This is by far the most common no ‘poo method I have seen out there. The gist of it is about like this: first, mix 1 Tbsp baking soda with 1 cup of water and use this as your “shampoo.” Rinse that out of your hair and then repeat with a mixture of 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar to 1 cup water to balance out the alkalinity from the baking soda. Some people suggest rinsing this out immediately as well, whereas others say you can leave it in. (I have yet to consciously notice much of a difference between those two variations, so I can’t say I’d vouch for either one in particular.)
As I said, this seems to be one of the most popular methods and for a good reason. Short of putting nothing in your hair, it’s pretty straightforward. I know many people who have used this method for years and are quite happy with it. The most universal side effect is that your hair will smell like vinegar for a bit, but once it’s dry that won’t stick around at all.
So why am I holding back about saying it’s the most miraculous thing ever to strike the natural hair care movement?
Well, here’s the thing: you remember what I said about the water quality being really important? That’s still the case here. I do get the general impression that baking soda is effective in removing oil, but the problem is that most of the grease my hair produces is in response to the water that I’m still rinsing my hair with. Which means it comes right back. I’ve tried fiddling with the proportions (less baking soda, more ACV) and that helped a little. But not enough.
On top of that, I have a theory. (I can’t prove any of this with science, for the record, but it’s based in logic and my own experience with my own hair.) The general belief about shampoo and hair (at least among no-‘poo-ers) is that the shampoo strips away your hair’s natural oils, and your hair overcompensates by producing more grease. This is why your hair has to go through a detox phase where it gets really really greasy until it realizes it can calm down because you’re not assaulting it with shampoo anymore. But technically speaking, isn’t baking soda essentially doing the same thing?
Granted, baking soda shampoo is of course much more gentle than the goop you find at the grocery store. Heck, so is my tap water, but my hair still doesn’t like it. So if you’re using this method and it works well for you, I am not by any means telling you to stop. I’m mildly jealous, in fact, but my hair will not oblige by accepting this method as a viable option. If you’re thinking of trying no ‘poo for the first time and you want to use this method, I say great! Give it a try. In fact, it’s probably one of the better ways to start out even if you’re working toward something else. I do still use this myself, just not as an every shower kind of deal.
But if you’ve been using it for awhile (until you’re well past the detox phase) and your hair isn’t at least as happy as it was before you stopped using shampoo? Then you might have to consider trying something else either instead or in addition.
Up next: The No Wash Method