Using baking soda for hair: what are the risks?
By Prof. Dr. Soner Tatlidede 2022-03-28
The use of baking soda for hair has become a common topic on many websites; it´s quite usual to find posts talking about how to prevent gray hair with baking soda and other supposed benefits of sodium bicarbonate (commonly known as baking soda), even explaining how to use baking soda for hair loss treatment or to eliminate grey hair. But, is this true?
For those suffering from alopecia problems and looking for options to get a FUE hair transplant, it can be a temptation to believe that sodium acid carbonate - a cheap and easily available substance – can be a solution to their hair problems. However, we think that it is important to talk seriously about the real properties of baking soda for hair: what are its benefits? Does it pose a risk for hair? Can you wash your hair with sodium bicarbonate? Can baking soda make hair grow back? Seriously... you shouldn’t miss this post.
Does baking soda really have benefits for hair?
As we have just said, we can find a lot of information on the Internet about the theoretical benefits of using baking soda for hair. We can summarise these supposed benefits in the following:
- Prevents oily hair: it is known to be a great cleansing agent, so it supposedly helps to remove excess of fat and sebum in the scalp.
- Cleans hair: as a cleanser, it is said to be a perfect substitute for shampoo, helping to clean hair and providing it with shine and softness.
- Restores scalp PH: supposedly, sodium bicarbonate would serve to restore the PH of the scalp, by removing dirt and grease.
- Prevents dandruff: it is supposed to help hair with dandruff by preventing excess sebum and restoring the skin PH.
- Eliminates grey hair: some reports claim that bicarbonate would also serve to reduce the loss of pigmentation in hair, and therefore to prevent grey hair.
- Baking soda to lighten hair: paradoxically, it is also said that you can use baking soda to remove hair dye, if you coloured it too much.
- Strengthens hair: due to its properties, sodium bicarbonate is said to strengthen hair and stimulate its growth.
- Straightens hair: some websites also mention that it is possible to straighten hair with baking soda, mixing it with water.
These are just some of the properties or supposed benefits that are mentioned in different webpages about sodium acid carbonate; some websites even suggest how to prepare home remedies with bicarbonate sodium for hair lightening, using baking soda and lemon to remove hair dye, or explaining how to prepare a hair treatment with a baking soda recipe. The truth, however, is that there is no relevant scientific study that demonstrates these theoretical benefits of a substance that, on the other hand, can be really harmful to our hair.
What´s wrong with washing hair with baking soda?
Precisely, one of the recommendations that can be read the most on the Internet, is that referring to preparing substitutes for shampoo, using sodium bicarbonate for hair wash and mixing it with other products (e.g., explaining how to wash your hair with baking soda and vinegar, or coconut oil). Many websites even claim that these "homemade" preparations, by using natural ingredients, are healthier than shampoo itself since this contains chemical ingredients, and point out that they are an excellent cleanser capable of ending with oily scalp.
The question is: is washing your hair with baking soda harmful? Many of these websites also provide information about how often to wash hair with baking soda, recommending not to use it more than once a week... since they are well aware that it is a very abrasive product (let's not forget that it is used for household cleaning); our recommendation, however... is that you should never use it.
It is necessary to emphasise that sodium bicarbonate is an aggressive substance that can, in fact, alter the scalp PH and damage hair fibres. Using bicarbonate of soda means - in the best of cases - running the risk of suffering from irritation and itching, especially if you leave it on your head for too long and don't rinse it correctly with water.
The risk is especially high if our scalp is very sensitive, if we are receiving some hair treatment, or if our hair tends to dry out. There are many testimonies of people who have suffered damages in their hair after following some "advices" on the Internet about how to use of baking soda on hair.
Does baking soda help hair grow faster?
So, what does baking soda actually do for your hair? As we just mentioned, even if it could provide temporary benefits to hair in some people, the risk of causing serious damage is too high to recommend its use. In addition, there are many myths about baking soda, including the use of baking soda and shampoo to remove hair dye, but specially the alleged use of sodium bicarbonate for hair loss.
One of those myths is the claim that strengthens hair and stimulates the growth of hair follicles. But the truth is that there is no home remedy capable of stopping pattern baldness; in addition, being a very corrosive agent, if we use sodium bicarbonate it is likely that we will suffer from irritation and inflammation, and will cause damage to our scalp, and no benefit at all.
Another myth is the one that states that bicarbonate eliminates grey hair, with some websites even recommending mixing it with shampoo... Let's keep in mind that the colour of our skin and our hair is determined by the presence of melanin, a pigment that is inside the hair fibre; bicarbonate only acts externally, so it is impossible that it can influence the colour of our hair, nor alter the production of melanin either.
Some tips and home remedies found on the Internet even recommend mixing baking soda with vinegar, which makes the mixture even more aggressive for the skin, and can cause serious irritation to the scalp and damage to the follicles structure, causing hair to become brittle and dull.
Does baking soda damage hair?
In fact, the alleged benefits of baking soda for hair are less than its potential risks, especially considering that nowadays there are many harmless products on the market that can have similar - if not better - effects on hair. Besides, let's remember that the PH of sodium bicarbonate is 9: much higher than that of the skin and scalp, which is 5.5.
While there is no research to support the supposed benefits of sodium bicarbonate, there are studies that confirm that a high pH like that of bicarbonate of soda can seriously damage our hair health, causing irritation, frizz, damage to hair fibres, and brittle hair. Other studies have linked the use of products with a pH of 9 or higher to skin irritation problems, also causing dryness by removing the fat layer and the natural oils that protect the skin.
Therefore, our conclusion is that there is no reason to put our hair health at risk by using baking soda for hair. If you have problems on your scalp, or your hair falls out, ask for help from an expert and put yourself in the hands of professionals. Clinicana is the best hair transplant clinic, and we are specialists in all kinds of hair therapies: request your free consultation, and ask us for a free, no obligation estimate for your treatment. What are you waiting for?