The Lowdown on Baking Soda for Black Hair
Sodium bicarbonate, commonly called baking soda, is used in cooking, especially as an agent to make light, fluffy, well risen bread and cakes. Because of its disinfectant and fungicidal properties, it’s also found a use as a cleaning agent, in toothpaste and eye care products, and mixed with water is great for indigestion. But, recently, it has been found to be great for natural black hair.
Many natural Afro Caribbeans claim that baking soda cleans and softens the hair, with some saying it can even loosen our curls. So I thought I’d take a closer look.
Using Baking Soda On Natural Black Hair
Baking soda is a chemical with a pH value of 9. This means that it’s the opposite end of the scale from acidic, that being alkaline. The pH scale goes from 0 – 14, with very acidic being the lowest point (remember the litmus paper test at school?). To give you an idea, room temperature water has a pH of 7, human skin and hair approximately 5 and lemon juice 2. Lye based relaxers are extremely alkaline at 14!
The trick with pH is to remain in balance, and the frequent use of baking soda can upset your hair’s balance. However, when used carefully, it can help your natural black hair stay healthy and look great. I recommend you use these treatments every couple of weeks, and you should notice increased shine and bounce. I did find that, thanks to the lovely softness from the baking soda, my curls felt looser and more flexible.
If you have thick hair with a lot of product build up, baking soda can produce far better results than a high quality clarifying shampoo, leaving you with hair that actually squeaks with cleanliness.
Baking Soda Clarifying Shampoo
Mix 2 tablespoons of powder with half a cup of warm water and half a cup of cider vinegar and mix well. Apply this to your hair and scalp, making sure you cover your whole head, whilst gently massaging it in to remove grease and built up product. Rinse thoroughly once you’ve finished, followed a rich, moisturizing conditioner.
Baking Soda Conditioner
Mix half a cup of baking soda with a cup full of your favorite conditioner. Thoroughly stir until the baking soda dissolves, and apply to the whole of your scalp and hair, making sure you cover every strand. Gently massage the mix in, and cover with a shower cap. Wait for 20 minutes before rinsing and styling as normal.
We can now add baking soda to our ever growing list of DIY products that are effective, easy to use and don’t break the bank.