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Is Baking Soda Too Harsh for Natural Hair?

• Feb 5, 2012

3. Baking Soda is Natural

Pro: Baking soda occurs naturally

Anti: Baking Soda can also be manufactured based on the naturally occurring form. It is therefore not always natural.

4. Cleansing

Pro:  Baking soda is weakly soluble in water which means it takes some skill to be able to wash with it properly (including properly rinsing off any particles). As a cleanser, scientifically it has been shown to have some antimicrobial properties (Journal of Environmental Health, pp 27–31, 1994).

Anti: The primary purpose of shampoo is to remove oil and the dirt attached to it. Baking soda is not known to dissolve oil and is usually used in cleaning as a scourer (i.e scrub clean). It may not be the best choice if your routine utilises a lot of oil.

5. pH of Baking Soda

Pro:  You can purchase a ph 7 (neutral) baking soda (which is a mix of baking soda and corn starch).  This type of baking soda will be found at confectioners. The neutral pH is achieved only with water mixes (not apple cider vinegar or hair conditioner which may cause the baking soda to react and change the pH to alkaline).

Anti: The natural pH of pure baking soda is around 10. Hair is generally resistant to pH changes within the pH range 4–9 ((J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp 393–405, 1981), and generally hair products are made to a narrower range of pH 4–7, so pure baking soda is clearly out of this range.

Conclusion: Some women have great success with alkaline based cleansers such as baking soda or castile soap. As an example Sera used to use baking soda to cleanse her scalp in between washes. Roshini  also used castile soap successfully in the past. Some naturals will not find baking soda to be a good enough cleanser or may be cautious about pH and therefore a shampoo (not soap based) is a better option for these women.  Do remember that even when selecting a shampoo, pH is not everything, read the label, see what ingredients are in the bottle. If those ingredients irritate your skin or dry your hair ‚take note of them to avoid in future.  If they do not, remember them for the next time you want to try a new shampoo.

Ladies, do you use baking soda in your regimen? Is it too harsh? Or does it work well?

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dailycurlz
10 years ago

my hair actually love baking soda.. i do acv rinse after to balancee the ph

LBell
LBell
10 years ago
Reply to  dailycurlz

I too used to do this with success (baking soda rinse followed by ACV rinse). I was also a big user of (diluted) Dr. Bronner’s for years. However, lately, and largely by accident, I’ve found that using products that are close to hair’s natural pH seem to be making a difference.

No ma'am
No ma'am
10 years ago

Not for me. I love baking soda, it’s makes my hair soft, shiny, and gorgeous. I get a deep conditioner, regular conditioner, 2 tblspns of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, two tblsns of honey, two- three tbspns of baking soda, run it all through my hair, let it set for 2 hours and my hair is just amazing. 😉

Kimberly
Kimberly
10 years ago
Reply to  No ma'am

I do the same thing — my hair loves it too. Everything ain’t for everybody. 🙂

Hannah
Hannah
8 years ago
Reply to  No ma'am

I am going to try this, I added baking soda to my shampoo to remove excess color my hair soaked up last night and my hair is SHINY AND SOFT!!!! Ok! I used to look at other people’s natural hair like what are they using, how come my hair is always so frizzy and dull. No more honey. Add the above, which I will NOT be shampooing on a regular I’ll just b.s. it, to my Curly Twists conditioner and BOOM! I am set.

jeri
jeri
10 years ago

Many of my natural friends are opposed to using baking soda but I’ve found that nothing else takes away the buildup from my hair. I’ve tried ACV and all kinds of shampoos and nothing cleans better than baking soda. One thing to note though is that I get buildup on my scalp very easily. It is a lot less now since I started using all natural organic products but if I don’t wash my hair for two weeks and only only use conditioner to cowash, I end up with an itchy scalp and a lot of build up that takes… Read more »

Starr
10 years ago

My hair loves baking soda as well (and hates oils), my hair is low porosity, so maybe that has a lot to do with it.

Jc
Jc
10 years ago
Reply to  Starr

Out of curiosity — Do you really mean your hair hates all oils or would it be ok with a very light oil/very little oil?

CBark
CBark
7 years ago
Reply to  Jc

Maybe Starr’s hair is like mine? I’m low porosity and oils just prevent me from getting moisture into the strand. Everything *including the oil* just sits on top so the hair is not only hard and dry but greasy too. Coconut oil was one of the worst offenders, and once you get it on, it’s hard to get it off without shampoo. A terrible vicious circle, that.

LaDonna
LaDonna
10 years ago

I used to use castile soap but now I use Shea Moistures African Black Soap Purification Masque as a hair wash. It removes buildup without stripping my hair. Plus My scalp feels clean all week.

Angel Renee'
Angel Renee'
10 years ago

During my first year of being natural, I used baking soda all the time. With the pH craze that has taken over the natural scene, I immediately speed using the alkaline baking soda. It’s nice to know that baking soda has its exceptions and its effectiveness ultimately depends on the head of hair. Great insight!

peace & love,
Angel Renee’
http://www.DelightfullySwank.blogspot.com

Lara
Lara
10 years ago

I use a mix of 1 part Baking Soda, 1 part water, 1 part Conditioner and 1 part Olive oil as a deep conditioner twice a month. I have thick coarse hair so i leave it on for about an hour or so and it does wonders for my hair!!:))) I also add a couple of drops of lavender to mask the odd smell:))

trackback

[…] some naturals (because of its high pH), it’s a highly effective cleaner for others. Check out this post weighing the pros and cons of baking soda to determine if it’s the right option for […]

Tinesha
Tinesha
8 years ago

Thank you for saying how long it took for the hair to return to normal after being exposed to alkaline products. I often wondered if it was neccesary to close the cuticle back with something acidic after raising it. I’m low porosity and have just discovered that adding a pinch of baking soda to products has done WONDERS for my hair. Like my hair literally hangs longer because its FINALLY properly moisturized! I raised the ph of my conditioner to co-wash and of my leave in with baking soda and I am in love with my hair again! 🙂

Chaminda
8 years ago
Reply to  Tinesha

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Ruwani
Ruwani
8 years ago

I use baking soda almost every wash (when i’m not using an oil treatment). I use baking soda in it’s natural form, as a solid. i gently scrub it to the scalp and let it be for 5–10 mins. To balance the pH i use vinegar. I use a solution of vinegar + water after washing off the baking soda. AS the final wash i squirt about a 1/4 of a lemon to 300 ml of water. Since i’m currently living in Middle east i use drinking water to wash my hair ( the water here is horrible — it’s… Read more »

AdeleR
AdeleR
8 years ago

Thank you for the post. I recently(yesterday) made a hair mask with Olive Oil and Honey. I don’t seem to get the oiliness out of my hair. So I am wondering when using coconut/olive oil as a conditioner, is there a secret to it? I have now tried BS and WV(white vinegar) rinse for the first time.. It didn’t remove the oil from my hair. But.. My hair is really soft and manageable though. I just hate the smell of the Vinegar, how big of a difference will essential oil make to the smell? Is there a natural alternative to the… Read more »

kay
kay
8 years ago

what about adding baking soda to conditioner and using that as a shampoo/conditioner all in one?

Haird
Haird
8 years ago

AdeleR,
Half a lemon as a replacement for a tablespoon of vinegar is a very feasible option. It conditions and softens, as well as the bonus of the lemon’s innate oils nourishing your hair.
Cheers!

nicole
nicole
8 years ago

hi girls ; does baking soda strip sebum ?

CBark
CBark
7 years ago
Reply to  nicole

This article correctly points out that baking soda does not remove oils. It also leaves waxes intact, so sebum remains undisturbed (which this article also points out will be part of the reason it’s not as irritating as shampoo).

According to Pinkecube of the MHM, it should dissolve low build up (and therefore MHM-friendly) hair products though, so along with lots of conditioner (which *does* remove some oil) you have a thorough yet non-stripping hair and scalp wash, with moisturizing benefits for those of us with low porosity hair. 😀

Si'mantra
Si'mantra
4 years ago
Reply to  CBark

I was just warned to not use baking soda on my natural hair because it has a high ph so is this DIY good or not I have low porosity, low density, b4 hair.

Fern Sunday
Fern Sunday
4 years ago

Baking soda has to be too harsh for any hair types especially fragile African American hair. For heavens sake!! If they are using baking soda to get rid of pubic hair,why would you want to use it on your head?

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