Is baking soda destroying my hair?

I’ve been ‘Poo-free for 7 days.  I’m hoping there won’t be much of an adjustment because my virgin hair hardly comes into contact with chemicals apart from shampoo and conditioner.

Day 1 (Thursday)
Did not wash my hair at all.

Day 2 (Friday)
Tried baking soda and apple cider vinegar for the first time.  My hair felt really clean and light afterward.  This could have been psychological – I was used to washing my hair every day and skipping a day feels like eternity to me.  No lingering smells.

did lose a fair bit of hair, though, but I normally do, especially after leaving my hair unwashed.

Day 3 (Saturday)
Used the baking soda/ACV method again.  My hair felt like a broom after – so dry.  Experienced more hair loss.  I’d forgotten I’m meant to use it max. 3 times a week.  Oops!

Day 4 (Sunday)
Rinsed with water and ACV.  I can’t help it, I need to get used to the idea of not washing!  Hair didn’t feel squeaky clean like it does after shampooing, but it didn’t feel dirty either.  Felt more like it does after a day of not washing.  You know that feeling when you can’t run your fingers through your hair smoothly?

Day 5 (Monday)
Same as above, but my hair was starting to feel less greasy.

Day 6 (Tuesday)
Washed with baking soda plus organic raw honey and ACV.  Lost so much hair in the shower that I was starting to freak out and consider using Lush shampoo.  Being totally new to this, I can think of several possibilities and solutions:

A) My hair is adjusting to this.  I should ride it out.
B) I’d left the baking soda mix too long in the bottle and too much of it had settled at the bottom, so each time the mix was stronger?  I should add more water.
C) Baking soda is just too harsh for hair.  I should use it once a week instead.
D) Baking soda is just too harsh for hair.  I should stop using it and try diluted honey as a shampoo instead.

My hair feels incredibly clean and light again, but it does feel quite dry.

Day 7 (Wednesday)
My hair still feels very clean.  Think I’ll skip rinsing altogether.

 

You know what?  I think I’ll STOP using baking soda.

As I write this I’m reading about other people’s experiences and it’s starting to scare me.  First, let’s talk pH levels.

ph levels hair skin

pH levels are something else to bear in mind when choosing what to put on your hair/head.  pH is the measure of acidity in aqueous solutions, with 7 being neutral.

As you can see, healthy hair sits at about pH 4.5-5.5.

Diluted cider vinegar is acidic at PH 3.0-4.0.

On the other extreme is baking soda, which is highly alkaline at pH 9.5.

baking soda ph level

Just to get it to pH 7 (neutral) requires a LOT of water:

To get a neutral mixture of baking soda and water (pH 7) you need to dilute 1 tbsp. baking soda in 20 cups of water, then take 1 tsp. of the mixture and dilute it in 1 cup of water. - Original source (check out her informative post)

That comes up to 1,418,439 cups of water, according to this scientific explanation.  See?  Wasn’t exaggerating.

Excerpt from Future Derm:
Yes, it is 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 neutralise 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.

Using acidic vinegar to ‘neutralise’ it won’t work.  Is there even a point to that?  Any hair experts out there care to shed some light?

How now, brown cow?

I’m so thankful I discovered this before I could do any real damage to my hair. For the moment I’ll use this DIY Honey Shampoo and see how it goes.

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