Meet my hair care team.
Nearly a year ago during our first family vacation in…um…at least five years I had this tickle in my brain about not using regular shampoo and conditioner any more. We were staying in a tiny mountain town just west of Colorado Springs. It was blissful being surrounded by elevation and pines again, having been born and raised in Alaska. Connecting with nature and eating so close to it (whole food plant based,) the idea of natural body care made sense.
When I got back home I googled natural hair care and saw post after post about the Baking Soda + Apple Cider Vinegar team. That’s a bandwagon I hopped on. But not without some hesitation…
I was raised on Biolage and Paul Mitchell. Dove soap was a generational standard, the scent filling the linen closets of my mother and both grandmothers, gently and reliably nestled in the soap dishes of all my relatives showers and sinks. In my teen years I was taught to shampoo twice just to make sure I really got all that stinky sebum out. So going “natural” -even though these found-around-the-kitchen products are, in fact, chemicals (ain’t everything?)- was a bit cray cray.
For the first two weeks, I’ve got to tell ya, I cringed at the oiliness of my hair. I rinsed thoroughly with hot water every few days, but wanted to wait for my natural oils to gain some equilibrium after years and years of chemical baths/over washing.
The first time I did the baking soda, I had to do two doses. Even after two doses of apple cider vinegar rinse my hair still felt a bit oily and it wasn’t something I was used to. “Am I going to be a stinky hippie?” It was, I shall say, a large fear. I interact with people for my profession. I didn’t want to be the stinky one. Who does?
After a month, my scalp oil production began to equalize. When I’d used regular shampoo, I became oily a day after washing. Now, I can go about 5-7 days before my hair looks stringy at the roots. The stringent chemicals in traditional shampoos strip the natural oils from your hair and suck them out of your scalp. The scalp then sends “help! help!” signals to the body, “we need more oil! We must balance our ph and stuff!” (because body signals speak in highly technical terms.) So it goes into overdrive and, what happens? You produce a crap ton of oil that naturally wouldn’t occur. Allowing your body to return to baseline helps it breathe a sigh of relief and get back to business as usual.
Another benefit? More body. Constantly stripping the natural oils creates limp, flat hair. Allowing some of the oils to remain gives a bit of lift and oomph, making styling easier (particularly for my super straight, flat hair.) I like my new-found body.
Recipe: Baking Soda + Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Care
You figure out with what works for you, but here’s the general recipe.
See that clear solo cup? That’s my glamorous dilution glass.
Pour about 2 tablespoons of baking soda in it and, after rinsing your hair with water thoroughly, fill the rest of the cup up with water. Swish it around a bit to mix, then pour slowly over your head, making sure to cover all areas -front, middle, sides and back of your noggin. Now scrub-a-dub-dub as if you were lathering, get that grime out.
Rinse thoroughly with water. Still feel a bit oily? Go ahead and do another dose, it’s up to you.
Now it’s time to strip away the leftovers. Pour 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar in your fabulous cup (hey, you can make yours fancy -my kids love playing with cups in the shower, so I keep mine big but basic.) Dilute the vinegar with water and pour all over your head. Work your fingers around your scalp in a lathering motion and rinse thoroughly.
Will you smell like a pickle? No. (Partly because you don’t use apple cider vinegar to make standard pickles.) But your shower might if you don’t rinse it all out. As long as you’re rinsing your hair thoroughly you won’t smell funny.
Be patient with your body as it gets used to not having to over produce oil and returning to it’s natural state. Do this rinse as often as you’d like. A lot of articles I read said to do this weekly or every two weeks (some advocated for not using anything at all, only rinsing with warm water,) but I believe you’ll get to know what suits you best as you experiment.
You’re the boss.