Baking Soda and Vinegar ruining my hair?

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  • 1 Post By earthnut
  • 1 Post By jeepcurlygurl

I have relatively long 3b hair, and about 2-3 months ago I cut out shampoo and conditioner in favor of baking soda and vinegar (I still use regular leave-in conditioner to style my hair). I initially started doing this to get rid of product buildup, but then I decided to use the two exclusively, since I've been having a lot of problems with my hair lately (it's dry, lacks shine/bounce, and twists into these rope-like segments the 2nd day after washing). However, the overall health of my hair has yet to improve; in fact, over the past couple weeks my hair has seemed dryer and more lackluster than ever, and when I comb through, it comes out in clumps. I only wash my hair twice/week max, and I thought this low-maintenance regimen would help my curls, but apparently not.

I did read that it takes a few months for your hair to get used to using the baking soda/vinegar, and it can get worse before it gets better, but I'm wondering how long that will take, or if that will ever happen at all. Should I stick with it and wait for things to turn around, or is my hair better off with a traditional care method? Is the baking soda drying my hair out even more? Thanks so much for any and all help/advice!
there are always two sides of the story, ive heard that its great it really works, n ive also heard that it totaly can wreck your hair. the baking soda throws the hairs ph right off, thats y you need to follow it with the vinegar to balance it out. in saying that is till would never using baking soda in my hair, even if i would follow it with the vinegar. ive never tried that method personally, ive just read that it can be really bad if you do it on a regular basics.
i think that you should stick with a "traditional care method". maybe just washing with a low poo once or twice a week. and once a month then the baking soda/vinegar.

my hair: 3b, high porosity, high density and coarse hair (i think i finally figured that all out)
my hair loves conditioner only styling!
Oils and my own procuts are my hairs best friend
my hair goal length is bra strap length when curly.
I tried that baking soda thing ONCE and only once, because when I tried it, the mixture was burning my scalp. It felt like I was applying a strong relaxer to my hair. I also noticed a burning hair smell, so you can imagine this is not a method I was going to try again. Baking soda works for some people but not everyone. I had better luck using a mild vinegar rinse.
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Baking soda can be very harsh on the hair, but how harsh it is depends on the concentration you use and the porosity of your hair. Because baking soda is alkaline, it raises the cuticle of the hair shaft, making it rough, dry, and porous. The more baking soda you use per cup of water, the more alkaline the solution will be and the harsher it will be on your hair. Also if your hair is porous, it won't be able to tolerate as much baking soda. Many recipes I've seen on the internet are much too harsh for my hair, including the one on live curly live free. I use no more than 1 tsp of baking soda per cup of water.

A vinegar rinse is absolutely essential to do after a baking soda treatment. Hair is naturally acidic, so you need to restore the pH balance of your hair to smooth the cuticle back down. I use 1 tsp vinegar per cup of water. This amount has a pH of 4.5 and is safe to use every day.

My hair is porous, medium thickness, good elasticity, medium density, 2c/3a, APL, dark brown with a silver lining. Biggest enemy: frizz!
Still_Nya likes this.
I tried baking soda twice. Once in Cherry Lola treatment and once mixed with conditioner. I only used a little and it dried the crap out of my hair. Never again.
Yes, it's real. No, you can't touch it.
I tried baking soda twice. Once in Cherry Lola treatment and once mixed with conditioner. I only used a little and it dried the crap out of my hair. Never again.
Originally Posted by adthomas
I used it in the Cherry Lola treatment, too. Once at recommended amount, once at 1/4 or 1/2--my hair HATED it. Made it dry and straw like. (my hair LOVES protein, so I knew it wasn't the protein.)

Personally, I'd go with a more "traditional" method. I use natural soap bars, cleansing conditioner and occasional lowpoo (every few months.)
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity

HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic; Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Aloe Fix
I wash my hair and scalp with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, though my entire regime includes using coconut cream and argan oil as well. I use 1 part baking soda to 2 parts water. This may not sound heavily diluted, but the baking soda dissolves easily so the mixture will basically feel just like water. I don't go overboard when I apply it to my hair, and I am gentle with it. I focus on spreading it onto my scalp, the I run any excess down my hair with my fingers. After I rinse it off, I use half and half apple cider vinegar and water. I run that through my hair, and let it sit for only about 1-2 minutes. Rinse this well. This has been my regime for about 3 months now. I only recently started adding a coconut cream mask before the shower, and a tiny amount of argan oil afterwards. I used olive oil after my shampoo & conditioner washes before, but I wouldn't recommend using it at first with the baking soda & apple cider vinegar while your hair adjusts. It was probably a mixture of not rinsing the apple cider vinegar mixture properly and using too much olive oil, but the only time I did this in the beginning it left my hair oily for the rest of the night. The improvement to my hair's health using this regime was astonishing, and I will continue to use it, I see no need to ever change it. 3 months in my hair went from being high porosity & damaged, to low-medium porosity, shiny, soft, smooth, more relaxed curls, and virtually tangle & frizz free. Best of all I know I'm not putting any harmful chemicals on my head.
texture: 2c/2b
density: high
porosity: low-medium
width: medium-coarse
regime (x2 weekly coconut cream mask, baking soda cleanse, acv rinse, argan oil leave-in

all-natural hair care since 03/12
growing out pixie cut since
5 inches as of
I thank god I found this thread, I thought I as the only one who vinegar ruined the precious curls!!
My hair is soo dried out and falling out a little too much when I comb it. I did a deep treatment which helped a little. I was wondering if there is anything else you ladies have done to help treat the damaged vinegar has caused?? And hOw long did it take to reverse the damage?
It's probably not the vinegar that caused the damage, but the baking soda. Either way, your hair needs to be re-moisturized. Deep conditionings, protein treatments, leave in conditioner, oil, humectants, creams, mousse can all help. It takes up to 2 months to re-moisturize hair.

2c (3a potential?), M, ii, porous, good elasticity, APL, dark brown with a silver lining.
Love coconut oil, olive oil, and Everyday Shea!
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I think these drying products are best left to those with SUPER OILY hair who want to puff it up some
Those with dry hair should avoid both baking soda and vinegar in my opinion
Baking soda can significantly damage hair and scalp. Honestly, I would rather use a sulfate shampoo than baking soda. At least the shampoo is specifically designed for my hair. But this is just my opinion. That being said, I haven't had any luck with do it yourself recipes. Putting honey and apple cider vinegar in two separate remedies ended in disaster. I think apple cider vinegar is too strong for hair no matter how diluted.
What I did was fill my sink with water & put a 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in the water. I began to rise my hair in the sink. my hair dried pretty quick but once dry my hair was hard, shedding & red. After soaking my hair in Softee coconut oil grease & covering my hair with a plastic cap/satin scarf my hair was fine. But I wasn't happy that it made my hair shed.
Baking Soda is pretty terrible for hair. Again, it's best for low porosity hair as they need help lifting the cuticle and oilier scalps. Baking soda has a PH of 8.3 so this is pretty much the same PH as hair dye and it'll lift the cuticle in the same way. Even "balancing" out with the vinegar doesn't sound too good, altering your hairs PH so drastically doesn't sound like a great idea.

I personally would look into exclusive co washing if I were you. However, if you want an all natural way of washing your hair, I've heard of honey washing. The idea behind honey washing is that you coat it onto the wet strand and the dirt/oil sticks to it, so when you rinse out and follow with a conditioner (if you choose) then the hair is cleaned.

I've seen another blogger make shampoo bars out of coconut milk and aloe vera gel. This is supposed to nourish the hair and scalp whilst cleaning it too.

I've been using vinegar rinses once or twice a month for the last 40 years with no drying or damage of any sort. I use whatever vinegar I want to use up - cider, white, rice, etc.
I've never tried baking soda only because I don't have a need for it. Conditioner, gel, honey and vinegar are all I really need to keep my hair happy.

If I was having a reaction like you are, I would give both of them up, do a deep treatment, and then if I wanted to try them again I would do one at a time to see how my hair reacts.
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In Western PA
Found NC in 2004. CG since 2-05, going grey since 9-05. 3B with some 3A.
Hair texture-medium/fine, porosity-normal except for the ends which are porous, elasticity-normal.
Suave & VO5 cond, LA Looks Sport Gel, oils, honey, vinegar. password jeepy **updated August 2015**

I was dreading using these substitutes for a long time but I knew I needed to clarify at some point and did want to go back to the sulfate shampoos or try to find a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo.

Finally gave it a try last week and my hair actually like it. I do have to get my ratios down but I liked the results. I used the baking soda mixture only on my scalp and made sure I rinsed each section after application. I rinsed my whole head again really well before rinsing with the ACV mixture: I didn't want my hair going all Mount Vesuvius, lol. I deep conditioned afterward and continued with my normal routine.

I don't plan on doing the BS/ACV often; maybe once a season or something. But like someone else said, not everything works for everyone. But then again it could be the concentrations and how often it's done
3B--low porosity--high density--fine/medium
PT: Hello Hydration/coconut oil, Poo: Organix, Condish: Jane Carter, Leave-In: As I Am, CW: Shea Radiance, DT: homemade, Sealant: avocado/jojoba oil, mango butter, Styler: KCCC, Shea Moisture

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