The “Natural” Hair Care Routine | My Experience

Also in this series: The Curly Girl Hair Routine.

I've mentioned before my interest in using all-natural products on my skin and hair to reduce my exposure to carcinogens and other potentially toxic chemicals. This interest led me to the Curly Girl routine first, but I quickly found that the “natural” routine and the Curly Girl routine worked synchronously at least half the time.

What is this routine? The “Natural Hair Care Routine” is typically associated with using diluted baking soda as a shampoo, and diluted apple cider vinegar as a conditioning rinse. Those who follow the routine will often tell you they wash their hair no more than twice a week, sometimes waiting as many as five days in between washes.

You can imagine how this has taken off across the World Wide Web. Olivia from Fresh Modesty, who is even more involved with natural hygiene than I am, tried it for several weeks in succession at least, and Jessica, Brigid, and Charlotte Boyer of The Boyer Family Singers gave it some consideration as well. The most recent statement I heard from Olivia was that she had "slacked off" on using it (Howard); her review after about a month on the routine was that her hair was softer and more manageable. As for the Boyer sisters, I don't believe they ever began after reading a contributed article, about which I'll go into more detail later in this post.

I personally started this routine in mid- to late summer of 2013. I vividly remember a few of my experiences: I would try to do a hair mask at least once a week, and the baking soda would never wash the coconut oil out of my hair, leading to many a day sauntering through the irrigation fields with greasy, coconut oil-y hair. There was also the occasion where it was picture day at the high school and, since it fell the day before my scheduled baking soda washing, my hair was a little greasier than I would have liked.

I would tell you I'm really not trying to paint this routine in all negatives, but that would be a big fat lie.

The most misleading of all things in this routine is, I think, that many a person believes it "works" for them.

And maybe it does for a while. But the gist of the articles kindly provided to the Boyer Sisters per their decision to implement this routine was that baking soda has a highly alkaline pH--9 or so--and your hair's natural pH is much more acidic--4 to 5, if I remember right. Can you now see that baking soda has a very, VERY high likelihood of causing scalp irritation? Because I don't want to risk plagiarism or going on forever, please continue reading about the way pH affects your scalp and hair in this article.

Personally--because personal experience is the most important kind after all--when I used this routine (for approximately four to six weeks), my scalp got greasy. My hair was limp. The picture in my mind is of it looking tired and unhealthy. My head itched. I got dandruff. . . . And the worst was that I saw my scalp getting redder and redder as time passed. Red with irritation.

So I decided to stop.

For those whom this routine seems to be “working”--I've heard many bloggers say this. I’ve also noted that it’s the bloggers who live in more humid areas--Tennessee, for example--who say it. I don’t know if humidity alters their hair’s acidity level or if the added moisture in the air makes their hair appear more vibrant for longer. But I do know that according to the science, this doesn’t work, and even added humidity isn't going to alter pH level by that much.

Have you tried this routine? What did you think of it if you did? Would you still try it in the future?


  1. I tried this routine a while back but I didn't like it at all- it never entirely cleaned my hair and I was sick of having it greasy.

  2. I wouldn't try this routine, because I HATE greasy hair!
    I don't think it's wrong to wash your hair with just shampoo.
    If people want to use this routine that's just fine.

    1. I don't think shampoo is bad either, Monique, though I know for a fact some common ingredients (sodium laurel/laureth sulfate) rough up my cuticles and make my hair SO abominably frizzy. Even over-washing with non-sulfate shampoo has a tendency to do that; I think that's the reason a lot of curly heads tend to gravitate toward this routine.

  3. My oldest sister has been using this hair routine for almost a year now. She really likes it, but I honestly don't see what the hype is about. Her hair is healthy, but it's not amazing and I don't see a major contrast between the way her hair now as opposed to when she used traditional shampoo/conditioner products (except for maybe the fact that her hair is a little extra greasier). The main reason I would ever try this natural routine is for budget reasons...I mean, shampoos and conditioners are expensive and I go through these products pretty rapidly especially now that I'm growing out my hair.

    Thanks for the insight! For now I think I will stick with my natural organic shampoo products and strive to wash my hair less. :)

    1. Oh, yes, something I forgot to mention in the post -- this routine is WAY cheaper than traditional all-natural, "special" (for your hair type) shampoos and conditioners, which is a huge pro to me since I'm trying to save money and will likely be living on my own next year trying to go to college. However, I just can't see doing it long term, even with the cost efficiency . . . my scalp got pretty irritated when I tried it.

      Thanks for commenting, Dani!


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