I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my MHM 7 Day Challenge posts. Actually, I’ve gotten the same question a lot of times.
“What happens after MHM?”
According to the Research…
There isn’t a straight answer to it. Some sources say you don’t do anything for three days, then repeat the cycle again replacing step one with the Cherry Lola Treatment every 2-4 weeks.
Others say you should return to your normal process (read: pre-MHM life), repeating the cycle every 2-3 days, although the time span is contended wildly between sources. As far as I’ve been able to find, the modifications are based on curl and porosity type, which creates a spider web of different approaches and techniques. It’s complicated.
My hair is a high porosity 3b curl. Which means it’s super dry, but curls about the width of a sharpie marker, and the strands are super fine. That means I don’t need such a strong curl definer. A creme is better than a gel for me.
Post-MHM Life & Me
The MHM 7 Day Challenge is like a detox cleanse for your hair. Not only does it get your hair to square one, but it forces you to reevaluate the choices you make. I’ve learned to determine the reasons for my hair’s behavior. Instead of trying to apply some kind of product to combat the issue, I can respond to it with science. The biggest gain from MHM is that it forces you to learn the science of your own hair. There’s a reason for each step:
- The baking soda rinse is all about lifting the cuticle of your strand, so that you can dump as much hydration into it in the conditioning step.
- The clay removes the excess product from your hair, so in the end you’ve got a plump, shiny clean strand.
- Leave-in conditioner gives that last moisture dump, and the curl definer hardens around the strands, forming a cast. This causes the curls to clump, and if I’m being honest, this is as far as I ever got with my hair process. I had no real concept of the final step.
- The final step is the one where you fluff and separate the clumps of dry curls very gently. It’s also the one where you put the oils on the ends of your curls to help them look less frazzled. Skipping it leaves the roots of your hair weighed down more, making it less likely to curl up there the next day.
By the end of the 7 Day Challenge I’d learned the various textures of my hair.
- Fluffy and dry.
- Mega friction squeaky clean.
- Slippery and conditioned.
I found that I could predict the final result by the way it felt when I’d finished styling. I learned how to define that Goldilocks combination of slip and friction, and that I still have a lot to learn about my hair, and a lot to learn about myself.
- I have to learn that my hair is supposed to stand up. That’s what it does. Frizz is going to happen. I have to remember that it isn’t just curly girls who battle frizz, it’s everyone.
- I have to learn how to get the top of my head to curl all the way to the root.
- I have to learn to embrace the round shape of my hair, and stop feeling like it looks messy.
At first there was a lot of trial and error, although I continued to dilute my conditioners, both the co-wash and the leave-in. I also love the applicator tips because the help me make sure I’m hitting my roots. I have to refill the co-wash bottle every other day-2-3 squirts of conditioner, and fill the bottle with the hot water from the shower. I’m sticking with the kinky curly leave in, and the Face Values brand tea tree conditioner—I’ve come to love the tingle.
There were a few days where I tried to make the Kinky Curly Gel work as a spray gel, which lead to some weird splotches of gel as I experimented with dilution, and different spray bottles. A misting bottle works well, and is pretty good for killing frizz, but I just hate the texture of it. I can’t touch my hair at all. It’s something I’ll save for special occasions when I need my hair to look amazing.
When the hair at my crown stops curling to the root, and my curls start to take on more of an s-shape than a spiral, that’s when I know to repeat the MHM cycle. So far it’s been about a week between cycles, and I still haven’t repeated the Cherry Lola step. I’m a little leery of how long the first batch is supposed to last, and I haven’t gotten around to figuring it out. I’ll probably make a new batch before I get an answer. I prefer my hair after the apple cider vinegar rinse to the baking soda rinse.
I’ve changed de-tangling equipment quite a bit. I use a shower comb to de-tangle my dry hair before i shower, and finish it with a metal fan pick. I’m also using a fan pick during my final separating step.
I’ve also upgraded my shower cap situation because I can’t handle the crunching sounds they make.
- During the step one rinse I use a spa headband to catch the drips.
- During the deep conditioning I wrap a scarf around my head like a turban.
- I use a shower cap for the clay step, because that stuff can be messy
- I got a wave cap for plopping my curls.
Oh, yeah, remember plopping? When I have the time to let my hair dry at home, my hair responds beautifully to plopping! I just add a little extra curl definer, pile my hair into a wave cap, and let it dry.
I’ve compiled a full slide show for all the days of MHM, including the four weeks beyond.
In the end my process comes down to this:
I can get up to three days of use out of one styling. If I’m not wetting/washing my head in the shower, I just clip it into a bun and do my best to avoid the water. I don’t mind a little water in my hair, I just don’t let it get soaked. It helps with styling after the shower.
Hair wetting days
- detangle dry hair
- apply diluted warm conditioner from root to tip. Clip into a bun atop head.
- detangle in shower
- apply diluted leave-in followed directly by curl definer in sections (experiment with this daily).
- separate and scrunch when completely dry. apply oil to ends as needed.
- de-tangle dry hair
- apply clarifying rinse with spray bottle. clip into bun atop head. use spa wrap to catch drips. 30-60 minutes.
- rinse. apply diluted conditioner root to tip. clip into bun atop head. use scarf and spa wrap to contain. 15-30 minutes
- rinse. apply clay rinse root to tip. clip into sections (experiment with configuration). contain with shower cap 15 minutes
- In shower, rinse in sections. Return hair to sections after rinsing. Alternatively rinse all in one mass and section with clips before leaving shower.
- apply diluted leave-in followed directly by a little extra curl definer.
- plop hair until 80% dry.
- separate and scrunch when completely dry, apply oil to ends as needed
If I’m being honest, I put off MHM days. As I’m writing this post summer is upon us, and it doesn’t always make sense to let my curls loose. There are lots of updos, and hair buns happening, and with two kids home, it’s hard to find the time to get through the entire process. I won’t put it off forever. That’s how I know the impact the Maximum Hydration Method has had on my hair. I’m still willing to do it.
Would I do the 7 Day MHM challenge again?
In fact, I’d like to challenge one of my favorite role models, one of the most graceful, beautiful and intelligent women today, Michelle Obama, to take the challenge, and show us her natural curls! Wouldn’t it be amazing if it caught on? If women everywhere stopped succumbing to the pressure to get straight hair, and the world was filled with beautiful curls?!
Curly hair has a stigma. It has associations of being dirty, smelly, and unclean.
It looks wild, unkempt, untamed. There are people who are scared of curly haired folk.
Curly hair is an identifier. The products for them are usually sold in “ethnic care” sections (don’t even get me started on this!. What does that even mean?), a subtle act of segregation.
Curly hair is an act of resistance. Societal standards have attempted to erase natural curls for millennia as a subtle method of control.
There is an ever-growing curl power industry starting to catch its stride, and the more visibility we give our curls, the more knowledge we can discover. Wouldn’t it be awesome if when we told little girls they were beautiful, we meant it for all of them, not just the ones lucky enough to have straight hair?
It sounds superficial to spend so much time thinking about hair. It feels like I should be writing something about valuing ourselves by more than just our physical representations. Still, if I can save one little girl, or one grown woman from a flat iron, or a chemical relaxer, it would all be worth it.
Thank you for taking this journey with me. I leave you with one final slideshow of the amazing hair days I’ve had Post-MHM. Enjoy!