3 Reasons Why Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar Destroy Your Hair — And What to Use Instead

Skin Care

From the FutureDerm.com Facebook page:

What can you tell us about the no ‘poo trend (washing with baking soda in place of shampoo, and apple cider vinegar in place of conditioner)? Is it actually better for our hair? I works well for me- but I would like to learn if it has actual benefits before I make it my regular regime.

Dear Kendra,

Hair can be thought of like a fine leather:  With improper treatment, it can become stripped of its natural oils, resulting in a dried, limp, colorless remnant of what used to be.

Thankfully, like fine leather, hair can be maintained and restored.  One common belief is that natural ingredients like baking soda and apple cider vinegar leaves hair softer, cleaner, and more healthy than traditional shampoo.  However, keep the following in mind:

Problems with Using Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar to Wash Your Hair

When we mixed baking soda and water (more than you’d use for a scrub) and tested it, the pH was about 8.


1.   Baking soda is a known irritant that will cause your hair to dry out and break over time.

With a pH of 9 — 100 times more basic than water — baking soda is a known alkaline irritant (Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, 1989). According to renowned dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin, M.D., “The first principle of shampooing:  make sure your shampoo says it is pH-balanced and avoid those that are alkaline. Alkaline shampoos strip the hair’s natural oils and disrupt the acid mantle, causing dehydration and leading to porous, fragile hair” (The DermaDoctor SkinStruction Manual, 2005).

Yes, it’s true that baking soda helps regulate pH — keeping a substance neither too acidic nor too alkaline. When baking soda comes in contact with either an acidic or an alkaline substance, its effect is to neutralize that pH. However, as any cosmetic chemist can tell you, this effect occurs when baking soda is in solution with other chemicals. When baking soda is in water alone, guess what the pH of the solution is? You guessed it: A very basic 9, much more alkaline than plain ol’ water.

[RELATED: Is Baking Soda Safe as Toothpaste?]

2.)  Apple Cider Vinegar Has Some Benefit — But Can Still Make Hair Brassy. 

Apple cider vinegar arguably has more going for it as a hair rinse than baking soda.  While I can’t find conclusive evidence to prove that apple cider vinegar is great at fighting dandruff, it can fight certain fungal infections.  Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar is effective in fighting Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger. (Thi-Qar Medical Journal, 2011)

Due to the slightly acidic pH of apple cider vinegar mixed with 2-3 parts water, some experts believe it can also extend the life of hair color when applied immediately after hair dye is rinsed off.  Most hair dyes are alkaline, which opens up the hair cuticle. When hair color is applied, it can then penetrate to the hair’s inner cortex, where it can react with the hair’s pigment molecules to produce a color change. Acidic solutions applied after, like apple cider vinegar, may reseal the cuticle. This flattening may not only help hair color last longer, but also flatten the cuticle, making your hair easier to comb and a bit shinier.

Still, overdoing it with apple cider vinegar can cause more damage than it is worth. Anyone who has applied lemon juice to their hair can tell you that acidic solutions will cause your hair to become lighter, drier, and more brittle over time. Those “blessed” with black hair, like myself, can tell you that the acidity will also bring out the brassy tones in your color, leaving you with lovely orange hair Zoe the muppet would envy. If you still don’t believe me, keep in mind that many perming solutions have an acidic pH, breaking disulfide bonds within straight hair.

3.  You’re depleting your hair of natural oils.

Natural Oil Barrier

One terrible thing about using baking soda and apple cider vinegar alone on your hair is that these do not contain any oils that can be beneficial for your hair. The best shampoos replenish natural sheen to the hair which they have just stripped as a part of the cleaning process.

There are a number of moisturizing ingredients in shampoos that can replenish your hair’s natural oils; these include (but are not limited to):

But by taking the “do-it-yourself” approach, you are taking away the ability for shampoos to gently replenish oils from root to tip.  Instead, you’re drying out your scalp, and likely replenishing oils only on the ends of your hair.  Not cool.

The Real Source of the Misunderstanding

3-chemicalsIf I hear one more “expert” say that “chemicals” are ruining your skin, hair, or the environment, I’ll scream.  Chemicals have prolonged many more lives than they have cut short, in the form of potent antibacterials, antifungals, antibiotics — you name it.  Just 100 years ago, the average life expectancy was 51 for men and 56 for women (Berkeley.edu). The reason we’re living 25-30 years longer isn’t improved nutrition or more “natural” products — it’s medicine, pharmaceuticals, chemicals.

That said, I’m not going to defend the deplorable actions of some companies for the last few decades, either. By including known irritants like sulfates and phthalates into some of their products, the beauty and cosmetics industry has lost the trust of many of their more health-conscious consumers.

But instead of turning to the solid research that lead to life-extending drugs and medicines for possible replacements, we instead believe somehow big pharma and major cosmetics companies are “bad.” For instance, we’ve turned to plant extracts. Ask any natural product advocate on the street about white willow bark and aspirin, and she’ll tell you white willow bark is “good” and aspirin is “bad.” Yet the active compound in white willow bark is exactly the same as in aspirin.  Scientists can extract the active parts of many plants of white willow bark, isolate it, and shazam! — you have the same active ingredient as in aspirin.

Active Ingredients

My point in addressing this is one of caution: Do not trust products just because they are “natural.” It may fit in more with a natural, holistic lifestyle, but you can actually be putting yourself in more danger. Some people I know dreamed of becoming a cosmetic chemist from the time they were a child. They studied hard, went through years of schooling, some got PhDs, then got tons of formulation experience, and made fantastic shampoos — and you’re mixing baking soda and putting it on your scalp like your great-grandmother?!  It doesn’t make sense. New technologies and their chemicals are not all bad. Some, in fact, are fantastic for your hair.

[RELATED:  3 Hair Thickening Ingredients That Really Work]

What to Use Instead

That said, I can’t fight millions of dollars in marketing for all-natural products. So, if all-natural is what you seek, I have found the following all-natural products, formulated by cosmetic chemists, with replenishing oils and non-harsh non-detergent cleansers:

These are the products if you’re looking for “all-natural,” but if that’s not necessarily what you’re looking for, then I’d recommend checking out our post How Do I Make My Hair More Youthful, Shiny, Full, and Thick? for even more options.

Bottom Line

Three take-home points:

  • Please never use baking soda on your hair. It is associated with breakage and damage.
  • You can use apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp/1 cup of water) occasionally, meaning twice/month or less. I do not recommend using it before going out in the sun or for those with dyed dark hair — the acidity can bring out brassiness.
  • Please try to consider the fact that “chemicals” are not always “bad” and “natural” is not always “good.” If you don’t believe me, consider the fact that we’re living 25-30 years longer now than 100 years ago due to medicine, drugs, and chemicals.  Please stop trying to make your own products, unless you have a degree in the sciences and a job at a lab!

Hope this helps!


Looking for the best skin care? FutureDerm is committed to having its customers find — and create — the best skin care for their individual skin type, concern, and based on your ingredient preferences. Learn more by visiting the FutureDerm shop

Added on January 07, 2015: This is NOT a paid advertisement. This article was a part of our assessment of 22 various home remedies, which you can read more about here.

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  • Meg

    We definitely are not living longer because of chemicals. How about a sedentary lifestyle, the westernized countries completely exploiting the resources…poor quality of life, poor health, gmos, you name it!

  • alicia arol

    What a BULLSHIT article gushing about how “wonderful” is BIG PHARMA, MEDICATION, CHEMICALS, etc (surprised ya didn’t “sing the praises” of all Monsantos’ “wonderful”, “life saving” GMOS, as well)=I cannot stop laughing!!!!!!!!!!!! (LOL)

    • I honestly believe what I am writing, just as you do. Do naturopaths and natural/organic product companies create products for free? Are some of these products from big pharma? Does the so-called Honest company have a $1 billion valuation or not? There is big money in fear mongering, developing “natural” ingredients to replace healthy doses of useful chemicals, and making people buy all new brands at a premium. I believe in chemistry and that reasonable doses of chemicals are helpful, beneficial, and safe, and I stand by what I said.

    • I honestly believe what I am writing, just as you do. Do naturopaths and natural/organic product companies create products for free? Are some of these products from big pharma? Does the so-called Honest company have a $1 billion valuation or not? There is big money in fear mongering, developing “natural” ingredients to replace healthy doses of useful chemicals, and making people buy all new brands at a premium. I believe in chemistry and that reasonable doses of chemicals are helpful, beneficial, and safe, and I stand by what I said.

      • alicia arol

        Of course you stand by what you said, & I stand by what I said, & you and I are never gonna agree, Katie: Some people on this planet will 100% agree with you. Some people on this planet will 100% agree with me, & some people will remain right in the middle. From what I’ve seen, there will NEVER be a consensus (100% agreement) on anything in this world, & that SADLY (to me) means that none of us can ever know the 100% truth about anything. I’ve never used baking soda on my hair, but I have PERIODICALLY used an apple cider vinegar/lemon rinse on my long, blond, fine, hair ever since I saw this natural rinse featured in Woman’s World magazine as a cheap, effective, way to get shiny hair. I couldn’t remember the exact recipe, & when I recently went online to find the recipe (or something similar) I read loads of testimonies from woman who swear by something called the no poo method. Then I read equally compelling testimonies by woman saying things like, “Do not use baking soda on your hair” or “Baking soda destroyed my hair”! An interesting thing I read was posted by somebody stating that it’s perfectly OK to use baking soda on your hair so long as you follow this type of “shampooing” with an apple cider vinegar rinse. All these natural ingredients are CHEAP, so you can’t RATIONALLY accuse anybody of trying to make money by promoting the “no poo” method of hair washing. That being said, I will continue to use an apple cider vinegar/lemon rinse on my hair from time to time, but due to the SCARY WARNINGS I read I don’t intend to start using baking soda to wash my hair. I have been using organic shampoo and conditioner (various brands) on my hair for years now: I don’t care what anybody out there tries to say/”claim” to the contrary-I have definitely noticed a HUGE DIFFERENCE (including tangle free comb outs after I get out of the shower) in my hair compared to when I was really poor & used to use the ultra cheap Suave & White Rain type shampoo and conditioners on my hair.

  • kikipoo

    I’m wondering how much school debt you have from your chemist schooling? Are you upset that people are not putting more money into your pockets or the pockets of the chemists and so you’re stressed you won’t be able to pay back your student loan debt?
    To be fair, you implied that people are living longer because of “chemicals”. What chemicals are you referring to exactly that are making people live longer? Name 3. Also, you should not discourage people from making their own products. Instead, give them advice and a recipe, since you are a chemist! And then a link to the product that you made in case they’d like to buy one already made. Oh, and don’t forget to list all the ingredients. Don’t be mad because people want to know exactly what is going onto the most important and largest organ of their body: Their Skin! That’s why they want to keep it simple and limited to “chemicals” they can spell, eat, or buy at the grocery store. That way they know it’s not slowing making them sick…you know… from all that pesky bioaccumulation and everything.

  • Jordan

    I can guarantee anyone who claims “I’ve used ACV and BS for years and my hair has never looked better!” are fooling themselves. And if your “stylist totally agrees!” they’re just nodding politely while you gush on and on about it. Seriously, I’ve never met someone who uses the no-poo method who actually has better hair for it. And I’ve met plenty of people (myself included) who delude themselves that a mistake they’ve made is actually doing them good, because they’ve spent so much time gushing about it that it would be embarrassing to admit defeat. Try googling all the blogs gushing about this method… and actually take a look at the writer’s hair on the sidebar. It’s always terrible (by the way, straw is a lot more manageable than silk, so spare me the “my hair is so manageable now!”). All hair is made of the same material, and ACV and BS are going to ravage that material because they are chemically incompatible. There is no “worked for me, didn’t work for you” here.

    • Kar

      Actually, have used nothing but white vinegar on my hair for the last 6 1/5 months, and my hair IS better!

  • Angela

    Sorry I didn’t come across this article before I used vinegar on my hair…now my thick curly locks are straight, light, dry and weak. Is there anything I can do? Is this damage permanent? Would cutting it all off and starting fresh make a difference?

  • You clearly have not done any research about chemicals. As an ecotoxicologist, I can tell you that chemicals are certainly harming people, animals, and by extention, the environment. Look up endocrine disrupting chemicals in personal care products. You lost all credibility as far as I’m concerned as soon as you made that outrageous and unresearched claim.

    • Jenna Nelson

      Duh. The author was making a point about how people promoting “natural only” beauty routines misuse the word “chemical” in a way that excludes safe and/or natural ingredients.

      Chemical: ” 1. A substance with a distinct molecular composition that is produced by or used in a chemical process.”

  • Elaine

    I haven’t tried baking soda or vinegar in my hair yet, so I can’t enter the discussion, but I wanted to compliment the author of this article on her wonderful replies to the comments posted here. Whether or not she’s right about cosmetics, she certainly got it right in the arena of respect to others and maintaining a great attitude. That’s so refreshing! She was teachable instead of defensive when people pointed out weak points in her article, she wished others the best even when they disagreed with her, and she continued to respond politely when comments really bordered on rude. Thank you! — For remembering that each comment represents a PERSON who deserves to be treated with respect. So often we forget that when we use the Internet.

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  • violet

    Of Course they don’t want us to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar, they want us to buy their product!

  • rikke

    hi i have psoreasis in my scalp only,.do you have any recommendation of products i can use,. sleeping with oil in my hair at night helps loosen up on the layers of dead skin but i need something to wash my hair in,.it get oily in the scalp very fast because i itch a lot and touch my scalp, i am using a danish shampoo,. juhldal pso shampoo and only conditioner in the ends probably wash my hair to much i would like to wash less. i dont want to use hormone cream or products from the scindoctor, i m trying to become pregnant and dont want to put all the chemicals on my skin,..what to do .thank you in advance. Rikke

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  • Amery

    Hi- your link: How Do I Make My Hair More Youthful, Shiny, Full, and Thick?
    doesn’t work. I’d like some more home based remedies for healthy shampoos. I live in NZ and shampoo imported from the states (or other places) is crazy expensive. I find that no matter what I use my hair is dry and brittle the day after I wash it. I have long curly hair. thanks!

  • sjay

    In all fairness, I just think this article isn’t very good. The science may be good. And your debunking research is appreciated.

    Below is a link to some more info and some alternatives to the baking soda poo. I think we all have different hair and skin and one size does not fit all, all the time. I’m not convinced that the commercially produced products endorsed here are better than home remedies just because they are modern. My grandmother, that you’re blasting here, had beautiful hair (to her waist at 80-something, after chemo and radiation), skin, and nails. And she used ‘beauty products’ that she also used in her kitchen. Just sayin’.

    We live longer healthier lives mostly because our diets are more diverse and complete, thanks due to the research humans have been doing on human biology for generations….not because corporations make big money selling us harmful chemicals.

    Thanks for the leg work and for sharing your findings.


  • sjay

    LOL…wanted to find some evidence against using the No Poo method, but this one sold me on No Poo. Proof is in the pudding, and the pudding seems to work pretty well with more people than not. You are pretty heavy on the product endorsement in your blog. Hard not to see the marketing going on here….

  • Miah

    Baking soda and vinegar saved my hair. I use it about once a week. The other days I rinse with water. My whole life my fine hair has been overwhelmed by the commercial products made by experts. I thought I just had awful, no-help hair. No Poo I tried because I literally had nothing to lose. What a revolution. Now I have body, if I camp I don’t have a greasy mess after one night of no shampoo. I could go several days with not water washing. The trick is that you have to make it through a three or four week hump, and then experiment how much you need for your hair. There is a reason I do this over trusting chemists: chemists ruined my hair! And it cost a lot to maintain! BS and V is cheap, and I don’t need products. I think people are responding to your post because for the people it works for, and who wait for the natural oils to start replenishing, this is a godsend.

  • Dave

    Nicki, excellent article, and I do agree with almost all of it. I am 57 and have been looking into “natural” or “alternative” solutions to things for 40 of those years. I discovered years ago that no matter which way one goes, synthetic chemical or natural, one must BE INFORMED. Whether it is with a vegan diet, hair care, skin care, disease treatments, no matter what the subject, being highly informed is the only way to go. I disagree with you about making and using one’s own treatments at home. When one is informed and has educated one’s self, home made is a far more successful and healthful way to go.

    I will repeat, however, BE INFORMED PEOPLE! And when you are educating yourself, do it as objectively as possible. This is key.

  • Ron

    So sick of companies not giving any fucks about the truth! Lab made chemicals are bad. The reason they lie about it is to promote sales. Since time began all humans know that someday they will die. Knowing that having money will increase the quality of the temporary life company owners don’t care about the chemicals they sell to people and put in their products. Because in the end they will be rich. So this article is payed for by the damn chemical companies! Seriously and you’re suppose to use natural baking soda not that arm n hammer crap! People need to alter their sense of living and shut down the greedy beasts that will harm all to profit and self gain. I wil be using natural bs from hence on and will blog about it through the coming years. dont listen to paid advertisement it’s a greedy monster behind it all. Stop putting crap lab made chemicals on your biggest vital organ.

  • Natia Maat

    It’s funny this article mentioned Wen, and here we are 3 years later with a class action lawsuit in the works because Wen has caused hair loss for many women!

  • Joem

    Baking soda and vinegar mixed in the hair is bad. But separately they are not. You actually dont need vinegar unless to make hair dye take hold to last longer. BUt for washing, work baking soda into wet hair. This will alkalinize your hair. Rinse it out. Then shampoo with any shampoo and watch the difference. Shampoo makes your hair acidic. Baki g soda changes the ph before washing, enough to offset the end result. Making your hair thick and soft. Ive done it for years. Its the magic ingredient and cannot dry out hair.

  • Lalaxapp

    You state that this post is not an advertisement, yet every product you linked is an affiliate link which you obviously make money from. As per many previous commenters, your article is biased and misleading and nothing more than misinformed click bait dressed up as a scientific opinion.

  • Jeannie

    I have tried the no poo method and it does somewhat work for my hair, BUT I still have dandruff issues. I don’t want the silicone, paraben, and sulfates in my hair, hence the no poo method. Recommend me something that adheres to that and I will try it. I have tried Wen and it doesn’t work on my hair. Coconut seems to work, but still dandruff issues. ACV helps and using a proper brush is good as well. You need to use something to spread your own natural oils from root to tip.

  • Katey

    Too much of anything is always damaging. We will still always use Baking Soda and water but only once a month or so to remove shampoo buildup on hair. Then follow with a mild conditioner. No need for all this drama.

  • MileK

    I totaly NOT agree with article!!!
    In few words:
    Had itchy head with dandruf all over. Stopped using “dandruf control” shampoos, actually I am washing hair without any shampoo (felt wierd at the beggining). I am washing my hair just little bit longer than usuall with plain water. When finished I make thin emulsion of water and baking soda between fingers and rub that in my hair leaving it until next washing. This insantly fixed dandruf and itchy scalp and my hair feels and looks normal. Tried first ACV but did not help much plus it gets smelly. I use baking soda underarms as well so now I sweat there less without any smell.

  • Sophie

    I haven’t tried the baking soda + apple cider vinegar method and have no idea if it works, but I’m definitely a supporter of using 100% natural ingredients, whether you’re talking food, hygeine, beauty, or anything else. I certainly don’t advertise my decisions and go door-to-door haughtily telling others what to do with their lives. In fact, I rarely tell people about my decision to maintain this lifestyle when I don’t have to just to avoid the surprised (and often disgusted) looks and the long explanations. I’m a lot of things, but I’m not supercilious. The use of chemicals in cosmetics is very different from the use of chemicals in medicines, and I believe that unless it is absolutely necessary, they should be avoided. It isn’t really an opinion that chemicals (at least any substances that are engineered by humans, that aren’t natural) are detrimental to humans and to the planet. It’s just…a fact. I mean, I’m really no expert but I think that’s right. What really hurts this article is the condescending tone. It feels like you’re telling everyone that people who choose a natural lifestyle for themselves are arrogant nature freaks as desperate as the Conquistadors to convert everyone in their path. I’m sure that wasn’t the intention and maybe I’m being overly sensitive but you have to be careful with phrasing. It’s always good to be objective when writing blog posts.

  • MzWen

    Hi, found your site doing a search to double-check on ACV rinses lightening hair. Currently “blonde” because I’d done so much damage bleaching, doing fading treatments to remove Manic Panic and other DDs, etc. that I can’t do anything to my hair until it gets healthier. I’m co-washing. well first since it’s summer and good and hot out, I’m doing daily coconut oil treatments. Put it on, get it in well and gently comb through to the ends and then just use a clear plastic headband to keep the hair out of my face. Is it pretty? no. Is my hair starting to heal? YES! Then at night I co-wash with VO5 strawberries and cream moisture milk conditioner. I have thin, fine, fragile hair. This is the conditioner that’s been working best for me. Like removes like meaning the conditioner helps remove the coconut oil – without stripping my hair. Once I’ve “washed” with conditioner and rinsed in very warm water, I mix 1/4 cup of either white or acv with 3/4 cup distilled water and douse my hair in that, mush it around for 1 to 2 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cool water. My hair is healing, it’s soft, it’s shiny, it doesn’t tangle, it’s not sticky or greasy … it’s clean. I do use a sulfate, silicone and dimethicone free shampoo and conditioner maybe once a week if I have a doctor appointment. But the next day it’s back to full day coconut oil and co-washing and air drying before I go to bed (It’s too hot and too messy to sleep in coconut oil). Baking Soda? I’ve used baking soda once … trying to get stubborn turquoise DD out of my hair (it’s still in there, it’s slowly fading to light green). Never again. It’s very irritating, very drying and can be damaging. Anyone who’s using baking soda every day for their hair should be careful. And yes, it can strip color.

    If you want to do something good for your hair, unless you’re allergic to coconut oil, just pick a jar up at the market (food grade oil only). If it needs warming, just set the jar in a pot of hot water – do not microwave it. Then dip your clean fingers in, rub your hands together and start slowly putting it through your scalp and hair. Leave on for at least 2 hours. You can wrap your hair in plastic wrap, a shower cap or even a plastic bag for extra heat to help the oil sink in. Then use a silicone/dimethicone free (cheap!) conditioner like suave or vo5, and start with your scalp, then put more on your hair and treat it like it’s shampoo – you’re massaging your scalp and getting the conditioner thoroughly through your hair like shampoo – but it won’t lather. After about 10 minutes (longer if you like), rinse with very warm water. Squeeze excess water out of your hair, and follow with either acv or white vinegar – 1/4 to 1/2 cup to 3/4 to 1 3/4 cup water depending on hair length. Pour over your hair, work it in – into your scalp and through your hair. Let sit for a minute or 2, then rinse WELL with cool water.

    Also, WEN? Do your homework. People are suing WEN, they’re losing their hair! It doesn’t really cleanse well, it coats the hair, same as silicone and dimethicone which eventually dry your hair out more because it’s just coating the hair.

  • Maureen

    I’ve been using only no-poo BS and ACV for 8yrs now. I was desparately seeking relief from scalp psoriosis and this is the reason I even tried BS/ACV in the first place. It instantly cured my scalp psoriosis that I got 8yrs ago after I dyed my hair, some kind of reaction. I haven’t dyed my hair since. My hair is soft and healthy and shiny and grows fast. I have not conditioned my hair in 8yrs and its never felt nor looked dry. My husband has been using BS/ACV for 8yrs too, he loves it, his hair is just fine and it took care of his flaky scalp. We both love the simplicity and ease of using it and the results of clean shiny healthyhair. We don’t use nor buy scented products of any kind and its was so hard to find natural unscented shampoo/conditioners. We live a completely unscented life and home. So BS/ACV fit perfectly into our life. One size will never fit everyone. This method works for many and for others it does not. Just do what works for you in every area of your life. Don’t try to make something fit if it doesn’t.

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  • Nancy Gibson

    I have been using baking soda and vinegar for a couple of months now. I have dry skin in general but suffer from really bad dandruff. I get sores in my head, like pimples. It is painful and embarrassing. I have fought with this my whole life, I even had cradle cap as a baby. I have used every shampoo on the market including expensive prescription ones meant to kill the fungus. Fungus will not grow in a neutral ph…that is what the BS and vinegar does. Baking soda raises it and the vinegar neutralizes it. I have enjoyed no dandruff and no sores, but strangely oilier hair than usual. I may go back to shampoo, but I will certainly use this on and off if things get bad again.

  • sn

    what about soaps? baking soda is listed as one of the ingredients. will it cause more harm than good?

  • Vanessa White

    How do I get Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar to blend with out separating?

  • Diana

    To be honest, this article is laughable. The day I’ve changed my commercial (expensive, ”organic”) shampoo for baking soda was the day when I finally understood what shiny, healthy hair actually looks like. Plus, the ends never looked better – proof that baking soda does not cause hair to break out over time. I’m not surpised to find this article on a site that advertises commercial products, either…

    • Vanessa White

      Thank you! It is good to hear that you are standing up for something that you’ve tried, loved and works for you! I’m exploring different hair product options and your testimony was very helpful and leads me to know that I am on the right path!

  • paula

    Nicki, What hair care procedures do you recommend for swimmers? …I was looking for alternatives to treat my hair after swimming and the only things that I found were ACV and baking soda.
    I’m hispanic with black and curly hair. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Elide Flores-Medel

    What do you think of the Morrocco Method?

  • Jaclyn

    Sorry if you have already answered this, but I have been using the diluted baking soda and acv method for a month. I started it to try and get the build-up off my scalp for my psoriasis…but I think it may be making it worse. Does it cause scalp build up and extreme itching?? I have been using it everyday…my hair seems soft and not dried out.

  • Mary

    Hi, you wrote that perms are acidic. Actually, perms are highly alkaline. The alkalinity raises the hair cuticle, and after the perm has processed the hair, neutralizers are used to bring the pH back down in order to close the cuticle.
    As to baking soda or ACV’s effects on hair, I have not tried baking soda, but I use ACV daily as a spritz and love the effect on my hair and scalp. The important thing is that you only need a tiny amount of ACV mixed in with the water to lower the water’s pH closer to that of hair. Hair’s pH is around 4.5. I usually eyeball the amount of ACV I pour into my bottle (just a quick splash/maybe 1/2 teaspoon in an 8oz bottle). However, I test with pH strips sometimes and usually I like my mix to be around a pH of 4.0.

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  • Nicki Zevola

    Hi —

    I’ve been receiving more comments that this is marketing, and it is honestly not!

    This was one of the home remedies I tried (and yes, I diluted the ACV and BS), and I did NOT like it.

    The article is a part of our series on 22 Common Home Remedies from 2012, where we investigated whether or not 22 remedies worked or not:

    We actually found that quite a few, like beer with brewer’s yeast, worked quite well.

    I do sell products and have sponsors on this site, but if a home remedy is awesome, I’m happy to sing it from the rooftops. I earn trust and hence pageviews also by maintaining my credibility. But I honestly cannot support ACV and BS, especially for color-treated hair. And I’m sorry, but I stick to my guns on this one.

  • Nicki Zevola

    Hi @Heather,

    I’m not sure which link you mean. I would not do something like that, however. If the link is broken, I will fix it and relink to the journal in question, but I cannot find which link you are speaking of.


  • Heather

    I got to your page by clicking a link citing you as a source about the pH of baking soda, I was expecting to be taken to a journal. I clicked your link citing your information about the pH of baking soda, and the article has nothing to do with baking soda or its pH! Are you intentionally spreading lies by citing unrelated information to trick people into thinking its real information!?!?!?

  • Nicki Zevola

    In response to the above, the article is a part of our series on 22 Common Home Remedies from 2012, where we investigated whether or not 22 remedies worked or not:

    This is not a paid advertisement for WEN.

  • Mark

    Stupid article. Clearly used for advertising WEN’S products. Why the heck would you trust a cosmetic industry? All they care about is PROFIT, and misleading others by false information. I used the BS/ACV for 4 years, and my hair has NEVER looked better. Get a grip.

  • Adi

    Bless your heart for giving all of us such useful information. I’ve tried ACV rinse a couple times with water and it never worked for me, and I’m allergic to baking soda. Thank you for providing all of us with this information. I will just stick to sulfate free shampoos

  • Mutsu

    Let’s also totally forget that 100 years ago there was war, famine, and less availability in the foods we eat…and people were healthier then than we are now. There was monsters of strength plowing the fields everyday, and i’m not talking about oxen. Let’s not forget that back then there was also people who have way better hair than we do now. If there was beautiful hair BEFORE shampoo, there’s bound to be a way to have beautiful hair without shampoo NOW that we have it. People can study all they want in school, it doesn’t mean they are right….remember that….

  • N. D.

    White willow bark contains methyle salicylate, aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, or lysine acetylsalicylate in some formulations. They are NOT the same chemicals.

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  • A Guy

    I do like Baking Soda and ACV method too and my hair looks much better than it did when i was using chemicals. Although, i used cheap products, use to have awful hair.
    I agree with this article in the end, the particular products that are natural to hair opposed to home made ones will do better for your hair in terms of looks and for some even health. But these products can be pricey for people who don’t care a whole lot.
    Good thing about baking soda and acv is it works for all hair types, and it’s veryy cheap. I only do a baking soda wash every 3 to 5 days, and do and acv rinse at the same time. then i spray aloe vera gal part water onto my hair for moisture when my hairs till wet. And every day i wash my hair thoroughly with warm and cold water. i could do more but im lazy and this method works, it’s chemical free (i use aluminum free baking soda, it’s pretty important what type of baking soda you use, Arm and Hammer for example does have some pretty nasty chemicals), very cheap , and looks pretty good.

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  • susy

    I apologize for the typos at the end spell checker was not helping and well yes I know I did not spell things correctly towards end. But I tried 4 times to post my comment and kept hitting the back button . my apologies. I was worried I would do it again and rushed myself. So much for not looking like an Ignoramus.

  • susy

    First of all I must correct the fact that baking soda is a chemical so is vinegar. Remeber way back in high school at the periodical chart thst listed chemicals well guess what is on there. Baking soda NaCHO3 sodium hydrogen carbonate (dangerous if gets into eyes) . Vinegar is C2H402 acetic acid, granted it is an organic compound. When mixed together they create sodium acetate and carbonic acid. (R3meber exploding volcanoes). Both have MSDS (Materi safety data sheet. baking soda can be used to clear drains and is a great toilet cleaner as for vinegar uses disinfectant, unclog shower heads also good for unclogging drains.etc. so yes tbey are chemic5. Organic is referred to plant .atter food hopefully at most unrefined stages also animal product also hopefully as unprocc5 as possible.
    Something as basic as milk now laden with hormones has been connected with girls as early from 7 to 9 years beginning their menses (precocious in medical ) since average age use to be about 12 due to hormones ie estroge found in it. Off track sorry
    There are other ways one ca clea hair beer yes not organic but not as harsh as vi egar it helps break down residues use stale please. As for organic items tea tree oil, eggs preferably yolks, honey, and even jasmine rice powder or liquid. So there are alternatives. Their are shampooos that ar3 organic I have used some even a apple cider vinegar once a week or occasional cleanser. (I s5opp3s using it after I used a different shampoo organic after and burned my skin) yes made of plant material and herbs and oils. (If mixing more than 2 items is not your thing)
    Another questio. Do you use hairspray, mouse, gel are the6 chemical free you know since we worry avout what we wash with.
    How about ails £
    I don’t get it when people take such great care to be “organic” about their hair but use acetone chemical or gel or fake ails choking nail beds giving opportunity for fungal infections and weeke ing of nails that is irreparable. How about what we eat do you eat chips , sodas, processed foods ie cheeze whiz laden with chemicals. Hair just doesn’t react to how we wash it but also what we put in our bodies. Ever wonder why pregnant women’s hair is so shiny it’s all those prenatal vitami s that are good for th3 fetus guess what good for the hair too. Do you take care of your hair holistically you outside and insid3. Just wondering. We have to look at everything we do to our bodies not just one thing. It’s like ooh look everyone has the new reusable drink bottle but what are we putti g I it.
    Sorry I we t off o. A ta gent. Just wanted to say labels sorry you are using chemicals .ay be better but still a chemical.

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  • Nikki

    “The reason we’re living 25-30 years longer isn’t improved nutrition or more “natural” products — it’s medicine, pharmaceuticals, chemicals.”

    We live longer today because of medicine, ALSO because of improved sanitation, improved hygiene, and improved nutrition.

    “I can’t fight millions of dollars in marketing for all-natural products.”

    That sentence says it all. What a biased article!

  • rachael

    I can’t really believe this post or that you would recommend Wen a shampoo that 100% contains petro chemicals and sulfates. I have suffered my whole life with eczema and allergies and I completely blame the pharma industry for not only causing them but aggravating them constantly throughout my life. Bi carb works great if you use a small amount and not very often, I wash my hair twice a week and only use bicarb every third time or if I have been swimming. Anyone who is reading this and has eczema or allergies I would highly recommend Bi carb and ACV it made my skin and allergies so much better.

  • Sarah

    I have dry, curly hair and have no interest in putting baking soda anywhere near my hair (or anywhere on my body except in my belly as part of some delicious cookies). I love that people are criticizing your post without even noticing that you mention phtalates and sulfates are legit questionable ingredients. (Thankfully the curly hair girls got on the no-sulfate train before anyone else, so I have been using more gentle options for quite a while.)

    Another thing that drives me crazy is that most advertised “natural” or “organic” hair products still have really processed ingredients, just derived from “nature” in a laboratory. There’s nothing wrong per say with this because good ingredients can be derived in a lab, those products aren’t simply plucked from an organic farm and bottled the way people seem to think they are.

    All this aside… I am certainly not opposed to gentle shampoos and effective conditioners, but in my desire for experimentation and an effort to decrease my environmental impact, I am always interested in the crazy thing people are putting in their hair these days 🙂 What are your thoughts on water-only washing? How about clay and honey for hair? My impression is that poorly-formulated clay products wouldn’t be good for PH balance, but products like the Moroccan Method ones seem quite interesting.

    One more question–I get great results moisturizing my hair with oils like Argan. It cuts down on my frizz better than the fanciest gels and conditioners I have tried. I was wondering if you had more details on the importance of moisturizing the scalp. In my experience, my scalp gets oil while my ends stay dry (perhaps because of the shape of my curly hair preventing the distribution of oils?) If this is the case, do I still need to make sure I am distributing the oil to my scalp as well as ends?

  • Dana

    What nonsense…. If you use Baking soda, rinse with ACV. The acid in the ACV will neutralize the PH of the Baking soda. its basic chemistry. AND … your hair constantly produces oils. If the baking soda is stripping out too much, use less. Its a lot better than that cocktail of garbage like Wen. There are people who have long, sliky hair that have used nothing but ACV and baking soda for decades…

  • judy

    I had the worst scalp condition for almost 20 years — was told it was eczema, it would peel, itch, was irritated and red, raw, just awful. NOTHING worked and I tried every shampoo / conditioner on the market including pharma chemicals from several dermatologists. Then, I thought it was a food allergy. After 2 days of using baking soda & ACV, it disappeared. I still can’t believe it. For those of us who are sensitive, many of those chemicals are brutal on our skin. I’d rather take my chances with baking soda & ACV, which, by the way, are food. Parabens, phalates, propylene glycol are known to harm our insides. I will say that I still use an OTC conditioner, but I don’t put it on my scalp. If you have any info on how else to care for the scalp besides baking soda, I’d love to hear it. Because the chemicals in shampoos are not for all of us, unfortunately (wish i could use them!)

  • faithy

    i feel kinda bad for all the people hatin on this girl….if shes sincere. she seems sincere about what shes studying but also gullible about the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA etc….im sorry ive read horror stories about the FDA and other agencies like this who absolutely come down on any natural remedy because the pharmaceutical and food industry (that puts lots of chemicals in food to make us fat and sick) pay them. have any of u ever heard of Monsanto? watch documentaries about it on youtube to open ur eyes about how huge companies like that cant afford competition from the holistic and organic food industry and so they shut them down completely. they can since they have tons of money and power and use agencies like the FDA to do their bidding. u guys should read “natural cures they dont want you to know about” by kevin trudeau for true info u would never get on mainstream tv. i agree that medicine is useful for lots of things like surgery etc. but its unnecessary to put needless chemicals on our scalp when there are natural remedies out there. maybe the author of this article is sincere…but i think she’s too trusting of her future employers who will train her to sell drugs to people to fatten their pockets. they NEVER are tryna find a cure!! they wanna just want have us all on drugs for our symptoms the rest of our lives to make money! its all about the money…and so they have to brainwash this future chemist or doctor into thinking synthetic is better than natural or the same when it isnt….

    anyways for all of u who tried the baking soda and apple cider vinegar…i did like it for a while but i probably didnt use it right? anyways i switched to something that has a lower PH and thats rye flour. it uses the same vitamins that are in the commercial shampoo “pantene pro-v” but in the natural form and wow its awesome!! then i use coconut oil on my ends instead of ACV. i put it on a day before or so and then wash it out w/ the rye flour. just google rye flour shampoo for details

  • Felice

    Nicki..You are correct and moderate. Middle path and informed. Also, you have my permission to recommend or not anything you like lols. Sheesh people.

  • Bella

    I stopped using shampoo almost 2 weeks ago and instead I’m now using baking soda to wash my hair every week. I still use conditioner everyday to keep it smooth and silky. I noticed that I am now dandruff-free, no longer greasy and my hair is now improving (more volume, less split ends and shinier). Im now sure that shampoo was the culprit why I am having hair fall. I still can’t really go no -poo (only baking soda and ACV). But I wont be so quick to suggest to other people not to use baking soda for their hair.

  • Bri

    I was planning to train my hair to self-regulate natural oils. I was reading that the baking soda and ACV would help cut down greasiness so I wouldn’t like a complete slob. By using baking soda and ACV, I would use it every other day for the first week or two. Then stop using it completely for another two weeks. Then use it once a week to wash the dirt from my hair. From what I have been reading, people assumed that the “no-poo” method is two still wash your hair every day with the baking soda and ACV, but it was my understanding that it wasn’t quite like that.

    Would I still have problems with my hair if I would eventually only be using it once a week?

  • cas

    IMmmm….. Whoever wrote this article doesn’t know how pH works haha….

  • Nadia

    For the owner of this article – I really apreciate what you said – it is valuable information.

    Jim, I would not be so angry with people who post what works for them.

    For others (in-case some comments above were meant for my previous post…):
    I don’t sell anything. I buy. I don’t promote anything – I just wanted to share what works for me.
    Infact – Golden Products I guess are not available world-wide (not shure, but perhaps it is such).
    They work for me, but once again – I’m not advertising for them, just wanted to share some natural-made stuff we use here. (I lvie in Zimbabwe, Africa)

    In relation to baking soda and vinegar – I tried it on myself for about 3 weeks now (since I read somewhere about it).
    I must say that my longish hair is normal (no greasy, no dry). And even with commercial shampoos I washed my hair about twice a week. And I’m 51 and my hair is thinning (my hair used to be very thick and lush when I was young)…

    So, to anyone who is interested – the baking soda and vinegar felt great! Yes, no itching of the scull anymore, and vinegar serves as good conditioner for me too. I also add a drop of lavender essential oil to vinegar mix.
    The reason I decided to try this – is I don’t really care about my looks at this stage, just want comfort…
    But the result was good. It felt great, and yes, the hairloss was great deal less… And my naturally wavy hair is wavy again…

    But just keep in mind whoever tries different remedies (people and their metabolism are different).
    This worked for me and will work for someone else, but might NOT work for some others.
    Everyone chooses what works for them best – isn’t it?

  • Jim

    “Hope this helps!”

    No it doesn’t. Your article makes me wanna throw up on you. You are trying to scare the public off of home made shampoos so that you can sell them “Wen” products… which have a TERRIBLE reputation and are the reason people’s hair is being ruined in the first place. I have been using baking soda and apple cider vinegar rinse exclusively for many years… my hair has NEVER been better. It was always very fine and had no body. Now it has perfect body. It is not dry at all, it retains its *natural* oils. As another benefit, I find far less hairs in the shower. Not only am I not losing my hair, I am actually *preventing* the loss of my hair with the baking soda shampoo method! You are a liar, working for the cosmetics industry! On top of that, you try to brainwash people to think they should not make their own cleaners at home! You’re a terrible person! I have been making deodorants, shampoos, skin conditioners, toothpaste, laundry detergent… all kinds of cleaning products made of natural, simple, healthy ingredients — for years. I feel much HEALTHIER on account of that. Much cleaner, more energy, no more scratching my scalp all the time, no more scratching my arms to pieces in the summer during humid days (this was due to using commercial soaps), etc. So stop misinforming people on purpose for money!

  • My FIRST thought when deciding to read this article is; “Alright, let’s see what she’s selling…”
    Sure enough, there is was, at the end.

    Thank you to all the commenters – clarity, experience, knowledge.

    One point I’d like to make about Willowbark vs Aspirin:

    “Scientists can extract the active parts of many plants of white willow bark, isolate it, and shazam! – you have the same active ingredient as in aspirin.”

    Isolating active ingredients ALSO removes the NATURALLY SUPPORTIVE ingredients just the way that nature intended.

    There are people in Asia who live WELL into the 100’s +

    “Chinese Medicine” – is holistic.

    Yes, *everything* is chemistry, but it’s not ‘artificial’; it’s natural.

  • Nadia

    Just for anyone interested:

    There is a non-retail products exist close to where I live.

    These products are distributed by wide web of distributors instead of retail (reason being is that they don’t want to make these products to be so expensive to the last user – which is the case if they go retail)…

    I use these products often, but for everyone to see and judge for themselves – here is the link to their site:


  • stuart collins

    Youre longer living argument is an example of statistics not actually showing what you think they do.y The reason why the life expectancy was soo much lower was because of infant mortality and because of people being allowed to stay in comatose states in hospitals. To actually argue that people live longer you would have to look at the life expectancy of a 30 year old of years ago versus now. Ive actually done the math and we are onlyliving about 5 or 6 years longer than the early 20th century. I could argue soo many other factors are contributing to this slight increase. One off the bat would be transportation and refrigeration, which keeps food more nutritious and bacteria free for longer.

    Yes antibiotics are a miracle drug that help a lot of people. But in many cases they arent necessary and natural antibiotics have been around for millenia. They should only be used during severe acute responses.

    Also, pharmaceutical drugs pretty much never cure the leading killers (heart disease, cancer and neurodegeneration). Some are helpful in reducing the damage somewhat, but they all have massive side effects. This is a large reason why there is a push now more than ever for translational medicine, because for 2 decades we’ve been pumping billions of dollars into the research machine with little progress. As soon as we realize that these diseases are caused by systemic imbalances and quit attempting to design these specific symptom reducing drugs and try to stop the problem at its source.

    Nutrition works and as soon as the system (phamaceutical/health care beast) collapses it will be realized by those with sound logic.

    • Lori

      Health care and pharmaceuticals will never collapse because they work far more often than they don’t, something that cannot be said of the alternatives which are frequently nothing but placebo and wishful thinking.

      Antibiotics can and should be used preemptively in, for example, elderly patients with influenza who are at high risk of potentially lethal secondary bacterial infections.

  • Natalie Bell

    Hi Alix. Thank you for your comment. Our articles are based primarily on research, as opposed to opinion or anecdotal evidence. Nicki recommended Wen in this article because when we explain why we’re not in favor of certain trends, we like to offer alternatives to readers. In this case, Wen is a brand (among several) that does not use the traditional shampoo and conditioner combination, so it’s something that those who want a “no-poo” solution that isn’t apple cider vinegar and baking soda can use.

  • Natalie Bell

    Hi Nadia! Thank you for you comment. I agree that skepticism is valuable in ALL products, natural and home remedies in particular, because they’re far easier to misuse.

  • alix

    this seems to be more semi false
    based on those who used the baking soda vinegar trick its always diluted it seems more like a wen add to me and ive tried this new no poo trend and love it I add orange natrual oils to the vinegar and after my hair has dried a bit I put in marc anthony argan oil treatment works wonders when comboed together I see no problem with this

    • Lori

      Dilution is irrelevant. Hair’s PH is 4.5 to 5. Baking soda is more than 9 and water is 7. So, even diluted in water, baking soda is far too alkaline to be safe for hair. Alkaline substances weaken hair leaving the cuticles open and the core vulnerable to damage and breakage. Vinegar is too acidic to use regularly on hair, although it’s fine used as an occasional diluted rinse. This no poo regimen seems to work to so well because it seems to leave hair soft and manageable when what it’s really doing is making it weak and vulnerable.

  • Nadia

    I personally researched and read books on complementary and traditional medicine to do with health and beauty. And i can say that I respect both and use both in a way I see fit…

    Even whilst I’m not much a beauty, but health is one subject no-one shall ignore…
    Being that health of your hair or anything else…

    I would agree that traditional medicine with their ‘chemicals’, (which were investigated and scientifically extracted from natural products, and after that they were also created independently from nature), are not ALL good for ALL purpose. That is when and why and how much (the dosage) you only use drugs according to what your knowlegeable doctor says for any purpose you have…

    One must also keep in mind the commerse. These days everyone wants to sell everything, being good or bad. And we also must keep in mind that our doctors are obligated to serve the drug industry… hence so many drugs sold which are not exactly good… They help one problem – and they create another…

    Whilst natural products are not the same nowadays as well, mind you,…
    If someone is to use the bark instead of aspirin – keep in mind where and how that bark has grown.

    In olden days – that bark perhaps acted beneficial applied by some knowledeable person, but now – who knows in what polution it has grown…?
    Nowadays – one must be VERY careful when using natural products as well – and the question – is that ‘natural’ really as such? Or perhaps some polution added to it? Or perhaps it has grown in a wrong soil, or collected at the wrong time of the year?…

    One must be also very knowlegeable person to be able to use natural products and how much of them to achieve the results wanted?…

    Well all that comes from generally healthy person, but those of you might know better.

  • Natalie Bell

    Hi Vania! We don’t let our products influence our reviews. In fact, the in-depth research we do to explain ingredients to readers are what help us figure out the best possible formulations for our own products.

  • vania

    I guess all this page was to discourage people to use natural products to promote that line of products you offer.
    If you analyze the ingredients of many commercial products you would be amazed to know the nasty effects of them… are your products free of those effects?

  • Katie

    Thanks for writing this article. I tried the no-poo method and it did NOT work for me at all. It dried out my hair SO bad. It also gave me dandruff which I never had a problem with. By far the VERY worst thing I swear the baking soda made my hair fall out! I’m now sticking to conditioners and shampoo’s with whole ingredients.

  • Kandy

    Much better alternitives to wen (wich contain cones and other bad things) are Divacurls nopoo and shea mosture. I LOVE shea mosture!

  • charlene

    I have dry frizzy hair thats thinning..I ve tried alott of shampoos n conditioners..latest is evercreme by loreal..ontense mositure..no sulfates or salts..Does anyone know if this is good or false..my hair still is frizzy..thanks in advance..any advice be good n appreciated..

  • May

    My experience with the WEN product line was lackluster at best. I used them for 2 months before I acknowledged that it was a lost cause (not to mention a massive waste of money) and gave up. Since then I’ve tried a bunch of “natural” hair remedies. Baking soda does nothing for my hair but dry it out, but ACV? The results were glorious. My hair has never been so moisturized and shiny, and moreover, it looks so thick! I’ve been doing weekly ACV rinses (one part ACV, two parts filtered water) for about a year and a half now and I’ve been extremely satisfied. Moreover, it’s seriously inexpensive. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, personally, ACV is the much better option. ALSO! To those who are curious, my hair is thick and has very tight curls. As a consequence, it’s also super frizzy. ACV controls the frizz A LOT.

  • Sam

    I’ve used ACV for months now and my hair has been the healthiest in years….I think you’re off on this one..

  • Marjorie

    I respectfully disagree. I tried the WEN products and saw no difference with my hair and neither did my daughter. We used two shipments and were not impressed. We both use Baking soda and ACV and my hair has never been shinier or grown faster.

    Like all health issues. What works best for some does not for others.

    I do thank you for the technical information you have put forth for others to consider whether this is the type of shampoo they should use or not.

  • Katrina

    I appreciate your knowledge in cosmetic science but do not agree with the idea that cosmetic science is what you need to bring health and longevity to one’s body. The reason 100 hundred years ago people lived shorter lives is because they worked harder. The generation of people we owe our American prosperity to worked their butts off! Literally. I do not agree that chemicals enhance or increase a life span in all situations. Just something to think about.

  • Taylor

    My hair is color treated- well, was (now growing out natural) so I have a lot of damaged hair considering it is down to my waist. I started using the BS&V about 4 months ago. I tried using just BS at first with conditioner but dried my hair out terribly- so now about every other time I wash I will use the BS&V mixture-(as mentioned in other comments they work together) otherwise unhappy results. The other times I wash hair with water and condition with a good conditioner. I also apply Argan Oil about midways down when towel dried-about every other time so not too heavy. I use the cool setting on my blowdryer. My hair is very shiny and never looked better even when using the most expensive shampoo. No poo is awesome. If BS&V doesn’t work for you, just wash with water (massage roots very well) and use good conditioner. 🙂

  • Liz Hunyadi

    Yep. This is basically shilling for WEN and the cosmetic industry. Quite transparent. The alkalinity of baking soda can be neutralized by mixing it with ACV, that’s the whole purpose of mixing it. As far as people living longer because of ‘chemicals’: consider people in parts of Russia who live to be centenarians. All without the help of modern medicine, thank you.

    People were dying earlier in bygone days because they were dying of injuries, childbirth and situations that were physically traumatizing. People sit behind computers now, they’re not on the battlefield. Check the peoples of the Caucasian mountains for mind-blowing longevity without drugs….

    • Nicki Zevola

      Not an advertisement for any hair care companies, sorry. It was a part of a 22-part series on home remedies: which work and which do not. We found that some do work!

  • I tried the baking soda method and it just made my hair frizzy (white girl, moderate curls). Now I cleanse with a mild conditioner and use a vinegar rinse once a month or so if it feels heavy. This has worked for me for about a year.

  • The “science” behind this article feels like a way to promote an affiliate purchase for WEN.
    Commercial shampoos vary in pH from 4 – 9
    Baking Soda has a pH of 8
    Vinegar has a pH of 3.5
    Lemon Juice is more acidic than vinegar and has a pH of 2 (hence, why the author cites it as being more damaging, because it is. Anything with a pH of 2 or lower can be damaging to hair).

    The baking soda is diluted for No Poo so the pH is lowered.
    The vinegar is diluted for No Poo so the pH is raised.
    No Poo is safe for hair.

    NOTE: Adding baking soda to commercial shampoos must be done with care. Check the pH with pH strips, as you could alter the pH enough to put it out of the safe range for hair.

    A pH between 4-9 is safe for hair.

  • Maria

    I noticed my mom’s hair getting dramatically thinner over the past few months. She informed me yesterday that she has been using ACV and baking soda and almost lost all of her hair. I’m sticking to sulfate-free shampoo and Argan oil.

  • angela

    Do any of you ladies who use ACV have highlights? Im a brunette with blonde highlights and I’m worried after reading this article it will mess the highlights up.,,,

    • Nicki Zevola

      I used it and it messed my hair all up. (And I used it properly, just 1.5 tablespoons in a cup of water). But again, it’s up to you!

  • Mandy

    I started the ‘no poo’ method about two months ago now. After only one try at the BS/ACV method I found that it was not for me. After getting the go ahead from my hairstylist I decided to go all out and try the water only method. This was a big risk for me as my hair was always oily , but I figured it was worth the experiment. It took about three weeks and some practice and study to find the best routine for me, but my hair has never been more beautiful. No smell (I was worried about that!), no frizz, perfect shine, and *gasp* I found out that I really was one of those girls with the gorgeous curls! So sad it took me 30 years to figure this one out.

  • Emma

    Loving BS&V. Have been using for about two months now and get loads of comments. I have long naturally curly hair and it feels lighter and more manageable. It’s quite fine as well but the ACV seems to help as a detangler. I have always had problems with an itchy scalp so I just add a few drops of tea-tree oil to the baking soda mix and that’s done the trick. Reading the article I got a bit worried there for a moment as my hair has been a bit dry at the ends and I don’t want to damage it. How exactly do you use the coconut oil for best results?

    • Nicki Zevola

      For coconut oil, you want to layer on the coconut oil, massaging into the scalp. I recommend sleeping in a 100% cotton nightcap (and changing your pillowcase), but it’s up to you. If you don’t want to sleep in the coconut oil, leave it on for at least an hour, and rinse thoroughly. Your hair will be soft and shiny!

  • Linda

    I was reading this article and was getting somehow discouraged until I started reading all the reviews that said exactly what I was thinking. I have looked into WEN and they are a horrible company! I am going to start using a Baking Soda and ACV regime but haven’t figured out the best way to do it for my hair.

    • Lori

      Just because Wen is terrible, and it is, doesn’t mean that baking soda and apple cider vinegar are good for hair. ACV can be helpful when diluted and used occasionally but baking soda is terrible for hair period. Dilution doesn’t help with the alkalinity either, unless you’re down to like 1/16 tsp BS in 20 cups water and, even then, the PH is only neutral not optimal. BS and ACV don’t “cancel each other out” either, not unless you use them together at the exact same time. Using them one after the other just traumatizes your hair, causing more damage.

      Many people think BS works because it does make hair seem clean and soft, making it more manageable. But this effect is only temporary because BS breaks down bonds inside hair that are crucial for strength, making it seem soft when it’s really getting fragile. This effect is cumulative and you won’t realize how much damage it’s doing until the broken bonds inside the hair cause it to no longer be able to hold any moisture at all. Eventually, the hair is dry, frizzy, and weak. At that point, hair will start breaking off and nothing will help until you cut all your hair below the breaks and start using PH balanced moisturizing and cleansing substances.

      This reminds me of people who insist that you can use a paste of baking soda and lemon juice to whiten your teeth. You can and it will work for a while but, over time, it destroys your enamel, leaving your dentin vulnerable to staining and uncovered by enamel so all those new stains show right through. You might get a period of whiter teeth, followed by having permanently stained, weakened, and extremely sensitive teeth. I know everyone wants to find stuff that’s cheaper and “more natural” but natural isn’t necessarily good and you have to understand chemistry and biology before you just put things on your skin, hair, or teeth. Just because something seems to work for a while doesn’t mean it’s a wise long term plan.

  • john

    I use plain sodium bicarbonate and water for shampoo & I rinse with vinegar and lemon juice and water….no dandruff and hair feels clean —- I have some regular oils like lemon and cinnamon ( Whatever is on sale!!) I rub into my hair …..I quit using the fancy anti-dandruffs and shampoos because they were irritarting my scalp…..it was almost as if the more I used the anti-dandruff, the w=orse it got….

  • Price

    This is absolute crap and nothing more than a sales job for Wen. Wen, also, is absolute crap. All one has to do is a quick Google search for “Wen.” That junk absolutely is responsible for such hair horror as breakage and falling out. As an aside, I would never trust the first so-called professional who advocates chemicals or natural ingredients. It’s junk science and it’s absolute crap.

    • Nicki Zevola

      It’s not an advertisement for anyone. It’s actually a part of a 22 part series on which home remedies work and which do not.

  • Ashley

    Wow, this article has had some back lash…

    I have used BS and ACV on occasion and thought it made my hair feel real nice, but I have never used it solely. Considering it though.

    The life expectancy stat has been so debunked it’s retarded. People that made it past adolesence lived to be as old as people are now but they didn’t do it with heart disease and diabetes.

    I think after my own personal research, I’ll just believe the different things work for different people and you have to experiment with what works best for you. If you spend a lot of time dying and chemically altering your hair, you may have to depend on chemicals to maintain it. My niece will have a hot mess if she washes her hair more than once a week. My hair gets gross and shiney with oil if I dare to miss a day.

  • Kim

    Everywhere I’ve seen ‘no poo, they do the BS&V. I’ve never heard of anyone using one without the other.
    YES, baking soda is alkaline. It does open the cuticle,(like dyes do). And it does strip the hair of its natural oils.
    YES, vinegar is acidic. It does flatten the cuticle. And it (like lemon juice) can sometimes lighten hair in the sun.


    **Number 1**
    You point out that baking soda is an irritant, but EVERY detergent is an irritant. As a matter of fact, pure SLS/SLES (used in regular soap/shampoo) will cause irritation on contact with skin. Baking soda does strip your hair of oils, but so do commercial shampoos/soaps. Isn’t that the point!? That is why, with BSV, you do NOT wash every day as you do with commercial shampoo. The whole point of using baking soda is because it’s less irritating and oil-stripping than regular shampoo. This is why when you start BSV your hair won’t be dry, it’ll be greasier (at first) because it’s used to the harsh shampoos every day, causing overproduction of oils. BS does way less oil stripping, which is why your oil levels drop over time and you don’t have to wash as often.
    **Number 2**
    Apple cider vinegar undiluted (which is usually diluted) is about a 4-5 pH. Human hair has a slightly acidic pH of 4.5-5.5. Brassy hair?? My hair is black, and I have personally put lemon juice, vinegar, and beer in my hair and sat out in the sun in hopes that I’d get some lighter locks. Nothing. Furthermore, no ‘poo users usually dilute the (already diluted) vinegar even more. Lemon juice and white vinegar have a pH around 2 which is wayyyy more acidic, and most store shampoos use pure citric acid as an ingredient. The brassy color change is only a reaction to sunlight. If you wash the vinegar out thoroughly, (and believe me, you will KNOW thanks to the smell) then there can’t be any color change. The reason for dry or brittle strands is because less porous hair seals things in (like hair color) but can lock out moisture. This doesn’t matter because BSV uses alkaline baking soda to open up the hair cuticle and let moisture in before sealing with vinegar. Also, not sure where you got your info, but almost every popular hair perm treatment I know of has a pH around 9, which is very alkaline. As a matter of fact, the lower ones (“acid perms” w/ pH usually 5-6) are more gentle which is why they produce less curl and cause less damage.

    **Number 3**
    You leave out a key aspect of BSV which is the reaction that takes place. The solution of sodium bicarbonate (BS) is alkaline, and opens the cuticle. But, the vinegar is acidic which will NEUTRALIZE the solution and close the cuticle. One without the other may be harmful but not BSV. Sodium bicarbonate and acetic acid combine to create carbon dioxide (gas) and sodium acetate (a salt). The CO2 will just go into the air and the sodium acetate will dissolve in water and go down your drain. BSV won’t have negative effects if it’s done right.
    I do agree with adding in natural oils for strengthening and moisture, and I believe a lot of the no ‘poo people do this with various hair masks and hot oil treatment. It’s definitely a bonus.

    So what if baking soda is alkaline and ACV is acidic? ALL commercial shampoos use an alkaline-acid (usually SLS – citric acid) combination; they just add a lot of toxic extras. Do you know anyone who had his/her hair ruined by using BSV for a prolonged period?? Also, have any of you tried washing glass with baking soda solution followed by a vinegar solution? When you immerse the glass in vinegar solution, gas bubbles go up and the glass comes out clean. Both sodium bicarb and vinegar are easy to wash out of your hair with just water. There is no reason to fear damage, especially because it is not a daily routine. If I am wrong, and there actually is some degree of damage BSV causes your hair, it cannot POSSIBLY be worse than dyeing, perming, relaxing, or bleaching your hair.

    • Nicki Zevola

      Actually, all commercial shampoos and conditioners do not use strongly alkaline or strongly acidic compounds. Many are on the slightly acidic side of neutral, which is where most products should be for use on the hair. You can also find this with many natural remedies, like coconut oil or argan oil. I like natural memedies! Just not this one.

  • Becca

    To the person earlier who mentioned breakage: After reading about different shampoo/conditioner alternatives, the first thing I did was using a clarifying recipe I found online to remove existing product build-up. As soon as I did this, I realized I had a ton of split ends I’d never even seenof before. From what I’ve read, commercial conditioner just covers up weak strands and glues the split ends together. I think using ‘no poo and natural oils is for those who want to improve the quality of their actual hair and growth, not just cover it up.

  • Katarina

    This is article is pseudo sciencey. Why no mention of coconut oil? You know too little on the topic, and yet you’re trying to tell us what to do?

  • Marcie

    Thank you for writing this article. I’ve been using baking soda & apple cider vinegar for over a month now and recently started noticing some problems in the form of really bad breakage. Initially I really liked it because using this method allowed me to cut down on waste & I found I only had to wash my hair once or twice a week. (I had to wash daily with normal shampoo) I hear what you are saying in this article & I understand why you are recommending against home experiments, but for those of us that are trying to reduce waste & the excessive use of plastic from our daily lives, do you have any suggestions?

  • Chris

    There’s a reason the longest living people are in a remote village in japan and it’s not pharmaceuticals; it’s lifestyle and more importantly community. In the life expectancy you quote it’s unfortunately a statistical misrepresentation of less people dying at younger ages (this goes for any mention throughout human history). The italian, french, and asian paradoxes are not result of chemical technology that really only serves to keep unhealthy people alive. They don’t cure anything but people can manage and continue. The nature-nuts are just as bad as the science solves everything people. I don’t recommend baking soda and ACV without coconut oil pre-wash as that’s the ingredient a lot skip out on and might experience dryness without.

  • Bridget

    I heard that the acid in the vinegar, once on your hair, has an “alcohol chemical” effect and the impurities in your cortex will be rinsed out. Is this true??

  • brodie

    The best part of this article is the comments section. I agree with the other commenters. Baking sofa and vinegar all the way (my hair is very long so I use coconut oil on the ends after towel drying). It’s a bit ridiculous for the author to claim to be an award winning ‘MD’ and talk down a cheap and effective method of cleaning hair so as to market their own interests.

  • Allison

    I’ve been using baking soda and apple cider vinegar on my hair for over two months now and I’ve noticed a change. My hair has looks and feels healthier than it did when I was using commercial shampoo. My scalp doesn’t feel half as dry as it did before. It took a week or two for my hair to start showing a change, but after that, it looked much better. I’ve had family members touch my hair after a wash and were surprised at how clean it felt. This is really the only article I’ve been able to find that decries baking soda and ACV.

  • scott

    with regard to your third point about life expectancy. it really has nothing to do with drugs. the biggest factor that has been shown to lengthen life has been sufficient caloric intake. in spite of all of the unhealthy things we ingest it is why we live longer. now, heart problems, diabetes and such stem from what we ingest and science allows for abused organs to function longer at a far less quality. with that stated, if one eats sufficient calories and healthy food combined with exercise, they will probably live the longest without drugs of any kind.
    i also suffered from a type of keratosis of the scalp which led to a lot of hair loss. shampoos irritated the heck out of it. what helped most was giving up gluten in my diet. gluten binds to the villi of the small intestines preventing absorption of vital vitamins and nutrients, which the scalp depends on. baking soda has clarified my scalp, removing redness and irritation. i simply mix a little in with my shampoo. but honey treatments to my scalp worked wonders as well. 2 trips to the derm and all i got was standard tests and steroids to put on my head. they helped temporarily, but the problem always came back when i took 2 days off from use a week.
    bottom line shampoos alone and medicine–0
    holistic treatments and dietary changes—-all the difference in the world

  • toyston

    I totally disagree. Baking soda/vinegar are working great on my hair. It’s far less dry than it used to be.

  • islandgrrrl

    This article is completely incorrect – Baking soda (bs) and ACV are being used in a highly diluted state from most people using this haircare routine. My hair is a complete mess after using a normal sodium lauryl sulphate shampoo or even a ‘natural’ shampoo. It is coarse, wiry and dry hair, so, for me, the goal is to weigh it down, clarify without drying. BS and ACV are the only gentle way to clean it and condition it all at the same time.

  • Maria

    I washed my hair with baking soda and vinegar for about a year and the result was better than any shampoo could have done. All frizz went away and to my surprise, lots of new hair started to grow. I switched to bentonite clay recently as this makes my hair even nicer and smoother. I do therefore not agree with what you say, I would never go back to use shampoo. I had sever dermatitis and the symptoms only started to fade when I switched my cleaning products and toiletries to natural products only.
    Considering that the skin is the largest organ of our body, I think it is very important to know what you apply to it. Bicarbonate Soda and Vinegar are both edible and available in any shop to the public. Most ingredients of a shampoo are toxic and not safe for humans. Most even irritate the skin leading us to buy a new “miracle cure” that should help us to relief the symptoms.
    I still liked your article.

  • Maria

    I washed my hair with baking soda and vinegar for about a year and the result was better than any shampoo could have done. All the frizz went away and to my surprise, lots of new hair started to grow. I switched to bentonite clay recently as this makes my hair even nicer and smoother. I do therefore not agree with what you say, I would never go back to use shampoo. I had sever dermatitis and the symptoms only started to fade when I switched my cleaning products and toiletries to natural products only.

    Considering that the skin is the largest organ of our body, I think it is very important to know what you apply to it. Bicarbonate Soda and Vinegar are both edible and available in any shop to the public. Most ingredients of a shampoo are toxic and not safe for humans. Most even irritate the skin leading us to buy a new “miracle cure” that should help us to relief the symptoms.

    I still liked your article, seeing it through the eyes of a scientist wanting to promote the use of shampoo / increase cosmetic firms profits. That’s all it is about in the end.

  • J

    I use dilute ACV every day to every other day on my hair as a rinse with a shampoo bar and my scalp is healthier and hair softer than it’s ever been in my life. I get compliments on how shiny and healthy my hair is all the time. My hair is black and it has stayed black. I’ve used this regimen for a year and I’ve never received so many compliments from complete strangers on the street. (It’s weird.) So my personal experience definitely hasn’t coincided with what you state in your article.

  • luna

    i have VERY dry curly hair .. i mix a small amount of baking soda w/ my shampoo…after i put tons of cond. in it ..my hair is thicker , shinier..and less frizzy . i dont do this every time . about once a month . and i love the way it makes my hair look !

  • Joanna

    Hi Nicki,

    I’m sorry you have been so ‘bashed’ in these comments. I feel for you..

    My mother has been working in dermatology as an RN for years, and I have respect for her and for you. I have respect for her experience, and I have respect for your degree.

    I mention my mother here because she is a firm believer in Institutionalized Education, and tends to feel that if you’r learning something in a classroom or at a University, it is more credible- more intelligent than if you were learning in any other way.

    I’d like to share with you something I realized while conducting research in Madagascar, (non-pharmaceutical).. The people of that island have intuited their medicine- not in laboratories, not through microscopes, but through visions, dreams and intuitions… And these medicines, such as willow bark- which is now chemically isolated and formed into a pill, were not initially discovered by people in lab coats, but by people of nature.

    What may make sense in your equations on paper may not make sense in real-life experience, and vice versa.

    Once I hugged my mother, with such love for her flowing through my eyes she asked,” what is that anesthetized look in your eyes?” And I said, “Have you been so far from love that you don’t know what it is when you see it?” Her defenses came down, and she said, “Well, yes, i think you’re right, I have.”

    Not everything can be explained in a lab, and even though I’m sure there is a way to physically, scientifically define and calculate the energy coming through my eyes in that moment, or the aura around me at that moment- It was not needed, to be understood, nor to be felt and received.

    I believe it was Einstein who said, “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.”

    With Love,

  • Amanda

    The science is correct. The reason why baking soda and the apple cider vinegar as a combination process is bad is because of the high pH opening up your hair, and then slamming your hair shut with a very low pH.This is like the process of perming or coloring your hair on a weekly occasion!!! HOMEMADE NATURAL pH BALANCED SHAMPOO KEEP READING!!!!!! SOOOO EASY! 1/4 CUP COCONUT MILK (homemade, store bought, either is fine) 3 HEAPING TBSP’S ALOE VERA GEL (Lily of the Desert brand), A NUTRIENT OIL (vitamin e oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, use 1/16tsp – 1 tbsp depending on hair type), ESSENTIAL OILS FOR ANTIBACTERIAL/CROBIAL PROPERTIES AND AROMATHERAPY. Combine all ingredients in jar with lid, shake well, strain through cheesecloth to remove aloe fibers. Pour onto scalp and massage, comb through if you have curly hair and rinse when your shower is completed. You can also leave on longer for a treatment. This is a growth stimulating hair cleanser! You cannot go wrong using this shampoo : ) This is a pH balanced shampoo, go ahead test it yourself.

  • This is an interesting article. I have been using BS & AVC for about a week and am really happy so far, but I’ll be watching for some of the negative side effects that people have mentioned here. I have tried “no shampoo” in the past, but my hair got really oily and I chickened out… lol.

    My hair looks pretty good, and it isn’t getting as oily as it was when I was using shampoo. The one absolutely fantastic thing is that my scalp doesn’t have this icky buildup on it.

    I loved reading through the comments, and kudos to the author for putting herself out there, even if people are disagreeing with her.

  • Rachel

    Thanks for the article Nicki! A friend told me about her and her sister’s experience using BS and ACV; she found it too drying for her thick hair but her sister had good results with her thinner, finer hair texture, and was able (as is my goal) to go longer without having to wash her hair at all. I’m going to give it a go at least once because I agree with the idea that you just have to find out what works for you, but it’s good to have an idea what the possible adverse effects are as well. I’ve been using a slosh of ACV in a jug of water for years as a rinse and have found it gives fabulous results similar to high priced salon conditioners, and I’d love to find a “natural shampoo trick” to go with my conditioner trick, but have to admit that whether you are dealing with natural products or $$$ salon products, some just work and some just don’t! It takes personal trial and error to find what works with your own body chemistry and physiology, not to mention the water conditions where you are. (Anyone fine-haired person who’s ever visited London and wondered WTF happened to their hair after their first shower knows what I’m talking about.)
    I’m going to try a really small amount of BS shaken up with a bit of coconut oil and see what happens- I’m hoping that the stripping action will help get rid of some of the crud left by the last (commercial) shamp/cond that I tried, and I probably won’t use it as a regular solution unless I see positive results… Experiments are always fun, but it’s good to proceed with an idea of the science too, so thanks again!

  • Charlie

    I used wen BEFORE going poo free. It left my hair limp. 7 months into ACV as a cleanser and my hair is in better shape than its ever been! You can “scream” all you want about people’s choice not to absorb chemicals through the largest organ (the skin) I’d never go back!

  • Wink

    I use baking soda and ACV every week and I love them both for my hair. The key is to use them together. Either wash with baking soda and water, or add some to your regular shampoo or conditioner. Then follow up with a vinegar rinse after your conditioner. The baking soda raises the cuticles for penetration, and the ACV lays the cuticles back down after your conditioner/protein treatment. So of course, if you only use one without the other, your results may not be good.

    Bottom line, try them and if you like them, great! If not, stop using them and move on.

  • Jamie

    I really don’t buy this article’s explanation. What I’m really put off about is that you’re promoting your client’s expensive “alternative” to ACV and Baking Soda. Actually, I think you would write the same stuff even while debating another household item. So many people have had good results with these 2 items, and they have been on them for years. That said, it doesn’t work for everyone, just like how Wen’s will not work for everyone either. For some, they may just have to search for another alternative. But I still don’t think you should be writing an article to challenge the successes of many just because having a different headline will attract people to your site. You say you are not affiliated in a commercial sense, but I doubt that very much.

  • Brittle Hair

    Argument or none, baking soda and vinegar did damage my hair. I can try this just once, did this past weekend actually, and my hair was a mess. Maybe it is my hair type, maybe it is my age, I have no idea. It made my hair very dry and more fell out after it dried and I brushed it. So, I was happy to read this article. I’m just trying to find something unscented/fragrance free due to allergies/

    All that said, I can’t afford Wen or any other fancy stuff, so for now I’ll stick to the $.99 Suave, and try something else in a couple of weeks over a weekend to see if I can find what will work for me. Can’t do weekdays, have to look appropriate for work and gooey or brittle flat hair is not going to make the bosses happy.

    Thanks for the article, confirmed my thoughts.

  • Drew

    This article on first impression simply seems like it is written by someone who is paid by some company who wants to sell you something. That’s all. I’ve never been happier about the baking soda/ACV combo to wash my hair. We forget we got along pretty fine as a species for thousands and thousands of years finally using simple ingredients for things like washing our hair. Wasn’t until very recently we started to mess with everything and sell each other snake oil.

  • Anne

    I have to say I’ve used Baking Soda and ACV since June and unexpectedly the hair loss I had been slowly experiencing has been reversing. Hair is growing back! The only problem I have now is adjusting for the changes in weather. Anyone use anything in addition to ACV and baking soda?

  • Chelsie

    This article is just trying to sell a product. Baking soda shampoo is extremely gentle on your hair, LEAVING its own natural oils in it. Shampoo strips them out, making you then think you need to replace them with a hundred other products. The foam/sudsing of shampoo makes your hair dry and brittle. Try just shampooing your hair (no conditioner or other product) and seeing what your hair is like; then the next day, try using just baking soda and compare the differences between the two. When you use ACV as a rinse, you dilute it with water; you get all the benefits without overdoing it. ACV makes your hair soft, shiny, and untangled. The two together give you healthy hair that doesn’t need any extra product and holds a style.

  • Fickle Nighthugger

    everything is a chemical! every single thing on this earth………..we are made of chemicals.
    to everyone: it’s good to specify “harmful chemical” if you are bashing the undoubtedly sketchy ingredients of many high-tech (and also the cheap, mass produced) hair products. to avoid confusion!
    I am curious about the issue of “replenishing oils.” It’s my understanding that our human bodies are fairly self-healing if left to our own devices. not to say that serious diseases like cancer or AIDS can be cured with no outside medecine – I’m not that extreme – but many simple things (cold, flu, infection) are easily remedied if you support your body with the most simple of comforts…..sleep, fluids, food. It’s amazing how healthy we can be by just taking care of ourselves gently, and not using invasive substances for every little problem we encounter. which brings me to greasy hair – do we need to replenish “natural” oils externally? isn’t the most simple pure state of our hair an environment that balances oil and dryness?
    I think using as minimal product as possible encourages our hair to flourish naturally, and balance it’s own pH with ease. Not sure if baking soda and vinegar is the answer here……but we should probably stop trying to use outside compounds as a solution to something that can be self-healed.

  • CH

    I also appreciated the article, even though I have a few issues with attitudes exhibited by folks on both sides of the argument. Being blatantly anti-science/chemicals/chemists is as harmful as being blatantly anti-anything – it’s blinding and usually baseless. However, being blatantly, blindly pro- anything tends to give some of the same symptoms, as one will defend a subject based more on defensiveness than actual, defensible information. I think most of the people here fall somewhere in between the ends of the spectrum, and this internet thing tends to make people seem more extreme than they actually are.

    The stoichiometric analysis the author gave of the bicarb+acetic acid is useful, but incredibly reductive. There are many more ingredients in ACV than simply acetic acid, though acetic acid is assuredly an active ingredient. As is the case with many natural remedies that chemists are wary of, there are many factors that are as-of-yet unidentified that may contribute to the effectiveness of said remedy. As a chemist, I must recognize that nature has imbued many of its creations with things that our chemistry has not yet identified. There are many effective remedies whose effects are still not understood by the scientific community (look up ZB11 vs. misoprostol for a fascinating case study in rural China/Tibet), but are still being prescribed based on solid, widespread evidence. The ACV and baking soda combo may be one of those (though the evidence here is widespread and anecdotal, rather than based on an empirical study, i.e. it isn’t all too solid), but it may also be as bogus as the author states. I tend to lean toward believing such widespread anecdotal evidence rather than away, but I would not be surprised should it turn out that I’m wrong.

    At any rate, I’m trying out the combo because I’m balding and have nothing to lose except some of my haircare bill. 🙂

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve used apple cider vinegar on my hair as a rinse and have noticed that it leaves a brassy color in my naturally brunette hair. It didn’t look bad, but I wasn’t looking for color change. Tis is the only article I’ve found that actually says this about it. It makes me feel less crazy. :p Everyone is dogging her for what she’s saying, it none of it is wrong. Instead of being mean and accusing her of being a puppet for the industry, why not just explain that some of her facts don’t matter? For example, if you can replenish the oils naturally as well,, just say that. People who want to use cider will appreciate the tip. I’d also like to point out that many people who want to try natural alternatives aren’t going to understand the science behind why things work, so explaining how baking soda on its own isn’t good…isn’t bad. I personally appreciated the article. All she was saying is that chemicals aren’t inherently bad. Many commenters were just jerks.

  • Toni

    Dissappointing article.

    Whilst using bicarbonate of soda and cider vinegar in large quantities will damage hair, the concept of using these ingredients when ditching shampoo is that you use them diluted and try to put as long between washes as possible. In the same way, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is an industrial degreaser when used in large quantities.. I’ve found that my dandruff has dissappeared and my hair no longer gets greasy within a day, and split ends do not form as fast, compared to using anti-dandruff shampoos and conditioners every other day.


    These are chemicals. Regardless of how they are marketed or packaged, they are still chemicals.

    If you mix them together in solution:
    CH3COOH (acetic acid) + NaHCO3 (sodium bicarbonate) -> NaCH3COO- (sodium acetate) + H2CO3
    The H2CO3 is not stable and breaks down quickly to form water and Carbon dioxide: (H2CO3 -> H2O + CO2).

    So there is no net effect if you mix them together. If water and carbon dioxide were beneficial for your hair, we would all be using seltzer water’
    Everything in the world is a chemical. You’re starting to sound like a child throwing its toys out of the pram.
    That’s the point. The ultimate goal of going no-shampoo is that you end up using nothing at all on your hair, just water to wash away dust and let the sebum keep your hair clean, thus eliminating the process of stripping your hair of oils and then re-hydrating it.

    Just because science has made many developments when it comes to beauty, doesn’t mean we need to use them. For example when it comes to spot treatment, plain tea tree oil is just as effective (although I’d argue more so, after personal experience) at zapping individual spots than the most expensive high-tech spot cream. I’m glad we have modern medicine and vaccines but my skin and scalp prefer the least amount of synthetic chemicals as possible.

    • Nicki Zevola

      @Toni –

      I published this comment a long time ago, but in the future, any personal attacks (“You’re starting to sound like a child”) will not be published. I think we can discuss matters like this without attacking one another.

      I like tea tree oil very much, and many other natural remedies. But I don’t like this one. Think of it this way: If you need to dilute it down to be nothing more than a slight rinse, why not use something that restores natural vitamins like panthenol, oils like argan or sweet almond, and strengthening proteins into your hair? You can use home remedies like coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or even eggs for this. But not ACV and baking soda.

      Just my opinion.

  • Casey

    Scientific research and medicine are definitely important but I think we’ve taken it a little too far. I don’t think that the cosmetics industry is the reason we are living longer than 100 years ago and for the first time in 200 years our children have a lower life expectancy than their grandparents. Humans have been evolving with plants for thousands of years. It’s only in the last 100 that we’ve been using chemicals. Science is important and we need to use it to seriously reevaluate the chemicals we come into contact with every day.

    NY Times article from 2005 about lower life expectancy for children: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/17/health/17obese.html?_r=0

    Cosmetics Database, learn what chemicals are in your productw: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/?gclid=CNHXiueX2bQCFQeynQodMx0ADQ

    A good book about the cosmetics industry is “Not Just a Pretty Face” by Stacy Malkan if you are interested in learning more.

  • Ryan

    I’ve been washing my hair with baking soda, and apple cider vinegar for over a year. My hair has never been this healthy, it never dries out, and it never gets greasy, no matter how long I don’t wash it. And I even wear hats quite regularly! The BP and ACV cancel each other out. It’s basic high school chemistry… I know for a fact I will never use any shampoo or condition for the rest of my existence! Stop spouting false information.

  • Dr. Laura W.

    “The reason we’re living 25-30 years longer isn’t improved nutrition or more “natural” products – it’s medicine, pharmaceuticals, chemicals.”

    Wrong. The reason we are living longer is because of “evolution.” And, I would also like to add that the quality of life/health today is not the same as it was “just one hundred years ago.” People were much healthier back then, and it’s been proven.

    Thanks for the rest of the information though.

  • Maria

    Also the idea behind using ACV is to balance the scalps acid mantle not condition, totally disagree with the whole article

  • Maria

    Can you please state where you have your” facts” from? Ive never read such a load of rubbish, shampoos contain chemicals which steip the hair, if BS is steipping your hair your using too much, ive grown from waist to tailbone in 12 months from going no poo my hair has no dryness, splitting or breakage from doing this, i just use a little coconut oil on the ends.
    BS is an old fashioned but effective way of washing the hair, how do you think people washed their hair before shampoo was invented? Conditioners have only been around since the early 80’s what your basically saying is if you dont use shampoo and conditioner your hair will get damaged, utter rubbish

    • Nicki Zevola

      Hi @Maria,

      No, I’m not saying that *all* natural remedies are bad. But I am saying that using a strong acid and a strong base on your hair, with variable amounts of water to dilute it, isn’t necessarily the best thing for your hair.

      I like coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and panthenol (vitamin B5), all of which may be naturally derived. But I don’t like baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I’m sorry if that offends you, but I am glad that the remedy works for you.

      All the best,

  • V

    Thought this article was suspicious, then read through the end and saw the plug for Wen haircare. Why am I not surprised? This is a PR play if I’ve ever seen one.

    Exactly how much time has to pass before we start to see all the damage you promise? I’ve been using baking soda and vinegar for over a year now and my hair and scalp are better than ever.

    What quantities and frequency are you referring to? I’m sure if you used BC/ACV in large amounts every day (as most people do with shampoos and conditioners) you’d see damage. But the regimen actually suggests just 1 TB per 8oz water, washing as infrequently as possible (I wash 1-2 times per week max.), and distributing your natural oils across your hair every day with a boar-bristle brushing.

    I am a proponent of the benefits of chemicals on society in certain areas, but even with sound chemistry, I think this article is going out of its way to fear monger.

    • Nicki Zevola

      Hi @V,

      This article is not for Wen haircare or any other brand. It is actually a part of our 22-part series, Which home remedies work and which do not? This article just has consistently been the most popular of the series.

      Hope this helps,

  • Fernanda Ferreira

    I’ve been using baking soda on my hair for almost 3 months now and it’s never been healthier. My curls came back and the frizz is almost gone. I don’t use the acv because it leaves my hair a little heavy. What I use to mosturize it, once a month and just a few drops (my hair is short), is coconut oil.

    I believe that there isn’t such a thing as a miracle for everyone. BS and ACV may not work for everyone, according to their hair type, but I believe everyone should try them and get rid of one more industry that they try to make us swollow: the cosmetic industry! It’s very easy: do it yourself, try it out. You’re the only one to know what’s best for you.

  • Good thing I saw this before my hair got all dried up because of baking soda and vinegar. I truly agree that is better to use all-natural products but make sure that it is safe and it can actually help. This is a good advise and everyone should learn from it.

  • lia

    I am an engineer and am not sponsored by anyone nor do i use wen products. The chemistry is sound. Unless you care to weigh/measure your acv and baking soda as well as know the chemicals in your tap water there is no way to be sure the acv neutralizes the baking soda unless you do the math (a/k/a stoichiometry).

    Just because you wash w acv and then rinse with baking soda, you are still doing steps in succession which leaves a window for damage.

    Just because these are commonly available HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS doesn’t make them safe. Heck, even soap is made from lye (sodium hydroxide) and fat and we all know the wrong soap can dry out your skin. I may use baking soda in the washing machine as fabric softener, but i still recognize it breaks down clothing fibers – which is why there’s a lint filter that has to be cleaned.

    Stop attacking someone for writing about the chemistry.

  • Also:

    These are chemicals. Regardless of how they are marketed or packaged, they are still chemicals.

    If you mix them together in solution:
    CH3COOH (acetic acid) + NaHCO3 (sodium bicarbonate) -> NaCH3COO- (sodium acetate) + H2CO3
    The H2CO3 is not stable and breaks down quickly to form water and Carbon dioxide: (H2CO3 -> H2O + CO2).

    So there is no net effect if you mix them together. If water and carbon dioxide were beneficial for your hair, we would all be using seltzer water.

  • I respect and honor your opinions.

    However, I do stand behind the fact that drugs have saved and prolonged lives. Just one example is the MMR vaccine. In 1958 there were 763,094 cases of measles and 552 deaths in the United States. Now there are fewer than 150 cases in the United States each year as a result of vaccination. And there are thousands of man made, non-natural drugs that have enhanced and saved the lives of millions: Penicillin, aspirin, vaccines for yellow fever, polio, smallpox, the bubonic plague…The list goes on and on.

    I’m not saying some drugs don’t cause problems. But I am saying that many of us would not be here today if it were not for the development of many modern drugs.

    Also: While I do respect and honor differing opinions, I will not tolerate personal attacks on anyone on this blog, myself included. Please – let’s keep FutureDerm a place where we can all express our opinions without ad hominem attacks. Thank you!

  • Mary Ellen

    If I hear one more mainstream medical person bash natural health or body care, I’M GOING TO SCREAM. It is VERY irresponsible of you to spread misinformation in on your website. You may be an award-winning scientific researcher, but you are spreading a very misused statistic for your own purposes.

    There are two main reasons that the average life span increased and neither of them had anything to do with chemicals or drugs. These are well-known facts, although I wouldn’t doubt that medical schools are making up their own self-agrandizing “facts”. The two key factors were lowering the infant mortality rates through prenatal care and tremendously improved sanitation including clean water delivery. A more accurate view of how long people lived is a statistic of average age at adulthood instead of average age from birth. If you have 3 people who live to 75, the average age from birth is 75. Add to that a fourth person who dies shortly after birth… now the average of 75,75,75,0 drops down to 56 years, 3 months. This widely misused statistic gives people the incorrect perception that most people were dying in their 40’s & 50’s, when actually many people lived very long lives.

    There were definitely more younger people dying from things like appendicitis or TB, and medicine has played an important role in saving lives. But please don’t act like chemicals and drugs changed the life expectancy because those are not the main two reasons for the rise. Now, in fact, they are probably the culprits for the fact that the life expectancy is starting to go down. Many young and middle-aged people getting cancer. I have several people in my life right now who have cancer. This is crazy. So, rubbing carcinogenic ingredients into my scalp (like I did for many years with my old shampoo) is not a healthy act. I wish more medically trained people would stop acting like it’s “all or nothing” and condescending to those of us trying to go more natural. Your point about baking soda is well-taken, I’m not sure I agree with the ACV comment, but either way, it would be more helpful for people to learn how to naturally ph balance shampoo at home rather than just criticize and tell us not to use it!

    Then you recommend WEN as natural! WEN IS NOT NATURAL! http://www.greenwala.com/channels/eco-beauty/blog/17384-WEN-Not-So-Healthy-Hair

    I agree with Kristen S. but haven’t yet tried the ACV. Will be doing so.

  • Andreas R

    Anyone who’s been taught even only high school chemistry should know that the ACV rinse’s acidity neutralizes the alkalinity of BS. And common sense should tell anyone that you can add oils to either your BS wash or ACV rinse. Hell, you could just add oils to both of them. Sure, you could damage your hair if you don’t adjust the measurements to your own hair, everyone’s hair is and reacts differently, but that’s a whole different story than what you’re telling.

    If you look on the internet you can find thousands of success stories on using this method to cleanse their hair. The “science” you use is also faulty because you choose to ignore a pretty important fact. You’re either not as smart as you think you are or you do indeed have a hidden agenda.

  • Heather


  • Heather


  • KatieB

    Of course some chemicals do help us, but many are proving harmful. Many shampoos have parabens and other unnecessary things that can be absorbed through our skin and could mess with our bodies. I think when people seek natural solutions, it isn’t because they are rejecting all chemicals (or medicines) but are trying to get back a more simple, less harmful solution. I have been using BS and ACV for two months after spending A LOT of money on very high-tech options. My hair is fuller, more healthy, and thicker than it was with these other products. Plus, I like the idea that I am not exposing my body to chemicals that have been proven harmful, and others that may prove harmful in the future.

  • Robyn

    Interesting comments everyone. I too am using bi carb. Awesome results . Feels yucky after rinsing. But when it dries it feels fuller and soft and shinny. About the chemicals .. There’s one ,, compared to the many in the shampoos. There may be good stuff in the shampoos but the sulphates are very harsh on the hair and over rides the good additives. . I use more water than others do .. Very important to massage the scalp while washing.. Fingers run back and forth never in circles .. I don’t use vinegar .. I use mixture of oils as a conditioner for ends only.

  • Maria

    And so what if a someone studies hard to be a ‘chemist’ , makes hair products and we still want to use old tried and true methods? That should not agitate you because we all have different needs when it comes to our hair, you’re a scientist of course ur opinions are a little one -sided. You also did not mention that once your buddies finish their studies they tend to work for these companies that make the same products that strip our hair. Also your article does not take into account those of us with afro curly hair. Cutting out shampoo and using a little acv mixed with water to cleanse my scalp weekly has been the best thing i did for my natural hair, shampoos even so-called sulfate free ones damage our hair . Moreover, those tend to cost an arm and a leg for something you need to use so often…like the ones you suggested… Wen? I’ve been shampoo free for over 2 years now and my hair is long strong and thriving. My mom has been doing this sonce forever and she has the most envious hair. I use vegetable glycerine and water to moisturise my hair and i condition with coconut oil and honey mixed. I’m not a back to nature nazi and i do incorporate ‘some’ chemicals in my hair regimen as you can see, but i refuse to spend money on commercial hair products that does absolutely nothing beneficial for my hair. Your article does have some valid points but i do think you cant just band everyone together and say doing this to you hair is gonna make it break…sometimes the results speak for itself. Good luck in your studies.

  • rocknluvchild

    Hi Nicki,

    Thanks for the really great article! As a hairdresser, your thoughts makes total sense!!! Too high of an alkaline or acidic pH can promote dry and brittle hair as well as cause hair color to fade and become brassy.

    I also tried the Wen way for a small while but it ended up giving me an itchy scalp even though some of my friends do swear by it.

    The best way, I’ve found is to use a gentle shampoo that contains some of the above mentioned oils and not wash your hair more than 2-3x a week. A clean scalp and hair without build up promotes a healthy follicle and supports healthy hair and growth.

    Thanks again for a really great article. Great luck to you in your career as a dermatologist =)

  • I definitely recognize everyone’s point. Some people have gotten results from using these methods.

    Our point is this: If you don’t want to use chemicals in your hair, don’t use apple cider vinegar and baking soda. These are two chemicals!

    Also, continued use of these on a regular basis can lead to breakage. We stand by that statement as well.

    We are NOT sponsored directly by Wen. We run Google AdSense ads on the sidebar, which sometimes feature Wen ads. We do not accept advertising monies directly from Wen, however, nor do we let advertising monies influence the content of our posts. We tend to accept advertisers for products we have only approved on the site previously to avoid any conflict.

  • Kat

    No wonder… this website’s sponsor is Wen!

  • Vicki

    I agree with what everyone has been saying. Most people say it takes 4-6 weeks for your hair to adjust to the Baking Soda/AVC. However, almost immediately I started seeing results. After showering I usually had to use three differnt products to get my hair to stop looking dead, dry and frizzed. And it’s expensive to do too. Now I come out of the shower and do nothing. I just leave it and it looks healthy – shiny but not greasy. Now, I haven’t been doing it for much over a month and I hope it doesn’t take a turn for the worse, but so far I see no such breakage.

  • Hari Ohm

    i actually use shielo’s hydrate line of shampoos (which are sulfate free) to wash my hair. It doesnt have any of those harmful ingredients. I used to have the worst hair, and now I ALWAYS get complements when using the shielo shampoo. Worth the price. . .

  • Twizzie

    I disagree with this article. Like others have said… study for yourself and get the facts. You are correct on somethings… but you can’t take one fact and run with it. You have to look at all the facts. Your correct baking soda is alkaline and strips the hair of its natural oils and vinegar is acid and turns the hair brassy and kinda crunchy but as others have said that is why you use them to gather… for balance. Although people may recommend a certain ratio of BS/ACV to water, like any other recipe you have to tweek it to meet your needs. If it makes your scalp to itchy use less and more water… doesn’t take a rocket scientist.

    As far as your statement: “There are a number of moisturizing ingredients in shampoos that can replenish your hair’s natural oils; these include (but are not limited to): •Jojoba oil •Sweet almond oil •Squalene •Emu •Phospholipids •Argan oil But by taking the “do-it-yourself” approach, you are taking away the ability for shampoos to gently replenish oils from root to tip. Instead, you’re drying out your scalp, and likely replenishing oils only on the ends of your hair. Not cool. ”

    If you do your research you would find that all of these things can be purchased from organic and whole food stores…even some hair supply stores and grocery stores with organic sections. These things can be added to the ACV rinse and absorbed back into the hair just as with regular conditioners. They can also be added to the wash if you would like to lessen the drying affect. You also have the option to do a hot oil treatment with these and other essential oils after the wash. The DIY method also allows you to choose the essential oils that will benefit you most (i.e. dandruff, hairloss, hairgrowth, inflammation) without all the crap you don’t need.

    There are so many different DIY organic hair cleansing and conditioning recipes out there. Don’t just research for recipes and other peoples opinions. Research each ingredient and make your on educated decision. Like everything else in life, with misinformation and lack of personal study, even the most beneficial things can become harmful.

  • Corinne

    This is a disappointing article.. :/

    I just found out the benefits of using baking soda and ACV on your hair.

    I started last week and have only washed my hair with this stuff and nothing else since then. My hair feels softer and fuller. I feel like my hair is not weighing down and surprisingly I can go 4 days without cleansing my hair because it does not get greasy after 2 days like it used to when I would use shampoo/conditioner. I have auburn red hair and I really hope that my hair doesn’t lighten or get breakage… I have read so many reviews and watched a lot of YouTube videos on the benefits of baking soda and ACV for your hair and they were all positive.

    I don’t see how baking soda and ACV could be any worse for your hair than the shampoos and conditioners you buy from the store that are filled with chemicals etc.

    So…should I continue this baking soda & ACV routine as a permanent regime or not?

    I just use 1 tbsp of baking soda and 1 tbsp of ACV and then 1 cup for each one. I apply the baking soda to my roots for 1 minute & then rinse. I then apply the ACV to the ends of my hair to the midsection of my hair and leave it in for 2-3 minutes. I then rinse and after I am out of the shower I apply a deep leave in conditioner to my ends and that’s it.

  • Kurt

    True, baking soda is an alkaline, and apple cider vinegar is an acid, but what happens when an acid and alkaline are mixed together? the ph becomes balanced (or probably more accurately MORE balanced)… but to account for any slight imbalance…those who suggest using baking soda and apple cider vinegar on hair ALWAYS reccomend dilluting them. Just because you have a website and are working towards a degree doesn’t make you right, it is obvious that you are more concerned with selling products than actually helping people or are so hung up on what you’ve been exposed and accustomed to, that you fear the existence of a better way. Perhaps it is because you “studied hard” and “went through years of schooling” that you’re so upset that something as simple as “mixing baking soda and putting it on your scalp like your great-grandmother” really works. I agree that not all chemicals are bad, in fact apple cider vinegar and baking soda ARE chemicals… its just that they’re much cheaper than many quality shampoos and are much simpler, i think trying different shampoos for years and not knowing which of their hundreds of chemicals inside is throwing off your hair is much more frustrating than working with an easily adjustable hair care solution.

  • Leila

    I also wanted to make a point about the pharmaceutical industry. It’s true that they have taken natural ingredients and made them into the proper form for us humans to use, we can’t chew on willow barks for every migraine we have. Thanks for pointing out the obvious!

    But what the pharmaceutical companies are good at doing is NOT CURING you. They will relieve you of your symptoms but will never treat the source of the problem. That’s how they make their money. Your symptoms will appear again and again but the one-time purchase of the CURING drug will not make them much money. And that is why pharma companies are HUGE. Of course theres a cure for some diseases. of course there is. But wouldnt they make more money from relieving your symptoms, of lets say, a fungal infection for 5 years than CURING you 1 time? Trust me, I’ve been in that industry.

  • Leila

    I disagree with this article. I have been using baking soda and ACV in my hair for the past year and my hair has never been healthier. It is true that baking soda is very basic but that is why you are to use ACV, which is acidic. The basic and acidity of the two will help to neutralize the pH of your hair. Ta-da!

    Whats more is that when you dilute baking soda in water, the pH will drop to significantly, depending on how much water you use. So ideally, it can drop to pH of 8. and when you dilute vinegar in water, again you will up the pH, lets say to about 6. I understand pH is on a log scale but the numbers are not as drastic as they would be without dilution.

    I would also have to agree with Mario- you are selling pricey “natural” products as a part of the bigger cosmetic industry.

  • Angela N.

    I strongly disagree with most of what you’ve written. I recommend everyone research this topic for themselves. Personally, I think some medicines (antibiotics- short term, life saving), can be good and are necessary. However, the general public these days, are getting chemicals everywhere they turn! The doctors are shoving them down our throats for every little complaint we have, our conventional food is overflowing with them, we breathe them, swim in them, coat our hair and skin in them… The list goes on. Sure there’s intelligent people who think they know how to make shampoos in a lab…. There’s also plenty of scientists cooking up high fructose corn syrup calling it a form of “food”!’ I’m not saying that baking soda and ACV is the cure all for hair, I’m just saying that if you do the research and are smart about it, I fully support the use of less chemicals!

  • erin

    My friend has used baking soda since she was a baby and she has the shiniest fullest hair i have ever seen, everyone always asks her what she is using which is how i found out about baking soda. great to use on pretty much everything!

  • Zan Keats

    Burt’s Bees shampoo and products are fabulous! I had made the mistake of
    applying undiluted apple cider vinegar to my hair. I then washed it, but lost
    over twice as many strands when brushing it a half hour later…..uh oh!!!

  • monsy

    The idea is to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar right after. The vinegar’s low PH helps NEUTRALISE the high PH of the baking soda.

  • Mario

    You make some valid points. But I’m a little disappointed, if not suspicious, that your only suggestions are very pricey hair products that are in themselves a part of a larger cosmetic package.

    Is there no organic stand alone shampoo you can recommend?

  • Angela

    I agree totally with your sayings.This scaremongering for chemicals and let’s turn back to mother nature style does not guarantee always good results.Some products from plants isn’t good to be applied on skin or hair without being firstly adapted to our ph. Vinegars and soda have acids which will not react good to us.For example if i put on my face apple cid. vin. to treat acne this would lead to affect my ph and peel my skin off.Peeling the skin is widely done but not on a daily base.So my skin would end up broken and aged with wrinkles premmaturly.

  • Kristen S.

    First off going ‘no poo’ is a choice people make, because of the harmful chemicals in shampoos and conditioners. I myself don’t use baking soda, but i use acv mixed with rosemary. Before going ‘no poo’ i suffered a lot of hair loss, and now not so much. I even tried shampoos without SLS, they don’t work!
    Baking soda and acv is an alternative to wash hair, it’s either that or WO wash. ACV HAS NO EFFECT ON HAIR, PEOPLE BACK IN THE DAYS USED IT TO WASH THEIR HAIR. And they were much healthier than us. So what does that tell us?
    Well were blinded by all these commercial products, were made to think they benefit us, when really they don’t. Before going ‘no poo’ i tried all shampoos, i used have a head of thick hair but i starting loosing it a while back due to some dietary issues. I also saw that when i washed my hair, my hair felt lighter, so i went a week without washing it, only with acv. And the results were amazing! My hair were clean, no dandruff and residue. It was clean and did not feel so light, as it did my shampoo routine. However, i do agree with the baking soda method, i wouldn’t try that on my hair…it does seem awfully bad. But acv on the other hand, is good for hair and a great alternative to shampoo. : )

  • there’s so many for and against arguements on the net about these sort of matters that you just don’t know what to believe.

  • Kristyn

    Ugh. I just bought some apple cider vinegar tonight to try this! I have heard nothing but good and as soon as I go to find the exact amounts I will need to try this, I find this article.

    Oh well. I am going to try it and if it doesn’t help or dries my hair out, then I will switch back to my regular shampoo/conditioner.

  • Appreciating the commitment you put into your blog and detailed information you present.

    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information.
    Wonderful read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your
    RSS feeds to my Google account.

  • Laura

    THANK YOU. Seriously all the people that say “natural lifestyle is a better lifestyle” are clearly uneducated. They associate “chemicals” with ooze dripping green smoking test tube solutions being poured maliciously into consumer products by a mad scientists. Give me a break. I will take the anti-chemical brigade more seriously when I hear conclusive research as to how natural is better, and when I mean research I mean someone whose background surpasses a year of organic chemistry.

    Natural products contain “chemicals” too. Vitamin C from an orange is no better than extracted vitamin c by scientists.

  • Jenny

    I agree with this article i used baking soda on my hair for a couple of weeks for the ‘no poo’ method and now i am trying to repair my damaged hair. However i do believe one good thing about apple cider vinegar is that it cleanses oils out of your hair i.e. olive oil

  • Nikky W

    As Erica outlined you have presented the points in a distorted and misleading way, distorting basic science to make some very simple and basic things sound scary. In addition you do not consider the usual, practical and sensible holistic approach of using Baking Soda with Apple Cider Vinegar supplemented with oils.. Instead you focus on what might happen if the products were used alone, individually and what might happen if they are the only things used in a hair care regime – this is not a realistic perspective, but it’s been done in a deliberate and calculated way to distort and twist what people actually do when using Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar for hair maintenance.

    Sodium bicarbonate (Baking Soda) mixed with water which has a pH of 8.5 to 9, which may make it about 100 more times alkaline than pure (distilled) water, however, Sodium bicarbonate is commonly recognized as being mildly alkaline.

    Across the globe, normal tap/drinking/bath/shower water ranges in pH from 6.5 and 9.5 (it’s usually standardized within that range by the water supply company). In areas which have ‘hard water’ (eg: 85% of homes in the USA and most drinking water in England) the pH of normal tap water is usually on the higher side, so it’s quite probable that the pH of the “plain ol’ water” in question is alkaline (just like Bicarb Soda in distilled water) yet it’s perfectly safe for drinking, washing and other uses.

    Most cleaning products, either pure natural soap or manufactured ‘chemical’ based have an alkaline pH – its how they work – in addition many of the common ‘chemicals’ in cleaning products (including shampoo) are there to counteract the water hardness.

    Sodium bicarbonate might be an irritant to the skin, and it might not be good to ingest, but those negitive consequences only happen when it’s is in concentrated form (but I do not understand how the reference you link (The case of a single 34-year-old, black woman who acutely developed extensive hyperpigmented oral lesions) supports your claim for this). For hair washing purposes it’s recommended to use 1 tablespoon of Baking Soda per cup of water, at this concentration it’s not concentrated and is not harmful and is not an irritant.

    It’s like most anything, too much/too concentrated is bad (including drinking too much “plain ol’ water”) but in the correct concentrations and at the right levels, there is no problem at all. In the correct does, used correctly, Sodium Bicarbonate in aqueous form (mixed with water) has a whole range of safe, sane and practical medical – and other- uses.

    As stated in the article, Apple Cider Vinegar is an acid, and Baking Soda is alkaline, you also said how bad that each can be individually, but did not mention what happens when you mix them both together. While hair washed with Baking Soda might be alkaline, as soon as it’s rinsed with acidic Apple Cider Vinegar it’s neutralized and back to a neutral pH. Which is why most Baking Soda hair washes recommend using Apple Cider Vinegar as a rinse – yet you totally failed to mention the combined effect of both products, instead focusing only on how bad they might be if used independently and not together!

    Again you say that “overdoing it with apple cider vinegar can cause more damage than it is worth” when most ACV hair rinse recipes suggest using 1 tablespoon of ACV in 1 cup of water – which is hardly “overdoing it”. Then you compare it to lemon juice having a pH of about 2, while undiluted Apple Cider Vinegar has a pH of about 4.25 and 5, so when it’s diluted as suggested, its not even close (just like comparing lemons and apples, they are both fruit but not many people would say they are the same).

    In regard to natural hair oils – if they need to be replenished is another argument again – however, again you focused on the unrealistic and obviously untrue assumption that someone using Bicarb Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar would use the products alone, not together and not supplement them with other products. Using the same narrow-focused and short-sighted perspective anyone could easily argue that ANY shampoo and ANY conditioner is bad when used alone and when used as the ONLY product to maintain one’s hair. It is a simple matter to include any number of natural (or unnatural) oils to replenish those stripped from hair when using any hair care products. Oils could be included as a few drops in the bicarb or vinegar wash/rinse or they could be applied after (as other people have already suggested above) or they could be used as an independent conditioning treatment, just because someone uses Bicarb Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar does not mean that is all they use and that they use each of the products alone.

  • @Abby – You make some solid points.

    I disagree on two points, and please, feel free to comment again. One, people do NOT live longer due to better diet – it really is medicine, or dare I say it, safe exposures to life-saving chemical drugs. In fact, our diets are much worse than even 30 years ago, and the life expectancy decreased for the first time in decades in 2010. This was attributed to higher prevalence of heart disease and respiratory problems, issues that can be indirectly linked to weight gain.

    Secondly, toxicity has become a dirty word in our society. It is overused and misunderstood. If you take in too much of anything, even “safe” materials like vitamin C, it becomes “toxic.” While I am not against the Skin Deep database, I feel it is a better resource for those with medical or scientific training, because not all studies are created equal. The FDA and CIR do NOT keep concluding that ingredients are safe when the Skin Deep database says they are toxins because the former are somehow “paid off.” Rather, those at the FDA and CIR evaluate these studies with their scientific background and training; they know, for instance, some of these studies:
    a.) do not include enough subjects (more is better);
    b.) do not test the ingredients in reasonable concentrations (vitamin C is toxic in 20000 times average dose; many of these studies use average human doses on animals, which is like giving us an aspirin the size of our heads);
    c.) test one part of a cell or a cell culture (for instance, incubating cells in water will kill them within seconds, but this doesn’t mean water is bad!);
    d.) are not repeatable/other scientists have come up with different results;
    e.) the scientists are found to be biased (for instance, work for a natural or organic cosmetics company, have an interest in promoting a new system, etc.) This is rare, but should be mentioned.

    Overall, the danger of sites like Skin Deep is that it causes consumers to distrust cosmetic scientists. In turn, beauty companies realize people are afraid of ingredients like parabens, and they remove them from their products. But some of the new preservative systems used in place of parabens have problems of their own – phenoxyethanol, citrus oils, benzoates, benzoic acid. They certainly have a higher potential for irritation than parabens, which are great unless you are one of the very small minority that is allergic. Keep in mind that parabens are also found in natural foods, like blueberries.

    Also, when you ask, “Am I not qualified to use baking soda and white distilled vinegar…must [I] rely on harsh chemicals (which may or may not be toxic for all I know) unless I attain my qualification?” Baking soda and white distilled vinegar ARE harsh chemicals, “natural” or not. I wouldn’t try to put up electrical wiring in my house, certainly not at least without the help of an expert. So I certainly would not try to make my own household cleansers, not without the help of a chemist, or with a formulation that was made by a chemist.

    People want to disagree with me on this, for whatever reason. It is probably because “natural” is all the rage right now. But I am telling you – going without cleansing and medicine and vaccination ONLY works because the vast majority of our population is cleansing and taking medicine and getting vaccinated. If the vast majority of the population rebelled against all chemicals, we would have bacteria and disease and viruses up the wazoo (see: 1800s). I don’t mean to say that exposures to chemicals from, say, industrial plants is good. It’s not. But moderation is the key here. And the exposures from beauty products are, I believe wholeheartedly, safe and (if anything) mostly beneficial.

    You have a right not to believe me. But if you are concerned about safety, be concerned about a world with no chemicals or drugs.

  • @Erica – What type of medicine do you practice? We searched for your credentials based on the name you provided and could not find them.

    Regardless, we are telling the truth. We are not distorting information in order to make money. I am offended at this allegation.

    If you wash your hair with water alone, there are a number of problems with this. The first of which is bacteria. Some bacteria are good, but a lot is bad. It is unsanitary to wash hair with water alone, as it does not remove S. aureus and gram-negative bacilli. These have been shown to be carried in hair: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bjs.1800610916/abstract

    And many more potentially disease-causing bacteria as well.

    Furthermore, it is one thing to believe that only water and no chemicals are best for you. It is another entirely to say that “natural” chemicals like apple cider vinegar and baking soda are somehow “good” and “synthetic” chemicals in shampoos and conditioners are bad. Chemicals are chemicals, whether derived from a natural or synthetic source. And as a scientist, NOT a company owner or a salesperson but as a scientist, I would trust cosmetic chemists to formulate products that are gentle for hair long before I would advise consumers with expertise in other areas to mix chemicals over their kitchen sinks for their hair, skin, or nails.

    Regardless, people will do what they want to do. But panels of unbiased scientists for groups like the U.S. FDA, the European Union, and the CIR have shown that long-term exposures to the concentrations of the vast majority of ingredients in beauty products are safe. And while proponents of natural beauty continue to suggest that highly reputable non-profit organizations or physicians may be “paid off” to support synthetic chemicals, I’m skeptical of why no one suggests natural beauty companies or campaigns “pay off” non-profit organizations or physicians to support natural or organic products. I doubt any of this is happening at all, for the record. But I am just saying – I am offended at the accusations. We are the first to admit when “natural” products are good and when they are not, just as we are with synthetic. And mixing potent high/low pH chemicals over your kitchen sink is not a good idea.

  • Erica

    “3 Reasons Why Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar Destroy Your Hair – And What to Use Instead”

    Your title is misleading. You wrote yourself that used IN ISOLATION that they could be harmful to hair. That does not make baking soda and apple cider vinegar useless. If properly mixed together in water the two are neutralised and thus fine to use on hair. They DO NOT destroy hair. That is a lie. You sell cosmetics so your view on alternatives to wasting money on commercial products that DO destroy hair is hardly impartial regardless of your degrees in science. Science can be used and science can be misused. Even ‘natural’ shampoos contain chemicals not best suited for hair.

    You presented your points in a misleading, truth distorting way. If you truly wished to present a better alternative you would have suggested water. Yes, water. Hair needs no more than that. (I won’t get into the different types of water and it’s effects on hair). Of course, someone like you wouldn’t recommend the simplest option. Why? Well it’s simple. You’d have to explain that due to the shampoos (and all the harmful sebum stripping chemicals) most people use, their hair would take some time to return to their natural state if they just used water. This you know is because shampoo strips hair of it’s natural oils and conditioner replaces them, apparently. How is that better than baking and soda? Answer: it isn’t.

    You argue as if there aren’t valid concerns amongst scientists, doctors and non-proffessionals about the chemical in shampoos and conditioners. You’ve never spoken to a dermatologist that thought the parabens in products was harmful? Were they the ones paid by cosmetic companies to make them look good? I know many who would disagree with you and find your statement about them ridiculous. Parabens ARE NOT needed to clean hair or keep armpits from smelling. It is ethically irresponsible to dismiss their negative impact and encourage others to do the same.

    In future don’t misrepresent the truth. It is dangerous. Coming from the medical field (I am a doctor) I am disappointed that so many like yourself try to distort information and cover up their financial motivations in doing so. You won’t be treating the patients, that are younger and younger nowadays, with illnesses linked to the harmful chemicals they use in these noxious concoctions we see on the shelves in the supermarket. If you aren’t careful you may be one of them. It’s a sign of the times that we’d rather sell eachother down the river with promises of ‘healthy shinning hair’ ‘less tangles’ ‘more life’ than work together to improve our lives by eating healthy and using natural approaches which are abundantly found.

  • Abby

    Hello Nicki. Thank you for your article. I admit that I am surprised by the information. I did intially think you must be advertising a product, which I thought was your motivation for the article, and I believe that is the case.

    I too have an interest in science and take time to research ingredients in order to be better informed of the products I am using. I did so with sodium bicarbonate and apple cider vinegar which is why your article unsettled me somewhat. I use these products for my hair and have found no adverse effect that I am aware of. I have curly hair which of course is naturally more dry and weaker than other types. I use coconut oil on my hair which I have read is very beneficial (I eat a lot of coconut products, all of which are organic). I can’t write that I am convinced that baking soda be avoided for hair washing as surely combining the two would neutralise them and mixed with water they would be fine to use? I have not tried this and I will be honest I do not know if it would work well or at all. It seems the more I think about it the less sure I am.

    I don’t use shampoo because I did not find it effective in any way; it did not rid me of flakes, make my hair stronger, repair my split ends, reduce frizz or any other purported claim – my hairdresser agreed and I tried different shampoos. The only thing it did, (apart from strip my hair of natural oils, introduce irritants to my scalp, increase my risk of cancer, clog my pores thus giving me more spots) was make my hair smell nice with it’s lovely fragrance/parfum (which apparently is full of over 3000 chemicals companies aren’t legally obliged to list). I could have just put coconut oil in my hair, saved time and avoided a considerable amount of unnessary, harmful chemicals.

    I also had heard and read previously that the scalp does clean itself. No one ‘needs’ to use shampoo and conditioner anymore than they ‘need’ to use fluoride toothpaste – which they don’t. I am quite frankly tired of having to research ingredients to check their safety/necessity and being distrustful of companies boasting the use of Aloe Vera or Coconut Oil as if that compensates for all the harmful chemicals they use also. However it seems that is life in this ‘modern’ world.
    I do thank you again for your article and will of course research what you have written.

    I must write that I believe people live longer generally due to better diet not chemicals keeping them alive… I may well decide to stop using baking soda and apple cider vinegar if I find sufficient evidence to support your findings. I would never go back to using shampoo and conditioner. Water (perhaps coconut water with honey unless you have research showing they too are harmful?) and coconut oil will suffice. You wrote: “Please stop trying to make your own products, unless you have a degree in the sciences and a job at a lab!” Is this limited to hair care? Am I not qualifed to use baking soda and white distilled vinegar to clean the kitchen and must rely on harsh chemicals (which may or may not be toxic for all I know) unless I attain my qualification? Unless you can stop companies using harmful, unnessery, added ingredients, people, like myself, won’t stop seeking alternatives.

    You made your point. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar may not be the best alternative to shampoo and conditioner however that doesn’t there isn’t one. I tried using Jason shampoo and conditioner which is more expensive than regular brands as it’s a more ‘natural’ option. However upon further research I found it not to be as ‘natural’ as I had thought so I stopped using shampoo and conditioner and stopped wasting money. I don’t mind paying more for a product if it will actually do me good, without harming me, and is better quality.

    Have you heard of the website Skin Deep? This is their website: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ perhaps you would be willing to ask that your company be included on their website so that people could check the safety of the ingredients in your products? I do not believe that there are many who believe natural = 100% good and chemical = 100% bad. I certainly do not. However I do believe that we are exposed to far too many chemicals that are more bad than good, unfortunately.

    You are right, the many companies that over the years used harmful chemicals and were then exposed have lost the trust of many. That is why so many are distrustful of mainstream products, especially as many still contain unnessary harmful ingredients. It is funny as I was researching whether baking soda was harmful to use in cooking or if there were any side effects when I came across this article.

  • @Torø – I’m glad to hear that the BS method is working for you. Again, based on the above research, I won’t publicly recommend it for everyone else.

    I’m not sure why rainwater makes your hair so soft! Maybe someone else knows and can chime in.

  • @Sally – You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, and I respect that. But long before I ever created a product, I stood by the fact that there are both good and bad natural and synthetic products.

    “Chemicals” are simply molecules. Chemical compounds like acetylsalicyclic acid (aspirin) – your body’s receptors don’t know if they come from a natural or synthetic source. And just like we know gasoline (as you mentioned) is a carcinogenic synthetic chemical, keep in mind that poison ivy, poison oak, strychnine, tubocurarine, allyl isothiocyanate (found in garlic, mustard, and horseradish) are all natural and can be deadly as well.

    My point is NOT “synthetic chemicals are good” and “natural chemicals are bad.” Rather, the scientific community is on the cusp of understanding how holistic, herbal, and natural medicine fits in with traditional western medicine. And I am frightened for the health of people who believe that natural can do them no harm, or provide only benefit.

    I am also taken aback by the misunderstanding that I am only trying to push products. Natural and organic companies play off inaccurate terms like “non-toxic” and “non-hazardous,” when time and time again, careful review of the synthetic ingredients in skin care and cosmetics by large panels of scientists (including the U.S. FDA and E.U. panels) proves the vast majority of these ingredients are perfectly safe. I don’t really understand why natural/organic approaches are considered to be more “careful,” when in reality, we have less understanding scientifically of long-term exposures to many potent plant and herbal extracts than synthetic compounds.

    That said, there are great natural products and great synthetic ones. As far as the BS/AC debate goes, you’re dealing with two chemical compounds with strong pH values in either direction. Natural or not, they’ve been shown in independent scientific studies to damage hair long-term. If they are working for you as an individual, I am pleased to hear that, but I refuse to recommend these methods for the rest of my readers.

  • Sally

    Well I applaud you Nicki for promoting women to pump themselves full of unnatural chemicals. I truly hope you don’t get cancer from playing with them. Antibiotics are not chemicals they, are products that were made from LIVING BACTERIA. Remember penicillin? It is a from of mold. Hhhmmm, maybe nature isn’t so bad anymore. I wonder if I dump petroleum oil all over myself if I will have glowing hair and nails? I’m sure you consider that a godsend chemical since its used in everything. Raving on the hilltop that man made chemicals are better than nature is like saying a computer is smarter than man. I have used BS/AC for almost two years and my hair has NEVER been better. I used everything on the market and my hair was unruly and frizzy. The no poo approach as brought out my natural waves, not frizz and my hair is cleaner than it ever has been. I get it hon, you’re trying to hawk a product, but its rude to be so hostile to women who choose not to use chemicals and fake crap.

  • Torø

    I had always had very straight hair that was dry and just didn’t agree with the conventional shampoos and conditioners I grew up on, but now I wash it once a week with baking soda and it’s wavy and thick. Maybe people who have problems with the no poo method need to wash their hair less? It was oily and disgusting for the first month but then it suddenly got so much better than it’s ever been, so I’d say it was worth waiting that bit out, certainly. I don’t use a conditioner because the baking soda doesn’t strip all of the natural oils, and because I leave it at least a week between washes, they do their job. Also, does anyone know why being rained on makes hair really soft? It does here, anyway. I live by the sea, maybe it’s the minerals? (Sorry if this comment doesn’t make much sense, bear with me)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand why baking soda is considered “natural” at all. It doesn’t come from plants in the least or anything like that. It’s a chemical called sodium bicarbonate, and according to Wikipedia, it’s “mainly prepared by the Solvay process, which is the reaction of sodium chloride, ammonia, and carbon dioxide in water”. Salt, carbon dioxide, and water sound harmless, but ammonia can be scary stuff. In ancient Egypt, sodium bicarbonate apparently had to be mined and then processed to get baking soda. Uranium is mined and processed too…

    As for SLS, the American Cancer Society says, “Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and its chemical cousin sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are known irritants, not known carcinogens”: http://www.cancer.org/AboutUs/HowWeHelpYou/shampoo

    Also, Tom’s derives SLS “coconut and/or palm kernel oil”, which seems more natural to me than the derivation of baking soda: http://www.tomsofmaine.com/research/ingredients/ingredient-detail/sodium-lauryl-sulfate

  • @Lena – Thank you also for sharing your alternative opinion. Please keep in mind, however, that many diseases are caused by a lack of bathing; this comprises The Germ Theory of Disease, also known as The Pathological Theory of Disease:


  • @Kat – That’s an interesting theory, and thank you for sharing it. But truth be told, the sun is a known carcinogen: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20854/

    No scientist or dermatologist will ever disagree with the fact that too much sun exposure does nothing but harm your DNA, your cells, and your body. It’s terrible.

    I agree a small amount is needed to synthesize vitamin D – about 15 minutes of sunscreen-free exposure per week on the back, neck, face, arms, and shoulders. So for most of us, that’s about an hour fully clothed and outside. But that’s it.

    I apologize for disagreeing, but I’m a big fan of science and medicine and what it can do. Can it do bad things, too? Sure. But I believe it’s done mostly good – and sunscreen is one of those instances where I believe it’s doing something fantastic!

  • @Lindsey – I agree with a lot of what you said, except the stuff on parabens. I have never met a dermatologist or cosmetic chemist who didn’t approve of parabens in the concentrations they are used in skin care and cosmetics. They are safe and some of the most efficacious preservative systems out there. My only qualm is when people are allergic, but this is a very small part of the population!

  • @Andrew – Thanks for your kind and interesting rebuttal, I wouldn’t personally use baking soda for an itchy scalp, its high pH is drying to the hair (Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, 1989), and even if you condition afterwards, why do that in the first place? There are a lot of formulations designed for an itchy scalp that won’t dry it out. I don’t mean to sound aggravated, but I don’t understand why people think chemicals from a box labeled “baking soda” are healthier than non-sulfate chemicals put together in a container labeled “shampoo.”

  • @Kristy – I’m glad that you found an alternative! I haven’t tried Desert Essence – maybe I’ll check it out!

  • @Sabrina – Sorry, I misworded there. By, “It shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t overdo it,” I should have said, “Use a pre-measured shine rinse for your hair instead.” Acetic acid, the main ingredient in vinegar, is well-known in the scientific community to be corrosive to the skin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetic_acid). I normally don’t cite Wikipedia, but I do here just to show the ubiquitous nature of this amongst chemists!

    Acetic acid should only be used in special formulations by licensed dermatologists and aestheticians as a part of a peel. Hope this helps.

  • @Danielle – Sodium lauryl sulfate is listed high on many ingredients lists, you are correct about that. And it is a known irritant.

    As for 1,4-dioxane, when it is found in sodium lauryl sulfate, its concentration is extremely low. Still, I agree that it should be regulated and the FDA has made the recommendation that 1,4-dioxane be monitored and manufacturers stop using it.

    Please note that I have NEVER argued for sodium lauryl sulfate, if for no other reason than it is known to be irritating! Just because I do not recommend ACV and baking soda does not mean that I naturally think all chemicals are great. But I definitely don’t think all natural remedies are great either.

    Keep in mind that natural products are made of chemicals. Everything is. Your body’s receptors are chemical receptors – they don’t know whether a chemical source is natural or synthetic.

    Hope this helps, sorry it took me a while to respond.

  • Lena

    I don’t like this article. It sounds like one of those annoying salesmen who come up to your door and try to promote a false product. I doubt that shampoos with whatever “healthy” chemicals they may have are any better than the usual baking soda and apple cidar vinegar rinse. Anyways, it is all about proportions and forsaking daily baths which discloses any of your subtle doubts on the subject.

  • Ezel

    Lindsey: “Baking soda though, yeah, I’m proof that chemical modification to your hair is bad. Raising the ph of hair is bad. If you wanna use it great, but no way would I try it. as for the natural vs chemicals debate: what I’ve found is both can be equally good and bad. Damaged hair needs protein to stay hair, and natural unchanged proteins wont help hair, I need science to keep my hair from breaking and I need natural to keep my scalp healthy, so a WELL INFORMED selection of both and how they interact with eachother is the key to proper personal care. Some synthetics are great! Some natural stuff could kill you…..Nature preservatives don’t stop bacteria *effectively*. Which is the less dangerous? As for chemicals- selsen blue is a life saver”

    But one of their contentions would be the shampoo you need to keep your hair from breaking is the shampoo that is causing this in the first place. Nonetheless, I agree with what you have said.

    Some people are talking like shampoo’s have no natural ingredients in them, lol. There are shampoo’s low in sulphate that have aloe vera and other natural ingredients. It’s a matter of using what’s good, beneficial, effective without the harsh ingredients in my opinion.

  • Kat

    Sunscreen is in no way good for you.
    The SUN is good for you. You will prevent cancer by being out in the sun, not slathering yourself in sunscreen and baking the toxins straight into your bloodstream. You will also prevent it by not living out your life inside of a salon.
    Shampoo is not needed, neither is conditioner or any other “beauty” product to maintain good looks and more importantly, good health.

    • Courtney

      Tell that to my mother who’s dying of melanoma skin-cancer. Sunscreen SAVES lives by preventing cancers that originate on the skin. Spreading that kind of ignorant, misinformed hate is highly irresponsible and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Ugne

      Kat, please tell me you’re joking!

    • Mel

      You’re right Kat, the SUN is good for US and it is a great source of vitamin D for us. Yes, you need to get out in the sun some for optimal health. It also makes everything else good for us grow. You have not violated any cancer ethical code for saying that in your comment. Someone asked were you joking, but it would be joke to not know otherwise.

      I think people are more mad at the disease (cancer) than to realize that does not mean the sun is bad. If you are in fear of getting skin cancer, the answer (if you are not too into your emotions) IS to not be in it for a prolonged time periods, like sitting in it for hours tanning and then screaming that the SUN did something bad. The tan was the warning. Otherwise normally proven the sun has had very positive and beneficial effects on other skin disorders in healing them such as psoriasis, acne, and even fungal infections once exposed to its light.

  • Belinda

    I have super sensitive skin, chemicals ( sulfates, …cones, etc) cause my scalp to welt & itch. So i avoid OTC hair/skin products. Cant aford stuff like wen! Am trying co- washing with aubrey GBC organic conditioner. Thin finr shoulder length hair, grows VERY, VERY SLOW. any advise is appreciated. b

    • Nicki Zevola

      Coconut oil is great for the hair! Slathering it on at night under a 100% cotton nightcap (and switching out your pillowcase, just in case) is wonderful. Bonus points if you massage your scalp!

  • Lindsey

    Thank you! This was a super informative post! I have Majorly damaged hair that’s weak and frizzy from first a bad box of dye (first time I’ve had that problem since I started dying my hair 20 years ago).Then I did the right thing and went to a salon for some help where they promptly did my hair in the last few steps the box didn’t take it. Because of this I have been on an obsessive mission to figure this hair thing out. Boy have a learned a lot!! I keep running across this BS and ACV thing and was really weary of the idea because of what you just expanded on. I totally agree, I’m no chemist and I prefer to use products with some kind of reparative benefits. Granted I know I can’t save damaged hair, but if I cut any more off I’ll have short frizzy poodle hair, at least I can tie it back and hide the damage. Sooo anyway, vinegar. I’ll have to advocate FOR this, but in no way as a replacement for conditioner. I’ve been using gentle shampoos and a shower filter for my hard water, but those gentle shampoos are almost too gentle at times and done get my hair clean even though I’m only using oils as leave ins now. It seems like it takes about 10 washes to get build up using oils along with a gentle cleanser that doesn’t suds in hard water. So, acv to the rescue. Wash just a tiny bit of acv, condition and build up is gone. It does dry your hair out! I don’t know how people use only that unless their water source is super pure, hence the conditioner afterward. But I’ve found doing it this way, the frizz is slowly going down, my hair is gaining some elasticity finally. I think it should be treated as a treatment, not an alternative. Baking soda though, yeah, I’m proof that chemical modification to your hair is bad. Raising the ph of hair is bad. If you wanna use it great, but no way would I try it. 🙂 as for the natural vs chemicals debate: what I’ve found is both can be equally good and bad. Damaged hair needs protein to stay hair, and natural unchanged proteins wont help hair, I need science to keep my hair from breaking and I need natural to keep my scalp healthy, so a WELL INFORMED selection of both and how they interact with eachother is the key to proper personal care. Some synthetics are great! Some natural stuff could kill you. Take for example the use of coltsfoot and comfrey in SO many natural products. That stuff can do major live damaged even topically if over used by an unsuspecting consumer, yet parabens are some of the only preservatives that can keep your natural products from going rancid and even more dangerous than that they’re chemical laden counter parts. Nature preservatives don’t stop bacteria effectively. Which is the less dangerous? As for chemicals- selsen blue is a life saver. Not as a shampoo, but as a body wash! I use it every 10 days or so in the summer if I’m working outside. Here in Florida, skin funguses are ramped in the humidity and the heat. Most people have it and done even realize why they are itchy and their skin is a bit discolored. Selsen blue is the most cost effective and quickest treatment I’ve ever found. Way cheaper than washes meant for that. As for Wen, 🙂 I have a hard time trusting something that’s plugged that much on infomercials and sold by a guy that looks like he needs to get his hands dirty for once 🙂 just saying.

  • Andrew

    Well, this was an informative post. Thank you for that! But Nicki, I must absolutely disagree with you on pharma drugs and chemicals leading to longer life expectancies. We live longer despite these things, not because of them. Look at our obesity epidemic, and the fact that 600,000 Americans a year die from heart disease, and another 600,000 die from cancer. Pharma drugs and chemicals are popular because “professionals” and companies can make significantly more off a patented synthetic product than a can’t-be-patented natural one. So I wouldn’t give modern medicine an A+ just yet. I def appreciate our advances in crisis care. Giving pharma drugs for lifestyle-related diseases= stupid (& greedy) medicine. But I digress. Re: Baking soda & acv. I had terrible dandruff & scalp psoriasis 4-5 yrs ago. The causes were both internal and external, and had much to do with fungus and yeast. The Baking Soda paste (sodium bicarb and water mixture as a scalp scrub) was the ONLY thing that brought any kind of lasting relief. Selsun Blue, Head & Shoulders, Neutrogena T Gel, Denorex, Pert Plus, yadayadayada… all of these were of little to no value. But you’re right. Overuse of the baking soda can cause my hair to dry out, especially if I’m not diligent to moisture after using the baking soda/water mixture. I don’t use acv (I hate the smell), I seem to get similar results with lemon juice. I’m a blonde, so a little lightening doesn’t hurt me too much. But I’ve noticed I can overdo it w/ lemon juice if I apply too frequently. For those struggling with an itchy scalp, there’s nothing better than a baking soda paste to my knowledge. And what’s wrong with moisturizing/conditioning after using it? Even if my hair was a little on the dry side, I’d prefer that to itching my melon all day long 😉

    • Nicki Zevola

      To be fair, mentioning the pharmaceuticals and life expectancy thing was a little much for me to do in this post. I agree with that.

      I am surprised that baking soda was what finally killed your dandruff;perhaps you needed an extreme pH to kill the fungus that causes dandruff (M. furfur)? Regardless, I’m happy that it worked for you.

    • Mere

      “We live longer despite these things, not because of them. Look at our obesity epidemic, and the fact that 600,000 Americans a year die from heart disease, and another 600,000 die from cancer.”

      My dad didn’t survive cancer “despite” pharmaceuticals and drug companies. He survived it because of them, as did the thousands of other people who used modern drugs to fight cancer, heart disease, and the effects of obesity.

  • Sherry

    I have been a hairstylist for over 23 years and many people don’t know this simple fact: A couple or 3 (depending on the size of the shampoo size) can take care of dandruff. It can also help with acne, as it is salacitic acid in it’s purest form. Just take an aspring and crush it into a powder. The put enough water to make a paste and apply directly onto the skin. Do this a couple of times a week to start, then cut back to once a week. If you are not using shampoo but using conditioner to cleanse hair, just crush a couple of asprins into the conditioner and shake. Use like you usually would before the asprin. I also get T Tree oil and put a few drops into the shampoo/conditioner for itchy scalp. These are things i have been doing for years and it works! I only use baking soda evey once in a while, like if i went out to a club or dinner and used a lot of spray and or styling product. I wet hair and apply the shampoo ir conditioner massage for a bit and then add dry baking soda to the hair. If it seems too dry, add a little water. I bought the wen product for 4 months and loved it but it’s just too expensive for how much you have to use and my hair is almost to my waist. Like 60 pumps everytime i wash! I bought some rosemary oil, t tree and castor oil and put them into my conditioner of choice. That is what i was my hair with. Just like the wen! I use the same oils on my face to cleanse and it is better than ever. Just a couple of drops of each, but about 3 to 1 of castor oil. This cleanses without stripping my skin and i don’t have an oil slick on my skin at mid day anymore! I was oily skined when i was younger but now am more of a combo. I don’t break out anymore and my skin is glowing! Just do some reasearch on using oils to cleanse skin and hair. That’s what i did. At first, the oils were an investment, but compared to the wen and proactive, not as much money at all and it goes much farther, Just play around with how much of what and write it down so when you find the exact formula for you, bingo!

  • Kristy

    I tried to the Baking Soda/ACV thing for a couple of months. I stopped using it two days ago b/c I was losing a LOT of hair. When I showered, combed, and blow dried, handfuls would come out. I can see my scalp now in the front. That’s how bad it is. And it didn’t *really* dry my hair out that terribly. It’s just some sort of reaction I had to the BS/ACV. It’s been two days of using just Desert Essence Face Wash (it’s castile soap with a bunch of oils) & no more hair falling out. :O

  • Sabrina

    How would I correctly apply the ACV to my hair? You said it wouldn’t do damage as long as you don’t over do it. Do i just pour it over my head in the shower and run my hair under the water for a couple seconds to dilute the vinegar then rub it in? I have dandruff which is why I want to try this. But, I want to know the correct way to do it. So do I pour it over my head and let the shower dilute it or get a measuring cup and do it that way?

    • Penny

      Sabrina, I read that you use 2 tablespoons of ACV…put into a container, add some water (~~1/2 cup) , mix and pour over hair & work in. Briefly rinse then towel dry.

      • Dawn

        I have an 8 oz bottle that I put 1 tablespoon of baking soda in. I have another bottle that I put 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in. I fill them in the shower with water. I shake well and apply to my scalp, using the baking soda first, rinse, then do the same with the apple cider vinegar. I use honey on my ends and rinse before putting my hair up in a clip (I have very long hair). I “wash” every couple of days. My hair is wonderfully soft. I am going to try using the coconut oil on my ends as needed. I no longer have split ends, but now and again the ends get a bit dry. Thank you for the information. More information is better than none at all. Take care!

  • danielle

    I havent used harmful chemicals on my hair in a year and thanks to it I have a much higher immunity and hate to boast here but really nice hair. while I was growing up using generic herbal essences my hair was dry, thin and FALLING OUT. after I switched to a more natural lifestyle eating better an eliminating chemicals. I have LOST WEIGHT, I am RARELY SICK, I have NO MORE PIMPLES, and MUCH MUCH MUCH Higher energy levels. I say you spend more time arguing why chemicals are good and prove your point with detailed research. There IS a limit to how much chemicals the body can take and many of the chemicals result in techno civilization diseases like CANCER. Though technology can keep us alive does that mean we are healthy and happy? Id say no. and the leading chemical Sodium Laureth sulfate is a form of dioxane now that is SCARY and a major cause of cancer in mammals! and it is used in HIGH amounts as it is usually the first ingredient on the list!

    • Nicki Zevola

      I don’t like sodium lauryl sulfate either, as it is a known irritant. I do like sodium laureth sulfate, which is less irritating.

      Thank you for your comment. I don’t agree, but thank you for sharing!

  • Keisha

    ironically you recommended what I was using before i started using the ACV and Baking Soda. I was using the clinical strength Head & Shoulders. Thank you for responding.

  • @Keisha – I once had an interview with a hair chemist and a dermatologist for Head & Shoulders, and they went into the most delightful, enlightening information on how most dandruff is actually caused by a fungus, Malassezia furfur (M. furfur), that their products are reformulated to target. Here it is: https://www.futurederm.com/2009/10/20/1588/

    So, for that reason, off the top of my head (no pun intended), I think that extra-strength Head and Shoulders is by and large the best solution. But, to be honest, I have not researched this topic much. I will write something about dandruff soon, because now I’m curious! Thanks for the great question. In the meantime, though, please, try the Head & Shoulders extra strength. 🙂 P.S. – It’s even cheaper if you buy it online.

  • Keisha

    So Now I have a question. I’ve started using baking soda and ACV to wash my hair followed by deep conditioning. The reason I’m doing it is because I have extreme dandruff due to my eczema and other shampoos jus were not getting me through the week before the dandruff had coated my scalp and had me itching like a nutcase again. I’m talking the third day after I washed my hair. I do not have the time to wash my hair and restyle it every 3 days. I go through steps to make sure my hair is rehydrated and the moisture sealled in. And I’ve been doing this for almost two months now and I’ve seen a huge reduction in the dandruff. So what would you reccomend counter to this method that also won’t cost an arm and a leg that will keep my hair healthy?

  • Rachel

    Great-Grandma is wise.

    I have been no-pooing for about a month now.
    Every 3 days I will use a baking soda/ACV combo to regulate the oils, and I apply coconut oil to the ends whenever I feel the need to get some extra sheen.
    My hair has never been so manageable and full of body. It does not feel or look dry or brittle, and my stylist just commented yesterday on how healthy and soft my hair was.
    To each their own. If it doesn’t work for you, then stop. I just wanted you to know that the old school method is working great for me.

    Go Grandma!

    P.S Just because someone you know wanted to be a cosmetic chemist from the time they were a child and got all of this schooling to do such doesn’t mean that if I don’t take advantage of that I am doing something wrong. If someone wanted to be a cosmetic surgeon since the time they were small got a PhD and starting practicing — that doesn’t mean I need to go get a boob job, now does it? =0)

    • Nicki Zevola

      Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  • Cara

    I agree with you about the baking soda for hair, and I rarely use ACV on my hair. Baking soda, even mixed in with shampoo or conditioner, is a total disaster for my hair. I made the mistake of using this when I wanted a cheap way of clarifying – OMG – dry straw-like hair that took awhile of really deep conditioning to fix(I do have color-treated hair). Although I love many good natural ingredients, I do use whatever product is most efficient for my needs, both for skin and hair. I’ve found that natural shampoos and conditioners really fall down on the job myself, and on the other hand, save for occasional use, the common shampoos and conditioners with a lot of harsh sulfates and silicones aren’t good either for my mixed-texture wavy and curly hair, somewhere in the middle is better for me personally. So I use a modified “no poo” routine washing with a cheap conditioner(Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut)that does have enough surfactants in it to be a gentle cleanser, and rotate out 4 different conditioners according to my needs. I do a regular shampoo every 2-3 washings – that seems to work for me. I couldn’t IMAGINE using only baking soda and vinegar on my hair LOL! I’m over on the Naturally Curly website discussion board a lot and there are all variants of the “no poo” movement including what you are talking about. But most of the folks don’t use baking soda and vinegar exclusively. Some find them useful for occasional use, while for others they don’t work at all.
    I know, I’ve had people look at me like I’m using poison on myself for daring to use anything other than “all-natural”. There were times in the past when I tried to go “all-natural” with both skin and hair care, and while some elements of that worked, certainly not all of them did and I reincorporated regular products into my routine. Interestingly enough, at the natural foods stores, many of the so-called “green” skin and hair care products are 3x more expensive and 3x less effective than what one could get at the drugstore! But people get caught up in thinking they’re doing the right thing by buying these expensive natural products, even if they’re less effective. In some circles, it seems that if something is effective on one’s skin or hair, that already means one is damaging or poisoning oneself LOL!

    • Nicki Zevola

      Hi @Cara,

      I know what you mean. When I did a video version of this post up on YouTube, I had some people who were supportive, but many were super angry with me. They were attacking my hair, my credentials, and even my face. It was awful. It’s amazing how the “natural” product movement gets people up in arms!

      The truth of the matter is, like I said, sodium bicarbonate is baking soda, and acetic acid is vinegar. They are chemicals, whether naturally-derived or not, and your body doesn’t know the difference.

      I will say, as I get older and learn more about ingredients, products, and the industry, there is something to be said for some natural products and some home remedies. But this is not one of them I like.

      I hope this helps.

  • Lynn

    ahh… i’m so glad i haven’t started doing the vinegar and baking soda thing yet. every time i look up how to deal with dry scalp issues i get apple cider vinegar. thank you for this article.

    • Nicki Zevola

      You’re welcome!

  • @Claudia L – You have an interesting point – perhaps my comparison was too broad to be of much value there. My apologies. Thanks for pointing that out.

    But my point is that there are compounds classified as drugs that are beneficial for the skin, such as prescription tretinoin or, better yet, sunscreen. If we adopt the all-natural approach and ignore such compounds, we’re not getting the maximal benefits from our time and money invested in skin care, and we’re also putting ourselves at greater risk for skin cancer.

    Yes, there are natural sources of vitamin A and natural sunscreens. So perhaps that is not the greatest set of examples either. But I just am concerned that we’re not advancing as much as we could in the realm of cosmetics and skin science because we are too concerned about everything having to come from plants.

  • @Mary Ann C- I couldn’t agree more about the alcohols. First of all, you’re right – there are seven alcohols that are classified as hydrating and non-drying:

    Cetyl alcohol
    Cetearyl alcohol
    Cetostearyl alcohol
    Cetyl alcohol 40
    C12-15 alcohols
    Stearyl alcohol
    Lanolin alcohol

    Second, many times drying alcohols are added to products that are otherwise heavy and oil-based to thin them out, to make them penetrate the skin/hair better, or to simply make them more cosmetically appealing. Or all three. So I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • @Charissa – I think a lot of people like baking soda and ACV for the hair, for three reasons. One, many who start to use it have build-up on their hair, and they find the products make their hair seem cleaner or more refreshed initially. However, it is over time that these products, particularly the baking soda, will dry out your hair.

    Two, some of the people who recommend them may have very oily hair to begin with, which is not as susceptible to being stripped of oils from sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

    Third, and perhaps most importantly, these products are both natural and cheap, which is all the rage right now. Give it five years, and I guarantee you, *most* people who have tried this as a part of the passing trend won’t be using them regularly anymore!

    • Michelle

      Nope. I’ve been using it for 5 years now and plan to continue for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, while decrying one extreme (using only natural products) you’ve gone to the other extreme of only using chemicals and deriding natural products.

      But as far as the argument about being fine with more chemicals and GMOs in the products we use and eat, there has been a huge escalation in allergies and food intolerances that doctors are having a hard time explaining (including mine). Just the other day I used a tiny bit of hair product I hadn’t touched in months and had a full-on allergic anaphylactic reaction. My body wanted nothing to do with those chemicals and I didn’t have a tolerance built up for them anymore.

      While some chemicals might be good in the short term,* we haven’t had enough time to study the long-term effects of these products. So to say that there are no problems with them is nearsighted—there might not be any problems now, but give it a good 15 years and that could be a completely different story.

      *Obviously some are necessary, including medicines, even though researchers are finding that some of those can cause severe long-term problems.

  • @Kendra – I am not sure if Hair One is the same as Wen for sure. I will look into this more; if I find out, I’ll let you know. Also, the ingredients list for Wen products does not suggest any antibacterial agents like Triclosan or anything like that. Check out their conditioner ingredients list: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Bark Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Wheat, Protein, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Polysorbate 60, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Amodimethicone, Citric Acid, Menthol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance (Parfum, Limonene.

  • @Moxie – You’re welcome!


      Personally, I have been using baking soda and plain white vinegar for 2 years on my hair now. When you say that baking soda can ‘destroy your hair and should never be used’ (I’m paraphrasing, please tell me if I have this wrong), the only response I can give is have you tried using it yourself? Perhaps your amounts [of baking soda] and intervals of use are to large. It is not meant to be used every day, only as needed…just like any other chemical, natural or not.
      People often forget/ignore the fact that baking soda and vinegar ARE chemicals, and should be treated with respect when used on your body, or in your food.
      Having said that…my hair has never looked better (according to my regular stylist) and my scalp has never looked healthier (according to my doctor). One of my friend’s tried this method after seeing the results I achieved and her dermatologist asked her what she had changed in her life that had her hair/scalp looking better and healthier than it had IN FIVE YEARS OF TREATMENT!
      Now, I have to wonder how long this comment will stay on the site.

      • Vicky

        What ratio do u use? Baking soda to water? For shampoo,ACV to water? For conditioner. I think using Filtered water or Alkaline water would be best? And how often do u use this vregimine? Do you have frizzy hair,naturally cutely hair? Thanks

  • Claudia L

    You wrote: “If I hear one more “expert” say that “chemicals” are ruining your skin, hair, or the environment, I’ll scream. Chemicals have prolonged many more lives than they have cut short, in the form of potent antibacterials, antifungals, antibiotics – you name it.” Your comparison is flawed. Comparing chemicals found in medicines with unnecessary chemicals found in shampoo or soaps is comparing apples and oranges. I rather use a shampoo/soap that cleans without extra chemicals that aren’t needed to clean. When I have a headache, I will take an aspirin.

  • MaryAnnC

    I used to be a hairdresser and health nuts always came into the shop to read the ingredients in the shampoos/conditioners/styling products. They would be so smug! Then they’d brag about the natural products that they used and nearly all of them had very dry, brittle hair.

    One ingredient that always got people was alcohol. People associated that with rubbing alcohol. When I’d explain that there are different forms of alcohol and that the function of that kind was to make the product dry faster (if hairsprays didn’t have it, for example, it would take a long time for it to dry when you sprayed it on your hair), they’d tell me that I was just saying that because I wanted to sell a product. So that’s an example of chemicals being a good thing.

  • This is really interesting…I was just about to start the No Poo method and I’m really surprised at this article…I’ve only heard good about using ACV and baking soda on the hair.

    I’m a huge fan of using coconut oil on my hair, so I don’t think my hair would be dry. Really curious now…

    • Kayla

      Yeah.. Im not sure where you’re getting your information from here. I’ve been using baking soda & apple cider vinegar on my VERY COURSE, VERY DRY SCOTTISH hair and its the only thing that has ever worked. Its amazing. My hair is much shinier and much softer then it ever has been. When you first start using it yes your hair feels like crap. Thats only because it is stripping away all the fake chemicals shampoo and conditioner leave behind to mask your real hair. Give it a few months and not only has my hair grown 6 inches in 3 months its amazing to touch. I have been trying to grow my hair for years and could never before I tried this. This is obviously just an article promoting products, if you actually used this yourself you’d know better. I will NEVER go back to marketed products that companies make money from, this works wonders.. If anyone is skeptical please just try it yourself. Everyone hair is different, it may work for you it may not. But to support an industry of scam artists is a joke, It is made to keep you buying, of course its going to make your hair feel amazing, they want you to come back!

      • Nicki Zevola

        I’ve been receiving more comments that this is marketing, and it is honestly not!

        This was one of the home remedies I tried (and yes, I diluted the ACV and BS), and I did NOT like it.

        The article is a part of our series on 22 Common Home Remedies from 2012, where we investigated whether or not 22 remedies worked or not:

        We actually found that quite a few, like beer with brewer’s yeast, worked quite well.

        I do sell products and have sponsors on this site, but if a home remedy is awesome, I’m happy to sing it from the rooftops. I earn trust and hence pageviews also by maintaining my credibility. But I honestly cannot support ACV and BS, especially for color-treated hair. And I’m sorry, but I stick to my guns on this one.

      • chelsea

        I agree with you. Because of this I’ve had to wash my hair less and less and it works for me. I want to add more natural ingredients to the mix when I get more money. If the article had mentioned oils to use and other beneficial natural remedies to use along with marketing products, then less people would be so accusatory. It was also not very intelligently written, like it’s more for people who need to be told what to think and lead around. Not for those of us who know about many other ways to make shampoo besides just baking soda and acv. I know what works for me, but cannot assume the same about others.

      • Belle

        Amen to that comment! After all the chemicals even doctors can’t ignore how natural ways work better especially in killing cancer! This article is clearly bias in advertising products as you say. You absorb more of whatever you put on your scalp via transdermal absorbtion. What’s good for your hair extern won’t be good for your internal organs! Natural ALL the way. And if the whole poi t of this article is about your hair drying out… she’s left a list of the natural oils used in these products she’s advertising! Jojoba and coconut as well as sweet almond can make hair beautiful without the added chemicals! If you read this again you will see how contrary it is…

  • Kendra

    Thanks so much for answering my question, this was so helpful! I have one follow-up: I’ve heard that Hair One is the same thing as Wen- is this true? I have also heard that both of these products cleanse with an antibacterial agent, which makes me nervous- any thoughts on that?

    • Roy Walker

      No-one is living any longer, more people are living to an older age, less people are dying, in child birth, and as babies, or in child hood. This pushes up average lifespan. there has always been people who lived to 100 years or more. Remember ther is 5 billion people alive on earth now, consider this against 1 billion 100 years ago.

      • Roy Walker, I am very confounded by what you wrote : “No-one is living any longer, more people are living to an older age” ?

        What do you think is meant by “living longer” if not “living to an older age”? Or even “less people dying as babies or in childhood”? Sure, some people have lived much longer than other since the beginning of people, some exceptionally long lived folks making it to 100 then does not invalidate the statement that generally people are living longer if a larger percentage of the population is doing so now. The statement was not meant to say that the inherent physiological potential of human lifespan has somehow been artificially elevated beyond its natural capability. All that has happened is that we have found ways to optimize the physiology with proper exercise and nutrition and reduce or neutralize things that would otherwise interfere with that optimal physiology such as improving hygiene so that harmful bacteria cannot proliferate and cause illness as much as it used to. Everything living eventually dies, but there have been many things which have contributed to the reduced ability of other things to kill us via gaining knowledge of what the body needs to heal itself and how it gains energy or maintains strength or defends against disease or infection and bolstered that with chemical and technological solutions to maximize the chances of meeting the full potential life span that our bodies are capable of reaching in the most optimal conditions.

        Less people dying younger or before that potential is reached does indeed mean that people are “living longer” any way you slice it, though. Part of the reason that there is now 5 billion people vs the 1 billion there used to be is because people are living longer and not dying off at 40 or 50 so often, meaning more reproductive years for men and women as adults, and also less mortality at infancy ensuring that more people reach reproductive age at all. Thus the population grows rather than reaching an equilibrium between reproductive rates and death rates of the existing populace. If people were not living longer, there would be less layover time between generations coming in and going out and the population would not increase at such a rate.

        Much of the population growth has come in recent years when compared against the history of man, for that matter, with the exponential increases coming in the last few hundred years due to the scientific advances and discoveries increasing our knowledge of microorganisms and disease vectors.

        If you just want to be pedantic about it, then dispute the definition of “average” as a midpoint between the extremes vs a most common central tendency. Essentially “median”, “mode”, and “mean” all represent a kind of average. Perhaps the median age of death hasn’t changed, where the potential range is from 1 to 100 years and the middle value is 50, But if out of a sample of 100 people,…

        THEN (when population 5B) : fewer than 10 die in infancy or early childhood, and 20 live longer than 80 years, and 40 of the remaining 70 die between the ages of 60-79 and 25 die aged 45-60 with only 5 others succumbing before age 45,

        then it is not just population size that pushes up the average lifespan since the sample size of 100 people is constant both THEN and NOW. But If you ask how likely it was that one would live past 60 years old THEN, the odds were not that great since only 15% of them did, while NOW most would make it at least 60 years before kicking the bucket and 20% making it past 80. Admittedly, I don’t know the actual statistics, but in terms of semantics, even though the maximum age someone might live to reach hasn’t necessarily increased, you can clearly see that as a whole, the life expectancy of any individual within the population now is indeed greater than it was in the past. Even if wasn’t unheard of for people to live a century before, it wasn’t the norm then, and neither is it now, but it is far more common now, and it is considered normal and not even particularly old to be 60 these days where it would have been looking at short time for folks then…

        • oops – the website apparently mistook my math symbols for HTML tags and omitted some text – that should read “But if out of a sample of 100 people ….

          THEN (when population 5B) : fewer than 10 die in infancy or early childhood, . ….” etc.


          • oops – the website apparently mistook my math symbols for HTML tags and omitted some text – that should read “But if out of a sample of 100 people ….

            THEN (when population LESS THAN 1B) : 30 of them died in infancy or early childhood, while only 5 lived longer 70 years and 60 of the remaining 75 people died between the ages of 47-57 while 5 died earlier than 47 and 10 between the ages of 57-70 vs

            NOW (when population GREATER THAN 5B) : fewer than 10 die in infancy or early childhood, . ….” etc.

            SHEESH. .

      • Roy Walker, I am very confounded by what you wrote : “No-one is living any longer, more people are living to an older age” ?

        What do you think is meant by “living longer” if not “living to an older age”? Or even “less people dying as babies or in childhood”? Sure, some people have lived much longer than other since the beginning of people, some exceptionally long lived folks making it to 100 then does not invalidate the statement that generally people are living longer if a larger percentage of the population is doing so now. The statement was not meant to say that the inherent physiological potential of human lifespan has somehow been artificially elevated beyond its natural capability. All that has happened is that we have found ways to optimize the physiology with proper exercise and nutrition and reduce or neutralize things that would otherwise interfere with that optimal physiology such as improving hygiene so that harmful bacteria cannot proliferate and cause illness as much as it used to. Everything living eventually dies, but there have been many things which have contributed to the reduced ability of other things to kill us via gaining knowledge of what the body needs to heal itself and how it gains energy or maintains strength or defends against disease or infection and bolstered that with chemical and technological solutions to maximize the chances of meeting the full potential life span that our bodies are capable of reaching in the most optimal conditions.

        Less people dying younger or before that potential is reached does indeed mean that people are “living longer” any way you slice it, though. Part of the reason that there is now 5 billion people vs the 1 billion there used to be is because people are living longer and not dying off at 40 or 50 so often, meaning more reproductive years for men and women as adults, and also less mortality at infancy ensuring that more people reach reproductive age at all. Thus the population grows rather than reaching an equilibrium between reproductive rates and death rates of the existing populace. If people were not living longer, there would be less layover time between generations coming in and going out and the population would not increase at such a rate.

        Much of the population growth has come in recent years when compared against the history of man, for that matter, with the exponential increases coming in the last few hundred years due to the scientific advances and discoveries increasing our knowledge of microorganisms and disease vectors.

        If you just want to be pedantic about it, then dispute the definition of “average” as a midpoint between the extremes vs a most common central tendency. Essentially “median”, “mode”, and “mean” all represent a kind of average. Perhaps the median age of death hasn’t changed, where the potential range is from 1 to 100 years and the middle value is 50, But if out of a sample of 100 people,…

        THEN (when population fewer than 1B) : 30 of them died in infancy or early childhood, while only 5 lived longer 70 years and 60 of the remaining 75 people died between the ages of 47-57 while 5 died earlier than 47 and 10 between the ages of 57-70 vs

        NOW (when population greater than 5B) : fewer than 10 die in infancy or early childhood, and 20 live longer than 80 years, and 40 of the remaining 70 die between the ages of 60-79 and 25 die aged 45-60 with only 5 others succumbing before age 45,

        then it is not just population size that pushes up the average lifespan since the sample size of 100 people is constant both THEN and NOW. But If you ask how likely it was that one would live past 60 years old THEN, the odds were not that great since only 15% of them did, while NOW most would make it at least 60 years before kicking the bucket and 20% making it past 80. Admittedly, I don’t know the actual statistics, but in terms of semantics, even though the maximum age someone might live to reach hasn’t necessarily increased, you can clearly see that as a whole, the life expectancy of any individual within the population now is indeed greater than it was in the past. Even if wasn’t unheard of for people to live a century before, it wasn’t the norm then, and neither is it now, but it is far more common now, and it is considered normal and not even particularly old to be 60 these days where it would have been looking at short time for folks then…

        • zuperserena

          The really big difference in average life expectancy doesn’t come from medicine. It’s clean water and good sewage systems. These very dramatically lower mortality in babies (from dehydration due to diarreah). Most deaths occur in this age group when you don’t have these sanitary developments in place. If half of all born babies die before being 2 years old, even if all of the other people live to 90, you still have an average life expectancy of 46 years.

  • This was an incredibly helpful post for me, Nicki! Thank you! x

    • Jullianna

      Hiiii 🙂
      I’ve been using BS and ACV for about five months now and my really horrible dandruff has actually been stopped to just a few flakes, and I think that it has stopped because of the vinegar. I agree that baking soda can dry out your hair, but the use of the vinegar and coconut oil has been saving my hair from drying out. So I’ll have to disagree with you the ACV vinegar is bad for you. Also, my long and thick hair is lighter and a lot easier to manage since the switch. However, I’ve been considering about switching back to a healthier shampoo just because of how much the BS can dry out your hair, so thank you for all the information! I’ll go and talk to a hair dresser about that 🙂

      • Sharon

        Hi! I have been using baking soda and ACV on my hair everyday going on 3 years. I use a tiny bit of conditioner on the ends to control static electricity. I have very fine, limp & oily hair that I have had to shampoo every single day since I was a teenager. Since giving up shampoo, my hair has more body and is more manageable. I also find less hairs in my combs & brushes. This has been an absolute God send for me. I don’t dye my hair, so I’m not sure about the effects on dyed hair. My natural color is bright, shiny and vibrant. I tried using shampoo recently and my hair was lifeless and brittle. I can’t imagine ever going back to shampoo.
        I am in no way a health nut or someone who only uses products that are all natural. Just want to do what works best for me. My daughter tried it and hated it. Same with a friend. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for someone else.

      • Eli

        I never respond to these things but I have been using baking soda and acv for almost four years and my hair is amazing; soft, full of body, and looks really healthy. Even my hair stylist is impressed. I only need to wash it once or twice a week as opposed to shampoo when it was everyday. My natural oils have returned to take care of my hair. Maybe if you did it everyday it would be harmful but I have found nothing but healthy hair.

    • ashlyn

      Did it occur to you that human beings weren’t naturally meant to live as long as we now do? Which is why we can’t accomplish it without unnatural chemicals? Not the best argument. If you need a synethic drug to live 20 years longer, maybe it’s just time to let go…

      • Sara

        Thank you! So we are taking preservatives now to preserve our selves. Some are afraid to die.

        • Jordan

          Funny. I assume that all the terror surrounding “chemicals that I can’t pronounce!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” indicates much more of a fear of death than anything else.

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