I can only imagine how much money I’ve spent in my lifetime experimenting with all different types of shampoos, conditioners, mousses, and hair gels to tame my unruly curls (see my other post on how I care for my curly hair). Since switching to baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioner a year ago, I haven’t tried another product and haven’t even wanted to! If you think this sounds like a gimmick, I can’t blame ya, but I promise it’s not. Just start browsing the comments on this post and you’ll see one success story after another.
I’ve tried Nexxus, Frizz-Eaze, Kérastase, DevaCurl, Matrix Biologe, Redken, and Bed Head to name a few. I’m 30 years old now, and until a year ago, I still hadn’t found the perfect products to keep my hair soft, manageable, moisturized and most importantly, tamed. After using no-poo (no sodium laureth sulfate) shampoo and conditioner from DevaCurl for a couple of years and only washing my hair every 3-4 days, it was only fitting that I take the full plunge and make my own Baking Soda shampoo!
So ewww, that’s totally gross! Wash your hair every 3 to 4 days and not use real shampoo? Well, at first it is gross because your hair has to go through a 2-4 week transition period (mine was about 2 1/2 weeks) as it adjusts how much oil it produces.
See, regular shampoo has harsh sulfates in it, which are synthetic detergents. These sulfates clean the hair a little too well and end up stripping it of its natural oils, which causes your scalp to produce more oil than is actually needed. Baking Soda doesn’t strip your hair of its natural oils, but simply removes dirt from your hair.
I was determined to try it and stick it out – especially because it’s so incredibly cheap, gentle on my hair and 100% green! My hair did continue producing excess oil for about two weeks, even after having used a poo free shampoo for several years prior! I was very surprised by this. After that period, however, my hair felt softer than ever and started to actually lay flat! This works for all types of hair, not just curly. In fact, most bloggers who’ve written about it have straight hair.
UPDATE – If you’re not sure if you are ready to make the switch but still want to use more natural cleaners for your hair, check out my No-Poo Alternatives to Baking Soda post. I use an aloe vera and glycerine shampoo and talk about it there.
UPDATE: One of my readers, Deanna, has been using the diluted baking soda on her five month old baby and says that her baby’s skin is much softer and it is helping to remove her cradle cap. Wow! It’s really not necessary to spend ten times the money on natural baby soaps when you can make baking soda shampoo and soap for pennies!
So, let’s get started!
Baking Soda Shampoo
- Filtered Water
- An empty container – I use an old shampoo bottle
- Baking Soda
- Measuring Cup
- 1 Funnel
Approx. Ratio for the Recipe: 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 cup water OR make a paste with baking soda and a small amount of water and store in an old lotion tub. Just rinse thoroughly if you make a paste. The ratio for this recipe is flexible – there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. Add more baking soda if your hair is thick and long or oily, and less if it’s short and thin or dry. I use a little bit more, because my hair is so thick and long. So, for a 32 ounce container, I use 5 tablespoons of Baking Soda and 4 cups of cool water. I use the funnel to get the water and baking soda into the container. I’ve used warm water before (so I could use the shampoo right away and it wouldn’t be cold), but warm to hot water causes the baking soda to break down and clump, rendering it ineffective.
It’s so easy! Takes me about 5 minutes to complete it.
I take the bottle, flip my head upside down, and squirt the shampoo onto my scalp (the mixture is usually colder than room temperature, so it’s COLD to just pour on the scalp, which I why I flip my head over!).
Then, I take my fingers and rub my scalp in a circular motion, adding more shampoo if it feels like I need it, and rinse very thoroughly.
- It’s very important to rinse thoroughly or your hair will feel grainy and dry.
- Make the recipe with cool to lukewarm water, but not warm or hot. Warm/hot water reacts with the baking soda and causes it to clump up.
Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner
- Empty container (I use an empty vinegar bottle)
- Measuring cup
- Apple Cider Vinegar (I love Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar and order in in bulk on Amazon)
- Water (see tips below for scented, herb-infused water in the “Worried About the Smell?” section
Ratio for the conditioner is one tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar to one cup of filtered water. My hair is so dry, thick and long that I use a lot more and it works wonders for my hair – about 1 cup ACV with 1 cup water.
I shied away from using this as a conditioner for a long time because as I used it in the shower, my hair did not feel soft and silky like it did with commercial conditioners, so I thought it wasn’t working. Then, I bit the bullet and decided to try it without any commercial conditioner just to see what would happen. The result? After my hair dried (and I ignored that it didn’t feel soft while wet), it was softer and smoother than when I had used commercial conditioner! I was amazed and now I’m HOOKED.
Worried About the Smell?
Don’t be – I promise you will not smell like a walking pickle jar! If I did, believe me, I wouldn’t be using this. I may be into green living, but I do have pride (smile). Once your hair dries, the vinegar smell disappears. In fact, it starts to dissipate right after rinsing and I don’t notice a smell at all. However, I have been doing this method for a long time, so I am used to it.
If you are just starting this method and just can’t stand the smell of it in the shower or while it’s drying, here are several ideas:
- You can add essential oils like lavender, rosemary, sage, or citrus to freshen it up. However, if you get the raw ACV like I do, the essential oils will make the raw material (aka “the mother”) clump up.
- You could also make your own scented water to mix with it by steeping some herbs in hot water (like making herbal tea) in a pot on the stove, strain the herbs and use that water to mix with the ACV.
- A reader wrote that she uses just a little bit of rose water and orange blossom water and a few drops of her favorite essential to make it smell heavenly.
Tips for Application:
- When starting this method for the first time, be careful to pour the ACV on just the ends of your hair so it doesn’t get on your scalp. It makes my scalp feel oily.
- However, if you are dealing with psoriasis, dandruff or dry skin on your scalp, ACV does WONDERS for healing dry and damaged skin and I recommend applying it to your scalp until your skin heals. I have had a few spots of dandruff in the past and the ACV has cleaned it up after one application!
Trying this Method and Still Dealing with Frizziness?
I’ve gotten quite a few comments from curly girls who are dealing with frizziness while trying this method. I highly recommend reading my other post on my Curly Hair Regimen and follow all the steps when it comes to washing your hair and applying a product afterwards – each step counts. If you find it is drying your hair out, I have had the same issues (after using it for a year and a half, but many have been happy with it long-term). I wrote another post to address this issue - No-Poo Alternatives to Baking Soda. To be clear, I do still have to use a hair cream or mousse with this method or my hair would look terrible and frizzy. I know that may sound strange, but that’s just how coarse and curly my hair is. Before this method, my hair was frizzy, unruly and really dry even with hair products on it. Now, my hair feels soft and lays much more nicely and isn’t nearly as dry. Not only that, I’m saving tons of money as gentle shampoos and good conditioners are very expensive.
Another idea is to use coconut oil as a pre-conditioner. I get my coconut oil from Tropical Traditions and love it! Apply it BEFORE washing your hair, preferably an hour before and let it sit. Then, wash and rinse like normal. Do this on an as-needed basis until you hair feels like you want it to! I have been doing this since having my third baby as the hormonal changes made my hair very dry. The coconut oil has worked wonders to moisturize it!
See how I use this method and other natural methods to care for my curly hair in my My Organic Curly Hair Regimen – How to Have Gorgeous Curls post! Wanna read more or is baking soda not working for you anymore? See my No-Poo Alternatives to Baking Soda post.
See my Green Homemaking page for more DIY green projects, like homemade deodorant, lotion, detergent, and cleaning products!