Bentonite Clay Hair Mask: The Science Behind The Ultimate Clarifying Treatment

Looking for an all-natural clarifying treatment stronger than sulfate-free clarifying shampoos? Bentonite clay is highly absorbent and beneficial to our natural hair. Find out everything you need to know!

My Dearest #RedCarpetCurlsRoyalty,

Scalp health is the key to healthy hair growth, and let’s be honest is that our true goal? You cannot grow healthy hair without showing your scalp the proper TLC. Clarifying is by far one of the most important steps in your Curly Girl Method journey.

Not everyone is a fan of sulfate-free clarifying shampoos, and that’s totally okay. The point is that clarifying the hair must be done at the very least once a month in order to keep the scalp balanced and healthy. That can be done with a sulfate-free shampoo (it is never okay to use a sulfate shampoo, otherwise known as a final wash when following the Curly Girl Method), apple cider vinegar rinses, lemon rinses, etc.

Some people aren’t a fan of using shampoo at all since the Original Curly Girl Method introduced Co-Washing as an alternative to drying sulfate shampoos. That is why this DIY Bentonite Clay Mask is one of my favorite ways to deep clean (clarify) the hair of all the sebum (the natural oil your scalp produces) build-up and product build-up.

I don’t know about you but I am a science gal. I need to know the function of all the ingredients I use on my body. So, let’s get down to the science of the clay and it’s benefits. Then make the decision for yourself if a variation of this inexpensive, all-natural, and clarifying treatment would be perfect for your current routine.

What is Bentonite Clay?

According to the Iranian Journal of Public Health, Bentonite clay ” is absorbent aluminum phyllosilicate clay. It is named after Fort Benton, Wyoming where its largest sources are found. Its other name, Montmorillonite clay, stems from the region of France called Montmorillon, where it was first found.”

Essentially, Bentonite clay is a naturally sourced highly-absorbent mineral clay that is formed from volcanic ash that ages over time.

In some places such as Iran, it has been widely used as a hair cleanser from old times.  It is a perfect alternative to have around if you want a deeper clean. Bentonite Clay is abundant, non-expensive and natural.

Bentonite clay works like a magnet attracting and removing metals, toxins, and product build-up from both hair and scalp. It also provides a few essential minerals required for healthy hair growth and balancing the scalp’s pH level too.

While there haven’t been many scientific studies done on Bentonite Clay to be able to confirm all benefits, the Journal article I hyperlinked above did find that when the clay was used in sheep wool, the clay increased the growth of the wool. So it stands to reason to believe it will aid in natural human hair growth as well.

What Benefits Will My Hair Recieve From Bentonite Clay?

Bentonite Clay has a laundry list of benefits for both the hair and skin, so let’s take a look at the science behind a couple of the most important benefits:

  • Detoxifier –  Whenever I have spoken about clarifying in past articles, I always told you when looking for clarifying shampoos look for anionic cleansers. Why? Because anionic cleansers are negatively charged. The same theory goes behind bentonite clay because it is the ultimate clarifying solution. Bentonite clay is a negatively charged clay that attracts and pulls out positively charged product build-up. Products such as conditioners contain a positive charge in order to be attracted to the negative charge of our hair. Essentially the negative charge of the clay attracts and pulls out toxins and heavy metals for a detoxifying and clarifying effect. Giving the clay has the ability to draw out impurities from both the hair and scalp, resulting in 100% cleansed hair.
  • Antimicrobial Properties – Since Bentonite clay is highly absorbent, it is able to absorb all the excess or build-up sebum the scalp produces and accumulates. Most common scalp issues such as dandruff are produced by funguses that thrive in environments with excess oil (a.k.a oily scalps, or scalps full of build-up). Essentially this means, the anionic property of the clay completely cleanses and removes excess oil and chemical build-up from the scalp, thus protecting it from funguses that cause other common scalp issues like dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, etc. Bentonite clay absorbs all the excess oil and fungus making the scalp inhospitable for fungus. By regularly incorporating Bentonite Clay into your regime you can completely eliminate dandruff issues and any other infections.
  • Promotes Hair Growth –  There are a few essential minerals needed for hair growth and Bentonite Clay (also known as sodium bentonite clay) contains a few of those needed. Bentonite clay contains sodium, potassium, and calcium. All three of which are essential for hair growth. Along with pulling out toxins and heavy metals from hair, Bentonite clay has the ability to remove dead skin cells that can clog or block hair follicles from growing healthy hair.
  • Adds Shine –  Overtime as we continue to use products, the positively charged products (when not clarified) builds-up in the hair. Soon you will be able to see a thin white film residue that will start to accumulate on your hair. This is known as the build-up and makes hair look dull and greasy. When you properly clarify the hair, in this case using bentonite clay, the clay attracts and removes all signs of build-up restoring your vibrant shine.
  • Moisturizing and Conditioning – Build-up also plays a part in the way you moisturize your hair. If you have a lot of build-up on your hair, the build-up will block deep conditioners or other moisturizers from properly moisturizing and conditioning the hair. This can lead to split ends and breakage.
  • Defines Your Natural Texture – Since the clay absorbs all the excess oil and product in your hair, your natural curls feel more weightless and as a result, the definition is improved.

How to Use Bentonite Clay in Your Natural Hair

You will find from a quick google search that there will be many different variations on the Bentonite Clay Mask for your hair. You will notice most if not all recipes share three common ingredients essential to making the mask:

Every recipe will be a variation of the three ingredients above including other moisturizing ingredients such as essential oils, aloe vera, etc.  It really all depends on your hair’s needs at the moment and the potency you want for the mask. Below I will list a few recipes I found online along with their sources so you can go researching, later on, to find what works best for you.

* Please note this is a clarifying treatment meaning it will remove all moisture from hair. Please follow the treatment with a deep conditioner. 

*Please remember whenever working with bentonite clay you MUST NOT use metal utensils or bowls. Since the clay removes heavy metals you will just contaminate the mixture before applying to hair. Always use plastic, wood, stoneware, or glass utensils.

Bentonite Clay Mask #1 –


  • 3/4 cup of sodium bentonite clay
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brewed herbal tea or water
  • 10 drops of essential oil of choice (Rosemary and Lavender are favored for their hair growth properties)
  • plastic bowl and spoon (can be wooden, stoneware, or glass as well)
  • plastic container to store remaining clay if any


  1. Section hair and saturate it with warm water to help the slip of the mask upon application. You can do this in the shower or fill a florisol(water) bottle to help wet the hair.
  2. Begin applying the mask to the roots of your hair.
  3. Work on massaging the mixture into the scalp. Massaging helps the minerals absorb into the scalp removing toxins and dislodging any debris if there is any (basically physically removing any blockages if there are any in the hair follicles).
  4. Work your way down from roots all the way down to the ends of your hair.
  5. Ensure every strand is coated in the mask as well as your scalp
  6. Let the mask sit for five minutes.
  7. Rinse with warm water

Optional Hair Rinse:

  1. Rinse out all bentonite clay from the hair.
  2. Rinse your hair with one cup of herbal tea and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Bentonite Clay Mask #2 –


  • 1/2 cup of bentonite clay
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon castor oil
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon almond oil
  • 1 cup of water

Preparation Instructions:

  1.  Add bentonite clay to bowl.
  2. Add coconut and castor oil to the clay, mix well.
  3. Add apple cider vinegar and blend well.
  4. Add the almond oil, mix well.
  5. Add water if necessary, although it won’t require much to ensure the right consistency (yogurt-like. Make sure there are no lumps.

Application Instructions:

  1. Rinse hair with warm water.
  2. Section hair and apply warm water.
  3. Apply mask from roots to tip
  4. If needed spray more water to improve the slip of the mask
  5. Cover with a shower cap and leave on for 20 minutes (Do not let the mask dry as it will make it harder to remove from the hair).
  6. Rinse off with water and shampoo.

Bentonite Clay Mask #3 &4- 

*This website contains two different recipes

Recipe #3 Hair Detox Ingredients:

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons aloe vera juice
  • 3 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 cup of bentonite clay
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Recipe # 3 Hair Detox Instructions:

  1. Mix ingredients well inside the bowl.
  2. Section hair and apply warm water.
  3. Apply from root to tip.
  4. leave on for 15-20 minutes (do not let dry)
  5. Rinse with warm water and shampoo.

Recipe #4 Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup bentonite clay
  • 1 additional cup apple cider vinegar (to be used after the mask, not in it).
  • 1/2 cup aloe vera gel
  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil

Recipe #4 Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients into the bowl, except an additional apple cider vinegar cup.
  2. Section hair and apply warm water.
  3. Apply mask from root to tip.
  4. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Rinse off with warm water.
  6. Optional – Rinse off, then use 1 cup of additional apple cider vinegar in hair, leave on 1-3 minutes, shampoo out.

Bentonite Clay Mask #5 –


  • 1/2 cup bentonite clay
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary or lavender essential oil


  1. Place clay in a plastic or ceramic bowl.
  2. Pour the apple cider vinegar and water into the bowl.
  3. Mix until smooth and creamy like the texture of yogurt.
  4. Section hair and spray warm water on the hair to hydrate them.
  5. Apply mask from root to tip, massaging into scalp and hair.
  6. Prevent drying by putting on a shower cap.
  7. Leave on 5-20 minutes.
  8. Rinse and follow with a deep conditioner.

What if bentonite clay is too drying for my hair?

If you have done variations of the treatment and noticed the bentonite clay leaves your hair too dry you can replace the bentonite clay with Rhassoul clay.

Rhassoul clay is a natural mineral clay from the Atlas Mountains in Morrocco. Similar to bentonite clay, Rhassoul has an unmatched ability to draw out impurities from the hair and scalp. It is used for cleansing, detoxifying and reducing dry hair and scalp.

Rhassoul differs slightly from bentonite clay because it’s a natural moisturizer and softner. Although it can clean as deeply as bentonite clay, Rhassoul clay leaves hair softer and more moisturized. This makes Rhassoul clay perfect for naturally textured hair.

For those who want a softer feel, replace bentonite clay with Rhassoul for any of the recipes above. Play around until you find the treatment that works best for you.

When in doubt think about it this way:

  • Bentonite Clay – use this clay when you need the clay to be absorbent, perfect for greasy hair and roots, heavy product build-up, oily scalp, excessive dandruff, psoriasis, eczema.
  • Rhassoul Clay- use this clay when you need to clarify but need to add more moisture to your hair. This is a deep clean with a little extra TLC for the curls to quench their thirst during the treatment. Perfect for light product build-up, end of month clarifying, when you need a boost in curl definition.

Final Tips From Red Carpet Curls

Bentonite clay is one of my favorite all-natural treatments to get that deep clean feeling and help give my curls a little end-of-the-season boost. I can admit this treatment is a powerful one, once it’s rinsed out my curls are parched. That can be a little difficult to deal with in the shower, and soon we all see the dreaded tangles and fairy-knots.  Here are a few suggested additives to add more moisture into your hair to make this a truly royal and pampering experience.

  • Honey- a natural humectant. Honey reaches into the atmosphere around you in an attempt to “grab” moisture and seal it into your hair. Honey is also a natural antioxidant protecting the scalp from drying out causing dandruff, keeping the hair looking shiny and healthier
  • Rosehip oil – moisturizing for the scalp helping to remove and prevent dandruff. Over time with consistent use and adding heat, rosehip oil is able to repair damaged hair (perfect for the ends of your hair).
  • Avocado oil –According to an article in the International Journal of Trichology, oils need to possess monounsaturated fats or saturated fats to penetrate the hair. Avocado oil is extremely rich in oleic acid and monounsaturated fats, making it one of few oils that can actually penetrate the hair shaft and moisturize your hair, rather than sitting on top and coating your hair. These fats also strengthen the hair shaft and help prevent breakage.
  • Aloe Vera – the amino acids present in aloe vera helps to not only moisturize but strengthen the hair. Aloe is incredibly moisturizing and can help quench frizz and ease the drying feeling from the bentonite clay.

That’s just about everything you need to know about the ultimate clarifying treatment. Let me know in the comments below if you have any further questions.

If you have tried a variation of this treatment let me know in the comments below!


Picture of Queen Monroe

Queen Monroe

Curly Girl Method enthusiast and educator. I have been on my own CGM journey for a bit over three years now. I take a scientific approach to the Curly Girl Method. I believe by learning Trichology (the study of hair and scalp) you can better understand your hair's needs and behaviors. This will help when you need to learn ingredients to read product labels. I research and write each and every article in this site. The information used and referenced on this website come from open access, peer-reviewed journal articles from publications such as the Journal of Cosmetic Science and the International Journal of Trichology.

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About Adrienne Monroe and Red Carpet Curls : In this section you’ll get to meet your guide…me! I’ll tell you more about my Curly Girl Method Journey along with all the resources you can expect to find on this website. You will also find out exactly what makes Red Carpet Curls different from any other Curly Girl Method Website.

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