Here’s Part 2 in my “No-Poo” series. In Part 1, I told you why it’s worth avoiding commercial shampoos and going the diy route.
In this article, find out why I no longer use either baking soda or castile soap to wash my hair. Plus the one reason it may not work for you and what you should consider before going that route.
Going shampoo-free reduces your exposure to chemicals, is cheaper, and uses less products.
I used baking soda for a few weeks and would not go back to it because I felt like it wasn’t good for my hair. I used castile soap as shampoo for at least six months and I think it’s fine but not for me.
In the next post in this series, I’ll give you the simple recipe for the herbal hair rinse I’m currently in love with and that (in my opinion) blows “no-poo” out of the water (metaphorically).
Baking Soda and Vinegar: the gold standard
Washing with baking soda and rinsing with apple cider vinegar is the gold standard of crunchy “no-poo” hair care. You’ll see a lot of articles out there about them.
I tried this for a little while, figuring my hair would eventually balance out. And maybe it would have. But my hair was just kinda flat and scraggly. (See the Why below for how this might differ from your experience.) So I decided to continue my experimentation and try castile soap.
Liquid Castile Soap: the gentler alternative
I already had Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap around the house so it was perfect to apply this multi taster to my hair. In fact, this is what I traveled with for my entire 2 1/2 month North American Road Trip last summer.
The best part about using castile soap is its multi-tasking ability. The beauty products industry has us thinking we need a separate product for every use. Of course, peddling more options makes them more money.
But liquid castile soap takes care of shampoo, body wash, laundry, dishes, mopping floors, and many other things I probably haven’t yet discovered. That means that during my travels, I have carried just one bottle that I can use in the hotel room sink to wash my undies and also to clean out food dishes (not at the same time – I’m not an animal).
But I still wasn’t satisfied.
Why I don’t use either anymore
Now I’m finally at a point to let you know what hasn’t worked as well as I hoped. Next article in this series I’ll tell you about what is working.
Harsh on hair?
My hair dresser Pam gave me a scare when she said baking soda strips your hair and can be rough on it, especially on color (I henna my hair occasionally). I was already a few weeks in to using it. So I went straight to the masterful interwebs and did a little research.
I found some bad accounts and some that dismissed negative experiences and offered solutions. And I did discover that baking soda is, in fact, recommended for removing hair dye.
Even though Pam didn’t recommend using baking soda every time you wash your hair, she did tell me to use it once a month as a clarifier to remove buildup. So it can’t be all that bad, right?
Lots of people have great experiences with it. Just see how it works on you. Which brings me to my next point.
First of all, everyone’s hair is different. Mine is oily and thick. It’s gonna behave a little differently than someone’s that is fine and dry.
Everyone’s shower water is also different. In Vegas, we have very hard water with a high pH. Since pH is an essential part of hair care, this makes a difference to how these things work.
Don’t overlook pH balance
Soaps are, by their very nature, alkaline. Higher pH means better cleaning ability and more ease cutting through oil and grease. Unfortunately, our hair requires a slightly acidic pH.
If you do use baking soda or castile soap, don’t forget to also use an acidic rinse like diluted apple cider vinegar after no-pooing. It will drop the pH back down, often referred to as pH balancing. A ratio of 1 Tbsp acv to 1 cup water should do the trick.
In Vegas, our hard water plus the high pH of the baking soda or castile soap results in a higher overall pH than no-pooers elsewhere are experiencing. When I was in Toronto for over a month this summer using castile soap, my hair had body and was decent. Whether that was due to the humidity in the air compared to the bone dry desert air of Vegas or to a difference in the water, I can’t say.
Chlorine in shower water
I use a chlorine filter on my shower head. Something I highly recommend. Why? Chlorine contributes to skin issues like dryness, dandruff, eczema. It’s also toxic – linked to respiratory problems and asthma.
Every time you shower, you soak your hair and skin in chlorine and and inhale the heated fumes. I read somewhere that one shower contains the same levels as an entire day’s drinking water.
You can get a chlorine filter fairly inexpensive at your local home improvement/ hardware store. It screws onto your existing shower head.
I just wasn’t thrilled with the results. Baking soda was rough on my hair and castile soap left my hair kinda stringy with no bounce afterwards.
Judging by the quantity of raving reviews online, it seems to work well for lots of people. For me, I decided it was worth exploring other options. Plus I love experimenting and then sharing with you. And I’m not ruling out a little further experimentation in the future.
When I do more long-term travel, I might just keep using the castile soap because it’s so portable and a great multi-tasker.
In Part 3 of this series, I share my DIY herbal shampoo/conditioner recipe that kicks “No-Poo’s” butt. 😉 So far I’ve used it for a few months and it has my hair feeling moisturized without weighing it down.
Now your turn. Do you use baking soda or castile soap? How have they worked for you?