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!
How I Found a Healthy 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 made 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 became much softer using it.
Next, I switched to the Acure hair care line, specifically the Ultra-Hydrating shampoo & conditioner formula. It was another massive improvement, but for some reason, it left my scalp dry and itchy a few days after washing. Other ladies love it, though, so it’s definitely a brand to consider.
Then I learned about Shea Moisture hair products. Many of their ingredients 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, many of the formulas are too heavy. I had the best results with the Coconut Water Weightless shampoo and conditioner.
I love Shea Moisture’s deep conditioning hair masques and used them as a gentle mid-week wash when I needed one. I tried many of the formulas but liked the 10-in-1 Renewal System best.
Eventually, though, I decided to switch to different brands that aren’t as heavy in my straight hair. I’ve had great results with both Desert Essence (Anti-Breakage or Smoothing formulas) and Avalon Organics (Nourishing Lavender and Strengthening Peppermint formulas). These brands also have solid ratings from Skin Deep, and Avalon Organics is now an EWG Verified brand.
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 quality 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!
For a short time (about six months), I did an intense warm oil treatment of castor, coconut, apricot kernel, argan, and jojoba oils from root to tip and left on for a few hours. I gradually washed it out using just a little shampoo, rinsing and repeating until the oil was gone, and conditioned as usual.
Because the oil treatment was pretty heavy, it took about 4 washes to get all of it out. Sometimes I needed an extra rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar to make sure my hair was free from residue. But it’s definitely something to try if your hair has suffered extreme damage.
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. When I’ve tried to remove the lint, the bristles come out more easily 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
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.