Is Baking Soda Bad For Your Hair?

Now usually I am of the opinion that anything that you can eat is perfectly acceptable in your hair, hence the caramel treatment or avocado moisturizing mask. But how about baking soda? I’m not one to use it often on my own hair but it has been touted often as a good alternative to shampoo to clense your hair but are we missing something.

Many of us know that baking soda is alkaline with a ph of about 8.3-9.0 but what many don’t know is that our hair and skin’s ph is about 4.5-5.5 which is mildly acidic. Can changing the ph of our hair so drastically even for a few minutes while washing it cause lasting change/damage to your hair? This lady certainly seems to think so and when you have some time, watch all 4 videos in her series to get a better understanding on the structure of hair. Now I wouldn’t necessarily check the ph of all my hair products like she does but some of her findings are eye opening and a good watch for the curious among us.

Having watched the videos myself I have to admit that she makes a compelling case against baking soda. If using sodium hydroxide aka lye which is used in relaxers causes such a dramatic change in afro textured hair i.e. straightens it permanently, then what unseen changes would baking soda make. Incidentally lye has a ph of 14.

I’ve heard some ladies claim that baking soda ‘loosens’ or softens their hair texture and on the other hand I’ve also heard ladies say that baking soda dries out their hair which based on the ph it makes sense as they are both traits of texturizers and relaxers.

According to many top hair care gurus, hair care products should not stray very far from the natural slight acidic ph of hair and I’m inclined to agree.

If your hair is relaxed and it’s already been through the drama of an excessive alkaline treatment, it probably makes sense to avoid further stress on your strands and keep its ph at its natural level. As a natural head, you may want to avoid anything that could be considered permanently altering to your curls and kinks so again, caution is advised. With the large range of sulphate free shampoo available or even the option to avoid shampoo altogether, why risk it with baking soda? Think about it like this poison ivy is a natural plant but I don’t see many people making salads with it. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for your hair!



15 Ways To Get Longer Healthier Hair


About Alma

Hi! I'm Alma Ruddock, a full time blogger. I stumbled on a hair care forum in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair forever!. I started as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to bring new information about hair on both this website and my personal blog.


  1. 1

    Do you think it’s still an appropriate clarifying shampoo, for every 2-3 weeks?

    • 2

      I would be inclined to say no simply because of the intense alkaline ph. Commercial shampoos are produced acidic to match the ph of your hair so would be a better bet.

    • 3

      baking soda although it is alkaline in the solid form is dissolved into its component ion and cations (negative and positively charged components) Dissolving is not a chemical reaction. What is actually happenings with the baking soda and water is the baking soda is acting as a water softener. Most of us probably have what is called hard water. Hard water is the reason why your shampoo may not suds up when u try to lather. The baking soda acts as an ion exchange and leaches the elements out of the water that are responsible for making it hard. Long story short, the baking soda is not going to damage your hairs ph if you dissolve it in water. Added to your shampoo it will improve its performance. By itself dissolved in water it will clean your hair.

  2. 5
    Arielle Campbell says:

    Hi there, I’ve been using sulfate free shampoo’s or conditioner on some days to clean my hair. My scalp feel very flaky and dry these days and i would love to do something to get off any buildup, do you suggest something I can do that won’t stress my curly hair?

    • 6

      You may want to try a clarifying shampoo to remove any build up then follow with a DC. Remember to rotate your conditioners too. Trust me, it makes a difference.

  3. 7
    Salquinusa says:

    I have short tight curly hair. I stared using WEN a couple of years ago and I must tell every curly head out there, it has changed my life. I also use OUIDAD great products! These two people have changed my hair. I have not texturized my hair in 2years. My curls have never felt softer and clean. And the most important part of all this, is that my hair is not greasy. Ouidad product make your hair look fantastic! without THE SCRUNCHY AND GREASY FEELING. Wen just the best hair cleanser ever. Give them a try.

  4. 8

    I have used baking soda as a clarifier but ONLY USED IT WHEN MIXED IN WITH CONDITIONERS. It makes my hair feel very soft while making it really clean. I only use a tablespoon of baking soda with about a cup of moisturizing conditioner (a little more or less). Alot of articles say after using baking soda, rinse with an ACV (apple cider vinegar rinse). This stabilizes the ph.

  5. 9

    I’ve been using baking soda for a few months now sometimes I have a problem with my hair still feeling a little oily, looking oily, itches sometimes, or it’s sticky. Sometimes not all the time, I mix in tea tree oil conditioner into the baking soda/water mix and it sometimes helps it’s like a gamble for me. And if I wash my hair the next day it either is ok for another day or is oily and flat kind of. Not sure if I’m doing something wrong or not I only wash my hair once a day and use baking soda 2 times a week but naturally I have oily hair and a dry scalp so it’s difficult to take care of with those 2 factors. Not to mention if the baking soda touches my skin it itches horribly. I do lack vitamin D though does that have anything to do with it?

    • 10

      Funny you should say that about vitamin D. I recently came across a forum where some ladies claimed to have success getting rid of acne with vitamin D & A supplementation. I don’t know enough on the topic to comment but I would imagine that trying this for a couple of months may be safe enough. Either that or get plenty of sun for the vitamin D. I don’t know if you are co-washing your hair but I would suggest that if your hair is very oily after just a day and you are not using any extra product in your hair, you certainly have overactive sebaceous glands there. The way I would suggest you attack this is deal with one problem at a time. It’s counter-intuitive I know but I would suggest that you wash your hair less often. Try washing every other day. The sebaceous glands only produce oil when there is a need for it (when you have washed it off).By reducing the number of times you wash (with shampoo) you will reduce the need for Sebum hence after a week or so you should have noticeably less greasy hair.

  6. 11

    I had long thick hair. I washed it with BAKING SODA combed it out by the hand ful. It changed the texture of my hair and my hair has not grown back that was a year ago

  7. 13

    I use baking soda as a scalp scrub at least once a month.  My scalp tends to get a lot of flaky buildup and baking soda is the only thing I’ve come across that leaves my scalp flake free.I love it. My scalp looks wonderful and itches a lot less. I haven’t noticed a change in the texture of my hair or anything negative like that.

  8. 14
    Alicia723 says:

    In that case proceed with caution?

  9. 15
    Belindayk says:

    I see some comments here about baking soda as a cleanser. It seems that the few that has posted comments are not diluting the baking soda or the apple cider vinegar. You should never put either of them in your hair full strength. Baking Soda 2 tablespoons per 8oz of water and the same with the vinegar 2 tablespoons per 8oz of water. I put mine in old shampoo and conditioner bottles that I don’t use anymore. I am 40 years old, shoulder length relaxed hair, I started using this duo about six months ago because I was still fighting acne and tired of spending money on doctors and prescriptions that didn’t work. Then I noticed my 13 year old daughter was starting to suffer with acne also.  So we started cleansing our face with baking soda and followed up with apple cider vinegar(diluted), moisturized with extra virgin olive oil –  within a week everything subsided. I’ve always been taught if it is good for your skin its good for your hair(meaning your scalp – Healthy scalp = healthy hair). So the same regiem goes to my hair – baking soda, apple cider vinegar, olive oil…….

    The results of our hair. Beautiful – I still relax it every 6 weeks (I will use a neutralizing shampoo after relaxing but that is the only shampoo I use) And my husband is thankful.

  10. 16

    This was so helpful and helped back up my grandmother’s claim about why not to use baking soda.  She explained about the ph balance in hair to me.  She’s a hair stylist.  She said that people often use too much shampoo (you need only a dime sized, typically) and that you need to rinse your hair really really well after shampooing too. She also said that lemon juice for light hair works as a clarafyer and vinegar for darker hair but she says you’re better off with buying an actual clarifyer shampoo.  Of course every head is different so whatever works more power to you!!! :) 

  11. 17

    The health of MY hair has never been better. I use it only once a month and follow up with ACV. My hair texture is still the same. It ain’t for everyone tho. Ppl with high porosity hair shouldn’t take this route.

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