Can Using Baking Soda Help Your Hair Grow?

Writer Fran Lebowitz once remarked, "You're only as good as your last haircut." But what if instead of a cut you're looking to grow out your mane? A quick search for easy DIY ingredients to stimulate hair growth might lead you to a common cleaning agent: good ol' baking soda. 

Baking soda is a versatile and inexpensive chemical compound. Around the house, you can use it to deodorize your carpets, keeps your drains running free and clear, and treat hard-to-remove laundry stains. In your beauty routine, baking soda can gently exfoliate your face, keep your armpits dry and fresh, or even brighten your teeth. 

So can this miracle product also act as a hair restorative? It's easy to assume that because it is "natural" baking soda is — at a minimum — safe to use, but experts warn that to halt hair loss or promote hair growth, baking soda may not be the panacea the internet claims it to be (via WebMD).

Baking soda can clean your hair of unwanted residue

Hair products can work wonders to set a style or prevent heat damage, but they can also turn your locks from luscious to limp in just a few days. Because of its abrasive qualities, baking soda can help remove product residue as well as any dry skin lingering on your scalp (via Medical News Today). 

Dermatologist Zain Husain confirmed these cleaning qualities, telling WebMD, "​​Baking soda dissolved in water helps to remove buildups of oils, shampoos, and other ingredients that can be found in hair products." That's why, after a simple water-baking soda wash, you may find your hair feeling super soft even as it squeaks with cleanliness.

And compared to other clarifying cleansers, baking soda is a very economical choice. Instead of purchasing pricy store-brand shampoos, a simple water-baking soda mix can achieve similar results at a fraction of the cost. Plus, you probably already have all the ingredients you need at home. If you've got particularly oily hair, you may experience some positive effects from an occasional baking soda wash. But, experts warn, that washing your hair with baking soda on the daily has the potential to harm — not help — your goal of longer, healthier hair.

Using baking soda too often can ultimately damage your hair

If you've decided to stop washing your hair and switch exclusively to a "no poo" method, experts advise that prolonged use of baking soda can actually strip your hair of the oils that naturally protect it from breaking (via Medical News Today). Baking soda is significantly more alkaline and has a higher pH level than commercially available shampoos. Research from 2014 indicates that this higher level of alkalinity can increase the number of electrons on the surface of the hair, raising the friction, damaging the hair cuticle, and eventually causing breakage of the strand itself. Shampoos with a lower pH can actually reduce the amount of static electricity, resulting in less frizz.

The drying quality of baking soda can also cause more split ends. As that breakage travels further up the hair shaft, a more extensive trim will be required the next time you hit the salon chair (via Birdie). For drool-worthy tresses, consider a shampoo that contains biotin or caffeine, both of which can help your hair grow. Anti-dandruff shampoos can also help reduce inflammation and address any fungal issues, both of which can contribute to stalled growth (via WebMD).

"Remember," dermatologist Chesahna Kindred told WebMD, "not everything that is natural is safe." Baking soda can be a great addition to your hair care routine, but it's not the end-all-be-all for long locks.