There, I said it. The very unpopular opinion that I’m sure will make me some enemies. But hear me out, please! I’m not just saying this because I sell natural products. I’m saying this because Pinterest has many skin and hair care recommendations that are ill-informed and some that are downright dangerous. Let’s get into it.
Before I knew any better, I did the wash with baking soda and rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar method. I know, cringe-worthy. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of Pins on this “no-poo” trend, including lengthy blog posts from “natural living experts” who seem like they really know their stuff! So I started trying it. And at first my hair did just fine! But over time I started noticing that my hair was getting brittle and dry. You see, baking soda’s pH is roughly 9.5 and your skin and hair’s pH is around 4.5. “Washing” your hair with such an alkaline substance destroys the scalp’s acid mantle and opens the hair’s cuticles, leaving you prone to dry and brittle hair, damage and dullness, and even hair loss. Following up this “wash” with a highly acidic apple cider vinegar solution is very harsh for the hair – shocking your hair from one end of the pH spectrum to the other weakens hair and leaves your cuticles weak. What was most surprising is that I saw plenty of posts recommending putting pure ACV directly onto the hair. I wanted to scream. Imagine what would happen if you got your hair colored every day – that’s the same level of damage you’d be doing to your hair if you use this Pinterest-popular “no poo” recommendation. And I know what you're thinking - what about a diluted water/baking soda solution? Since water has a pH of 7 and baking soda is a 9.5, even a highly diluted baking soda solution is STILL not safe for hair and skin. Once I did some more research to understand about the anatomy & physiology of both hair and skin, I stopped my baking soda/ACV method real quick.
This isn’t the only ill-informed recommendation on Pinterest. I’ve seen posts about all of this:
- PIN: straight up lemon juice and ACV on your skin as a lightener or toner
- REALITY: hello, acid burns
- PIN: straight up tea tree oil as a blemish spot treatment
- REALITY: needs to be heavily diluted and is often not well-tolerated as an acne treatment
- PIN: straight up frankincense oil as a scar treatment on children
- REALITY: again, needs to be heavily diluted, especially for sensitive kiddo skin
- PIN: coconut oil as a facial moisturizer and/or acne treatment
- REALITY: it has a comedogenic ranking of 4 out of 5 and is likely to clog pores and make acne worse
- PIN: toothpaste as a blemish spot treatment
- REALITY: there’s a reason it’s called toothpaste and not facepaste
- PIN: mixing oil into flaxseed gel as a curly hair styling treatment
- REALITY: oil settles at the top, you need a stable emulsion to actually make this work and not look like a grease ball
- PIN: using baking soda as an exfoliant
- REALITY: far too alkaline for any skin, will destroy your acid mantle
- PIN: allowing clay masks to dry for extended periods of time
- REALITY: extremely drying and slows skin healing
- PIN: using eWax as an emulsifier for so called “natural” products
- REALITY: contains petrochemicals and hormone disruptors
- PIN: using grapeseed fruit extract as a so called “natural” products
- REALITY: contains parabens and other harmful contaminants
and much, much more…
Of course, no one is intentionally trying to mislead people or encourage them to try something not safe for their hair and skin (I hope). But that does not mean that well-meaning people have bad recommendations. Not everyone is a skin or hair care expert. In fact, most people aren't.
If you’re really invested in DIY hair and skincare, I HIGHLY recommend learning about the basic anatomy and physiology of the skin and hair first so you are making well-informed, safe decisions for your body. You can’t always trust everything you read on the internet, just like your teachers said!
One resource you can refer to is my Skin & Hair Care Bible, which you can download straight to your computer and refer back to later. I also recommend purchasing some litmus papers (check these out) so that you can test the pH of your homemade goodies before applying them to skin and hair. Just remember that oils do not have a pH by definition, so they will never “dilute” the pH of other ingredients.
Also, if you’re ever unsure about a recipe, always err on the side of caution! Do some more research before diving right in to the first Pin that you find. You can even email me. Yes, seriously! I’m happy to honestly answer your questions about whether a DIY recipe/recommendation you’ve found is generally safe.
Now go forth and DIY safely!
Until next time,