Using Clay for Washing Your Hair

Last Updated on January 2, 2023 by Gaga

Is Clay Good for Hair?

Clay has been used for cosmetic purposes since ancient times. The cleansing and soothing properties of clay and the absence of chemicals have made it increasingly popular among people who prefer natural beauty products. Today, clay is a must-have product in any nature-inspired beauty regimen.

This nature-made material is rich in minerals and nutrients, which makes it beneficial for all skin types. Cosmetic clays have clarifying properties and can remove excess oils, dirt, and chemicals from the skin and hair.

This powerful detoxifier is negatively charged, so it can attract positively charged ions, toxins, and product build-up in the hair and scalp. When mixed with water, clay draws out impurities and excess oils from the skin and hair.  It helps to unclog pores and gently exfoliates the scalp, relieving dandruff and hair loss issues.

Clay also softens hair, helps with detangling, and enhances curl patterns, which makes it a favorite product for women with natural hair.

Cosmetic clay in bowls

Clays for Washing the Hair

Washing hair with clay is a growing trend, as many people are switching to a natural hair care regimen to avoid the toxic chemicals you can find in commercial hair care products. There are various types of clay on the hair care market, but Bentonite, Rhassoul, and Kaolin clays are the most commonly used for cleansing natural hair.

1. Bentonite Clay

Bentonite Clay Sliding Down Rocks

Bentonite clay is formed by volcanic activities and was first found in Fort Benton in the USA.  This is a great therapeutic clay that may be consumed for detoxing and revitalizing the entire body or applied topically to cleanse and detox the skin and hair.

Bentonite clay is highly absorbent and has a strong attraction to positively charged chemicals, toxins, and impurities. This property makes it perfect for cleansing and detoxifying skin and hair.

Bentonite Clay Hair Mask

Here is a simple recipe to create your own bentonite clay mask:

  • 1 cup of bentonite clay
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar

You can add a tablespoon of your favorite hair oil for extra benefits. Add more water to get the desired consistency. Leave the mask on for 5-20 minutes, then rinse it thoroughly.

Bentonite Clay Benefits for Hair

  • It thoroughly clarifies the hair and takes away product buildup, excess oil, dirt, and everything bad from your scalp and hair.
  • It keeps follicles clean and strengthens hair. It also hydrates the scalp and relieves dandruff.
  • High levels of mineral elements, such as calcium, silica, iron, and potassium, help condition and soften the hair.
  • Bentonite clay makes detangling easier, reduces frizz, increases curl definition, imparts shine, and makes hair more manageable.

2. Rhassoul Clay

Rhassoul clay, also known as ghassoul clay or Moroccan red clay, is a reddish-brown clay that originates from Morocco. This nutritious mineral clay has been traditionally used in Morocco for skin and hair care. Moroccan red clay is a highly regarded beauty product, due to its strong purifying and cleansing abilities and therapeutic benefits.  It blends easily with water, forming a smooth, silky paste, which is an excellent cleanser for the skin and hair.

Rhassoul Clay Benefits for Hair

  • Moroccan red clay gently cleanses the hair, without depleting protective natural oils from the hair and scalp. It also conditions your hair, leaving it moisturized and soft after washing.
  • Rhassoul clay soothes the scalp, due to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It reduces dryness and flakiness and provides relief from dandruff and psoriasis.
  • It removes excess oil, unblocks clogged pores, and creates the optimal environment for healthy hair growth.
  • Due to its high mineral content, this clay eliminates the need for deep conditioning after washing hair. It acts as a detangler for natural hair and helps define and soften waves and curls.

3. Kaolin Clay

White kaolin clays deposits

Kaolin clay, also called China clay, is widely used in the cosmetic industry. Kaolin clay has the lowest pH and has the gentlest cleansing action among all clays.

It gently removes impurities from the scalp and hair, without stripping natural oils, and is ideal for people with dry or sensitive skin. Its absorptive capacity is not significant. However, if you have dry hair, this clay may be the right choice.

Kaolin clay is available in several colors, based on the mineral constituents.

Kaolin Clay Benefits for Hair

  • This clay gently cleanses hair and scalp, without excessive drying.
  • It stimulates blood circulation and gently exfoliates the scalp while cleansing.
  • Kaolin clay strengthens hair, improves elasticity, and helps repair damaged hair.
  • It soothes the scalp, helps treat dandruff, and encourages hair growth.
Black woman with curly hair and bright red lips

Clay Wash Vs. Hair Shampoo

  1. The strong ionic negative charge gives the clay its ability to draw out impurities from the hair. Many cleansing and conditioning properties make it a great alternative to commercial hair shampoos. Clay is rich in minerals and nutrients and can offer benefits that regular shampoos can’t provide. Clays can be used for washing hair regardless of hair type.
  2. If you are fed up with chemical-laden shampoos, incorporate clay into your hair care regimen. Clay washes are natural and free of harsh cleansing agents, preservatives, fragrances, mineral oils, and other synthetic ingredients.
  3. If you are going no-poo, you need deep cleaning, occasionally.  A clay mask will clarify and detox your hair and scalp, without the excessive drying associated with clarifying shampoos.
  4. Some clays will clarify and condition your hair at the same time. Clay provides a nutrient boost to your hair and leaves it feeling soft and easier to detangle.
  5. Washing with some clays makes the scalp healthier, offering relief to people who suffer from itchiness, dandruff, and psoriasis.
  6. Clay is naturally biodegradable and will not pollute water systems and rivers.

The Downsides of Washing Hair with Clay

Washing your hair with clay is less convenient than using regular shampoos. The process can get really messy. Plus, it can be hard to thoroughly wash out clay from the hair, especially if you have high porosity hair.

two bowls with clay masks for hair

How to Wash Your Hair with Clay

Mix 1-2 tablespoons of clay powder with water in a non-metallic container. For long or very curly hair, you need to add more clay and make the mixture thinner, but not runny.

Wet your hair as you do before shampooing, then apply the mixture to the hair. Saturate hair thoroughly and make sure to reach your scalp. Massage the scalp for a few minutes. Rinse hair thoroughly, using plenty of running water; otherwise, the tiny clay particles can remain in your hair.

Helpful Tips

  • Use only non-metallic utensils and bowls when mixing clay with water, as the metal may interact with clay lessening its effectiveness.
  • Make sure that the clay doesn’t dry on your hair; otherwise, it will be difficult to get it out of the hair.
  • Add a few drops of argan oil to the mixture to help impart shine or add some other oils of your preference for conditioning benefits.
  • Most clays have much higher alkalinity than your hair. Use apple cider vinegar rinse to restore your hair’s natural pH balance after washing it with clay.
Dark skinned woman with coiled hair

About the author

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Gaga is a blogger and founder of the Softer Hair website. She often says that insomnia is to blame for her first blogging attempts. Being the night owl, she hated the morning alarm. She left her office job and returned to what she loved most - writing.


3 thoughts on “Using Clay for Washing Your Hair”

  1. Add 1-2 tablespoons of clay to a cup of water to achieve the consistency of a runny paste that can be spread throughout your hair.

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