My MHM Products

I’ve gotten a few questions about the exact products I use for MHM, so I figured I’d just create a quick post to answer it for everyone in one place.

As far as the ingredients for all the DIY products:

  • I started with the Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, because that’s what I had on hand. I ended up grabbing a store brand organic ACV when I ran out, and found it smells stronger than the Braggs. Both work just fine, but I intend to use Bragg’s when I run out of the store brand.
  • I tossed the container of benzontonite clay, so I don’t remember the brand. I bought it at Whole Foods.

For deep conditioning and co-washing I use Face Values brand Tea Tree Conditioner, which I bought from Harmon. It’s the no-frills version of Paul Mitchell’s Special Tea Tree Conditioner.

For Step 4 (Leave-in condish) I use Kinky-Curly Knot Today, which I got on Amazon.

Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave-in Conditioner


For Step 5 (curl definer) I use Miss Jessie’s Multi-Cultural Curls, which I get on Amazon, or at Sally’s Beauty Supply. This is the one item that doesn’t strictly adhere to the Maximum Hydration Method’s no-no ingredient list. I tried Kinky-Curly’s coiley custard, which was the most commonly used curl definer among all the blogs I read. I found that my hair really didn’t respond well to a gel, so I returned to

Miss Jessie’s Multi-Cultural Curls

Miss Jessie’s, and I’ve been pleased with the results.

I’ve thrown everything else out. So I don’t have oodles of product around my bathroom anymore, which my family really appreciates.

I hope that answers your questions. As always feel free to reach out on Instagram @TR_Patmore, or on  Facebook!!

30 Days Later | My So Called Post-MHM Life

     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.
  • Crunchy.

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.

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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
  1. detangle dry hair
  2. apply diluted warm conditioner from root to tip. Clip into a bun atop head.
  3. detangle in shower
  4. apply diluted leave-in followed directly by curl definer in sections (experiment with this daily).
  5. separate and scrunch when completely dry. apply oil to ends as needed.
MHM Days
  1. de-tangle dry hair
  2. apply clarifying rinse with spray bottle. clip into bun atop head. use spa wrap to catch drips. 30-60 minutes.
  3. rinse. apply diluted conditioner root to tip. clip into bun atop head. use scarf and spa wrap to contain. 15-30 minutes
  4. rinse. apply clay rinse root to tip. clip into sections (experiment with configuration). contain with shower cap 15 minutes
  5. In shower, rinse in sections. Return hair to sections after rinsing. Alternatively rinse all in one mass and section with clips before leaving shower.
  6. apply diluted leave-in followed directly by a little extra curl definer.
  7. plop hair until 80% dry.
  8. 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!

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MHM 7 Day Challenge- Days Three -Six

     If you haven’t been playing along, I took the Maximum Hydration Method 7 Day Challenge (click here to learn more about MHM), and had some really amazing results so far on Day One & Two. The only problem was the frizz factor was worse than I’d hoped it would be, although the weather was pretty humid the entire time. For the most part the first three steps stayed the same, with the exception of toggling Step One’s clarifying rinse between diluted apple cider vinegar (ACV) and the option 2 baking soda rinse. Steps 4 & 5 gave me the most trouble, and took the longest time, so this is where I experimented the most. For these next few days I’ll only be highlighting the differences in my methods. For a complete rundown on each of the steps check out my Day One & Two posts.

MHM Day 3

Step One: Option 2 baking soda rinse.

     I can safely say that using a spray bottle to apply the rinse is the easiest and most effective method. Each application uses about 4 ounces.

Step Two: Deep Condition

     Instead of adding warm water, I chose to pour just boiled water (after I made some mid-morning tea, of course) into a mug and let the applicator bottle sit in there for five minutes.

Step Three: Clay Rinse

     This is when I started sectioning my hair differently. Instead of thinking about my hair in sections (left, right, crown) I thought of it in layers from the nape of my neck to the front of my head. It took FOREVER. I also decided to rinse these sections out individually, and roll them into little buns in the shower. The clay can be hard to rinse out, and this helped me make sure I was getting it really clean.
     Remember when I was complaining about how the clay made my hair feel? By Day Three I’d begun looking forward to it. Because curly hair strands are naturally ridged, it is not actually supposed to feel smooth.

Steps Four & Five: Leave-in Conditioner & Curl Definer

     These are the steps where I’d been breaking the MHM ingredients rules. Miss Jessie’s Leave-in Condish actually contains denatured alcohols, which are drying. I picked up a bottle of Curls brand Blueberry Bliss Leave-in Brûlée, which doesn’t have any of the MHM no-no ingredients, but I stuck with Miss Jessie’s Multicultural Curls as my definer. MHM is a very hands-on process which calls for you to detangle and style with your fingers. My hair is pretty long, so pulling the product through to the ends is quite the workout on my arms. I took breaks. The definition of the curl comes from these steps. While you might have heard of Ouidad’s rake and shake method (pull each section, shake it, and release it), others might call it shingling. I like this term better, because it is more accurate. I like thinking of each section as shingles on a roof.

These pictures were taken before my hair was completely dry, which is why my roots look so much darker (also I need to get my hair color updated). I will say, that I did have a halo of frizz by the end of the day, and my hair felt sticky. I’m pretty sure it came from the new leave-in, so abandoned it, and decided to buy the products recommended by the creators of MHM.
Knot Today Leave-In & Kinky Curl Coiling Gel. I ordered them on Amazon, so it’ll take two days for them to arrive. Still, the results were enough to push me to the next day.

MHM Day 4

Step One: Baking soda ACV

Steps Four & Five:

This time I decided to dilute Miss Jessie’s Leave-in Condish, according to the rules.
Today I got my eyebrows done at Ulta’s Benefit Brow Bar. I let the waxer fill in my eyebrows, which is always a little strange when I’m not wearing any other makeup.

You can see the frizz really well in the pictures, but this is the day that I realized I could separate my curls without losing the definition. From everything I’m reading the frizz comes from the curls clumping together. Despite the frizz, I’m still pretty stoked about how far up my hair is curling. In some places it’s all the way up to my scalp which usually doesn’t happen even after a professional Ouidad style.

MHM Day Five

Ugh by this day I’m so ready for this to be over. As much as I love the results, all the rinsing and application of products is incredibly time consuming. I am seriously not the kind of girl who spends so much time on her hair. Not to mention that even by the end of Day 4 I’m still getting more frizz than I’m happy with. If I have to choose between a better defined curl, and frizz, I’d gladly choose the pretty curls, but after all this work I really hope that I’m getting more than that.

Step One: ACV

Steps Four & Five :

Knot Today- diluted as per proper instructions
Kinky curl custard
I really don’t like the Kinky Curl Custard. It dries up as soon as it touches my hair, which I’ve read is simply casting the shell to hold the curl. I haven’t used a gel in a really long time, so I forget how my hair responds to it, but I’m pretty sure it’s never been like this. It leaves my hair brittle to the touch and crunchy for the entire drying process, but the curl definition is incredible. Once it’s completely dry, all I have to do is scrunch and separate. Even the frizz is better managed today.

Day Six

Step One: ACV

Step Two: Condition

This time I decided to try the conditioning overnight. It wasn’t a hair thing. It was a time thing. I had places to be on Saturday, and the entire process is easier when all you have to do is the clay rinse and the styling.

Steps Four & Five:

Knot today
Kinky Curl Custard
     This time I diluted the gel with water. The instructions didn’t say to do it, but after reading some of the reviews which claimed it works better for 3b hair when diluted, I decided to give it a shot. I also thought that my hair might be rebelling against the way I’m trying to combat the years of parting my hair down the middle. So I went for a side part. This was a mistake. I hate the way my hair falls in my face, so I’m constantly touching it. We all know that anything rubbing against curls may as well be a latex balloon.

     I took these shots after being at a BBQ all day. You can see my hair has held up pretty well even with all the grabbing I did. Still I don’t love the way the gel feels in my hair, even diluted. The gel casts so quickly I don’t get a whole lot of time to style or place the curl. My hair does curl all the way to the tip now, and it feels much healthier. It doesn’t shake all in one clump. Day Two was definitely my best hair day so far, but considering the weather, that’s not the fairest assessment.
     By the end of Day Six, though, I’m ready for this to be over. Seven days is a long commitment to spend so much time on my hair. I’ve thought about giving up so many times, but day by day I’m am watching my coils change for the better. Would I do it all over again? Well you’ll have to wait until my next post to find out!
     In my next post I’ll recap the MHM Seven Day Challenge, deliver the verdict on whether or not is was worth the trouble, and post side by side shots of Day 0 and Day 7 so you can decide for yourself if the MHM Seven Day Challenge is right for you.

MHM 7 Day Challenge- Day One

I decided to start the Maximum Hydration Method on a Friday to avoid having to worry about dropping my daughter off at school with a shower cap on. It was a LOT of work. I have pretty strict Monday-Friday rules for myself. I write a scene a day up front, and then I use whatever time I have until school pick-up for errands, or chores. I made sure I ran through my own usual process so I could fairly assess the before and after. I had an hour and half to gather all the ingredients, which included things that sounded hard to find like,  Bentonite clay, and liquid aminos. Between Whole Foods and Harmon, I found every single thing at a $50 price tag when all was said and done. Well, I did flub a bit on the applicator bottles. Why did I think 4 oz travel bottles would work? Probably because I was rushing. If I had to do it again, I would have prepped by hanging onto empty conditioner/shampoo bottles. Luckily I did have a couple hanging about, and the applicator tips from my too-small bottles fit them. I could have saved about $10 by planning ahead.
Once all the ingredients were procured, and the kids were back home doing homework, I got to work.

MHM Step One: Detangle and Cherry Lola

The Cherry Lola Treatment is a strictly Day One product. Once the 7 day cycle is complete you’re free to repeat it as often as every two weeks. I used half of the recommended baking soda, because this is an intended abrasive, and other curly girls have reported a potential disruption of curl. I also added an entire TBSP of avocado, because I didn’t have a 3/4 TBSP and I figured it couldn’t hurt. Oh, yeah, and I got to eat the rest of the avocado! Bonus yum! In my house bananas don’t last long enough to become overripe, so, at the suggestion of one of my friends, I baked a plantain in the toaster oven at 300 for 30 minutes. It worked to achieve the consistency the Cherry Lola Treatment requires, but I can tell you, after frying up the other half, it wasn’t sweet. Still, a couple slices double fried made excellent tostones! Bonus yum 2!!
My favorite part was detangling my hair. I never do this on dry hair, because it stretches my curl straight. Not completely straight. It’s about as straight as you can get a sheet of paper after you’ve crumpled it into a small ball. No matter how hard you push or press, without heat, it will always have creases. The same holds true for my hair getting detangled by a comb. It was like watching the balloons inflate for The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The circumference of my hair was stupendous. I couldn’t help but to take a selfie break. This needed to be documented. I should also mention, seeing the magnitude of my mane was a bucket lister for my husband. Bonus Dreams Coming True!

I combined the ingredients easily into the Ninja Blender Large Carafe until it looked like a kale smoothie. I didn’t bother trying to pour it into an applicator bottle. Instead I took the pitcher into the bathroom, and scooped it out as I saturated my hair with it. Definitely messy!! Be prepared to clean the tub afterwards.
The first thing I’ll say is that my hair did NOT like this combination of being detangled, and then coated with goop. Some of it started to frizz rebelliously, and it felt like it would never feel completely wet. I just kept applying it root to tip until it was all one big mass that I could wind into a bun on the top of my head. I covered it with saran wrap, and used a bandana to cover the edges.
     I stored the rest in a mason jar in the fridge. I think I have enough left for two more applications, but I’m not really sure how long this kind of mixture can be stored.
     Meanwhile, I prepared and bottled the rest of the rinses. I decided that I’d alternate ACV rinses and the option 2 baking soda rinse. Both were easy to prep. I used an old leave-in conditioner bottle to store the option 2 baking soda rinse, and still had about 4 ounces left over. Well, well, well, travel-sized bottle. One of you has served a purpose. The ACV rinse is all liquid, so I stored it in a 6 oz bottle I found, which an applicator tip fit on perfectly. *Note* Since writing this I have already completed some of the MHM cycle, and have since learned that the best practice for this rinse is a spray bottle.

     The clay rinse is slightly more complicated. If I’d bothered to read the directions more clearly, I would have seen the recommendation was to use an old 32 oz shampoo/conditioner bottle. It wouldn’t have mattered, because I didn’t have one of those, but I feel like I would’ve tried harder to source one. I mixed the conception in an old ricotta cheese container. It’s supposed to be a liquid consistency, but I left it a little gloppy. I figured I’d have to add water to it when I used it the next day, and would handle it in the moment.

This clay rinse is too thick to be used as-is, but I can add water when I need it.

     Once all the products were prepped and bottled, I took some time to clean up. Then I cooked dinner.
     It was over two hours later when I washed it off in the shower.

MHM Step Two: Deep Condition

     The MHM Method offers you a few options here, all of which involve 2-3 ounces of conditioner mixed with 4-6 ounces of water in an applicator bottle. The difference in the options has to do with length of time to keep the conditioner in, and the temperature of the conditioner you use.

Option 1 is to apply the conditioner mixed with temperate water, to your soaking wet hair, and leave it in overnight under a shower cap.

Option 2 is to apply the conditioner mixed with warm water (or tea), and then sit under a steamer hood (if you have one) for 15 minutes.

Option 3 is the same as option 2, just without the steamer hood, under a shower cap for 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can sit in a hot shower and let that function as a heat source, but that may be a big wasteful for some folks.

     I picked option 1 for Day One, just to give my hair the extra oomph. I mixed 4 ounces of water with 2 ounces of conditioner in an applicator bottle, and applied that to my still soaking wet hair after I’d turned the water off. I tried the saran wrap and bandana method, but it didn’t hold up to couch cuddling with my honey. I swapped it for my go-to overnight hair wrap from back when I was plopping my curls on the reg— the Curly Hair Tee. The recommendation is to seal in the heat with some kind of plastic shower cap, I think, but I couldn’t deal with it overnight.
     Remember how I told you in the last post, how I chose the FaceValues Tea Tree Oil Conditioner? Before you run out and purchase it, let me first warn you that the ingredients DO include Tee Tree Oil and spearmint. Either of these ingredients will make your scalp tingle, but the combination is pretty intense. Personally, I didn’t find it to be horrible. In fact, since it’s allergy season, the aromas actually helped keep my sinuses clear, which I found to be a major plus. I could see others, particularly those with low pain tolerance, or sensitive scalps, being really uncomfortable with it. My husband did his best to tolerate my minty-fresh scent, but I know it wasn’t the most fun for him either.
     Going to bed was NOT the end of Day One.
     In the morning I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair. I’d read that the best method was to pour water over your hair with a pitcher. I tried it, and found that my hair was incredibly soft and easy to detangle with my fingers BUT I ended up using my detachable shower head to make sure it was all out of my hair. Either way, my back was very unhappy afterwards. Bending over for long periods of time stinks. Don’t forget to stretch!

MHM Step Three: Clay Rinse

     I admit, this time I was also not paying much attention to the rules. Instead of thinning out the goopy clay mixture, I used the same scoop and saturate method I’d used with the Cherry Lola Treatment. Again, very messy. I vowed not to do that again, as I washed the tub after application. This was another back breaker too. the recommendation was to NOT pull it into a huge mass, but I didn’t listen to that either. It was so messy I couldn’t imagine being able to apply this AND try to coil it. A better solution was required. Either way I wrapped it into a shower cap and left it for 30 minutes, but 15 minutes is the minimum.
     I rinsed this off in the shower. It was a little unnerving because my hair was so clean it was actually squeaky! I confess that I never let my hair feel like that, because it feels like it would get too dry, and then too frizzy. The other thing was how easy it was to detangle with my fingers. The squeaky feeling usually comes with extra tangly coils, but this was the exact opposite. Everything felt soft and clean. While I was still in the shower I separated and clipped my hair, starting from the nape of my neck, in sections. Part of my goal is to reshape the way my curls fall, so I could get rid of the part in my hair, so I chose to define these sections as Bottom Layer, left and right; left side; right side; crown, left and right; front of head.

MHM Step Four & Five Leave-in & Curl Define

     This part is kind of tricky, because the mirrors are so steamy after a shower. Letting the hair clips full of hair drip, I toweled dry and got dressed, and opened the door to let the steam clear. This step is to apply your MHM approved Leave-in conditioner, and then your curl definer (whether it’s a gel or a cream) section by section. Do not apply the leave-in to your whole head, and then do the definer. I did this bent over for the two bottom sections, and the side sections. The crown section and the front of my head section I did while standing straight up (my back was killing me.
     Let it dry. Don’t touch!
     Letting it dry without touching it was so hard. I was dying to see the results! For one, the curls had started forming much closer to the root, and they were spiraling fully! I think I may have used more curl definer than I needed to out of habit, which is something I’ll need to work on. I think it would have been even softer to the touch had I toned it down. Even so, Day One of MHM gave me my one of the best hair days of the entire year. The weather was good for it too, no humidity or excessive heat. My husband said it looked like I’d come home from Ouidad, which is high praise. If this is it what Day One does, I can only imagine how this will look by Day Seven!!! What do you think?

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In my next post I’ll take you through Day Two, the pitfalls and the successes, and we can both see what if there are any curl gains to be won!