Got oily locks but don’t have time for a shower? We’ve all been there. Now more than ever, dry shampoos are offering people an easy option for soaking up excess oil when a full washing and drying just aren’t an option, but you can make your own for mere pennies with a helpful dash of baking soda.

girl at the shower

Why Baking Soda?

Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, is best known for reducing odors and balancing acidic levels with its basic properties. Because the scalp and hair are acidic in nature, the alkaline properties of baking soda work to even out their pH levels while simultaneously absorbing odor. Commonly used to eliminate oiliness on the scalp, baking soda can be applied as an occasional treatment mask, or a DIY dry shampoo for anyone looking to zap oil in just a few minutes.

Baking soda isn’t just a great time-saving hack for oily hair, it can actually reduce oil overproduction, assuming we don’t allow too much to build up. The oil on our scalp is produced the same way the oil on our skin is – by the sebaceous glands. These glands work to create an oily substance called sebum, which travels through hair follicles, or pores, to reach the surface of our skin, where it hydrates and protects our complexions. When too much sebum becomes stripped away, either from soapy facial washes or sudsy shampoos, our bodies can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more to make up for what was just lost, which only leads to even oilier skin and hair! By limiting the number of times shampoo touches our scalps, we give our body even more opportunity to regulate itself, producing only the amount of oil needed to moisturize the skin.

How To Use It

To create a scalp treatment, combine baking soda with enough water to create a paste that’s easy to spread. Apply to the scalp and hair, leave on for not more than 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly.

To zap oil between washes, transfer a small amount of baking soda to an empty shaker or old (empty) hair dye bottle, flip your head upside down and apply to the roots of your hair evenly. Rub into the roots gently with clean fingertips and brush into the strands once you’ve flipped your head right-side up.

Some Things to Consider

While baking soda can make an effective way to reduce oiliness, you’ll want to be careful not to disrupt the natural acidity levels of the skin by overdoing it. Our naturally acidic skin maintains a certain pH level in order to prevent the growth of certain bacteria, which basic elements like baking soda can compromise if introduced too often.

When using as a spot treatment, take your time during application. Baking soda is a fine, white power that can get messy when we’re sprinkling it onto our heads, so take care to distribute with a slow hand and build up as needed, and opt for lighter color shirts when applying to reduce transfer onto darker materials.