From treating acidity to body odor, baking soda has several health and beauty uses. But when it comes to treating hair loss, or alopecia, baking soda might not be effective or safe.
“Remember, not everything that is natural is safe,” Chesahna Kindred, MD, FAAD, a Maryland-based dermatologist and chairperson of the National Medical Association’s dermatology section, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “I am not concerned if it is natural or not; I am concerned if it is safe [and] non-toxic or not.”
Here’s more on how using baking soda shampoo could affect your hair.
Baking Soda Shampoo: Separating Fact From Fiction
Fact: Baking soda can clear your scalp of extra residue.
“Baking soda dissolved in water helps to remove buildups of oils, shampoos, and other ingredients that can be found in hair products,” says Zain Husain, MD, FAAD, a New Jersey-based dermatologist. However, using baking soda in your hair regularly could become harmful, experts say.
Fiction: Baking soda is always safe.
“Considering that we use baking soda to clean grills, it should be no surprise that baking soda is harsh on hair, especially those with curly, dry, or thin hair,” Kindred says. Regular use of baking soda in your hair can eventually turn your locks dry and brittle, leading them to break, while it can also irritate the skin, according to Kindred.
“What is quite bothersome to me is that hair loss causes patients to be quite vulnerable. As a result, when such a mess occurs, this is the first group to suffer,” Kindred says.
Fiction: Clearing your scalp can treat alopecia.
Alopecia can occur for several reasons, including genes, hormones, stress, and medication. While a clean scalp can remove physical barriers to hair growth, that doesn’t necessarily treat alopecia, experts say.
“The most common cause of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, which is genetically and hormonally influenced, so baking soda shampoo is unlikely to have an effect,” Husain says.
But if you’re looking to clear your scalp to “help hair grow more efficiently,” anti-dandruff shampoos that fight fungus or inflammation could help, Husain says. Caffeine and biotin are other shampoo ingredients that could benefit your hair, says Raman Madan, MD, a dermatologist at Huntington Hospital in New York. But hair loss shampoos themselves don’t treat alopecia.
“This is because the contact time with the scalp is almost negligible. It is important to remember that hair grows from follicles beneath the skin,” Madan says.
Fiction: Baking soda can treat hair loss.
“There is no reliable or published evidence of this being true,” Madan says. When treating hair loss, experts say it’s best to meet with a medical professional.
“Hair loss is a medical condition that requires medical intervention. I understand that insurance companies are allowed to call hair loss ‘cosmetic,’ but we know hair loss is not,” Kindred says.
Get Help Now
Don’t wait. The sooner you address the symptoms of hair loss, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.