Years of baking soda no ‘poo caused severe damage and extensive breakage to my hair. Gentle and moisturizing hair products, along with lots of time, have restored my long, healthy hair after the no ‘poo disaster.
Remember my story of severe hair damage from longterm baking soda no ‘poo hair washing? Turns out my story is just one of many.
I get so many comments and emails from ladies (and a few gents) who’ve experienced the exact same brittle, breaking hair that I did. Though some no ‘poo enthusiasts are still convinced I just did it wrong, I think most of us have realized that the whole baking soda no ‘poo craze was an awful, horrible natural living disaster.
And it has left a lot of us wondering what to do now that the damage is done.
I’m glad to report that the damage my hair suffered from baking soda no ‘poo wasn’t permanent. My hair has recovered, and though I still have to give the ends lots of TLC, it is quite healthy once again. By using a natural and moisturizing hair care line and sticking with other gentle styling habits, I feel like I have my long, healthy hair back.
Disclosure: There are affiliate links to products I use in this post. Your cost is the same if you purchase through these links, but my blog is supported with a commission. Thank you!
My New Hair Wash Routine
After I gave up on baking soda no ‘poo, I tried one other DIY natural hair wash method using clay. It was a total, complete, horrific hair disaster that make my hair break so much more. I probably did it wrong, but there was no way I was going to try it again!
I used a shampoo bar for a while, but I often had this yucky film left over, even with an apple cider vinegar rinse. It was still an improvement over no ‘poo, though. My hair become much softer using it.
Later I switched to the Acure hair care line. It was another massive improvement, but for some reason, it left my scalp dry and itchy a few days after washing. Still, other ladies love it, so it’s definitely a brand to consider.
Then I learned about Shea Moisture hair products. All of the product information I read on their website sounded extremely promising with natural, gentle, and moisturizing ingredients. Many of them are organic and fair trade, and the company has great ratings on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
Using Shea Moisture was a learning process for me. Many of the lines are formulated for women of color whose hair requires extra moisture because of it’s unique and beautiful texture. With my very straight and fine hair, some of the formulas were too heavy.
But learning which lines are best suited for me and figuring out how to use just the right amount has paid off. I’ve become a big Shea Moisture fan. My hair is so soft after washing and conditioning! I only shampoo once a week, too.
I first typically apply a warm oil treatment of castor, coconut, apricot kernel, argan, and jojoba oils from root to tip and leave on for a few hours. Then I gradually wash it out using just a little Shea Moisture shampoo, rinsing, and repeating until the oil is gone, and condition as usual. Sometimes I’ll do an extra rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar, but not always.
Update: after doing the oil treatments weekly for about 6 months, I stopped doing them regularly because my hair was healthy once again.
To wash my hair midweek, I use one of their amazing deep-conditioning hair masques and do a conditioner wash. It gets the excess oil out and leaves my hair super soft. I adore the hair masques!
Other Gentle Hair Care Steps
Finding a gentle but effective way to wash my hair was the first and most important step in restoring it. A few other steps also helped improve my hair and prevented further damage.
Solid Nutrition and Staying Hydrated
Brittle hair can sometimes be a sign of dehydration or nutrient deficiencies. Though my diet isn’t perfect, I do my best to focus on healthy, real foods that keep my whole body nourished. I regularly drink lots of water, mostly because I’m often pregnant or breastfeeding. But it helps my hair, too!
I take a food-based multivitamin to help fill in any nutritional gaps, but I never tried a “hair and nails” type of formula since I knew my breakage was from the washing method I used for so long.
Gentle Hairstyles & Hair Accessories
Though I love Flexi-Clips for how they look and feel, they are also the perfect hair accessory for damaged hair. They are extremely gentle and don’t promote breakage like elastic hair ties, bobby pins, and other typical hair accessories. This drop-bun style is one of the gentlest I do. Lilla Rose U-Pins are another great choice for holding up hair without breaking it.
I also don’t tease my hair and rarely do styles that require heat or hairspray. My hair may lack lots of volume, but it isn’t breaking, either! Rarely, if I need a little extra styling power, I’ll use one of Shea Moisture’s gentle and moisturizing styling products.
Gentle Combs and Brushes
I use a wide-toothed comb after washing, but through the week, I use either a Wet Brush or a boar bristle brush.
I like the Wet Brush because the bristles are super gentle and thin. They don’t tear at my hair while detangling it, and they really are safe to use in wet hair! One caveat: the bristles are so thin that lint gets wrapped really tightly around them, and though I’ve tried multiple methods, I just can’t get all of the lint out. It works fine with the lint; it just doesn’t look very nice.
Update: The bristles come out easier than in other brushes. I still really like the Wet Brush, but I’m not thrilled that it needs replaced more often than other brushes.
The boar bristle brush is great for distributing natural hair oils from the scalp down the hair shaft. It would probably be good if I used this more faithfully, but
sometimes often I don’t want to spend a few minutes brushing my hair when little people need me.
Extra Moisture for the Ends
Usually midway through the week I like to add some extra moisture to the ends of my hair. A drop or two of either jojoba oil or argan oil does the trick perfectly without weighing down my hair. These oils (well technically, jojoba is a liquid wax) make the ends of my hair feel like I just washed and conditioned them.
I just take a drop or two of oil, rub it in my hands, then rub my hands through my hair, focusing on the ends. When I’m an extra good girl I brush with the boar bristle brush for a bit after I rub the oil through. It helps distribute the oil even more and prevents any spots from actually looking oily.
It’s taken years, but I am so glad to have my long, healthy hair back. If your hair was damaged from baking soda no ‘poo, too, there’s so much hope!
What do you use to gently and naturally care for your hair?
After becoming a fan, Shea Moisture provided me with products to review, but I wasn’t compensated for this post. I personally use and enthusiastically recommend their products! You can find their products on Amazon (linked in the post), the Shea Moisture website, and a growing number of stores near you.