Monday, 9 November 2009

Myth or Fact: Baking Soda Relaxer Remix!

So in my first trial I did the baking soda treatment in water. A few readers suggested that it should be done in conditioner and so I repeated the same experiment.

I used herbal essences damage remedy. I made the mix as per instructions on the comment (except I used a teaspoon - therefore 3/4 tsp of baking soda to 1/2 tsp of conditioner). The pH of this mix was 9! (The conditioner on its own is at around pH 7). I left the mix on the shed hair overnight and a bit (about 12 hours). I don't really care for deep conditioning but I thought I would follow the instructions and left the hair in conditioner while I went to work (about 8 hours).

Anyway, the results - not really different from last time at all. The strands looked the same and felt the same and curled up into tiny little balls as before.

The one thing I know for sure is mixing baking soda in hair conditioner changes the pH massively. High pH is known to affect the cuticle in terms of cuticle lifting so I'm not entirely sure if this procedure is harmless despite the fact that the hair before and after pretty much 'looks' the same.


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  2. Thanks so much for doing the experiment again. It's strange to see that long-term soaking in conditioner didn't really make a visual difference (which kind of calls deep conditioning into question). So if the baking soda didn't really appear to do anything, what do you think accounts for the softness some people feel after doing the treatment? Do raised cuticles make hair feel softer or is that even something that can be perceived by touching?

  3. Kanyin - I don't really know. I can't even definitely say that the cuticles are lifted from this treatment but I would think the pH may actually do this.

    Hair usually feels smoother after conditioning because the cuticles lay flat not because they are lifted. Perhaps the post treatment conditioning is what makes the difference.

    I think it is important to say that hair is different. As much as this treatment didn't have an effect on my hair, it COULD affect someone else's hair differently.

    In fact when I used to relax my hair, it took ages to process and never really ever became straight. So in short, if your hair can process a relaxer quickly, this baking soda may have more of an effect on the hair.

  4. The baking soda treatment definitely created a texturised effect on my hair along with an excessive dryness that was quite worrying and maybe due to the cuticle lifting. However this effect was cancelled out by doing a long deep treatment afterwards, that is both the dryness and the straightening effect.

  5. Your results are kind of interesting. In my own research I got the idea that your (person) results are also based off hair type. The less curly your hair the less you see the results. On my own hair 4a/4b my 4b curls you can't see the difference on my 4a corkscrew tight curls you can.

    In my research baking soda lifts the cuticle. This is what is in hair dye kit mixes. The baking soda lifts the cuticle causing the dye to get inside the strand aiding in changing hair color. As you said baking soda is alkaline if I was to mix baking soda with a acidic conditioner I don't want to guess the results. I am assuming one would have some type of relaxer effect.

    Your results are interesting.

  6. I would think raised cuticles would just make the hair appear fuller/thicker. My results were nothing like that. Also raised cuticles became a concern for me because a regular cuticle lays flat tightly closed and looks like snakeskin, a raised cuticle would be more prone to breakage when the individual scales would break off from simply combing or handling of strands. I would think one would over time see lots of mid hair shaft breakage.
    To prevent this problem I did and acv rinse a few times ( different treatments)and than just did cold water rinses to snap my cuticles back closed after a baking soda treatment. So in snapping the cuticles closed I still had the same no kinks or curls new growth results. With no curl reversion for 2 weeks.

  7. I did the baking soda-conditioner over the weekend and I think there was a noticeable difference. Besides softness, my hair actually clumped together. Your test (using single strands) isn't able to show that. So my hair clumping together created more defined curls that looked slightly bigger and had a bit more "hang" than usual. So I think the strands might look and feel differently if you had a lock of hair rather than a strand.


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