Monday, March 5, 2012

Vinegar Rinses and Baking Soda Scrubs

I have officially had my first attempt at trying a more eco-friendly (and, coincidentally, cheaper) shampoo alternative, and thought I'd share my experiences. Y'know. Just in case anyone else is thinking of making a change.

Strangely enough, earlier in the day I used vinegar and baking soda to unclog a drain AND do some nice, non-asphyxiating cleaning in the bathroom, so it just made sense to leave the products in the bathroom for my impending shower. What could it hurt?

I read up on some methods and chose the one I'd try. I was slightly fearful for getting stinging vinegar in my eyes, and that I'd blatantly smell like a salad for days (perhaps to the delight of my salad-lovin' hubby). But, my thoughts kept returning to Shirley Temple -- if she could endure her daily vinegar rinses (as a child, of course), I could, too. Gotta keep those curls perfect! ;-) (Just kidding, I don't have curls.)

So, I diluted some vinegar and water in a stainless steel cup we had lying around the bathroom (I'd say about a 6:1 ratio, water to vinegar -- but this depends on the length of your hair and other factors, like tendency toward oiliness) and let it sit alongside the box of baking soda. After wetting down my hair, I poured the solution (about 2/3 of it) on my head, in sections, from my scalp to the tips. The point of this first soaking is to bring the oil and grime to the surface of the hair - so it's good to leave it on for at least two minutes. You can do the rest of your showerly bidness in the meantime.

I'm not sure if I did it properly, but I rinsed my hair in the shower before doing this next step - I wasn't sure I wanted that "fuzzy" reaction with the baking soda happening on my scalp. So, after the rinse, I took a small handful (a couple of tablespoons, maybe) of the baking soda, dropped in a bit of water to make a thick paste, then rubbed it pretty aggressively into my scalp and hair. I believe I only had to do two handfuls, then I just worked the abrasive action of the baking soda until I felt the job was done.

But, of course, this isn't the end. I then water-rinsed - again, not sure if I should've done this or just added the last vinegar rinse, but I'm a rebel - before doing one final vinegar rinse with the leftover vinegar/water dilution. A final rinse of water, and I was done.

It may SEEM like it took forever, but it really didn't waste as much water as you're thinking -- it was pretty quick, even with the 2-minute "soak" (which, again, left me with time to clean, um, the rest of me). And, while I think I should've rinsed more at the end, I didn't necessarily notice a vinegar odor...not a strong one, at least. I'll pay better attention to my rinsing in the future, but I could only faintly smell it when I shoved a handful of hair from my ponytail up to my nose.

I'll give a more in-depth review of this technique after I've been doing it for a week or two, but, in all honesty, my hair was SO soft (after blow-drying with zero product) and easy to comb through after just one shower. I don't notice any greasiness the day after, but also very little dryness. The chemicals and suds in normal shampoo (even lots of the "eco-friendly" versions out there) strip our hair of the oils that it needs. I'm excited to see whether this continues to suffice for me (I've even heard that some folks are able to wash their hair less than once daily after trying this method!).

But, seriously, even if I try this technique a few times a week, it'll cut back on chemicals a) going onto my body...yuck... and b) joining the environment. I've got some shampoo to use up, so I'm up in the air about finishing it (or seeing if a family member or friend would use it).

Oh, and no, I'm not forcing Dave to try this. Although, I told him to watch out for the jug of vinegar in the bathroom and I believe he made a joke about using it as which I replied, "I did!!!" Boy, was he surprised. I guess he must not have smelled it coming from my head! ;-)


  1. I've been wanting to do this, but I've been too afraid of going to work with greasy/smelly/powdery hair. I figured I'd wait until Summer! I've read that the first two weeks can be rough and your hair may start to get super oily for the first week or two, basically because your scalp is used to making so much oil to counteract the drying out effect of shampoos. It should normalize after a bit. Do you usually use conditioner? I'm just wondering about tangles,etc. Keep us updated - I'm going to let you be the guinea pig! ;)

  2. So far, I haven't had the greasy issue (but it's early still). There's nothing smelly or powdery going on, either (at least beyond the very, very faint vinegar smell). :-) I've also had a loooong history of having very, very tangley hair post-washing and, like I mentioned, it was SO manageable!!! I'll keep ya posted. :-)