The internet is absolutely BUZZING about this recently rediscovered all-natural ingredient: bentonite clay. It purges heavy metals from your body, makes your skin shine like the sun, and rumor has it that it can even stop hair loss. Is there anything bentonite clay CAN’T do?

But before you go out and drop $7 on a jar of Aztec’s finest, hold on. This is powerful stuff and needs to be respected. Use it properly and you’ll have the best hair out of all your friends. Use it improperly and it could lead to clogged follicles and even hair loss.

In this article, we cover EVERYTHING you need to know about the darling of alternative medicine – including a step-by-step guide on how to get the most out of your next DIY hair treatment.

What the heck is bentonite clay, anyway?

Your scalp will thank you when you use this clay on it
Your scalp will thank you when you use this clay on it

Bentonite is sourced from volcanic ash and has been a helpful ingredient throughout history due to its natural minerals containing anĀ absorbent aluminum phyllosilicate clay. In simpler words, it can get rid of toxins with a negative charge, whether it be through internal or external applications.

It’s been used by humans for over 12,000 years – and its name comes from the Fort Benton Formation in Wyoming where it was first discovered.

The unique property of bentonite clay that makes it so beneficial for human health is its ability to absorb and hold toxins, impurities, and other yucky stuff. This makes it an incredibly powerful detoxifying agent that can be used in all kinds of natural beauty treatments, including deodorant (it absorbs the toxins produced by your armpits), toothpaste (removes plaque), and face masks (dries up excess oil).

For those of you looking for a vegan way to give yourself healthy, shiny hair, this is one thing you’re going to want to use.

What does bentonite clay do to human hair?

Using a bentonite clay hair wash or DIY mask helps balance the pH levels in your scalp.

It will also provide a deep clean, allowing easy penetration of other ingredients into the hair follicles which can promote strong hair growth.

Other benefits include strengthening strands to prevent breakage and giving you a healthy shine!

Who should NOT use a bentonite clay hair mask?

You can fix low porosity hair, but hold off with the bentonite clay until you do
You can fix low porosity hair, but hold off with the treatment until you do

This brings us to our first warning: DO NOT use a bentonite clay mask on your hair if you have low porosity hair. This hair type tends to be drier, less elastic, and extremely fragile – meaning that it can’t hold onto moisture as well as other types of hair (i.e. high porosity hair).

If you have low porosity hair, this type of hair mask will strip out all of the oils and moisture on your scalp. This is BAD news for anyone with this type of hair because it can lead to dryness, breakage, AND HAIR LOSS.

For people with an active infestation of Malassezia (a fungus that grows on the scalp), this can cause a flare-up in symptoms like itching, scaling, redness, and dry patches. Ditto for any who have a sensitive scalp, seborrheic dermatitis, or any other skin condition on their scalp.

Is there a difference between using bentonite clay for hair and skin?

Not really. And if you think about it, you aren’t using it for your hair.

Your hair shaft is just made of dead protein, anyway. We can put stuff on it to change the color and texture, but we’re not bringing it back to life.

The living part of your hair is the follicle, which comes from the scalp. And that’s what we want to use this type of hair mask for – to clean the scalp. This will result in a healthy biome on our scalp, which will encourage hair growth and give us beautiful, healthy hair.

How long do you keep bentonite clay on your hair?

Bentonite clay should be kept on your hair for no more than 30 minutes. Any longer and you run the risk of it being too harsh and drying out your scalp.

Apply it evenly across your scalp and leave it. Put on an episode of your favorite Netflix series and kick back. The urge to pick flakes of drying clay off your scalp will be strong – but don’t do it. As the clay dries, it will cause a tightening sensation. This is normal and does not mean your head is going to explode.

Some people say that using a shower cap helps them keep their hands off their hair.

What type of bentonite clay should I buy?

The best bentonite clay for hair right here
The best clay for hair right here

When it comes to bentonite clay, there’s one brand everyone recognizes: Aztec Secret.

Their flagship product, Indian Healing Clay, has been the benchmark standard in the industry for years. Always up to snuff, their quality is nothing short of amazing – especially for the type of clay mask we’ll be talking about in this article.

How do you make a bentonite clay hair mask?

You’re going to need 3 things:

  1. water
  2. bentonite clay
  3. a ceramic bowl to mix them

Add the bentonite clay first and slowly add water. Mix the two substances as you add the water. The clay is very dense, meaning you will have to mix it well. You don’t want the mixture to be too runny, as then it won’t be concentrated enough to work. But you don’t want it to be too thick, because then it won’t be easy to spread on your scalp. Try for a yogurt-like consistency.

Optionally, you can use coconut oil in your mix as well. But if you’re suffering from an extremely oily scalp, we don’t recommend this.

Okay, I made the mask – now how do I use it?

NGL this image makes me want to use a bentonite clay mask right now
NGL this image makes me want to use a mask right now

It’s pretty simple. You’re going to scoop all the clay out of the bowl and put it on your head.

If you accidentally made too much, you can put some of the leftover mask on your face. If you’ve added other natural ingredients, be careful that they don’t irritate your face. Coconut oil is well-tolerated, as is castor oil (although the latter is very sticky and not oily at all, despite its name).

If you’re going to use it as a face mask, you can let the mixture sit for the same length of time that you are leaving on your scalp. Rinse both with warm water when you’re done –

Should I wash my hair before using bentonite clay?

Ok, so this is a tricky one.

Some people say that you should wash your hair before applying bentonite clay because it will help the product to spread more evenly and prevent clumping of the mixture onto certain parts of your scalp (which can be hard to clean up).

However, many naturalistas find that their favorite cleansing conditioner works just as well with bentonite clay. The choice is yours!

If you want our opinion, we prefer to wash our hair before using the clay. We’ve found that when you apply bentonite clay to a clean scalp, we are left with a much fresher feeling than when pre-washing with only conditioner.

Also, remember to use it on wet hair.

Can you use bentonite clay on natural hair?

Natural-haired girls will love using this clay on their hair
Natural-haired girls will love using this clay on their hair

Ladies (and gentlemen) with natural hair – rejoice! Just because you have curly hair doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this wonderful naturally-occurring substance.

That said, naturally curly hair is going to be drier (on average) than non-textured hair. Usually, girls with dry hair take their hair care routine a little more seriously. I guess that’s the price you pay for having natural curls.

How do you use bentonite clay on natural hair?

The first step is to get rid of all the dirt, residues, and dead skin cells that have taken up residence on your scalp. Make sure your hair and scalp are shampooed, rinsed, and ready to party.

Remember, bentonite clay works by absorbing toxins from your scalp – so you want the cleanest head possible! Especially important with girls who have natural hair

After you’ve washed your hair, it’s time to apply the clay mask.

Make sure that your entire head is covered in an even layer. Leave this on for no more than 30 minutes before rinsing. Try to use water only, as we want your scalp to be able to breathe free of any harsh chemicals.

Can you leave a bentonite clay treatment on your hair overnight?

No. Bentonite clay should not be left on your hair overnight, as it can become too drying for some people. We recommend leaving the clay mixture in place no more than 30 minutes before washing out with water only!

What happens if you leave bentonite clay on too long?

Rinse it out after 30 minutes - trust us
Rinse it out after 30 minutes – trust us

Bentonite clay is a natural product that packs some serious punch when it comes to cleansing and healing the scalp.

If you leave it on your hair for longer than 30 minutes, it can cause dryness and strip out all the natural oils in your scalp. This is especially dangerous if you have an active fungal infestation because using a harsh product like bentonite clay can aggravate symptoms by causing further irritation to the skin.

Should I wash my hair after rinsing out the bentonite clay mask?


The bentonite clay is such an effective cleaner that it may cause some moisture loss in your hair and scalp, so you’ll need to use a strong shampoo to replenish those nutrients!

If possible, try using an organic clarifying shampoo that has added essential oils for extra nourishment (hemp seed oil is our personal favorite.) We recommend this process at least once a week to keep your scalp healthy and free of any toxins.

Can I use bentonite clay every day?

How often can you use bentonite clay?
How often can you use this stuff, anyway?

No. Bentonite clay is a powerful detoxifier and can be too harsh for some people’s scalps if used every day.

We recommend using it no more than twice a week, with at least one full deep-cleansing shampoo session in between uses.

Is bentonite clay dangerous?

No. Bentonite clay is a natural product that has been used for centuries to cleanse the body and soothe skin ailments such as rashes, acne, boils, etc.

It can be drying if left on too long or applied with too heavy of an application – but this would only cause temporary discomfort (similar to using strong shampoo.)

But I heard it contains lead. Will I get lead poisoning if I use it?

Short answer: No, it will not cause lead poisoning.

Longer answer: The FDA has stated that bentonite clay contains 37.5 micrograms of lead per gram of lead. For our purposes of using a bentonite clay mask once every week or two, this is not enough to cause lead poisoning.

People have been using bentonite clay for thousands of years and there is no scientific evidence of someone suffering lead poisoning as a result of use.

Does bentonite clay remove hair color?

Yes, it can. But that doesn’t mean that it will, or that it’s not worth using.

Bentonite clay is a powerful detoxifier that draws toxins from the scalp as well as any product build-up from hair products such as gel or hairspray.

While it won’t have any effect on your natural hair color, if you’ve dyed your hair it can cause the dye to fade slightly faster than normal.

Can you mix apple cider vinegar with bentonite clay?

Bentonite clay and ACV looking like they about to drop the hottest mixtape of the year
These two looking like they about to drop the hottest mixtape of the year

Of course! Many recipes for DIY hair masks include both of these ingredients – and it’s no wonder!

Apple cider vinegar helps to clear away product residue, dirt, and excess oil from your hair.

Not only that, but ACV is a natural acid that contains acetic, citric, and lactic acids which help fight off fungal infections such as dandruff or scalp acne.

It also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties so it can help get rid of any scalp conditions you might have. It enhances shine,

Finally, apple cider vinegar is a great natural clarifier that can help to remove any product residue or build-up from your hair.

As a side note, you’re looking for a deep cleanse, we recommend using an apple cider vinegar rinse once a week in addition to your normal shampoo and deep conditioner routine.

Simply mix one part apple cider vinegar with four parts water, pour it over your head after shampooing, and let it sit for a minute or two before rinsing out.

This will help to clear away any impurities and leave your hair looking and feeling brighter and healthier!

Is my bentonite clay ruined because I used a metal spoon to mix it?

Do you think they use plastic equipment to dig the clay out of the ground?

Do you think the processing equipment they use in the plants that handle the clay is NOT made out of metal?

Do you think there are people gathering the clay at dig sites with their hands, putting it into plastic buckets and canvas sacks, and lugging it around making sure none of it comes in contact with any metal?

Don’t be silly!

That said, we recommend a wooden spoon with a ceramic or plastic bowl – just because they’re easier to use!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to hair care, we a huge fans of anything natural. If it were possible, we would ONLY use natural products on our body.

And if you’re looking for a solid addition to your body care routine, then bentonite clay is something you should definitely consider.

Its ability to remove impurities from the body is unparalleled in the beauty world. It cleans your scalp, your skin, and even your insides.

We hope this guide was helpful to you!

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