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I put off trying this recipe for a while after I learned that clays can be cleansing. To be quite honest, it’s because I really didn’t think you could wash your hair with clay and actually end up with clean locks as a result! It’s a logical concern when you’re smearing what looks like mud all over your hair, right?

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I wish I had a tried this sooner though, because I actually love the results I’ve gotten from using several clays as hair cleansers! Not only does my hair look undoubtedly clean but it ends up looking thicker and more bouncy than with traditional shampoos. I’ve noticed that I shed much less than with any other cleansing method (even slightly less than with the aloe pre-shampoo mask I usually do with any other cleansers!). This is a huge deal for me since I normally shed enough to assume my follicles are secretly plotting against me.

The one drawback of this cleansing method is the fact that it works better to leave it on your hair for about 5-10 minutes so it’s not the fastest method I’ve tried. I’ve dealt with this by making sure to slather the mask on right after getting into the shower, leaving it on while I finish all my other business, and rinsing it off right before I get out.

The silver lining of this problem, however, is that you can make nourishing additions to this shampoo mask that will have time to act on your hair and scalp before being washed off. I like to add several drops of rosemary, peppermint, and lavender essential oils for their alleged hair-growth-stimulating properties. I’ve also made it with small amounts of neem oil and tea tree oil for family members struggling with scalp problems such as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.

Note: As is the case with all other non-detergent hair cleansers, it’s best to clarify your hair before starting to use these gentler methods.  This is because you need to get rid of any build up from residues, silicones, etc. so that the all-natural cleansers can actually interact with your hair shaft.  There’s lot of ways to clarify but I think this blog post from a lovely lady sums it up quite nicely.


  • 2 tablespoons bentonite clay
  • 2 tablespoons multani mati clay
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (can substitute 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar instead)
  • 5 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional but I love the moisturizing properties of honey)
  • 5-10 drops essential oils of choice (completely optional but can be added for therapeutic benefit or simply for scent)


1. Combine clays in a small non-metal bowl and mix with either wooden or plastic spoon.


2. Add in the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the clays and mix lightly. It will clump but don’t worry, the next step will help.

3. Add in your water. Depending on how thick or thin you’d like your mask to be, you can add more or less water…but I’ve found 5 tablespoons usually gives me a good consistency. Mix well.


4. Mix in your honey and essential oils, if using.

5. At this point, your clay shampoo mask will probably be quite lumpy. It usually takes me about 3 more minutes of mixing and smushing around for most of the lumps to have disappeared (you don’t have to get all, just most).  If at any point your mask starts to look  too dry, you can always add more water (a tablespoon at a time).

6. Now you’re ready to shower! After you’ve wet your hair, start to work the clay mask onto your scalp. It helps to work in sections, first covering the hair and then using your fingers to work the mask down into your scalp. Once your scalp us covered, coat the rest your hair with the remaining mask.

7. Leave the mask on for a minimum of 5 minutes but preferably about 10. If you want to leave it on longer, I suggest throwing in a shower cap…trying to get out dried clay from your hair is not a fun activity.

8. Rinse thoroughly with water, using your fingers to work the clay out if your hair. It helps to go through it in sections once again.  More than likely, you’ll be surprised at how easily in comes out, actually.

I suggest following up this cleansing and conditioning clay shampoo mask with an apple cider vinegar rinse for extra shiny and un-tangled hair.

Bonus: if you have extra mask left over after you’ve covered your hair, I highly recommend slathering the remainder on your face and letting sit for about 5 minutes before rinsing off. So long, dull skin and clogged pores!

Well, what do you think? Are you going to be smearing your hair with “mud” anytime soon??