hair-washing-tips1 beautythroughstrength.comA friend of mine recently asked me how to reverse chlorine damage on the hair after a summer of swimming and fun in the sun. It’s a FABULOUS question to answer as summer winds down and pool days come to a halt.

It also reminded me about this lovely exchange that I had with Margie, @27done, on Twitter (her AMAZING bio is below):

Margie wrote about washing her hair with baking soda: 1 tbsp baking soda 8 oz hot water in spritzer bottle to wet hair,1 tbsp apple cider vinegar 8 oz. water, rinse, final rinse water.

Her results: Looks shiny, manageable and above all…CLEAN! No stripping of natural oils! Benefits…no chemicals absorbed and SO INEXPENSIVE! July 25, 2013

Apple cider vinegar and baking soda make wonderful natural hair treatments. So I figured I’d give it a go!

Here’s how to make it (trial-and-error is often the greatest teacher):

Preparation: Pour warm water to the eight ounce mark in a measuring cup with a pouring spout. Add the tablespoon of baking soda and stir to dissolve in the water or it will collect at the bottom.

In another measuring cup, add the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to eight ounces of water.

How NOT to use it: Don’t just start pouring over your head like someone I know did (me). This gets into eyes and stings!

DO: Dip a cotton round into the ACV cup and swipe your face with it before your shower. This makes a wonderful toner for your skin!


  • In the shower, pour the baking soda mixture over your entire head.
  • Rinse very well.
  • Then pour the apple cider vinegar mixture over your head.
  • Leave on for a bit and then rinse well.

There’s really not much to do after that. We are so accustomed to lathering up and rinsing, often drying out the hair.

If you still need to have that feeling, massage your scalp a bit to work in each formula. Then rinse. If you want to do a cold water rinse as some people recommend to close the hair shaft and give some shine, go for it. Personally, cold showers give me the shivers. I avoid at all cost.

This simple formula left my hair feeling cleansed and not weighed down by any residual product. The alkalinity of the baking soda and apple cider vinegar restore hair’s natural pH balance.

After using this for about a week, I can see doing this at intervals when my hair needs some clarifying or a good cleanse (like balancing hair after chlorine damage). But I can’t see using this all the time.

For one, the convenience factor: I have to remember to bring up my mixing cups every time I want to shower.  To avoid this, you can pre-mix the water solutions, store them in two tall bottles with flip spouts, and leave in the shower.

The other drawback is that I find it very hard to wash out the scent of the ACV which isn’t exactly the way I want to smell the rest of the day. Salad dressing, anyone?

I also find that my hair wants a bit of conditioner after washing. This could have something to do with the water in New Jersey. It is different everywhere. I know some people use water softeners or filters that treat the water and make it less harsh on the skin and hair.

I follow this with a drop of oil (preferably organic and raw/cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil, or KENZA Pure Hair Treatment Oil, etc.) Massage through your hair and scalp. For a deeper hair conditioning treat, work in enough oil to coat your hair and scalp, leave on for a few hours or overnight.

I like this treatment rather than a traditional shampoo to remove chemicals because more shampoosing (this was a typo but I like it, so I’m leaving it: SHAMPOOSING is my new favorite word!) runs the risk of further stripping the hair and drying it out with more chemicals.

Your hair will look and feel good as new. The last remnants of summer will remain in photos where they belong—not in your hair!

If you’re wondering about more information on the delightful Margie, here’s the brief bio she shared with me in an email:

Margaret FlayI’m a retired ( 66 ) public health nurse living in Ontario, Canada, and started my green journey 27 years ago after being diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.

With 3 children, the youngest 4 years old, I was greatly motivated to prevent a recurrence in any way I could, and after researching cancer stats worldwide discovered that the countries with the highest intake of beef and dairy also had the highest cancer rates. I immediately eliminated animal products and processed foods (have to say, in my chemo group no one else seemed interested in my research or in changing their diet…still shaking my head over that one!). To date I have not had a single recurrence and I’m convinced my diet and green lifestyle had a great deal to do with that happy fact.

Now about the baking soda shampoo. As you see in my profile picture taken a year ago I don’t dye my hair, so I can’t say if it will affect color treated hair, or not, but I think it likely will help with chlorine issues. For me it’s so liberating to be free of organic shampoos, which still provide the best alternative, but are pretty costly.

Full disclosure: For some reason, I misunderstood the recipe and originally combined the baking soda with the ACV in 8 oz. water. Aside from creating a frothy mini-explosion, my hair looked incredibly voluminous, but felt like straw. Not good. I wrote to Margie to figure out if this was a normal reaction and she corrected my recipe. Thanks for bearing with my experiment!

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