Don't Believe The 'No-Poo' Advocates: Baking Soda Is Terrible For Your Hair
As we've mentioned before, there's a growing movement that rebels against current chemical-laden shampoos and conditioners, believing them to be bad for the hair and bad for the environment.
For the most part, we heartily agree with this! That's why Duffy's Brew is fully phthalate, paraben, and sulfate-free, as well as being 100% Vegan. We've got some of the best stuff in the world for your hair in our bottles -as shown by science- and we don't want to mess it up with any harsh chemicals that will undo the good that's done by the beer and herbal goodness.
Unfortunately, some folks simply take this too far, and try to eliminate shampoos, conditioners, and soaps entirely from their hair-care routine. This so-called "no poo" movement claims that there are all-natural alternatives to shampoos which are even better for hair. Unfortunately, all "no poo" really seems to do is turn one's head into an ongoing science experiment, with very little guarantee of ever having great (or great-smelling) hair again.
Today, however, we wanted to talk a bit about one of the most prevalent -and most harmful- "no poo" alternatives and why it's such a bad idea: Baking Soda.
Things You Should NOT Put On Your Head: Baking Soda
Personally, I'd love to know where this whole idea came from, because it's widespread and yet entirely counter-intuitive in so many ways. Who actually thought trying to wash hair with baking soda was ever a good idea?
Baking soda -aka sodium bicarbonate- has many uses, including as a leavening agent in baking, a stomach antacid, and as a scrubbing material for cleaning dishes or even teeth. However, one thing is doesn't possess is any sort of soap-like property for cleaning or killing harmful bacteria.
Moreover, the basic nature of baking soda makes it entirely unsuitable for washing hair. And we mean "basic" literally here. Baking soda is a strong alkali, or base, which is why it's a stomach antacid. The problem is, hair is acidic.
Human hair naturally has an acidity of about 4.5-5 on the traditional Ph scale, due to the proteins and oils that coat it. By comparison, battery acid has a Ph of 1, and 7Ph is considered perfectly balanced. On the other hand, baking soda has a Ph of about 9.5. It's not as dangerously alkaline as ammonia (12Ph) or lye (13Ph), but that level of alkali is more than enough to completely strip those helpful natural oils\proteins out of your hair.
So, most people who make the mistake of washing with baking soda end up with shocked, brittle, damaged hair. Even small amounts can destroy your hair's body, as well as ending up with terribly itchy dry scalps. Furthermore, advice to "just dilute it more" doesn't help, because it has to be diluted to near-nonexistence to be safe for your hair.
But What About Vinegar?
The traditional "no poo" response to the problems with baking soda is to suggest using vinegar -specifically Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)- to counteract the soda. The thing is, ACV is too acidic. It's naturally around 2.5Ph, which is far more acidic than hair, and therefore damaging in its own way.
In a perfect world, it might be possible to find that "sweet spot" balancing the two out, but in practice you're pretty much inevitably going to be shocking your hair one way or the other. Some have even reported true horror stories such as seeing their hair fall out!
Honestly, there are few things WORSE for your hair than baking soda. Just don't do it.
(But maybe try some Duffy's Brew instead?)