Is It Okay to Use Baking Soda On Your Hair? Experts Weigh In

There are way better options out there.

There’s really no shortage of different at-home ingredients that are touted as effective hair care solutions, most of which are probably already in your kitchen: coconut oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, the list goes on and on. But there’s one that often pops up that isn’t quite as good as it may seem, and, in fact, has the potential to do more harm to your hair than good. We’re talking about baking soda. We asked experts if it’s recommended to use baking soda on your hair (the answers were united).

<p>Triocean/Getty Images</p>

Triocean/Getty Images

What does baking soda do to the hair?

Similar to how it’s used in many other contexts, baking soda is often touted as an ingredient to use when your hair needs a deep cleanse. “It acts as a ‘stripper,’ and yes, it can help remove excess product build-up, but it can also take your shine, natural oils, and color with it,” notes hair stylist Steven Picciano, a Goldwell National Artist. How exactly does it do that? Microscopically, baking soda is basically small crystals with sharp edges that can tear the cuticle (the outermost layer) of the hair, leading to frizz, less shine, and even potentially breakage, he adds.

Baking soda is also very drying, to both your strands and scalp: “Hair has a natural pH of 4.5-5.5 while the scalp is around 5.5. Baking soda has a high alkalinity, about an 8, which can cause the hair to become dry and brittle with repeated or prolonged use, and can also cause scalp irritation and dryness,” explains hairstylist Sonna Brado, a KMS National Artist..

Are there any hair types it’s good for?

According to the experts we spoke with, no one should be using it on a regular basis. And, the only people who should even consider using it occasionally (think maybe once a month or so) are those who have very oily scalps and/or hair, cautions Brado. In that case, you can make a paste consisting of two parts water to one part baking soda and apply it to the hair and any particularly oily spots on the scalp. Leave it on for just a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly, she says. Make sure to follow with a gentle moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, like the KMS Moist Repair Shampoo and Conditioner ($49 for both;

So, what should you use instead?

Both Brado and Picciano say that if you’re considering using baking soda for its deep cleansing, product build- up removing purposes, reaching for a clarifying shampoo is a far better idea. One to try: Ouai Detox Shampoo ($32; And if you really need a heavy-hitting clean, you can even leave the shampoo on for five minutes, Picciano adds. Just make sure to follow with a deep conditioning treatment, like the Pantene Miracle Rescue Deep Conditioning Hair Treatment ($7;, to mitigate the potential for any unwanted dryness.

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