Sodium bicarbonate is the formal name for what is commonly known as baking soda, bread soda, cooking soda or bicarbonate of soda. According to the Royal Ontario Museum, its use goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, who used a mixture consisting mostly of sodium carbonate decahydrate and sodium bicarbonate as a powerful cleansing agent.
Baking soda can be used to clarify the hair when mixed with water, shampoo or conditioner. A baking soda hair wash cleans out excess product, removes impurities and cleans your hair better than many expensive products on the market. It is also used for absorbing oils and is therefore ideal when used as a dry shampoo to remove sebum, the oily substance the skin secretes to keep skin and hair moisturized.
To cleanse the hair, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to your shampoo, then leave the mixture in the hair for about three to five minutes and rinse. This can be done once a month to help remove any buildup from hair products and to clarify the hair. To help control oil on your hair, sprinkle 2 teaspoons of baking soda onto dry hair, then brush or comb through to distribute the powder evenly. To clean your combs and brushes, soak them in a sink filled with warm water, with 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of bleach.
Baking soda is a strong alkali with a pH of 9.0 on average. High-alkali products open up the cuticles of the hair and cause hair to absorb so much water that the shaft might weaken and or break. To counteract this, the treatment is best followed with an apple cider vinegar rinse to normalize the pH of the hair. The acid in apple cider vinegar will close the cuticles — and this is particularly relevant to African-American hair, which tends to be particularly prone to breakage. To use the vinegar rinse, dilute 1 part apple cider vinegar with 4 parts water, and rinse the hair with the mixture.
The powder is also highly abrasive, as it is a crystalline grain. This property makes it excellent for cleaning stoves and teeth, but it can be very harsh for the delicate protein in hair. For this reason, it is best used in small amounts and when well dissolved in plenty of water, shampoo or conditioner.
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