No matter how gently we take care of our curly locks, there still can come a time when a deep cleansing is necessary rather than a standard shampooing.
For example, in west-central Florida, our water is very hard and we have issues with mineral and calcium retention. I am usually an advocate for baking soda cleanses and have a recipe here on the Live Curly Live Free Home Remedies page . I recently found myself in a situation, however, where the baking soda clarification didn’t do its usual trick in restoring my shine, clumping and bounce.
For those of you who know me or hang out with us on our Facebook fan page, you know my daughter was pretty sick this summer and spent a couple of weeks in the hospital (she is doing great now, incidentally!). The whole ordeal resulted in a three-month period where I didn’t take optimal care of my hair … yep, life even happens to the Curl Whisperer.
As a result, my curls were looking pretty sad and I could feel “stuff” retained in my hair shaft. I did my usual baking soda clarification, thinking it would help—and it did—but my hair didn’t feel as optimally clean as it usually does afterward.
So, wondering what to do, my eye fell on the activated charcoal capsules I keep in my bathroom. Activated charcoal is well-documented for both external and internal use as a detoxifier—paramedics even keep it onboard their ambulances for use in the emergency treatment of certain kinds of poisons and overdoses. I use it to make a homemade face mask that detoxifies my skin, and also as an ingredient I use in a homemade whitening toothpaste.
I reasoned that if it was good for detoxing my skin and deep-cleaning my teeth, then why not my hair?
I poured about three tablespoons of shampoo in a small bowl (I use Curl Junkie Gentle Cleansing shampoo) and broke about five activated charcoal capsules into it and stirred to make a paste. Be careful with this stuff: It may not stain your teeth or your skin, but porcelain and ceramic fixtures can be susceptible to staining.
I applied to my hair, root to ends, and massaged it into my scalp and the length of my hair for several minutes, then rinsed with lukewarm water.
My initial reaction was pure fear. My hair strands were squeaky clean—I mean, SQUEAKY—and my hair almost felt like it was on the verge of balling up into a tangled mess. What, I thought in a complete panic, have I done? But I stayed calm and reached for one of my heavier conditioners (Curl Junkie’s Smoothing conditioner), then saturated my hair with it, combing it through with a large pick I keep in my shower for that purpose.
Voilà! The tangles fell out immediately and I was able to comb the conditioner through with no problems. I let it sit for about five minutes, then did a cold water rinse before styling as usual. My bouncy, shiny, clumpy, beautiful curls were back!
I would not advise using this method for clarifying your curls unless you feel you are having some extreme retention issues. I would suggest trying the regular baking soda clarification first and then moving on to the activated charcoal method if you need better results.