NATURAL HAIR CARE IRL
There are a trillion “natural” shampoo and conditioner options in the pharmacy aisle at Amazon/Whole Foods. A little known secret, supported in my personal experience from over three years of being shampoo and conditioner free, is that none of them are as good as plain old baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
All liquids everywhere have a pH. This includes human bodies. Our skin, which is also our largest organ, has a pH of 5.5. Our scalp has a pH in that range, slightly more acidic (lower numbers). You may be wondering, “Why is our skin acidic?” The short answer is: bacteria doesn’t grow super well in acidic environments. When we get used to putting shampoo & conditioner & styling products in our hair, which most of us do for many years, it can push our pH toward an imbalance. When our skin is unbalanced we become susceptible to different disruptions: too alkaline and we experience dryness and rashes, maybe even eczema. Too acidic and we experience acne breakouts.
Fancy shampoos and conditioners, yes the “natural” and “organic” ones, will tell you that this one is good for dandruff or dry scalp and that one is good for oily hair and that one is good for hair growth and this one will make your head impermeable to pollution. Half truths, lies, capitalism, marketing, etc. In the end all the products that boast whatever kind of wow effect just end up confusing our bodies’ natural balance, not to mention draining our wallets. The good news is your body actually possesses the ability to achieve homeostasis and we can help it do just that by using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Baking soda neuturalizes odors and is very alkaline, so overusing it can eventually damage your hair and scalp. Apple cider vinegar has a pH relatively close to that of our scalp, helping it to restore it’s own natural acidity and at the same time provide a lustrous sheen to your hair (however long or short, straight or curly it may be).
There aren’t stacks of scientific studies that support this approach to hair maintenance, but over 3.5 years I have figured out a way to keep my hair relatively dandruff free, definitely without itch, and for just a few bucks every few months. Every body is different and every body does different things: some of us swim in pools or the oceans, some of us sweat A LOT, others of us not really that much, you get the picture. The frequency with which you use baking soda and apple cider vinegar depends on all of these things. I encourage you to figure out what works for you. If you are experiencing scalp so irritated that it is raw in spots, then this method is not for you and there is likely some larger underlying problem that needs to be resolved before the baking soda and apple cider vinegar, because they will definitely hurt if applied to open wounds.
I keep a plastic pint container of organic baking soda and a plastic Ikea squeezy bottle of apple cider vinegar in my shower. I cook, pretty stinky things, pretty much every day. I use baking soda about once a week and always follow with apple cider vinegar. If my hair is getting knotted (I have curly hair) or it feels like it could use a spruce up, I rinse with apple cider vinegar.
At the start of my shower I wet my hair and use about 2 tablespoons of baking soda for my hair which is very fine, but I have a lot of, curly and stops just above my shoulders. I rub it into my scalp and hair, just like shampoo. When my hair feels “squeaky clean” (like it actually squeaks) I rinse it all out. Then I use the squeezy bottle to drench the top of my head and my hair ends. Apple cider vinegar will hurt your eyes, I tried a lot of bottles before I found that this one gives me the most control. I let the vinegar sit on my head while I do the rest of my shower stuff, then I flip my head over, rinse with cold water and that’s it. Shiny, bouncy, locks without itchy scalp or the smell of roast pork.
As a lite warning: your hair might be "weird" at the beginning of trying to figure out what it needs. That lasts maybe a month and then things even out. Your scalp is equipped to self-regulate when it's free of product. It's winter anyway, just throw a hat on.