1 part baking soda + 3 parts water


1 part apple cider vinegar + 3 parts water

(for long hair use 75 ml (i.e., 5 Tbsp) of baking soda/vinegar with 225 ml of water) 


  • For conditioner I used 2 drops of an essential oil of jasmine to get rid of the vinegar smell. Choose something you want to be smelling frequently!
  • I also added some black walnut powder, which you can get it at a loose tea emporium, for a darker tone. Not sure if it helps yet but I like my hair dark… especially where there are greys!  
  • I plan to play with the shine a bit. I might add some avocado or beer (see below)… stay tuned!

Other blogs about why to do this and the process:
Treehugger      Mind Body Green      Naturally Curly

Started with Infrequent Hair Washing

Hair done the next morning post-wash. (When I can, I wash my hair at night and sleep on it to reduce frizz). No products. Just flat-iron curl. 

Hair done the next morning post-wash. (When I can, I wash my hair at night and sleep on it to reduce frizz). No products. Just flat-iron curl. 

    I’ve been toying with the idea of doing this with my hair for awhile. I have used apple cider vinegar on occasion and liked the results, but always followed it up with a real (by real I actually mean the fake, commercially available kind) conditioner. But until last night, I had not yet ventured into the baking soda. But it was December 29th and I had a few days of writing planned before a quiet new year’s of game playing with friends. My hair didn’t really matter for the next 5 days at least. Plus, I just spent the past 6 days over the holidays without having washed my hair. I normally go 3-4 days but there just didn’t seem to be a convenient time this particular holiday so I ended up going the whole 6 days while away, and probably could have squeezed another day out. That, in itself, feels like an accomplishment. I got to the point of infrequent washing over time by slowly reducing the number of hair washes I did. In between, on some morning where I felt the need to fluff it up, I would blow drying my hair, which I think dried the oild, with my head upside down. I NEVER, EVER brush my hair it between washes. Instantly oil producer for my hair. These infrequent washes included sweaty exercise sessions too but always blow dried after.  My typical routine is to wash, dry, and do (either scrunch the real curls or flat-iron curl it for big wavy stuff). My hair holds it’s “do” quite well so generally, once I do my hair after a wash I can just get up and go in the following wash-free mornings. Pretty easy and that’s the point!!!  Admittedly, I love my hair but I come from a history of being obsessed!  Seriously. If my 80s bangs weren’t perfect on a Friday night (any time between grade 9 and 11) I would stay in for the night after a long battle with my hair teasing utensil, which always ended with a crying fit and me flopping on my bed thinking my life was over.  This rarely happens any more.  ;)  So, while I continue to love and enjoy my hair, I refused to take time out of the life or sleep that I love for hours of hair doing.


A Note on Hair Health

A few hours later, after walking to a coffee shop and sitting there writing this blog. Curls fell -- that's normal. 

A few hours later, after walking to a coffee shop and sitting there writing this blog. Curls fell -- that's normal. 

    I still really value shiny hair. In university, I developed a theory that life was all about shinny hair. On the surface, it feels like a vain attempt at an existence but the reality is that hormones affect our hair quite significantly, and not just pregnancy or menstrual hormones. Stress hormones are the worse. Actually, the pollution in and around Niagara region from Hamilton factories, I think is actually the rose. But in terms of hormones, I think cortisol is one of the worst. Cortisol is the human hormone that rises during stressful events, acute and chronic. It is measured in man different ways as a predictor of perceived stress and even major depressive disorder.  In fact, cortisol levels can be determined from someone’s hair and that level been shown to accurately predict how pessimistic-optimistic the person is (i.e., high cortisol is associated with low optimism (abstract available here: When I was back in the lab, I worked with an animal model of stress in which we gave daily injections of corticosterone (the rat equivalent of human cortisol) or provided repeated daily stressors. The studies, lead by my friend, Andrea Gregus, revealed over and over again that repeated stress was not good for an animals wellbeing (see abstract here: One thing that was clear to us was that as the animals got more exposure to repeated stressors, their bodies started to change. Their muscles atrophied (i.e., withered away) and their hair lost it’s lustre, shine, and smooth texture, all indicators of good health and good hair health (see review here: These animals were in bad shape and it was shown in their hair. 

    My theory of it’s all about shiny hair was premature in terms of my actual knowledge. It was an intuitive guess based on what I did know about stress and the human body. Learning that there was an actual relationship was a nice affirmation. I also had a theory that one of the 3 ingredients necessary for happiness was to smile at people you didn’t even know. Upon studying positive psychology later in life I realized this was very well-founded too… but I digress.  ;)

How to Get Shiny Hair

    So, step one is shiny hair is to mind your hormones, particularly your stress hormones! But there are other things I have done to achieve that artificially. I used to rinse beer in my hair weekly, which does make it really soft and shiny. I will probably incorporate this into my conditioner recipe above, as indicated. Avocado also apparently bring out lots of shine although I never really noticed it personally. You should take my low grades on products with a grain of salt, mind you. My hair did tend to be rather shiny when I was young and in some ways I think I had the equivalent of hair anorexia — my hair was never shiny enough! My hair is, however, corse and doesn’t like extra heavy stuff. So I do think the beer worked better than the heavy avocado. To this day I still rinse my hair with cold water after each washing to bring out more shine and reduce the frizz.

    I have tried so many shampoos, serums, salt spray, hair sprays, shine enhancers, shine sprays, moulds, gels, velcro curlers, Vidal hot oil treatments (remember those anyone????)… I’m sure there are millions more I can’t think of.  I have bought so many different kids of shampoos I should have been recording and writing about it this whole time. In the process I have found many that I like and many that I don’t like. II have worked well with some natural-type shampoos but as far as natural conditioners are concerned, I have yet to find anything that 

works well works. They all make my hair feel limp and I can’t, for the life of me get a comb through in the shower (that’s the value of the silicon, I think, which is actually a natural compound: So TRESemme and Frize Ease conditioners have been my go-to conditioners. 

    But now I’m ready for something different. Being pregnant has forced me to pull back even further on my chemical exposures. No nail polish or nail polish removed (even the natural ones). No hair dying. No to lots of hair products and greatly reducing others. Shampooing and conditioning is part of that retreat, with a side benefit is that it’s WAY cheaper too!  I’m not saying I’m going to commit to this for ever, but I think it’s a good general practice. If, for some reason I need to dress myself up in a way where I feel the need to use one of my go-to commercially-available fake shampoo and conditioners then I likely will and won’t be hard on myself. I would like to use this natural technique with my new baby though, rather than spending hours researchers which ones are and are not safe for them. Good ole baking soda and apple cider vinegar is probably the best… but I will have to research that just to be sure. If anyone knows, please comment!

So this is day 1. I will keep posting below as the trial continues. There is definitely room for improvement. If anyone else wants to join the trial please follow along and comment as you do! Looking forward to hearing about it and trying this on for size! 

After writing all this I have realized that A) I REALLY enjoyed writing this and B) I think I am still OBSESSED with my hair and am bit embarrassed at this continued attachment to my hair. It was my plan to shave my head for Body Monologues 2015 as a ceremony for my 40th birthday. I realized that I wasn't ready and wasn't going to do it. I was too attached to my hair, which was actually the purpose of doing it!! I need to re-think my re-thinking of not doing it. In the meantime, I will play with my shampoo and conditioner recipe in vain. ;) 

AuthorMandy Wintink