I was inspired by a recent post from Jazzy Mama to try washing my hair with baking soda. I've been curious to try this alternative to regular shampoo for awhile so I leapt at the challenge.
Well, maybe not leapt, but walked carefully and intentionally towards. As with most new things I do in life, I started with some research on the subject. I had lots of questions because, honestly, I'm pretty careful with my long, wavy hair. I love my locks. What could baking soda and vinegar to do to my beloved hair??!! How much baking soda? How much vinegar? Will it get clean? Will I still need to condition my hair?
My research answered all my questions, although there seem to be as many variations on baking soda and vinegar hair wash as there are commercial hair products! Here, I've distilled them down (no pun intended) and compiled the results in an easy to follow format. I've also included a nerdy little table with examples of how much baking soda and vinegar some people use (with links, of course).
If you're not already a regular user of baking soda and vinegar or part of the no 'poo revolution, I urge you to give it a try. I was skeptical that it would work on my hair type (dry, except at the crown), but after my first attempt, I was hooked! My hair immediately felt lighter and healthier. It felt much better than I expected...much better than any number of shampoo and conditioners I've tried. I'll keep playing with the concentrations, but I have no doubt that no 'poo will work for me long term. I'm sure it can work for you, too!
Here's all you need to know to wash your hair with baking soda and vinegar:
Baking soda Hair Wash
Ingredients: Good old household baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water (tap, distilled, filtered, rain...)
Quantity: Proportions vary from a paste to 1 Tablespoon in 1.5 cups water. Use less baking soda for dryer hair, more for greasy hair. See chart below for some examples.
Preparation: Mix the baking soda and warm water with a cup and spoon, shake it up in an old shampoo bottle, or use whatever works for your mixing needs. Most prepare the mix right before using, others make a stock and reuse it (note: if you're a baker, you know that the chemical reaction from baking soda starts when it mixes with the wet ingredients; seems like it's best to make the soda 'shampoo' fresh each time).
Hair Washing Instructions: Wet hair thoroughly, then massage the soda mixture into roots and scalp. Ends may be avoided, especially for long or dry, brittle hair (ends will get clean from run-off). Rinse well and avoid contact with eyes. The Dry Alternative: Work soda (~half a handful) into hair before getting into shower, then rinse it out well in shower (but see baker's note above).
Frequency: Use baking soda every time you wash your hair OR use it occasionally to remove build-up.
Vinegar Hair Rinse
Ingredients: Use apple cider vinegar (ACV) or white vinegar. Organic ACV has dead yeast and bacteria (good for hair?). Note that some ACVs don't use corn syrup instead of apples, so be sure to check the label. Avoid "sticky" vinegars, such as balsamic.
Quantity: Amounts range from 1 undiluted tablespoon applied directly to wet hair to a 25% solution (poured or sprayed on wet hair). Use more vinegar for dry or frizzy hair, less vinegar for oily hair. See chart below for some examples.
Preparation: Vinegar may be poured directly from the cap or mixed with water in a cup, bottle, or spray bottle.
Hair Rinsing Instructions: There are four ways to rinse with vinegar:
1) after applying the baking soda and rinsing it out (as you would regular shampoo and conditioner), OR
2) after the baking soda wash, but before rinsing the soda out, OR
3) skip the baking soda altogether and just rinse hair well with water first, OR
4) spray it on your hair before applying the baking soda.
In any case, rinse and wet hair thoroughly, then apply the vinegar. Avoid eyes. If the baking soda has been washed out of your hair (or not used), then rinsing the vinegar out with water is optional. Note that using vinegar at all is optional as well!
Frequency: Use it every time you wash (with baking soda), or just once in awhile as needed, such as when hair is dry, frizzy, or needs some shine.
· Baking soda is a mild abrasive that cleans hair very well without removing natural oils.
· Vinegar helps seal the hair shaft, adding extra shine and softness. Lemon juice may be used instead of vinegar.
· The odor of vinegar will rinse out and quickly dissipate from hair.
· Baking soda and water will not create a sudsy lather like regular shampoo. It will feel a bit gritty, but the grit will rinse out in the shower.
· If you use baking soda and vinegar on your hair at the same time, you will hearing fizzing and popping as the two compounds react to clean your hair.
· Users of baking soda and/or vinegar all say the same thing: they love it more than their old shampoo!
· You will not need to use regular shampoo or conditioner if you use baking soda and/or vinegar on your hair.
· It takes at least 2 weeks for hair to adjust to the new regime. During the transition period, your hair may be icky (unusually greasy or dry, not feeling clean, etc.). It may also take some experimentation to get the right soda and vinegar concentrations for your hair type. Hang in there, it will get better!
· One advocate of baking soda hair wash made the transition slowly over the course of a year: she gradually switched to baking soda by adding small amounts to regular shampoo to increase lather. Over time, she was down to just a drop of shampoo and mostly baking soda, then eventually only baking soda.
· Users of baking soda and/or vinegar repot that they need to wash their hair less frequently than with regular shampoo. Some only wash their hair every 4 or 5 days, others who skip the baking soda only use vinegar once a week or less!
· Concentrations of either baking soda or vinegar can be adjusted over time or according to conditions. For example, if your hair is extra dirty, wash it with a bit more baking soda. During drier times of year, you can increase the vinegar to keep your hair from getting frizzy.
· The type of water in your shower may affect the results. With softer water, you might not need the vinegar rinse very often, if at all.
· Baking soda and vinegar are considerably cheaper than commercial shampoos and conditioners, they are composed of fewer chemicals, and there is less packing per unit used.
Examples of Quantities Used for Baking Soda and Vinegar Hair Wash and Rinse
Baking Soda Mixture
1Tbsp baking soda + 1 cup of water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup baking soda + 2-3 cups warm water
1Tbsp baking soda (~ half a handful), applied to dry hair before shower
1/2 cup baking soda + 3 cups warm water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 Tbsp baking soda + 1-1.5 cups water
1-2 Tbsp vinegar + 1-1.5 cups water
1 capful of apple cider vinegar mixed in a full beaker of water
1-2 Tbsp baking soda, applied to wet hair
Occasionally spray with vinegar before applying baking soda.
Few teaspoons baking soda with enough water to form a paste
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar + 1 cup water
Do you have an alternative to commercial shampoo and conditioner that you absolutely love? Please share it here!