Everywhere we turn these days, we are bombarded about the dangers of chemicals and toxins in our life: Food, beauty products, household cleaners, the list is seemingly endless—and overwhelming.
Admittedly, I’m not that “natural” when it comes to my hair care. I’ve had my share of chemical-laden keratin treatments and highlights. I try to be organic when I can, but hair care is one area of my life that I’ve sort of found it difficult to change my normal routine.
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But when I heard about the “no-poo” method of ditching traditional shampoo and conditioner and only using baking soda, water and apple cider vinegar I was intrigued (and also a little skeptical).
With a background in chemistry, I’m well aware that baking soda has a very high pH (basic) while vinegar has a very low pH (acidic). Wouldn’t my hair do best in a pH-balanced environment? Wouldn’t the extreme differences in pH “shock” my hair? Plus, I’ve used this same exact combination of ingredients to create a chemical reaction strong enough to unclog my bathroom sink.
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But after reading success story after success story online about the “no-poo” method, I figured it was worth a shot. My hair had been a little dull recently thanks to the summer heat, humidity and my love of dry shampoo. I heard that it can take a little time for your hair and oil production to adjust, so I committed to ditching my shampoo for two weeks to see what happened.
There are a few variations on the method, but I settled on a mix of “shampooing” with baking soda and “conditioning” with an apple cider vinegar rinse (one part apple cider vinegar and four parts water). For my first wash, I put a heaping tablespoon of baking soda in the palm of my hand and massaged it into wet hair. I let it sit for about two minutes before rinsing with some water followed by the apple cider vinegar rinse.
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Initial thoughts? The baking soda felt coarse on my hair and didn’t suds at all. I’ve been using sulfate-free shampoo for years so the lack of suds didn’t bother me too much. The baking soda was easy to massage into my roots but I wasn’t really confident that it was actually cleaning the bottom half of my hair. But the apple cider vinegar rinse? Amazing! My hair felt smooth and clean. It rivaled the clean feeling after a professional wash and blowout. As a true test I let my hair air-dry. It was noticeably less frizzy and seemed to have plenty of natural oils still intact.
How was my hair feeling at the end of the two weeks? My advice: Don’t throw away your traditional shampoo and conditioner quite yet! By the end of the week two, my natural oils were a little TOO intact and I was ready to use my traditional shampoo again. The baking soda was also very difficult to massage and cover all of my hair compared to traditional shampoo. I also had some trouble shaking the science behind it and realized that certain hair types could most definitely sustain damage using this method. I would not recommend it if your hair is brittle or freshly colored. In full disclosure, I’m a few weeks past due for my highlights to be refreshed so I wasn’t overly concerned about subtle changes to my hair color.
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But something I will continue to do is an occasional rinse with apple cider vinegar. I have some light flaking (dandruff!) around my hairline that completely disappeared during these two weeks. I also loved that it seemed to rid my hair of dry shampoo residue. As a dry shampoo addict, I always feel like my roots have a slight residue that only a professional shampoo can scrub away. But next time I’m feeling a little buildup, I won’t hesitate to do a vinegar rinse.
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