The no shampoo experiment

baking soda and vinegar

My shampoo and conditioner bottles have been replaced with a bottle of apple cider vinegar and a box  of baking soda.

I have talked in the past about my scalp issues and how I don’t wash my hair on a daily basis. I stopped washing my hair daily about eight years ago.

I wash my hair about twice a week.

A friend, who has similar scalp issues, recently told me that she “washes” her hair with baking soda and water and “conditions” with apple cider vinegar.

So I finally decided to try it.

For the past month I have washed my hair with baking soda/water and conditioned with apple cider vinegar.

The first time I washed my hair with the baking soda and water I could feel my hair squeak as I rinsed it out. Squeak, like when it’s really clean. Wow! I decided to give a second go to my hair and scalp since I have dry scalp issues and a lot of hair.

After that I poured the vinegar over my hair and massaged it into the ends.

You have to get used to the idea of no suds while washing your hair. I just massaged the concoction into my scalp and made sure it made it through all of my hair, which is why I gave it two washings.

clean hair

My hair looking clean and flowy after a month of “washing” my hair with only baking soda and water and “conditioning” with apple cider vinegar.

I left the baking soda concoction in my hair while I soaped up and shaved my legs. Once done I rinsed out and squeak squeak. Then I poured on the vinegar. I personally like the smell of vinegar. I thought it might be overpowering but it wasn’t. And once I rinsed it out the smell was gone.

My hair is less frizzy, it looks clean, it smells clean. And the best part, my scalp doesn’t feel dry and itchy. I didn’t even use my Aveda Scalp Remedy, which I use regularly to help battle my flaky, itchy, dry scalp. (I haven’t used my Aveda this whole month while experimenting with the no ‘poo method.)

The first round of washing was with 2 tbsp. of baking soda mixed with about a pint of water in a big plastic cup. My second round was the same amount. I started with 2 tbsp. of the apple cider vinegar. I added a little more since I have a lot of hair.

Before I started the experiment I did some research. I did some reading and got some ideas from this article on Tree Hugger.

The first week I washed/conditioned my hair three times. After that I went to twice a week. (I occasionally used my dry shampoo to sop up some of the oil on my crown.)

It takes a little longer in the shower. But the money I am saving is great. But frankly, the best part is that my scalp is much less flaky and no more itch. It’s a miracle!

Occasionally I get a whiff of vinegar. But it is brief and goes away quickly. No one else has mentioned any vinegar smell around me.

Because everything is much more liquidy than traditional shampoo and conditioner it can run all over the place, especially into the eyes. Baking soda and vinegar in the eyes hurts a little, but not as bad as shampoo.

I am not sure if it is the baking soda or vinegar that is drying my hands out a bit. It’s a small price to pay for the results.

After a month of the no ‘poo I washed my hair with shampoo and conditioned with conditioner. My scalp was slightly flaky, but nothing out of control. (My scalp issues tend to be worse in the winter and while seasons are changing.) I did use my Aveda product on my flakes. My scalp was slightly itchy, but again nothing out of control.

Two days after shampooing and conditioning with shampoo and conditioner my crown was greasier than it has been two days after with the baking soda/apple cider vinegar. My scalp also became flakier and itchier a few days after washing. (I used shampoo and conditioner that says it stimulates, conditions and helps with dry, flaking scalp with tea tree oil along with other ingredients.)

After my one shampooing/conditioning I went back to using baking soda/water and apple cider vinegar. Ahh, my scalp feels better already.

Why does the baking soda and apple cider vinegar work? Science. Since science is not my specialty I decided to research this. I found basically the same information in a couple of places:

… The pH (potential hydrogen) scale goes from 0 to 14. Water sits in the middle with a neutral 7; anything below that is acidic and anything above is basic or alkaline. Human skin needs to be slightly acidic to prevent fungus and bacteria from colonizing your life. When you use baking soda, a base, (at about 8) and then apple cider vinegar, an acid, (at about 5), your scalp’s pH remains stable and its oil production stays low. That’s why your hair keeps cleaner longer. (It’s also why you don’t use white vinegar: it’s too acidic.)

I got the above information from The Hairpin, but found similar information on other sites as well.

Many shampoos tend to use sulfates (along with other ingredients), which will strip away oils from your hair, causing the scalp to overproduce oils.

I found many people out there on the Internets hailing the no ‘poo method. But I also found people who felt that the baking soda/apple cider vinegar concoction ruined their hair.

I have tried so many different kinds of shampoos/conditioners that say they are good for dry, flaky, itchy scalps. And they either work in the temporary or not at all. If they work in the temporary they usually need assistance from my Aveda Scalp Remedy. (Before I discovered the Aveda product I would try lotion or even my moisturizer. Neither easy to get on the scalp without making the hair greasy. There really was no good solution.)

I may look into other no ‘poo options out there. But for now I will enjoy my clean, non-itchy, non-flaky scalp with baking soda and apple cider vinegar in my shower.

It’s been years since my scalp looked and felt this good. It really is a miracle for me.

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2 Comments

  1. Hey, this post is really interesting. I finally succumbed to one of those Wen hair products ads and got a starter kit. It is NOT shampoo. And you don’t have to use conditioner; everything is all in one. I have found that I really like it, and it leaves my hair tangle free. Which is saying something given how long my hair is right now. The drawback is that it is kinda pricey, unless you sign up for regular shipments every XX amount of time. If you have the chance and money, you might want to try it to see what you think, in terms of your scalp issues. I may give the vinegar/baking soda option a try, too. It really is amazing how many things you can do with vinegar and/or baking soda. Thanks for the info.

    • Glad to share the info. I am really amazed out how well this concoction works.
      I looked up Wen and may try it out and see how it does for me.

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