The Dirty Hippy Truth About No-Poo and Why I Won’t Use Baking Soda on My Hair – Hippy Natural Hair Care Series Part 1

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Back in the end of January, I decided it was high time to try the no-poo method of cleaning my hair. I had seen posts all over the internet hailing it as the best thing since sliced bread, so…I had to give it a try. The only thing that had been holding me back was dealing with the detox period. I knew that all of the damage I had done to my hair in the past, would catch up to me during the detox period. Before my hippy makeover was complete, I had made use of my teens and twenties to utterly destroy my hair. I dyed my hair pretty much every color of the rainbow, and back again. I used all sorts of flat irons, curling irons, crimpers, blow dryers (which is the one thing I still use periodically), etc. I tried ALL kinds of products containing harmful and harsh ingredients. All of this damage really started to stack up and my hair just became so dead that I really could never grow it out. I don't remember a time in my life that I had ever had hair passed my shoulders. It was so dry and brittle that I always had to keep it cut in cute bobs just to get rid of all the damage. I wasn't sure that I would ever know what my natural hair looked like, let alone see it look as sleek and smooth as some of those really lucky celebrities. Little did I know, after a ton of research, I could actually attain hair that I had figured was unattainable.

What is the no-poo method, you ask?

Unlike the sound of the name, no-pooing doesn't actually mean that you don't wash your hair. It seems to be a common misconception among many of the people that I have told about my hair washing regime. Most have asked me “doesn't your hair start to stink?” The answer to that is a resounding “no!” because I am still washing my hair, I just choose to use something other than shampoo to get it clean.

The no-poo method is simply a method of washing one's hair with various ingredients other than shampoo, which usually contains SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulfate, a known carcinogen and is harmful to the environment). If you search the internet, you will find a plethora of differing recipes but the main ingredients in 90% of these recipes are BAKING SODA and APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. Always a two-step process, these recipes ask you to apply the baking soda to your hair, (sometimes in a paste form, other times in a spray/rinse form) rinse, then apply the diluted apple cider vinegar to your hair, and rinse again.

Why you should change what you're washing your hair with

Most conventional shampoos and conditioners that you find at your everyday store, contain harsh toxic ingredients that are not only bad for your hair and scalp, but also bad for the environment too. All of the toxic chemicals aside (we ALWAYS seem to be talking about them), there is another reason to be switching from commercial shampoos. Most commercial shampoos strip the scalp of its natural oils. This then leads your scalp to kick into gear and produce even more oils, making your hair oily if you don't wash it every day or two.  Once you manage to get passed the detox period of no-pooing, you only need to wash your hair once or twice a week, if that. It sounds gross, but think about it from this angle; people didn't need to wash their hair daily or even every other day until the introduction of commercial detergents into shampoos.

My hair began falling out in clumps because of baking soda

I had read that a two week (even up to two months or more) detox period could be expected when trying to shed your hair of all of the build up of  lab-created silicones, but after reading all of the benefits, I was still curious to see if I truly could find my naturally beautiful hair underneath all of this mess. There was no “at first my hair was amazingly soft and beautiful” like most of the blogs that I had read. I had destroyed my hair prior to this, so shedding all of the silicones that coated my hair just proved to show me how badly my hair was lacking in moisture.

The oils on my head began over-producing big time and all I could do was put my hair up in a bun. I kept waiting for the moment when combing my hair in the shower didn't mean the loss of such precious strands by the dozen, but instead, my hair-loss began to get worse. The Hippy Hubby even commented on how much hair was beginning to clog up the drain, and most of it was mine. After two months of trying the no-poo method, I realized that it was not working out, but I couldn't figure out why. I knew that my hair was already damaged and it would take awhile to fix, but I figured that I would at least see improvement in my hair in a two month period of time. I decided it was time to go on a learning adventure and find out WHY I was having these problems.

PH is the key to balancing your hair and scalp

It turned out, my dry brittle hair was falling out due to the high alkalinity (PH) of the baking soda. After much research, I found that the key to balancing your hair and scalp starts with balancing the  ph of the sebum on your scalp.


PH (Potential of Hydrogen) is the measure of alkalinity or acidity in a substance. PH can range anywhere from 1 (highly acidic) to 14 (highly alkaline. Human hair and skin have a layer of salt/water/oil that is called the acid mantle. This wonderfully protective layer lives happily at a PH of 4.5 and is easily disrupted and washed away with anything that has a ph over 7 (neutral and the ph of water).

An inadequate hair product can disrupt the natural pH of the hair. If your haircare routine is too alkali your hair cuticles will stay open and your hair will be dry and brittle. But if you use pH balanced products, i.e. ones that are close to the natural pH of the hair (4.5 – 5.0) your hair cuticles will close properly which will result in healthy shiny hair. –

Learning about this put me on a deeper investigation to learn about PH and our hair. I discovered that though diluting baking soda can cause its PH to go down, it takes 20 cups of water to 1 Tbsp. of baking soda to make a ph of 9. That's way to alkaline for our hair and will cause it to be extremely dry and brittle, breaking off everywhere. Robin from Thank Your Body shares her experience with us on the importance of PH balanced shampoo (or no-poo) and what she learned from one of her readers:

Using highly alkaline solutions on your hair (baking soda, bronners soaps, etc.) though it feels soft and manageable that is really the disulfide bonds in your internal hair structure being weakened by the alkaline solution… To then bring your hair down to it’s proper pH a acidic solution (apple cider vinegar) when using a alkalinic cleanser is used, this is called clarifying. This dual process is not healthy for your hair or your scalp. – Amanda, a TYB reader.

By far, the best education I received on the PH of hair (and even how hair works), was through the Structure of Hair series on Kimmaytube on Youtube. She managed to visually explain the structure of hair as well as discuss why PH balance is the key important factor in the hair care products that you use on your hair. If you want to easily understand your hair, you should watch these videos, they are amazing!

You can still No-Poo without baking soda

I am not hating on the no-poo method because, in fact, I LOVE it! I am just opening your eyes to something we all need to pay attention to when we go down the natural hippy path. Just because something is natural does NOT mean that it's right for the job. Yes, baking soda is in fact, natural (although where you buy it from can dictate just how natural of a product it is.) but because of it's natural properties, it makes a much better scour for your pots and pans than it does a cleanser for your hair.

Baking soda is not the only option you can choose from when going down the no-poo path. There are many options you can use to cleanse your hair!

Miss part of this hair care series?

The Dirty Hippy Truth About No-Poo & Why I Won’t Use Baking Soda on My Hair – Hippy Natural Hair Care Series Part 1

Natural No-Poo Cleansers For Healthy Hair – Hippy Natural Hair Care Series Part 2

Natural Hair Conditioners & Herbal Detangling Spray – Hippy Natural Hair Care Series Part 3

Natural Herbal Hair Color for Healthy Hair – Hippy Natural Hair Care Series Part 4

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All information on The Hippy Homemaker is meant for educational and informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician.

  • Maverick

    well i’m balding underneath my store bought mane of hair . I tried this mixture today with the hopes of stimulating regrowth of hair . My goal is a month , I tend to bore quickly so no promises . i took the left over after apply it to my scalp and added used coffee grounds and rubbed it into my face and underneath my chin . let it all dry to like mask form hopped in the shower and rinsed . took a bit of coconut oil and rubbed it all over my scalp and face . i decided to shave also and the cheap blades i buy worked amazing . Nice clean shave and my face seemed tighter and brighter . i think what the face part did was work as great scrub and exfoliate . I skipped to ACV . to much acid in my opinion . To those with long hair I would use coconut oil as a leave in . On a side not I drink a big glass of water with 2 teaspoons of sugar and three teaspoons of ACV . Like lemonade with out the lemon . My mind says it’s good for me .. who knows . good luck out there . my best understanding from all i have read is that Baking soda mix would be best if only used as scalp treatment and not as a shampoo. perhaps twice a week , also the reality is hair is dead pretty much as leaves the inside of your scalp. skipping shampoos ans just rinsing with conditioners tends to keep it clean enough with out stripping anything .

  • JoyR

    Hi Everyone, this is the first time I’ve seen this page and the information, tips and avenues People have traveled is so interesting. I have really dry fine hair and hardly use poo. I had extreme eczema as an infant and have had really dry skin and hair as long as I can remember so I think this has contributed to my hair issue. These days I only wash my hair once a week and only with a small amount of poo. Its getting to the point where I dont want to use any and am trying to find any home remedy other than poo and am looking for all the fruits and oils I can for conditioners. Listening to the wonderful ideas on here is awesome so thanks for sharing

  • james

    Yeah let me know if anything happens, been 2 years for me!

  • Edith Burgos

    PS to recover the Baking soda (yes of course it will damage if you use to much of it and repeatedly) is to let the sebo of your hair cross all long your hair =) use just lemon or vinager, do not wash it to clean just to maintain it!

  • Edith Burgos

    Hello! I use the no Pow method since 5 months now, and yes, I use Baking soda and Vinager to wash my hair, it makes it very clean, and my hair look marvelous since it, but here is the problem of those the damage their hair, baking soda is not to wash every week with, it is just to help when your hair get with too much “dead skin” or ir just too dirty, if yo just do not use it always, it is a perfect match! I change the “No-poo-shamppo ingredient always”. I think our hair is just as our body, we cannot live with only one ingrediente, soo, i wash my hair sometiimes (mmore) with an Egg, the “conditionate” i change sometimes for lemon, you see? they have good vitamins for us, so wash with only soda would only take too much the Sebo, and we need to remeber, Sebo is goos is what have the vitamins we need to have a television hair =) I higlhy recomend the book from Lucy Aitken, I study a lot some books before choose the besst calendar no pow! If someone want more ideas abou baking miracle soda just sent me an e-mail good luck girls!
    PS: sorry for my english im from Brazil and i am not with much time right now to write good, soorryy!

  • james

    I have talked to three dermatologists and they told me that baking soda is not capable of doing this tho..

  • I don’t think it’s permanent, no, but I have heard of some people having to deal with it for 6 months or so before their hair and scalp finally fixed itself! I would buy some castor oil to add to whatever you decide to shampoo with next. Just a little bit should be fine, but it’s very well known at helping hair growth! Plus it’s super moisturizing too!

  • glad to help 🙂

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  • Jenn

    Your hair loss was more likely related to wearing a bun all the time than from baking soda and vinegar.

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  • what does your diet look like? If you have discontinued using alkaline solutions on your hair and the new growth is coming in all wrong, it’s more likely that you have a mineral or vitamin deficiency or even possibly something more serious that needs to be looked at by a doctor! Our sweat , skin, and hair can all give us clues to internal issues!

    • james

      Is it not possible baking soda can damage the hair follicle or something. Diet is fine, and have had blood checked multiple times. 2 years going strong with problems.

  • yes it did! It took time and frequent hair trimming to get the dead hair gone!

  • Iva

    Hi. I used baking soda for years. My hair was already damaged, because I’d moved to a country with very hard, poor quality water, and for a couple of years the baking soda made it look nicer. Finally, I’ve had to admit that it’s now gotten frail and dry, and I’ve stopped using the baking soda. I’m struggling to find an alternative, because I’m in a small developing country, and with said water quality, the rinse-only method doesn’t work. I’ve tried rinsing with just diluted vinegar, with home-made shampoo from pureed kaffir limes (bergamot) and I also tried leaving in a fresh aloe hair mask, and then rinsing it out. Everything leaves my hair oily. I tried not washing my hair for two weeks, but it doesn’t seem to have reduced the sebum production from my scalp. I’ve just had to go back to using shampoo, as my job requires pretty formal appearances, and I can’t show up with unwashed oily hair. I’ve yet to try soapnuts, but I think I know where to find them. What do you use instead of baking soda?

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  • Carley Everett

    I never used baking soda or apple cider vinegar. I hated the sound of those from the start. Fortunately for me I have never dyed my hair, nor have I used heat (apart from special occasions like weddings) or anything else damaging like that. But my hair was turning dry over the past couple of years and I thought it was my health but that turned out fine, and so did my water and nutritional intake. I began no-pooing with water only. Until about two weeks later I bought a great natural shampoo free of SLS, parabens, artificial colours etc. I use it once a week, sometimes twice but mostly once a week. Before no poo (which was about 3 months ago) my hair was very dry, it just wasn’t the same as when I was younger with silky smooth straight hair. Plus my scalp would get greasy easily after about two days of not washing it with those harmful shampoos, so I ended up always washing my hair with the harmful shampoos up to four to five times a week during most of my teen years (I’m 19)! I also combined it with conditioners that were just as full of chemicals. I figured my deteriorating hair condition was the multiple shampoos and conditioners full of chemicals that I was using, and I searched for solutions and came across the no poo method. The transition period was fine for me, a bit icky at first but I got through it. My hair has improved a lot, and is no longer dry. It’s harder to maintain my hair because it’s up to my waist and so I pretty much needed this solution. Finally something works. My dandruff has also improved and has pretty much vanished mostly with this natural shampoo I’ve been using (it contains tea tree oil, and other good stuff). On other days I don’t use the shampoo, I wash my hair with cold water only, but that’s not everyday, just about two times a week. Just recently I’ve bought a natural conditioner that goes with the shampoo (it’s great) and may use that occasionally. Another thing I use on my hair sometimes to make it softer is rosewater spray, it’s quite soothing. Before I wash my hair with the natural shampoo, I sometimes use oil in my hair (coconut oil) and that’s beneficial too.

  • carolvilla

    For about two months now I’ve been using exclusively Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap (diluted) as my no-poo method in combination with ACV (also diluted) as a conditioner to help detangle. I thought that I was doing things right in terms of balancing the castile soap’s alkalinity with the ACV’s acidity… But although it’s hard to admit since it’s been too long, I must say it is not working… I feel great because I’m not using any harsh chemicals, but my hair is GREASY and as you said, I can only braid it or wear a pony tail. What can I use instead of this? I’ve read your article on no-poo cleansers, but I’m so used to the soapy foamy wash that none of them appeal to me… Please help me! Thank you! 🙂

  • this would likely be an unsafe way to remove hair! High alkalinity on your face can cause burns on your skin!

  • Kelticca

    I so hear ya! Same has been happening to me. I did the baking soda wash about 4 months ago …. My hair has been falling out like crazy. I mean really crazy. 4 months ago I had healthy hair, shoulder long bob, fine hair. It has thinned out to like half of it and looks terrible, limp, no shine, just like a whole freagin mess. I am praying I didn’t cause permanent damage, I just want it to stop falling out/off.

  • Pato Novoa

    jamás uso bloqueador solar….soy mu hippie really

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  • mrs. p

    have any of u guys tried rye flour? i used baking soda and
    ACV for years and yes it left my hair very fragile and yucky. baking soda is too harsh! i even used it to clean the grout of my floor and it worked better than bleach…why did i think it would be gentle on my hair? it wasnt, and some “no-poo bloggers” even suggested making a paste w/ it which is why my hair got so bad cuz i listened to them!

    anyways i just simply didnt wanna go back to chemical conventional shampoos and organic shampoos were too expensive and also i found not as organic as i wouldve liked. so now im using rye flour which is great for me. rye flour has a PH thats balanced for ur hair and also has the same vitamins naturally that are in the synthetic form in “Pantene Pro-V”… it!

    • Nicki P

      I haven’t tried the rye flour. I’m still using the baking soda as it seems to be working fine for my hair still, but I’ve also heard of using arrowroot. Has anyone tried that?

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  • Sheree Patterson

    Very interested in the follow up article as I use the soda/acv method and am happy so far. I do not want to continue if it will cause problems. I may now try just apple cider vinegar.

  • Jennifer Roush

    Thanks for the very informative article! I also tried bs/acv about a year ago, and in hopes of making it through the “transition phase”, stuck it out for almost 3 months before realizing that it was only doing horrible damage to my hair! I switched to a gentle phosphate free shampoo and would dilute about 3T of it in a 12oz squirt bottle, and that totally worked for me. In January I decided to go absolutely “no-poo” and only washed with water, which worked up to a certain point. There was always a low level of greesy-ness there…BUT I LOVED the way my curls responded, and I found i could ditch using all hair products! (Like gel or cream) No more frizzy curls! They were well formed without product, but didn’t look greasy. I had to “wash” it almost every day for the first couple weeks to keep the oil under control, and the only part that really bothered me was on the sides behind my ears…but no one aside from me noticed it. After the first 2 weeks I could get away with washing every other day. (Which just consisted of scrubbing my scalp pretty hard with my finger tips for about 5 min in water as hot as comfortable)
    I was hoping to be able to reduce even more how my times I washed, but it seemed to stay at about 3-4 times a week, so I decided to try just diluted apple cider vinegar alone…it was the answer to all my oil problems!! It cut the grease on my scalp, but still allowed me to not use any product after washing it either! I put about 3T of raw apple cider vinegar in a 12oz squirt bottle and fill with filtered water. It lasts me about 3 washings, and now I usually wash about once a week. I get my hair wet, scrub a little, squirt acv rinse on my scalp only, let sit for a couple min, scrub again & rinse! Hardly even touch the the ends of my hair. I have long hair, and I’ve never felt my hair so soft at the ends…I love the way it feels! Oh, I also put a few drops of essential oils in the bottle too!

  • Great article! I have never been successful with the no-poo method because we live in the country with very hard water. Perhaps I should try again…:)

  • I cannot wait until part 2. Thanks for sharing. I continually attempt no poo and then stop.

  • I had the same issue with baking soda! I switched to a homemade “shampoo” that works much better and use it all of once a week. I still consider it no-poo because it is non-toxic and I make it my self. This is great information about hair PH. I never thought of it like that.

  • Nikki

    I have been no poo for 6 months now and I’m sooo glad I finally tried it! I’ll never get back on the sulphate/silicone seesaw now! The baking soda was no good for my hair either. I think it did help me get through the greasy stage, but I phased it out soon after, and now I just use ACV and the occasional co-wash. Thanks for this great post explaining the reason why so many people don’t get on with BS.

  • Amanda @ Erickson and Co

    This is awesome! My friend has been trying to get me to use baking soda on my Hair for a while and I was going to try it this week. I’m sure glad I read your post first. I can’t wait to read the next one!

  • Kathe

    Wow…that explains a lot! I’ve been doing the baking soda/acv almost exclusively for months and was getting very frustrated that my hair was not responding the way I thought it should by now. I will definitely stop the baking soda and be waiting for your next post. Any suggestions for cleansing in the meantime?

  • I’m really hesitant to try this. I love my hair and go through great lengths to keep it healthy and shiny. The shampoo/conditioner I use aren’t the worst on the market, but they aren’t the best either. I look forward to hearing more about your method 🙂

  • Aindrea

    Can not wait on the next part!

  • Paisley Latham

    I have very curly, naturally dry hair that I tortured for years (which thus tortured my self esteem!). After burning it to a crisp with chemical straighteners, my only choice was to shave my head and start over! After that I went down the path of product product product! I learned to love my curls, but I was loading my hair up with crap, and boy was it frizzy! A couple of years ago, i read about no-poo. Instead of using bakimng soda, I just tossed out shampooing all together. I now only wash my hair with an organic chemical free shampoo once a month or so and condition with an organic chemical free conditioner every few days. I have been thinking of switching to apple cider vinegar, so I cannot wait to read your next post! PS: I have just discovered your blog today, and I am hooked! I read your Down The Rabbit Hole series and I have to say you are an inspiration and I looked forward to using your website as a blueprint for continuing to create changes in my own home! Thank you for sharing!