Baking Soda and Vinegar Hair Care

Want to know something kind of weird? Or cool? I don't shampoo my hair. Ever.

This may come as a shock to some people, but I know I'm not alone. I have seen a lot of posts floating around the blog world about this specific hair treatment. But, whenever I mention to someone new that I don't use shampoo I tend to get a lot of questions. So this is a chance for me to organize my experience with not using products on my hair and hopefully a place where you can learn a little more, too.

I was definitely on the 'flatten and straighten your hair as much as possible' train all through high school. I have a lot of hair, which can be a bit wavy and coarse, and it has a tendency to get weighed down and frizzy. Eliminating products from my hair has really allowed me to embrace my natural hair texture, as it has much more body and lift, and is a hell of a lot smoother. I didn't even know how wavy my hair actually is until I stopped using shampoo. My hair is very happy for the change I have made.

There are many reasons to use all natural ingredients on your hair instead of shampoo. The average store bought shampoos have extremely harsh ingredients. If you do use a shampoo, try selecting one that is sulfate and paraben free. Many shampoos list as an ingredient sodium/ammonium laureth sulfate, which is a detergent (and thereby an irritant) that essentially will strip the hair of sebum and essential oils. Most shampoos contain harsh, drying sulfates that are extremely damaging for curly hair in particular. They are often foaming agents that make curly hair frizzy and uncooperative. Here is a list of other questionable shampoo ingredients to avoid. And I know what you're thinking, so shampoo is bad, but what about conditioner? Well, it is also full of unnecessary ingredients. It also binds to the hair, which can weigh your hair down drastically. The fact is, if your hair is healthy conditioner is rarely needed (if not completely unnecessary).

Did you know that modern shampoo, as we know it, was only introduced in the 1930s? And then, even still, the idea that you needed to wash/shampoo your hair everyday didn't come around until the 1970s. This mindset is reinforced by the greasy feeling of the scalp after a day or two of not shampooing. But that greasy feeling is directly related to shampoo use. Using shampoo every day removes sebum, the oil produced by the scalp. This causes the sebaceous glands to produce oil at a higher rate, to compensate for what is lost during shampooing. Can anyone else smell a marketing ploy? I doubt it is any coincidence that shampoo is recommended for daily use, of course companies want to sell more of their product. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Even just a gradual reduction in shampoo use will cause the sebum glands to produce at a slower rate, resulting in less grease in the scalp. And cutting shampoo use all together can bring a natural, healthy balance to your hair.

I first found out about Baking Soda and Vinegar as hair care (sometimes referred as 'no-poo') when I was searching for natural alternatives to various beauty products I was using. It seemed a little too adventurous for me and I kind of dismissed it. Then a friend of mine tried it and loved it, but I had a super short pixie at the time and was too chicken to try (my hair got oily very fast when it was short). As soon as my hair length was a bit longer, I got up the courage to give it a try. I'll never go back.

Things you should know if you are considering throwing out your shampoo and conditioner:

  1. Your hair will need a serious amount of adjustment to a new, shampoo-free regimen. After all, it has gotten use to producing an over-excess amount of sebum. When I first starting using baking soda and vinegar, after my first wash, my hair felt great. It was super shiny and smooth from the vinegar rinse. Then it felt awful. My hair had gotten use to producing sebum at a fast rate and it didn't quite know what to do now. It felt a little straw-like for a week or two. And so greasy. It may take 2-4 weeks for your hair to adjust to not being shampooed. It may even look worse at first. This a long-term commitment and depending on how damaged your hair is, it may take a couple weeks for it to regain its health. Stay confident through this adjustment period. Remind yourself that you are doing something great for you hair. Wear braids and buns for a week or tie it up with a scarf. It is worth it.
  2. To help your hair as it adjusting, try to slowly wash it less. And maybe consider a few coconut oil treatments to help it out. I thought I could magically start with baking soda and vinegar and only need to wash once a week. I was wrong. I lasted three days, my hair looked awful, and I caved. When I first started, I washed about every three days. Now I can go a whole week if I want to.
  3. Washing with baking soda and vinegar is going to feel really really weird. It is not going to lather all up and be all foamy and delicious. You'll get use to it.
  4. You hair will not smell. I repeat, YOUR HAIR WILL NOT SMELL. Everyone seems to think that I must smell like vinegar all day. But, once you have rinsed the vinegar from your hair and your hair has dried you will be surprised by how much it doesn't smell. In fact, it pretty much just smells like hair. That's it. This may come as a shock if you are use to hair that smells super flowery/scrumptious all day. You could try adding in some essential oils, like lavender, to your vinegar rinse if it bothers you.
  5. If you don't use one already, you may want to consider using a dry shampoo, in addition to your baking soda and vinegar. After about day three of my wash, my bangs or the area around my part will be a little greasy (I touch my hair a lot), but not to the point where I want to wash it just yet. I'll comb a bit of dry shampoo through my hair on these days. For you brunettes out there, cocoa powder is a great dry shampoo and smells delicious! I use an old makeup brush to dab cocoa powder on my hair, rub it in a bit and comb through. It works great, without looking grey/ashy.  

How to Wash Your Hair Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking Soda Mix: As a general rule, mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 cup of water. You may need to adjust the amount of baking soda, depending on how hard or soft the water in your home is. You want the mixture to feel kind of slimy. If it does not, you need to add in more baking soda. You can do this just before showering in a cup and just pour it over you hair. I like to use some small spray bottles for both of my mixes and keep them in the shower. This amount is good for three or four washes. Cover your scalp with the mixture thoroughly. You do not need to run this through all of your hair, just your scalp. Massage it in and give your scalp a good scrub. Rinse completely and follow with the vinegar rinse.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse: Mix 1 part vinegar to 2-3 parts water. When you have thoroughly rinsed out the baking soda, work into all of your hair and comb through. You can let this sit for a minute or two, if you hair is really tangled. Rinse completely with lukewarm water.

Other Tips and Tricks:

  1. When you apply the baking soda, really give yourself a nice scalp massage. It is great for stimulating hair growth!
  2. Do not comb your hair when it wet, this can cause breakage
  3. Avoid using hot tools (blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, etc)
  4. Let your hair air dry for best results
  5. Consider a coconut oil treatment for split, dry ends (you may need to use a mild sulfate-free shampoo after, as baking soda does not remove oil well)
  6. If you work out often, and the sweat grosses you out, try just rinsing your hair with water and then using a dry shampoo once it has air dried, to avoid washing your hair everyday.

If you have any comments, concerns, or questions feel free to leave them below. I'd be happy to talk to you more.


  1. Ok I'm intrigued. I have a really dry scalp and my guess is that cutting out shampoo would really help. I also sometimes use baby powder as a dry shampoo. But I wonder if that affects my natural oil production at all or if it really is just absorbing extra grease. Any thoughts?

    1. I don't know about baby powder for a dry shampoo, but I have heard that cornstarch in great as a dry shampoo for blondes. I actually used it for a while, until I realized it was making my hair appear grey. Yikes. But yes, of course, baking soda is great for a dry scalp, and so is vinegar! I actually don't put much of the vinegar on my scalp because I tend to get oily faster if I do. Baking soda is really great for relieving a sensitive scalp, too, and for getting rid of dandruff.

  2. hair4bridesJune 13, 2013

    Very nice blog..... I have also heard about using baking soda to clean hair an vinegar to condition hairs.... but I have never tried it.... I am inspired from your blog and I feel like to try these products.

    Hair Stylist Brisbane

  3. This is interesting. Can't wait to try this out! But I have one question though, what do you do with your hair after showering it? I really have no idea what to do with it ... If I leave it to air dry, it will start to frizz up, grow arms and legs and become a whole new separate entity. So what I usually do after showering and drying my hair with a towel, is that I comb my hair and then turn it into a bun and tie it for days and days (I basically leave my hair as a bun forever). I wonder if I'm doing it right or am I missing something.

  4. Sorry for such a late response!

    Have you tried using coconut oil in your hair? It is AMAZING at tackling frizz. I use it all the time in the summer here, as the dry air can really turn me into a frizz-ball. I simply rub a small amount through my hair (with my fingers) after showering and then just leave it alone to air dry.

  5. Ooooh your hair is so luscious! Is that a good word for it? I don't know hahaha I must try this! :)


    Thia @ The Tale Thief

    p.s. you remind me of Bridget from Deer Circus Blog (she is amazing)

  6. Thanks for this!! I'm pretty excited to trying it out.. My only concern is, what can you do after a night out of partying and your hair gets filled with smoke, same washing instructions? Or can you also just leave in some baking soda for the night (you know when you're on the verge of passing out) and then rinse the next day? / and same recipe for washing hair after swimming in a pool or in the beach? Hope to hear from you, thanks!

  7. Hi Twixie! Sorry about my delay getting back to you, I've been away from blogging for a bit. I wouldn't leave baking soda in my hair over night. If it is smell you are worrying about, a regular baking soda wash should be just fine (baking soda is great at eliminating odor). If you don't feel like it is enough though, I'd recommend using a light, all natural, sulfate and paraben free shampoo once and then returning to the regular regimen. A dry shampoo also works wonders when you're in a pickle (I use cocoa powder).

  8. I have stopped using the baking soda and vinegar regime. My hair got drier at the ends and very oily around the other areas. Guess the regime doesn't work for me ...

    However, this blog did inspire me to become more aware about the harmful ingredients used in shampoos. Coconut oil seems like a very good idea, since I live in a very humid climate (which my hair isn't very fond of), I must try it out ! :)

  9. I'm sorry to hear it isn't working out for you. My hair was really oily at first too (and dry on the ends), it did take my hair quite awhile to adjust to not being shampooed. I almost gave up hope, but I knew how well it worked for a friend of mine and for my boyfriend, so I stuck it out and it eventually worked out for me. But my hair does still get very very dry on the ends. I would recommend trying the coconut oil for sure. Another method (which I just recently discovered) that you may want to consider is the Curly Girl Method (more info here).It is a a washing method, using only conditioner, desicned for curly or wavy hair. I don't know if you have curly or wavy hair, but even if not, I'd still try it. I washed my hair like this for the first time this weekend; I was shocked by how much curl my hair had to it! And it air dried completely frizz free.

  10. Sabrina McCulleySeptember 30, 2013

    This is an excellent article, thank you! I too have gone "no poo" about 2 months ago...I have very thick semi curly hair and it has never looked as healthy and shiny as it does now :)

  11. oh i'm so glad i saw this post at the bottom of your blog! this is on my new "to-do" list as soon as I'm taking my week off from work next month. I already only wash my hair 2x a week so hopefully it goes fairly easily. i once tried something similar to this but with all natural bar soap. it was so disgusting. but this sounds really promising since you do it and your hair it beautiful so I've bookmarked it : ). also i love how you're promoting not using sulphates and the other creepy stuff. and yes, washing every day, total marketing ploy! i'm glad i almost always left my hair wavy in HS (just would usually gel/mousse it) but even now in my office sometimes i feel like i should be blow drying it straight every day, which just blows my mind cuz i expected women to have been over that by now.. dammit.

  12. I, myself, am walking around with a bed-head most of the time. I use to straighten my hair a lot, and admittedly I still do from time to time (like for the pictures I took for the images I currently use around the blog) but mostly I just don't care anymore. But I get why so many people still do that to their hair (blow dry, straighten, etc.). Let me know how the baking soda/vinegar regimen goes. Feel free to email me with any questions/concerns/complaints when you start it!

  13. This site is best article..

  14. I tried washing my hair with baking soda today. I used a bit of Kiss my Face olive and aloe soap around the hairline of my face. My hair looks shiny, less frizzy and my very old highlights have perked up. I am going to try this for a while. I didn't have the vinegar, so I used a baby de-tangler I had. It didn't seem to gunk my hair, I used very little.

  15. Lindsee McDonaldFebruary 21, 2014

    Okay, let me make sure I am understanding this correctly. I apologize if I sound unintelligent, lol. You only treat your hair every few days, so what do you do in between if you take a shower? Put a shower cap on your hair?
    You say don't comb your hair when it is wet, which makes sense. So when you get out of the shower after treating your hair, you just let it air dry with the tangles and all? That seems like it would make it worse. :( I've treated my hair with this twice so far and it's extremely oily after only a few hours (I think it's because of the coconut oil, though. Still tweaking!) but I love it and would like to continue it the best way possible!

  16. Donna GingrasFebruary 28, 2014

    Hi, I have been washing my hair everyday with this method for 4 days now. Something I was following from a magazine article. I like the idea of it but the bottom half of my hair is so dry I can barely put a brush through it. Traditionally my hair is so oily the next day it HAS to be washed so far, I've noticed it hasn't been as oily but the other extreme. So you let you hair dry completely messy after washing before you comb it? Then you style it? Thanks for you input. 😊

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