Can Baking Soda Damage Your Hair?
If you’ve been on the no ‘poo baking soda train and want to get off, you’re in the right place! I’m going to tell you what exactly happened and how to fix baking soda damaged hair in a few simple steps. Or if you’re thinking of trying baking soda shampoo for hair growth, here’s why you shouldn’t consider washing hair with baking soda.
I’m sure you’re determined to grow your hair out fast or eliminate all the toxic chemicals in your shampoo and conditioner. But I’m here to tell you that this is not the best way to go. Because I’ve been there. Don’t worry though! I’ve got plenty of baking soda shampoo alternatives to bring your hair back to life in as little as one month.
Pin this image for later!
This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more here.
What Does Baking Soda Do to Your Hair? Does Baking Soda Make Your Hair Grow?
The short answer is no, it doesn’t make your hair grow. Instead, it slowly destroys the health of your hair and scalp. The longer answer involves some science. We’re going to look at the pH scale to explain how baking soda damaged hair is formed over time. For those of you with damaged hair wondering what the heck happened, here’s how baking soda interacts with your hair.
To start off with the basics, the pH scale determines how acidic or basic a substance is, and it ranges from 0-14. Zero is the most basic and at the same level as battery acid, while you can find the most acidic things like bleach and lye at about 14. Seven is completely neutral, and your blood actually falls into this category!
In order for your hair to be clean and happy, it needs to be cleaned with a substance that has a similar pH. Your hair falls at about 4.5 on the scale, so it’s slightly acidic. Baking soda, on the other hand, falls at 9.5! See what a big difference that is? Baking soda for hair growth is a myth that needs to be debunked in the clean beauty community.
Chances are, you’re here to look at washing hair with baking soda and vinegar reviews before you try it out. However, it won’t take long for you to discover some baking soda shampoo reviews that it’s not worth the struggle. Here’s what can go wrong if try baking soda for hair growth over time. Spoiler alert: Your hair won’t grow!
Will Baking Soda Clean My Hair?
Yes, but at the cost of severely damaging your ends. Having such a basic substance applied to your acidic hair disrupts its environment, leaving your hair cuticles open and allowing breakage to happen. Another problem with baking soda shampoo is that the difference of pH actually over-cleans your hair.
Over-cleaning, or clarifying, means that every trace of grease and gunk on your hair will be stripped off. Sounds great, right? Not necessarily.
Diluted “baking soda shampoo” will not only get all the bad stuff off your hair, but the good stuff as well. We’ve been operating under the assumption that oil is bad, but your skin (and therefore your scalp) need oil to be its healthiest self! Baking soda shampoo can over-strip and thus cause major damage to your hair over time.
Now let me be clear here; it’s totally fine to use a diluted baking soda shampoo on your hair if it feels weighed down with chemicals or other gunk. Doing a baking soda rinse on your hair would be totally fine for occasions like after swimming in a chlorinated pool. But you should only do it once and follow up with some good moisturizing products right after. Never use baking soda shampoo consistently!!
Baking Soda Irritates Your Scalp and Slows Hair Growth
The lack of moisture and oils doesn’t just affect your hair’s pH, it affects your scalp too! Baking soda burning your scalp is a very common side effect of the no ‘poo method. I personally never felt any irritation when I tried it, but you should especially not wash your hair with baking soda if you have a sensitive scalp.
This goes for those of you that have dandruff problems! Your scalp is what creates the sebum that makes your hair look greasy, so you want to treat it well. Even if you don’t feel irritation from the baking soda, it’s still very harsh. The cleaning power of baking soda usually over cleans your scalp, making it produce even more sebum! The key with making your scalp produce less oil is to give it gentle products less frequently.
People have used and sworn by baking soda shampoo, only to find major breakage on their hair they worked so hard to grow! It can take a few months, or even a couple years, but the over-cleaning power of baking soda catches up to anyone and everyone. It actually caught up to me rather quickly, which wasn’t fun.
Can Baking Soda Damage Your Hair? My Experience
When I first started my clean beauty journey, I focused solely on my hair. I read on Pinterest that the best way to wash your hair was to put diluted baking soda on your roots about once a week followed by rinsing my ends with diluted apple cider vinegar.
It was not a fun experience. What followed was extremely greasy hair and more damage than I wanted. It felt like I had baking soda stuck in my hair, despite rinsing it out as best I could. And my hair felt like I never washed it at all, even when I was fresh out of the shower. I was devastated! If your hair felt weird after baking soda shampoo, you are not alone!
The over-stripping power of baking soda caught up to me in a matter of weeks. The first week seemed okay, but the second and third weeks were a complete nightmare. My hair was left feeling so dry and stripped, that anything coming into contact with it made it stand up on end from the static electricity. Even stroking my fingers through my hair made it come to life.
This greasy root and dry end combo did not look good at all. Unless my hair was tied back in a braid, it looked awful. I fully planned on sticking it out, but I saw that I was starting to get split ends noticeably faster than before. I realized that my efforts to grow out my hair without shampoo were fruitless, so I turned to chemical-free shampoo instead.
Try Nontoxic Shampoo Instead and Do Regular Hair Treatments
I eventually found a great all-natural hair and skincare company that saved my hair from complete breakage. Their shampoo for my hair type restored my hair’s health, and I bet it will work great for you!
So what’s so great (or not great) about baking soda shampoo? What most people rave about baking soda shampoo is that it restores the life of their hair. It feels softer and has more shine.
What’s interesting, though, is that there is no evidence to support this. Whether or not baking soda for hair is good or bad, you don’t want to make a lifestyle change based on anecdotes and no scientific evidence.
After hours of scouring Pinterest, I also came across some amazing yet little-known hacks to speed up hair growth. You should really check it out! These things are what actually made a difference in the growth and overall health of my hair.
Does baking soda damage hair? Yes, much more than you think, in fact. Now let’s get into how to fix baking soda damaged hair! Start out with the things I mention in this article here and check out these tips.
How Do You Fix Baking Soda Damaged Hair?
First thing’s first, stop using the baking soda shampoo! I don’t care if you have to switch back to your toxic shampoo you used before until you find a better one. Yeah, I said it. You need to start healing your hair and scalp by creating its ideal environment. And that means finding a natural shampoo that your hair will love.
Introducing Just Nutritive
I went back onto Pinterest after I realized what I had done to my hair, and I found all kinds of pins for hair care from Just Nutritive. I went onto their site, and they had just about everything I needed to restore my hair! You can read my full review of Just Nutritive’s haircare line, but I’ll give you the basics.
Just Nutritive is a company that sells all things hair and skin care that are handmade with only the most natural ingredients. One of the things I love most about them is that their site is organized based on whatever ailment you want to fix.
There’s something for oily hair, fine hair, thick hair, African American hair, just about every kind of hair (or lack there of)! They have styling products and hair treatments too. Just Nutritive’s Oily Hair Shampoo was the very first natural shampoo I ever tried. And I loved it! Plus, their products are so big that I didn’t run out until over a year later!
When you first look at the site and see the prices, don’t click away because it’s too expensive. You need to look at your hair’s health as an investment of time and money if you want to heal it properly. The size of Just Nutritive’s products alone justifies the price though! You’re basically paying for a year’s worth of hair care.
If you join Just Nutritive’s newsletter, you’ll get all kinds of discounts and offers. There’s always some kind of 20% off sale going on.
If you have yet to take the natural haircare plunge, Just Nutritive is a great place to start! Click here to go to their homepage! I promise that you won’t be disappointed. I was pretty skeptical of the company at first, but I was pleasantly surprised!
And if Just Nutritive’s products don’t look that appealing to you, no worries! There are hundreds of nontoxic shampoos and conditioners for every hair type and price point. I’ve got my top natural shampoos you can check out, along with the best natural conditioners to go with it.
More Tips on How to Fix Baking Soda Damaged Hair
Now that you’ve found a great baking soda shampoo alternative, I have some extra tips on how to fix baking soda damaged hair. While I wish there was an easy fix, the reality is that you’re going to have to grow out new hair and cut off the brittle hair.
I’m not saying you need to shave yourself bald!! Just start by going in for a trim to get off as much hair as you’re comfortable with. Chances are that your dead ends will be pretty up there. Again, you can do this part at your own discretion.
While you wait for your hair to replace itself, you’ll have to keep it super-duper healthy to prevent further breakage. This can include:
- Regular hot oil treatments. I have a post on DIY hair oil you can use every day if need be. I would do an intensive oil treatment once a week by lightly oiling your hair a few hours before each shower.
- Wash your hair as little as possible. Yeah, you’ve got natural shampoo now, but that doesn’t mean the friction you create on your hair in the shower isn’t damaging. Try to stretch the time you can go in between washes so your hair can create its own oils and keep your ends healthy. I can currently go three days in between washes and I’m okay with that.
- Promote hair growth. The healing process will go by much faster if you try some hair growth hacks. Seriously, check it out!
The hot oil treatments and prolonged periods between washes will help bring some luster back to your hair, but once its damaged, there isn’t much you can do. The best thing you can do is practice healthy hair habits and wait for it to grow out again. For most people, you should be able to see improvements in about a month!
Baking Soda Shampoo is Feasible for Some, but Not Most
Contrary to this article’s purpose, I know that you can wash your hair with baking soda and be totally fine. I’ve had people tell me that they only use it as a kind of clarifying wash once a month or so, and that’s it.
Using baking soda on your hair once a month to every other month won’t damage your hair at all. But most people’s hair isn’t that low-maintenance, unfortunately. It takes a lot of transition and “training” your hair to go for long periods between washes. This can be especially hard for people with curly or thin hair like myself.
I really wish that I could use baking soda shampoo like that, but my hair is just too greasy. This is one of my biggest struggles with clean beauty. But I’ve come to accept that it’s a part of genetics and healing some long out-of-balance hormones.
Believe me, I’ve tried training it to go for longer. I tried washing my hair once a week, but I saw zero change in my levels of greasiness over the course of months. Someday I’ll figure out how to go longer in between washes. And when I do, I’ll tell you all about it!
Final Thoughts on How to Fix Baking Soda Damaged Hair
While using baking soda as a regular shampoo may be a bad idea, it’s perfectly fine to use a little bit to clarify your hair every once in a while. Sometimes, your hair just needs a fresh start. I used some once after a particularly gnarly visit to the pool to get rid of all the chlorine and my hair felt great after!
If you’re looking to switch to an all-natural shampoo, I highly recommend Just Nutritive. They have shampoos, conditioners, and all other skincare products for any hair and skin type! They’ll help restore your hair in no time.
If you use and love baking soda shampoo, then more power to you! I wish it was something that could have worked for me. If you are going to go “no-poo,” I’d recommend regular nontoxic shampoo unless you can go for more than a month without washing. If you do see some noticeable damage, stop using baking soda immediately.
Just know that you are no less of a person if your hair doesn’t like baking soda shampoo! Everyone is different, and a clean beauty routine is a process, not a destination.
Have you ever tried baking soda shampoo? Let me know in the comments below!