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How to care for your hair with bicarb (baking) soda

Meet bicarb soda: your new best friend in the shower

We've written before about how you can use bicarb soda for (nearly) everything including cleaning, cooking, health, beauty and more.

Bicarbonate of soda, baking soda, baking powder… just a heap of different names for the same thing?

The short answer is no.

Here's the long answer. Bicarbonate of soda and baking soda are the same thing. In Australia, we mostly refer to it as bicarbonate of soda, but overseas and especially in America it is referred to as baking soda. Baking powder on the other hand is not the same as bicarb/baking soda, as it has an acid added to it. Baking powder is not interchangeable with bicarb soda either. Now that's out of the way.

What exactly is bicarb soda?

Sodium bicarbonate, aka good ol' bicarb soda, is a naturally occurring white solid that you usually encounter in powder form.

Bicarb soda has long been used for domestic and personal hygiene purposes. It's had somewhat of a resurgence in popularity as people become more aware of the sometimes harmful ingredients in the everyday products they buy. Products in your kitchen, laundry, and bathroom cupboard are more than likely to contain a number of chemical ingredients that will end up being washed down the drain and into local waterways, or leeching into the ground in your garden. This is bad news for the plants and animals that rely on pollution-free water and soil to thrive. Not to mention the affects such chemicals might have on personal health.

How you can use bicarb soda for natural hair care

You may have heard about the growing movement of people who don't wash their hair? Well not with conventional products that is. Many people are choosing to leave store bought products on the supermarket shelves and are using alternatives like bicarb soda instead.

Give it a try. You will need:

  • A squeeze bottle (why not repurpose an old shampoo or conditioner bottle, since you won't be needing them anymore)
  • Bicarb soda
  • Water

Start by mixing 1 part bicarb soda with 3 parts water. I have long hair and mixed about 4 tablespoons of bicarb soda with 3 times that amount of warm water in a squeeze bottle. Leave a little space at the top so you can shake it all up to mix it together well.

Apply it in the shower directly onto your scalp. It's not going to foam like traditional shampoo but you will get used to that.

Rub it in and let it sit for about a minute before rinsing well. It's a good idea to try and keep the bicarb soda mixture to your scalp level. Don't apply it root-to-tip as it can be rather drying.

What about conditioner?

After washing and rinsing with the bicarb soda mixture, you'll want to apply an apple cider vinegar rinse.

Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 4 parts water. I also add a drop or two of rosemary essential oil to mask the vinegar smell. You can make a big batch of this in a glass bottle and keep it in the bathroom for future washes.

Tilt your head back, close your eyes (to avoid getting this mixture in your eyes) and distribute through your hair. Leave it for a minute then rinse out.

That's it.

Bicarb soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioner may not work for everyone. We all have different hair types (and my curly haired friends have been very reluctant to give this a go). Experiment and see how it works for you.

If you're interested in other bathroom products that use bicarb soda as the main ingredient here's a few more to try:

DIY Toothpaste

DIY Deodorant

Or read our post 'Bi-carb soda: How you can use this one product for (nearly) everything' to find out some of its other uses around the home apart from in cooking.

Have you tried the bicarb soda and vinegar method? Any tips that have worked well for you? Or, how else do you use bicarb soda around the house? Let us know in the comments below.

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[All images: Shutterstock]

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