Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Can you wash your hair with Baking Soda or Apple Cider Vinegar? : A scientific experiment!

So you may recall the last experiments on cowashing and rhassoul/bentonite clay washing which led many of you to ask, why not do it with baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV)? Well here are the results!


The Experiment
I used my own shed hair and imaged it:
-on its own without any washing (oily hair sample)
- washed with shampoo only (2 minute water rinse, 2 minute shampoo wash, 2 minute water rinse and air dried for 4 hours)
-washed with baking soda dissolved in water only ( 2 minute water rinse, 2 minute baking soda (pre-mixed with water), 2 minute water rinse and air dried for 4 hours)
-washed with apple cider vinegar only ( 2 minute water rinse, 2 minute apple cider vinegar wash, 2 minute water rinse and air dried for 4 hours)

The Results

1. The Controls - Oily Hair and Shampooed Hair

This paragraph is a bit of self plagiarism (yes you can plagiarise yourself)  - As before - I redid these two controls for this experiment because you always have to have a baseline of what the hair looks like prior to washing and what it looks like with a proper wash. You can therefore judge the baking soda and ACV in context of dirty and clean hair.
 
Oily Unwashed Natural Hair

Clean Shampooed Natural Hair

2. Baking Soda Wash

I was actually stunned by this. It really did not clean at all. I kind of expected it to somewhat but it really was just a greasy mess. I even decided to soak it in the baking soda mix for 10 minutes and try again but the result was exactly the same

Baking soda wash on natural hair - Still Oily

 3. Apple Cider Vinegar Wash

If you thought the baking soda wash was bad, well meet the ACV wash. I think the hair actually looked oilier after washing than before. Once more I soaked it for 10 minutes to give it a chance and the result was just a bit better.

ACV wash - Can you believe this oil coated hair is washed?

ACV washed hair - 10 minutes - Still oily but less so.


Additional notes:
Running warm water was used for all washes. In each wash or rinse,  hair was rubbed gently to simulate normal hair washing. Shampoo - Herbal Essences Dazzling Shine Shampoo.

Please do note that under the microscope we can see oil layers but we do not see small deposits such as build up or hair conditioner deposits (well you actually could see them with specialised instruments but not with my microscope!). Strictly speaking this experiment will answer the question, how well will washing method X remove oil from hair.

26 comments:

  1. Wooowwww. All I can say is woooww. My team needs to see this. I don't understand why some people keep peddling the whole Baking soda thing, despite its ridiculously high ph.

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  2. Your site always reminds me that science is cool, great post!

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  3. Erm...I tried commenting once already, but I'm not sure it went through. Trying again :)

    WOW. I'm glad I only use ACV to dilute full strength shampoo or as an accessory rinse. Do you remember the post you did on BGLH about alternative shampoos? I'm the commenter who loved trying the oat water shampoo, and I've been wanting to get away from traditional shampoos. Would you mind testing the oat water/bean water options next? It would be really cool to see their comparative efficacy!

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    1. Oh my, lol I thought this series was done but now I have some more to do!

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    2. And if you are testing out those natural options, could you please look into soap-nuts (reetha), shikakai and gram flour? Those are traditional herbal cleansers for hair that were used in India for thousands of years. It would be so great to see their efficacy under a microscope!

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  4. I love these particular types of posts. I can live out of scientist fantasies through you. I don't use either ACV rinse or baking soda . . . phew! I'm a rhassoul clay or shampoo person myself.

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  5. Thanks Jc for all your natural hair experiments and research!

    I am one of those naturals who has refused to follow most of the 'natural hair rules' or routines of how to or not to 'take proper care of your natural hair'....*insert angel face and halo* Suddenly there are a billion things you have to do to manage natural hair as if detangling is not enough :-(

    I think it's funny how natural bloggers/vloggers (I am a tiny little bit guilty of this too :-( )and blog readers/viewers alike share and promote some hair info and practices not knowing what exactly we are sharing or practicing.

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  6. Thank you all for the comments! Appreciate them all :)

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  7. I love this series! I hope you continue it.
    I don't use baking soda or apple cider vinegar on my hair but your results are quite interesting (and eye opening). I never expected to see such poor showings for both items. Especially since ACV is often touted as a clarifying rinse.
    If we can offer more suggestions, I'd be interested to see the following ingredients in this series: yucca root, shikakai, and soapnut.

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    1. Ah my friend told me about soapnut! Used a lot in Thailand.

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  8. Excellent article! Thank you. I use a ACV mixture that I make to clean my scalp after I work out; but after this experiment I might as well co-wash. There was an article I read long ago about using "condiments" on our hair and how it didn't do anything. Now you've proved it. Wow!

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    1. lol never thought about it but they could be condiments

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  9. This article is very interesting. After shampooing or co washing, I use a tea rinse mixture which includes Aloe Vera Juice & ACV, then I deep condition. I wonder how clean or unclean the hair would appear to be in your experiment.

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  10. Wow, that's a bit shocking... have you tried out lemon? It's said to rinse perfectly but I'm not that sure after your article hahah You could use it on future experiments!

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  11. I love this series. I don't really use ACV or baking soda to cleanse my hair, but the co-wash encouraged me to do that more often. Keep up the great work!

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  12. Great post!! Just wondering whether your hair had been treated w/ any silicones priir to washing? Since HE is a sulfate shampoo it would seemingly remove everything including good oils(natural sebum), right? When I've used ACV in past due to my psoriasis I could visibly see the change in color in the ACV mix (in my catch bowl that I use to tell me how clean my scalp is getting) What could this be attributed to? Also, my scalp would be clear of buildup/plaques after scrubbing only my scalp w/ only the ACV & H20 mixture. I always followed with a moisturizing poo or a cowash to the length of my hair shaft. Just curious to know if you've ever done a similar experiment on the surface of the scalp & not just the strands? Also, I too would love to see a comparable study with the noted Ayurvedic cleansers shikaiki & aritha.Hope this makes sense...Thank you for always bringing the science!!

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  13. WOW! I've never put baking soda in my hair because its ph is so high; I just wasn't comfortable. The way it's touted I really expected much better. I am shocked.

    I've used acv on occasion as a final rinse after washing and deep conditioning. Thank heavens I didn't bother using it to wash.

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  14. You are the bomb.com, lol. I've always been a shampoo gal myself but I love to see theories tested and proven! BOOM... ^_^

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  15. I am not convinced. Whenever I "clarify" with bs or acv, my sink is full of gunk. the water is a creamy grey color. I must say, for me personally a sprinkle of bs cleans my hair quite well. better than shampoos. this experiment was educational, but im going to stick to the basics.

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  16. I love coming here and seeing you put to test all these natural claims. I understand that this may work for some people, but i know for me when iv tried to use an ACV rinse to clean my hair i just ended up with still dirty hair but i felt like i was doing something. Myabe ACV is useful in unclumping debris and loosening dirt because from the pictures it seemed to bring the oil more to the surfance.. for a shampoo to easily lift off. Love the experiments.

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  17. I know that I'm not black so I don't have the same hair texture but I've used BS and ACV as a combination wash. I did it for a few months without any shampoo or conditioning. One thing you have to realize is it's not meant to strip your hair like shampoos, that's the point. BS is supposed to get rid of the dirt and buildup. But its supposed to keep your natural oils. Then the ACV is to balance the ph of your hair (from normal daily gunk as well as from the BS), this is why they're supposed to be used together. The ACV also stops your hair from creating extra unnecessary oil buildup. Overtime, I did this consistently for a few months, my hair became less greasy and more shiny and sleek. I also noticed less breakage as well as shedding. I recommend this to everyone, as long as you use both BS and ACV together. I typically created a paste with the BS and scrubbed it into my scalp. I'd rinse with water till clear. Then 1part ACV and 2 parts water as a separate rinse. Then you can rinse that out or leave it in. But everyone's hair is different :)

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  18. I....love...this...blog. Thank you for this info JC! Made my day! It really did! I'm such a nerd.

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  19. I'd like to know what magnification level you used. Thanks!

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    1. Around x400 - It is not exact, I do not have a micrometer to give you a better scale measurement.

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  20. I tried commenting earlier but i'm not sure if it posted.....
    I have been using baking soda with my nature's gate shampoo for about four months and i know it depends on your hair type but i know personally that baking soda strips your hair of gunk and oils, because since i have been doing this my hair has become very dull at the roots and has even spread more throughout the top of my head i started doing it because i was Co washing ( i think that's what it's called, i just washed my hair with my nature's gate conditioner) then i had a lot of build up on my scalp and the B soda got the gunk out quicker and better... my hair most likely got dull because... well first i over did it and second i did not know that apple cider vinegar was meant to be used with it so i just used my regular nature's gate conditioner, baking soda also made my hair lighter. I enjoy reading your blog but i have to question this one, when you say you soaked it in the baking soda did you let the bs dissolve in the water first?

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  21. OhMG
    I tried commenting two time already and it wont post so i will try a third time....

    I tried commenting earlier but i'm not sure if it posted.....
    I have been using baking soda with my nature's gate shampoo for about four months and i know it depends on your hair type but i know personally that baking soda strips your hair of gunk and oils, because since i have been doing this my hair has become very dull at the roots and has even spread more throughout the top of my head i started doing it because i was Co washing ( i think that's what it's called, i just washed my hair with my nature's gate conditioner) then i had a lot of build up on my scalp and the B soda got the gunk out quicker and better... my hair most likely got dull because... well first i over did it and second i did not know that apple cider vinegar was meant to be used with it so i just used my regular nature's gate conditioner, baking soda also made my hair lighter. I enjoy reading your blog but i have to question this one, when you say you soaked it in the baking soda did you let the bs dissolve in the water first?

    ReplyDelete

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