensive, and if you follow this 1:1 ratio, you would basically be going through one bottle every two days. For this reason, I will use BS, because it makes more economic sense. My aim is to do the ACV rinse once in the seven days.

Option 3: Alternating between both rinses. You can opt to do either rinse every other day/night/week. It’s up to you to experiment with how often you would like to alternate.

#ZH: Step 1 is essentially only done on Days 2 to 7 as Day 1 is where you do Step 0 (Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment) instead of Step 1. By day 3 I had pretty much gotten a handle on it. The conditioner gives the mixture so much slip that it really helps to make the hair feel lovely and soft.

I use an applicator bottle to apply the baking soda/bicarbonate of soda rinse to my hair.

I use an applicator bottle to apply the baking soda/bicarbonate of soda rinse to my hair.

The first thing I do is wet my hair under the shower by allowing the water to run for a minute or so. I try to remove any product from my hair and smooth and rake my hair. While it is dripping wet, I make four sections and twist my hair. If your hair is shorter, you may not need sections, or you will need more sections as your hair isn’t long enough to make only four. I proceed to complete all the subsequent steps with my hair in these four sections only.

I pour the baking soda mixture all over my head, being sure to put some on each section. I undo one section and add some more baking soda to that section. I smooth and rake the product over my hair to make sure it is evenly distributed. I re-twist that section and then move onto another section, repeating all the steps. Then I let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing it out with warm water. While my hair is still dripping wet I move onto Step 2 – Co-wash and finger detangle.

Click to read the introductory post on the Maximum Hydration Method challenge here. The Step 0 – Cherry Lola Caramel Treatment here.


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