My Experience With the Cherry Lola Treatment (the Precusor to the Max Hydration Method) On 4C Hair

chi cherry lola

Coils are clumping/popping a little bit.

Before the Maximum Hydration Method (MHM), there was the Cherry Lola Treatment, developed in 2009 by natural hair blogger Cherry Lola.  (As a matter of fact, the MHM incorporates a variation of this treatment as its first step.) Because of its effectiveness at reducing frizz, this treatment grew in popularity from 2009 through 2012. Not much has been said about it since then, but with its resurfacing via the MHM, I decided to give it a try for the first time.

Some background: What is the Cherry Lola Treatment?

The original recipe consists of:

2 parts yogurt – for conditioning properties
½ part baking soda – to make the hair porous
½ part liquid amino acids

The first two ingredients each have a special purpose. The yogurt acts as a conditioning base while the baking soda helps to lift the cuticles. At the time the treatment was developed, the purpose of the liquid amino acids (AAs) was not known.  Rather, the point of this experimental concoction was to see if these AAs would have an effect on the hair.  Ultimately, Cherry Lola experienced a reduction in frizz and an increase in moisture absorption.  It was essentially serendipity, and soon after, numerous other naturals realized the same benefits.

How was my first Cherry Lola Treatment?

Though I have known about this treatment for a few years, the skeptic in me never saw the need to try it.  After all, my hair and frizz go hand in hand and I have come to accept that.  However, my recent curiosity in the MHM opened the door to my first experience with the Cherry Lola Treatment.  You see, I am too lazy to perform all the required steps of the MHM, but the latter treatment was right up my alley.

Over the years, the Cherry Lola Treatment has undergone modifications, but I wanted to try the original version.  I went to the source — Cherry Lola’s blog — for my first treatment.

cherry lola treatment

I mixed Silkience Hair Care Silky-Smooth Conditioner (from the local dollar store), baking soda and Braggs Liquid Amino Acids together.  I applied the concoction to dry hair, as directed and allowed it to set for 25-30 minutes. After the time was up, I rinsed my hair thoroughly and co-washed with Tresemme Naturals.  Immediately after co-washing, I noticed that my coils were clumping and retaining more moisture than I anticipated.  My hair felt as though it was given a super intense, moisturizing deep conditioning session.  (Ultimately, the clumping was very short-lived but the moisture retention continued.)

chi before after

(LEFT) Before the Cherry Lola Treatment. Old and dry braid out. (RIGHT) After the Cherry Lola Treatment. Hair is retaining more moisture than usual.  Hair also feels strong.

chi braid out

Fresh braid out.

What’s more? My hair felt strong as if I had performed a protein treatment as well.  Now, this was an interesting additional benefit that hadn’t really been discussed much (if at all) by other naturals.

Why are the liquid amino acids essential to the Cherry Lola Treatment?

Cherry Lola was certainly on to something when she speculated that the external application of liquid amino acids may be great for hair health.  After some research myself, I came across a 2007 study on the uptake of amino acids by hair.  You can certainly read the full reference below, but what struck me were these findings:

“A hair conditioner incorporated with [the amino acid] alanine improves hair surface hydrophobicity [i.e., easier combing] of bleach-damaged hair. Histidine and phenylalanine [which are both amino acids] improve tensile strength. Pyrrolidone carboxylic acid [an amino acid derivative] was proved to be effective to improve color-retention of dyed hair.”

Interesting indeed!

So, what are my final thoughts?  While I don’t see myself incorporating the Cherry Lola treatment into my regimen, I do intend to use it once in a while.  On the other hand, I am more intrigued with adding liquid amino acids to my conditioners.

Oshimura E, Abe H, Oota R. “Hair and amino acids: the interactions and the effects.” Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2007 Jul-Aug;58(4):347-57.

Have you tried the Cherry Lola Treatment?  What has been your experience?



Empowering women of color to break barriers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.


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13 thoughts on “My Experience With the Cherry Lola Treatment (the Precusor to the Max Hydration Method) On 4C Hair

  1. Yes! I’m definitely going to try this. I’ll be putting the liquid amino acids into my hair care arsenal. However, I’m hesitant about adding them to my conditioners and oils. Are there any side effects on the products they’re added to? And does a person with naturally high porosity need to use the baking soda? (If my cuticles lift any more, my strands will disintegrate.)

    So glad to have this site to come to!

  2. I tried the CherryLola treatment maybe twice and didn’t notice any major differences in my hair. Plus I feel about liquid aminos the same way I feel about avocados and eggs: They do my insides good so I’m not going to waste them by putting them on my outsides and then rinsing them down the drain. :)

    I wouldn’t say that CherryLola was the “precursor” to MHM either. If anything might take that title, it could be the baking soda conditioner treatment (2 parts conditioner, 1 part baking soda). That particular bandwagon was bigger than CherryLola’s, if I recall correctly. I hopped on that one too and definitely saw less frizz and more definition. It also dried out my hair so severely it took a good six weeks to recover even with regular deep conditioning. The baking soda conditioner treatment is in the top 5 of my list of biggest natural hair

  3. I would never put baking soda on my hair…especially not to make it more porous…smh. Actually when you think about it the reason people think this treatment works is because the baking soda makes the hair more porous…therefore you think your hair is receiving a lot more moisture…but its not….you’ve just made your hair more thirsty…therefore it sucks up more needed moisture. As for sis in the pic I’m glad it worked for her…but it seems to me she could’ve gotten those same results with some nice conditioner…or kinky curly..

    • From my understanding, the MHM/Cherry Lola was created for low porosity hair types. Making low porosity hair more porous would then actually make it closer to normal on the spectrum, not high porosity and thirsty. I haven’t don’t either treatments but I have considered doing them because I do have low porosity hair and it takes more than just a good conditioner for my hair to feel well moisturized. It takes constant contact with water or and deep conditioning with a shower cap for several hours before my hair even feels wet. But once it’s moisturized I can leave it alone for a week or more without needing to re-moisturize so I see that as a benefit to having low porosity hair.

  4. I’m experimenting with (cheap) homemade protein treatments, but liquid amino acids over here is about the same price as a commercial protein conditioner. I’d rather cut out the faffery, but I am intrigued by the results you got and the evidence for it…

  5. I have to chime in as a natural low porosity girl. I started using this treatment as an experiment a few months ago (I know . . . I’m late to the party), BUT I have to share my personal results, as they might be helpful for someone. I color my own hair and I had previous issues with getting full coverage and extreme resistance from some strands – or entire areas – due to my low porosity. When I read about the Cherry Lola treatment, I decided to try it immediately before coloring to allow for maximum absorption into my follicles. It works. I don’t have to let the dye set for nearly as long and I have complete coverage — even with the few defiant gray strands in my hairline. Any fellow low porosity ladies who have a similar issue should consider this as a part of your hair color routine. I welcome any questions!

  6. Pingback: Whats you hair porosity? – Haircare Tips For The Unequipped

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