When moving over from traditional shampoos to more natural methods, No Poo baking soda recipes are very popular.
Using baking soda to cleanse your hair is one of the core hair washes of the No Poo Movement, but it’s definitely not without its own issues.
Individuals thinking of trying this hair wash method should always use baking soda with caution, for instance, No Poo baking soda recipes can be problematic if you are too vigorous with its use, and not using a pH balancing rinse afterwards.
Since there are many potential pitfalls to using baking soda to wash your hair, I decided to look more closely at the various No Poo baking soda methods discussed online.
The No Poo movement is gaining in popularity, with a growing number of people moving away from traditional shampoos and using natural products to keep their hair healthy. Baking soda is one of the most popular methods, working well for many people. Some individuals find that the abrasive nature of baking soda has a damaging effect on their hair.
The great thing about baking soda is that it is naturally abrasive and because of this it is able to clean hair thoroughly and effectively. Baking soda is often followed by an acid rinse to moisturize the hair and balance the pH to leave the hair healthy.
I’m always looking to improve my understanding of No Poo and do the very best for my hair, so was worried when I started hearing that a growing number of people were moving away from No Poo baking soda washes, due to damaging their hair.
Read on to see what I learnt when I decided to investigate more about the No Poo baking soda wash method.
No Poo Baking Soda Wash
People using the No Poo method of hair care have moved away from traditional shampoos for many reasons. For some, it’s simply not wanting to put harmful chemicals in their hair, whereas others worry about the environmental impact of the sulphates and silicons that traditional shampoos contain, as well as the environmental damage resulting from the plastic packaging.
The No Poo baking soda wash is a simple wash to use, and with baking soda readily available in most kitchens, it is often the first step in an individual’s No Poo journey.
This method of No Poo can be used by everyone, although if your hair is damaged before starting your No Poo journey it may be wise to pre-poo condition first.
Those with oily hair and/or build-up from previous products will find that baking soda strips these effectively (source 2).
How To Instructions
The No Poo baking soda ratio can be anywhere from a thick paste to a very watery wash, the choice is yours.
I find that a paste is easier to apply and stay on my hair, as too much water just means that most of the backing soda ends up down the plughole before it’s got anywhere near my hair.
As with everything, you’ll find the best method for you with a little trial and error. There is no ‘right’ way, just the way that’s right for you.
Here’s how to wash your hair with baking soda (source 1):
1. What You Need
- Baking soda
- Wide Toothed Comb
- Optional Dish
- Optional ACV Rinse
2. No Poo Baking Soda Steps
- Thoroughly drench your hair with water and comb through to remove tangles.
- Mix a spoonful of baking soda with a small amount of water to form a paste – this can either be in a shallow dish, or in the palm of your hand.
- Smooth the paste over the top of your hair.
- Repeat but use the paste to cover the underside of your hair.
- Comb through to distribute the paste fully through your hair.
- Leave the paste on your hair for around 3 minutes.
- Rinse out the baking soda with water whilst very gently massaging your scalp and hair to fully remove all of the baking soda.
3. Be Careful
Whilst rinsing tilt your head back as getting baking soda in your eyes can be deeply unpleasant.
If this does happen though, rinse your eyes thoroughly with water and do not rub them.
4. Acid Rinse
After rinsing out the baking soda use a 50% dilution of apple cider vinegar and either pour or spray into your hair.
Leave rinse in your hair for a minute, before rinsing it out with cold water.
Pat or scrunch dry with an old t-shirt, do not scrub dry as this will damage the hair follicles and leave hair frizzy
How Often Can I Wash My Hair With Baking Soda?
This is a difficult question to answer, and the answers that everyone gives online are often different, which is not really that helpful!
Here’s what we do know though …
During the transition period when your hair can be more greasy than usual, baking soda could be used more frequently.
Some people suggest using a baking soda wash every two to three days, whereas others suggest that once every few weeks is better for your hair (source 3,4).
For many people though, decreasing the amount of product for washing, and leaving longer between washes is their No Poo goal.
If you start with a baking soda and vinegar rinse, then drawing out the time between washes whilst at the same time reducing the amount of baking soda used when you do wash, will be better for your hair in the long term.
The thing to remember when using baking soda is that it is very abrasive and has a much higher pH than either your hair or your scalp.
Therefore, I recommend using baking soda only periodically for a really good clean, as it is too harsh in my opinion to use on a regular basis.
Using a vinegar rinse after the baking soda was is a well-known combination that is supposed to redress the pH balance.
Baking soda is around 9 on the pH scale, whereas apple cider vinegar is around 3pH.
However, your scalp registers at approximately 5pH and so you can see that baking soda can be very drying, and therefore very damaging to your hair and scalp if not used correctly.
Unfortunately, what is right for your hair may not be right for someone else’s, and vice versa.
It’s a trial and error regime, but one that can leave your hair wonderfully clean and some say softened (source 5).
Pros And Cons Of No Poo Baking Soda
Baking soda, especially when used with an apple cider vinegar rinse, is a very popular No Poo method. There are many people who swear by it for making their hair clean, healthy, more manageable and softer.
On the other side though, just as many people have pointed out that their hair has become brittle and dry after using No Poo baking soda recipes over a period of time.
My hair definitely falls into this camp of thought, since baking soda washes were just too cleansing and drying for my hair.
As this can be a bit confusing I thought that it would be a great idea to write down a proper list of the pros and cons so that you can make up your own mind:
Pros Of Baking Soda Washes
If you are simply looking to remove the traditional shampoo silicons from your hair at the start of your No Poo journey, then baking soda is a useful tool.
Below is a list of the positive aspects of baking soda washes:
Baking soda is abrasive and therefore is of great use as a cleansing agent. This is why it is used in so many household cleaning applications
As an abrasive substance baking soda can exfoliate the scalp, breaking up any sebum build-up and helping to remove dead skin cells (source 6).
3. Oil Removal
Baking soda mixed into a paste with water can naturally remove excess oils leaving your hair clean and non-greasy.
4. Hair Growth
By removing the dirt and excess oil and stimulating your scalp through exfoliation, it is possible that baking soda cleansing will aid hair growth (source 7).
A jar of baking soda will last a very long time and is far cheaper than traditional shampoos backed by million-dollar adverts.
Using the No Poo baking soda method it is possible to increase the frequency between hair washes.
Traditional shampoos are used daily or every other day whereas a baking soda wash only needs to be weekly, and sometimes less often.
7. Chemical Free
There are no harmful chemicals that make baking soda better for your hair and scalp, and better for the environment.
8. All Hair Types
Whilst baking soda is best for those with curly, coarse, and oily hair, it can be used by anyone.
Those with dry hair might benefit from a pre or post ‘poo moisturizing mask, but baking soda will effectively clean all hair.
Baking soda can be used with other ingredients:
- Dry Scalp: Adding coconut oil to baking soda can help combat a dry scalp.
- Dandruff: Lemon juice added will help to resolve dandruff (source 8).
Baking soda has a high pH, much higher than your scalp and hair.
The bonus of baking soda is that it can be followed by a vinegar (acid) rinse to balance pH that can reset the scalps natural oil balance (source 9).
Cons Of Baking Soda Washes
Whilst there are many pros to using baking soda to cleanse your hair, there is a more serious downside if using baking soda too regularly or over too long a period.
Below is a list of the downsides of the No Poo baking soda wash method:
Baking soda is abrasive.
Therefore you need to be careful that you don’t scrub too vigorously or your scalp and hair could be damaged
Using too much baking soda, or using it too often can leave the scalp and hair very dry.
If your hair starts off-dry, using baking soda can make it very much worse over the long term.
A dry scalp can also lead to itching and dandruff.
3. More Frizz
The abrasive effect of baking soda can damage the hair follicle leading it to become frizzy.
Using baking soda for a long period can lead to hair breakage and split ends
5. Oil Removal
Although removing some oil can be good for some individuals, baking soda can remove too much and upset the natural scalp balance.
6. pH Levels
Baking soda has a very high pH level and can damage the natural pH of the scalp and hair.
This can be damaging in the long run to both your hair and scalp.
It can be difficult to remove all of the baking soda in your hair which can lead to white flakes due to buildup.
8. ACV to Level pH
Many people use ACV after a baking soda wash to balance out the pH, as baking soda has a high pH and vinegar has a low one.
There is no concrete evidence that this actually happens in your hair, regardless of how much you dilute the baking soda in the first place (source 1).
No Poo Baking Soda Recipe
Baking soda can be mixed with other ingredients for various added results, for instance, lemon can be used to rid your scalp of dandruff, whilst adding coconut oil can moisturize your scalp.
The basic recipe for washing your hair with baking soda is simply baking soda and water. Whilst it is suggested to use one tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste, there are other options.
For ease, individuals also dilute baking soda with water in a spray bottle and spray onto their hair as required.
This means that bathroom mess is avoided, and generally less baking soda is used.
This also saves time as the baking soda recipe is on hand immediately.
No Poo Baking Soda And Vinegar
The main reason that people use vinegar as a rinse after a baking soda wash is that apple cider vinegar is moisturizing, which may be necessary after using baking soda.
It is said that the low pH of vinegar will neutralize the high pH of the baking soda and therefore be better for your hair.
There is no scientific evidence that this occurs though.
How To Fix Baking Soda Damaged Hair
If you have overdone the baking soda and found that your hair has become dry, damaged, and prone to breakage, then all is not lost.
Follow the next few steps and your hair will return to its former No Poo journey:
- STOP: Stop using baking soda immediately.
- Hair Mask: Use a hair conditioning mask that also contains egg. There are many to choose from, from banana to avocado, to honey, or a combination. Use whichever you have available and get the life back into your hair. Egg contains proteins that will help strengthen your hair.
- Moisturize: Regularly moisturize your hair, twice a week for a month and you should notice a difference.
- Boar Bristle Brush: Invest in a boar bristle brush, and brush every day. This will pull down the sebum from your scalp to nourish your hair and help stop the ends from drying out.
- Avoid: Avoid anything that will damage your hair during its recovery period. Heating styling aids will have to go on hold for a while. If you want to swim then think about using a swimming cap to keep the chlorine out of your hair. If this is impossible then rinse your hair extremely well.
Baking Soda Shampoo For Colored Hair
Baking soda can lighten hair, especially coloured hair.
However, if you have been No Poo’ing with baking soda for a while before colouring, a baking powder shampoo may actually help keep your colour for longer.
This is because you are likely to wash your hair less often with baking soda than you would with a traditional shampoo (source 1).
Baking Soda For Scalp Fungus
Scalp fungus is not a pleasurable experience and not something that you’d normally chat to your friends about over a coffee.
However, baking soda can help to restore your scalp to health.
Baking soda works quite like an anti-fungal cream when mixed with water:
- Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with water until it becomes a paste.
- Massage through hair and leave for 5 minutes.
- Wash out thoroughly.
- Repeat twice a week until scalp is clear.
If you follow the baking soda wash with an apple cider vinegar wash you improve the chances of your scalp healing quickly.
Can I Add Baking Soda To My Shampoo?
If you are wanting to deep clean your hair, then adding baking soda to your normal shampoo seems like a good idea.
Its abrasive nature will clean your hair, and your usual shampoo will act more like a clarifying shampoo.
To make sure that you are doing the best for your hair your usual shampoo should be No Poo and free of sulphates, parabens, silicons, and other man-made chemicals.
No Poo Baking Soda Alternatives
Although baking soda is the most widely known method of No Poo washing, it is perfectly possible to No Poo without baking soda.
There are many alternatives, but I have only listed a few:
- Castille Soap: Use sulfate-free liquid Castile soap mixed with water to get a really good lathering hair wash. If your hair is dry then adding some oil, especially coconut or jojoba, will add moisture (source 1).
- Aloe Vera: This can be used by all hair types and works both as a cleanser, and moisturizer, and also helps to cool a troubled scalp. You can either blitz the gel from the leaves fresh yourself and before every wash, or buy organic gel from your local health store.
- Clay: There are many hair clays around that can be used either as a wash or as a mask, Rhassoul and Kaolin clay are just two of them (source 1).
- No Poo Shampoo Bars: As No Poo becomes more popular the number of available products has risen astronomically. If you want to go No Poo, but don’t like the idea of baking soda, and don’t have the time or desire to make your own shampoo, the shampoo bars are for you.
There are many recipes and conflicting feelings about No Poo baking soda recipes and outcomes.
Some people rave about how baking soda can soften and de-oil their hair with fabulous results. Others claim that baking soda and ACV rinses have ruined their hair, making it dry and increasing breakage.
What we do know is that everyone’s hair is different and baking soda is a great cleaner when used in moderation.
No Poo Conditioner Recipe
One of the best conditioners is avocado mixed with olive oil and a dash of lemon juice, blitzed and left on your hair for 20 minutes. This can leave your hair incredibly nourished and tangle-free (source 1).