I don’t shampoo or condition my hair.  That’s right, I’ve abandoned traditional shampoo, conditioner, and facial cleansers in exchange for more natural products.  In my journey towards a more holistic approach towards caring for my dreadlocks, I have discovered that many things we stock in the refrigerator and outside of it can be utilized to enhance the quality of life both internally and externally.  The amount of beauty products and cleaning solutions that we use on a daily basis has a list of ingredients that negatively impact the environment and are known to harm humans. You can save a lot of money, live frugally, and do your part in caring for the environment if you incorporate two essential items – baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

Baking soda helps you.

Perhaps two of the most harmful ingredients in soap products are triclosan and sodium laureth sulfate. Triclosan is a bacteria-killing ingredient that is not known to be hazardous to humans but environmental scientists and government regulators have discovered that it alters animal hormones and that high amounts are beginning to show up in dolphins.  SLS or sodium–laureth-sulfate is a cheap detergent added to many products to increase “foam.” It has been known to strip hair, irritate skin, and pollute the environment.  When it is absorbed into skin, it has been known to mimic the affects of estrogen and the result has been known as “hormonal chaos.”

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate has been known at low doses to regulate blood pH which can help treat kidney stones and stomach acid. It has been acknowledged as a great alternative for shampoo, skin softener, and in the treatment of acne.

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Use as a deodorant by dabbing a puff into the mixture and applying it to underarms.  It will keep you fresh all day.

A baking soda and Epsom salt bath will relieve any minor skin irritation and/or sore muscles.  Mix 1/2 baking soda with equal parts Epsom salt and allow your troubles to melt away.

It can be used as a face and body scrub.  You can mix it with your traditional cleanser:

  • dampen your face and put a dime-sized amount of your favorite cleanser in your hand.
  • pour a teaspoon of baking soda in with your facial cleanser and mix very well.
  • rub and exfoliate your skin for about 30 seconds, focusing on any problem area such as your t-zone.

To wash your hair with baking soda (yes you can actually wash your hair with it), add 1 tablespoon to 1 cup of water and let the mixture sit on your head or scrub for about a minute before continuing with your shampoo and conditioner. Or you could rinse with vinegar.


Vinegar is awesome.

Vinegar has been used in folk remedies for thousands of years. Hippocrates was known to have mixed it with honey to cleanse and treat wounds, and Sung Tse, creator of forensic medicine, suggested hand-washing with a mixture of sulfur and vinegar to kill bacteria before performing autopsies. According to a 2006 article in Medscape, vinegar consumptions have been reported to “reduce the glucose response to a carbohydrate load in healthy adults and in individuals with diabetes” and also increase “short-term satiety.” Vinegar is also a type of acetic acid, which is an ingredient in chemical peels and known to have some antimicrobial properties.

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In a Google search for “vinegar and hair” there are 741,000 results that claim vinegar balances the natural pH of hair and can be a great alternative for conditioner.  It is recommended to rinse your hair thoroughly with it after using shampoo or baking soda.

Personal Recipe for Baking Soda and Vinegar Rinse

1 tablespoon of baking soda

½ cup of white or apple cider vinegar

natural shampooI often like to add essential oils to my vinegar mix.  I currently add these to my mixture:

  • Tea Tree Oil –antibacterial and dandruff.
  • Lavender Oil – pleasant scent and also treats dandruff.
  • Peppermint Oil – scalp stimulator and moisturizer.
  • Rosemary Oil – also stimulates the scalp and deters premature hair loss.
  • Neem Oil – relieves dry itchy scalp, thickens hair, and promotes shine.

If you decide to use this mixture, I suggest you mix and match up whatever oils best suits your hair type.

Oils for Normal Hair

Chamomile, lavender, and rose oils.  Use these sparingly in a spritzer so you won’t inundate your hair.

Oils for Dry Hair

Chamomile, coconut, olive, jojoba, and lavender can be combed through thirsty locks.

Oils for Oily Hair

Tea tree, lemongrass, and clary sage help balance sebum production.