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NOTE: Bleaching your hair in any and all forms is bad for it. You should always do a strand test when dying your hair. This method is hardly any different than getting a box of color (Last time I used a box mix, my hair turned out very orange; this method leaves it a much more natural shade for whatever reason.) If you are wanting to dye the whole of your hair significantly lighter than it’s current shade, please go to a stylist. But if you’re doing streaks, or trying to lighten up a too-dark dye job, then this should do no harm.
Second NOTE: I cannot say whether or not this method will work on your hair. It works very well on my hair and my step mom’s hair, since we both have very porous strands. Whereas my friend had no luck getting this to work in her hair—it’s simply resistant to the mixture (and almost anything aside from salon grade bleaching/dying formulas) because her hair has low porosity. If your hair tends to damage or get frizzy easily, this will probably work for you better than someone who sees very little damage from styling and all that, but I cannot make any guarantees. 🙂
I’m heading out to my aunt and uncle’s house this weekend with my boyfriend. My aunt and I decided that we’re going dye our hair, which I’m pretty pumped about. In preparation for dying streaks of “atomic turquoise” into my locks, I decided to lighten a few sections of my hair (since I have dark, nearly black, brown hair). I had tested a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide mixture on a small chunk of hair a few months ago, and decided to use that method instead of spending $10 on a bottle of hair bleach and only using 1/8 of it.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Baking Soda
- A brush to put the mixture onto your hair—I used a spongey craft brush.
- Aluminum foil if you’re doing sections.
- A plastic bag if you’re doing all of your hair.
- An old t-shirt to wear.
I started with clean hair, and a general idea of which pieces of hair I wanted to bleach.
I sectioned off the parts of my hair I wanted colored, and tied the rest of my hair out of the way.
I then mixed up H2O2 with baking soda until it became a paste. This paste should be fluid enough to easily spread into your hair, but it shouldn’t be so thin that it drips all over the place.
(Update 6/12/2012: I provided the recipe in my “Lightening Blonde Hair” post.)
(Update 8/9/2012: In case you don’t make it down to the comments in my other H2O2 & Baking Soda Lightening post, Lisa shared a mishap she had while attempting this herself. “I’d like to warn anyone and everyone. Do not mix this in an enclosed container. I mixed it in a fruit smoothie blender. When I tried to take off the lid, it literally blew up. It made a huge POP and that stuff went everywhere. It was also very hot!!! Scared me so bad.” Whenever there’s a chemical reaction going on—in this case, what’s changing your hair color—there will often be a gas that leaves the mixture and can create pressure in a closed container. Be careful!)
I used tin foil to keep my streaks nice and tidy. I learned, somewhere on the internet, how to fold back the aluminum foil at the end so that you have something to hold onto while applying color/bleach to your hair.
The folded end goes on the underside.
When you color/lighten pieces of hair that frame your face, you want to place the foil to the side of your sectioned hair that is toward the back of your head. (So that you can see where you’re applying the mixture—clever, right?)
Be careful to cover all of the sections evenly, and pay close attention to the ends. I find it easiest to take rows of hair to apply the mixture to, so every strand is covered without having to work too hard at it.
When all of your desired sections of hair are covered in goop and tinfoil (or a plastic bag, if you’re lightening all of your hair), then apply heat, using a hair dryer. I did for about five minutes (everyone in my house was trying to sleep… oops) but I’m pretty sure that if you have the patience—and it’s not one in the morning—spending ten to fifteen minutes heating the sections would be just about perfect.
This next part is pretty easy: Sit pretty and wait for blonde hair to appear!
I let my hair sit for about an hour and got significant results; certainly not platinum blonde, but blonde.
I’m super happy with the final product! I was very tempted to lighten all of my hair to this shade—especially with how cheap and simple this method is. I’ll probably do another round of lightening on these sections, though, to ensure that the turquoise dye shows up without being dingy. 🙂
My hair doesn’t seem particularly damaged after this process, either. That might just be from going “no ‘poo,” though. Either way, I like it!
Things to Keep in Mind:
- I have very dark brown hair. If your hair is lighter, you don’t need to leave the color in for as long as I did.
- Heat is not necessary, but it speeds up the process.
- Try not to get too much of the mixture on your scalp; it doesn’t feel very nice.
- You can always repeat the process to get a lighter shade; keep an eye on the color of your hair every ten to fifteen minutes and rinse it out sooner rather than later so that you don’t risk going too blonde for your taste.
Please share your experiences with peroxide & baking soda lightening! I can only speak for women with dark, coarse, wavy hair. If you’re a redhead, blondie going blonder, or if you have very curly or very fine hair, I’d love to hear how this method worked for you!
Thanks for reading,
Disclaimer: I am by no means a hair stylist or anything of the sort. I simply love doing hair and makeup, and I like finding cheap ways to look good! Please use common sense if you attempt to lighten your hair this way, and please do not hold me accountable for potential mishaps.
I cannot get over how terrible the phrase, “no ‘poo” sounds. Oh well. The point of this post is to express my satisfaction with this method of hair cleansing after having done it for about a month and a half!
Anyhoo, going without shampoo has been a bit of an online trend for the past year or two (from what I’ve noticed) and I originally had looked into it because I had dyed my hair a flaming shade of red, which is an incredibly tedious color to keep up. I figured that it would make my color last much longer if I stopped scrubbing away the color.
When I first looked into it, the post I found (I can’t remember where I found it) didn’t really specify how to nix shampoo, so I went maybe two weeks without washing my hair, and just used conditioner to rinse away build up. This worked terribly for me. I was a nasty grease-ball. </3
Little did I know, at the time, that going without shampoo doesn’t mean going without actually washing your hair. A baking soda mixture is used as a “shampoo” and diluting apple cider vinegar works as a “conditioner.” Seriously.
So I went a year and a half until I came across a “no-shampoo” blog post while I was pinning one afternoon. I looked through, and took interest because the woman had updated the post to show that she had been shampoo-free for two full years. She posted pictures and everything!
One of the things that stood out about her post the most, was how she explained why to go “no ‘poo.” To recap what she shared: Shampoo is a detergent, which means that it strips your hair of its oils in order to get rid of the junk that clings to those oils. So it does work. Except that if a person wants soft, smooth, and luscious hair, then don’t they need those natural oils? Yes. Absolutely yes.
Another good point that she made was that many shampoos and cosmetics have mineral oil in them, which does not absorb into your skin, “it acts as a barrier on our scalp, preventing oil from being released.” Please check out her blog post (linked above) as well as this one for more info!
Now, there are several more reasons to go, “no ‘poo” and they are as follows:
- To be green! Why waste all those plastic bottles that accumulate with every bottle of shampoo?
- To save money. Think about how much a bottle of decent shampoo costs. Plus conditioner. 😛
- To achieve a healthy scalp! So many people are concerned about healthy hair that they forget it starts with a healthy scalp. I have used plenty of different types of shampoo (I usually always went back to Pantene) and none have cleaned my scalp so well as this “no shampoo” method.
The third bullet point was my personal reasoning for kicking shampoo and conditioner to the curb. I have an oily, flaky scalp, which I think is a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis—since I get it on my lashline as well. I tried using medicated dandruff shampoo, which seemed to get rid of buildup, but it never really cleared away the gunk on my scalp—talk about a reason to feel un-pretty. My aunt had previously suggested that I add tea tree oil to my shampoo to help my scalp. (For those who don’t know, tea tree oil is used for its natural but powerful anticeptic/antifungal qualities.) Using the oil is something I hadn’t gotten around to, but I figured that if I was going to try that, why not try this “no ‘poo” regimen while I’m at it?
I followed the “recipe” from the simplemom blog I linked earlier, except since I have coarse hair, and an oily scalp, I added a lot more baking soda. I filled a 6 oz. bottle a little more than a third of the way full with the baking soda and filled the rest with water. (Shake it up when you mix it so that you fill it all the way to the top with water.) The bottle lasts me about three washes. Make sure to shake it up before and while you’re using it! This mixture will be different for everyone, depending on hair type and how dry or oily their scalp is. I have read that it is best for coarse, and wavy/curly hair. (I think there’s a coconut milk shampoo recipe out there that would probably suit fine hair much better.)
Additionally, there will definitely be a “transition period” if you’re someone who washes your hair daily or even every other day. I was shampooing my hair about twice a week and I had about a week long transition period where my hair was greasy and almost always kept back in a ponytail. I would suggest cutting back on your regular shampoo use for a few weeks before switching to the baking soda mixture.
I now add tea tree oil to the shampoo (I hadn’t for the first few batches, just to see the difference that using only baking soda made) and I usually put about a teaspoon in each batch. I don’t measure it too closely. If you decide to use tea tree oil, and have never used it otherwise, make sure to dilute a little bit with water and test it behind your ear to see if you have a bad reaction to it. I had seen a difference in my scalp from just the baking soda mixture, it wasn’t as itchy, and there was very little build up. I think that the gentle scrubbing from the baking soda makes a huge difference. But I can definitely say that using tea tree oil has almost completely cleared up my oily dandruff. I wish I would have known about this sooner!
Using the apple cider vinegar “conditioner” is important. It balances the pH of your hair, so it softens and detangles. I use it on the ends of my hair, just like I did with regular conditioner. I made the mistake of skipping it recently and my hair wasn’t as luscious and manageable as usual—certainly better than when I used regular shampoo, but not as nice as it gets after my usual wash. I mix about a tablespoon of vinegar in my 6 oz. bottle and fill the rest with water. I could probably use even less, but I haven’t bothered to change up my mixture. The conditioner lasts me about eight washes.
I think that the most important thing to do while using this method is to section your hair while adding the shampoo. I usually wet my hair down and then pull the section of my hair from the backs of my ears and above out of the way. Then I distribute the mixture along the part line directly from my shampoo bottle, and then scrub that section a little before separating a section from about my temples and above up and out of the way, I repeat the process and make sure to get my front hairline and the crown of my head very well. Then I scrub for a good minute or so, to make sure that I covered every strand! Simply rinse and follow with the apple cider vinegar mixture as you had previously used your conditioner (rinse that out as well).
I see a huge difference in the appearance and texture of my hair and as I mentioned before, my scalp. It’s not a difference that only I notice, either. My boyfriend likes that he can actually run his fingers through my hair without them getting caught in the frizzy tangles that previously resided on my head.
Just a few more tips and ideas:
- Purchase a boar bristle brush. Using it helps to help distribute the natural oils on your hair evenly.
- I used the vinegar mixture to get sand out of my hair while I was in Alabama a few weeks ago! It worked very well, so that was handy to learn. I might start bringing a bottle of it to the beach from now on.
- You can use the baking soda mixture as a gentle exfoliator on your face, as well. It works very well for me and I have pretty oily skin. I have a separate mixture that I added nutmeg to (for blackheads.)
- Apparently the vinegar mixture can be used as an astringent as well, but I haven’t tried it. I use Witch Hazel or Neutrogena “Acne Stress Control” astringent.
I would also like to add that using this baking soda shampoo will NOT prevent your hair dye color from fading, it might actually make it fade more.
I hope I’ve enlightened a few people, and convinced a few more that going no-shampoo isn’t just for hippies. I really love this method, and my hair hasn’t felt so nice since I was a little girl. 🙂
I would love to know about anyone else’s endeavors into a world without conventional shampoo and conditioner. Please share your stories!
To (literally) illustrate my point, here is a photo of my hair a few hours after washing with regular shampoo and conditioner:
And here’s a picture (taken today) a few hours after washing with baking soda and apple cider vinegar conditioner:
I’ve dyed my hair once or twice before, but this time, since I wanted a ‘shocking’ color, I had to bleach it first. I bought the kit (Splat: Rebellious Colors, in “Luscious Raspberries”) and didn’t notice until after I threw away the receipt that there were no nozzles for the bottles… I searched everywhere for them, no luck. I have NO idea where you could buy just the nozzles, so I decided to go at it without them. Which went better than I expected… sorta.
I started out with the bleach, I mixed it carefully, and it got to be a gritty paste, and then I was supposed to wait to let it set. After putting on the gloves that were included, I poured a golf ball amount of the light-blue-goop-that-smells-like-a-litter-box into my palm and started applying it to my hair while standing hunched over our bathtub. Once I felt like I was finished, I had my mom check the back for me, and added more to the areas she specified, finishing off the bottle.
The next 50 minutes of my life were a boring and smelly metamorphosis.
After rinsing out the bleach mix, I peeked in the mirror and realized that a huge chunk of my hair was barely lighter than my original shade of dark, dark brown. I resembled Cruella DeVil.
I was just crossing my fingers that it would look okay once I turned it red. My hair is almost black… black and red go together, right?…?!
So, we ate a lovely supper of tortellini and spinach salad (yummmm) and I didn’t skin any puppies. Next came the treacherous part… red dye. *Horror Movie Scream*
I managed to splatter the junk on my mom’s wall and floor (I spent quite a bit of time with the bottle of 409.) As well as turning the sink and tub slightly pink (which I know from previously dying my hair dark blue, will come out after a little bit of use.) So I sat on an old towel in the bathroom, noticing that it looked like I’d committed murder with the red smears on my fingers and arm. 30 very long minutes went by, and it was time to hop in the shower again! The instructions say to ‘rinse until water runs clear,’ I never thought that would take even half as long as it did, the water ran bright red, hot pink, baby pink, pastel pink, rose quartz pink and FINALLY clear. I hopped out of the shower, blow-dried my hair, and SHAZAM: Fire-Truck-Red hair!
It leans a little closer to pink than I wanted, I was hoping for more of a scarlet, but I still love it! I took the time to straighten it, which I think looks really wicked, too!
(Update: I should add that I also used Manic Panic: Pillarbox Red (I believe it was the “Amplified” version) later on to touch up, it turned out great as well! Pros: It made my hair smooth and softer. Cons: It didn’t last as long as Splat.)