Break Up with your Build Up


Hard water minerals, shampoos, conditioning masks, hair styling products and the environment can all cause build up to gather on your hair.

Build up can reek all sorts of havoc like making your hair dry, brittle, unmanageable, static-y, curl resistant, dull, heavy and probably other stuff I can’t think of right now. It’s bad. But luckily you can kick it to the curb and send it on it’s merry way with a very easy concoction that I used on my little sister Celeste (who has hard water and was really struggling with build up). She has been so thrilled with her hair since we did this and can’t believe that all of that dry brittle ickiness was just build up!

Recipe: (this is a tough one so brace yo-self)

1/3 Cup Baking soda (I’m convinced that between baking soda, corn starch, coconut oil and duct tape  I could create anything! )
4 T Water


Mix together until it’s a paste. Then (starting with the ends) massage into your *hair. {I did this over the sink so I didn’t make a mess)
Leave it for 10-15 minutes then wash as usual.
* For recently color treated hair always try a test piece first! Celeste has colored hair and it looked vibrant and beautiful when we were done but you never know!

I hope this works wonders for you!


118 thoughts on “Break Up with your Build Up

  1. Should the hair be dry, damp or wet before putting it on the hair? Or do you think it matters? LOVEEEE your blog, by the way! Thanks :)

  2. Should the hair be wet or dry? Also how often would you recommend doing this? Huge fan of your blog and congrats on your pregnancy!!

    • Thank you so much! I’d say dry and since it totally depends on the water you have and the products you use, I think it’s good to just gauge it by how your hair feels. Just getting to know what build up feels like and then cutting it out as soon as you notice it is what I do! Thanks Brittany!

  3. Thank you for the tip Cara! I agree Baking Soda is right on up there with Duck Tape, you can do any thing with these products……LOL! I just did a blog post on how to get your hair to grow not long ago. I wished I had knew about this tip! I have tried so many tips and my hair is finally starting to grow. I will add your tip in with the rest for me to try. I hope you and any of your viewers will check out my tips on my blog!

  4. I’ve been adding a teaspoon of baking soda to my shampoo every few months for 20 years!! It works awesome. Darn cheap, too!!

  5. Great tip! Cant wait to try this. I too live for the things on my kitchen shelves. Coconut oil, baking soda, and vinegar are the best money and life saving wonders of the world!

  6. I agree Cara! I have highlights in my hair and I do this the morning of my appointment. It helps strip the build-up, therefore creating the best “possible” situation for my highlights.
    Thank you again!

    • I was just thinking this might be something good to try just before dying your hair to get the most out of my dye! I’m gonna try this at home before I dye my hair later tonight!

  7. great tip, thank you & congrats on the pregnancy. I love your sister’s hair color. Is that professionally done? If it’s box color, do you mind sharing? thank you!! love love love your blog!!!

  8. This is actually how I wash my hair! I’ve given up on shampoo altogether.

    Apply a paste of bicarbonate soda to wet hair, reeeeally spend a good few minutes massaging it in (concentrating especially on the scalp, then drawing it through the length of hair with fingers) & rinse! Spray regular white vinegar on as conditioner, rinse again.

    Honestly, my hair has never felt so soft or looked so shiny. It’s naturally wavy and it just sits so prettily now, no flatness or frizziness to speak of. I believe this method is called no-poo and is quite popular on natural beauty blogs – well I’m a happy convert!

  9. Thanks for this! I just got a trim about a month ago and my ends have already started acting up, which is weird because I add a mask or deep condition, and I’ve been thinking it was probably buildup.

  10. Great tip! I usually add a tbsp of baking soda directly to my shampoo, works like a champ! If you are dealing with very hard water, or like me – well water with a lot of iron which discolors my hair – try a product called Malibu C Hard Water Treatment (I order it off Amazon). I try to use it once a week and leave it on for an hour. Couldn’t get rid of my brassiness before I discovered it.

    • Hi Lindsey! I recently moved and my hair has been TERRIBLE! I even got a water filter for my shower head and it really hasn’t changed my hair much. I’m going to try adding baking soda to my shampoo every now and then to see if it changes anything. I also have color treated hair and was wondering about Mailbu C Hard Water Treatment. Checked it out on amazon and I was wondering if you order the packets of the treatment and/or if you bought the wellness shampoo and conditioner set?

      Also, thank you for the tip Cara! Love your blog!! Went and got TanWise after your post…really happy with it!

    • If you have colored hair once a month max, because it opens the cuticle and stripping out the product/mineral deposits AND the color out. I add to my shampoo, then always follow with a 1/4 cup of Apple cider vinegar in 2 cups of warm water to help close the cuticle, then condition/style as usual. Keep in mind baking soda is a base so the vinegar (acid) will help neutralize the harshness of the base. The vinegar smell will disapate as your hair dries.

      • I second this notion! It’s really important to be careful putting harsh acids and bases in your hair because you can mess up the ph balance of your hair and scalp.

      • I just read this, I did the baking soda yesterday and my hair feels like straw! It is terrible! I am afraid I totally ruined my hair. Is there I anything I can do to remedy this? Is it too late for apple cider vinegar?

        • Mine too….I thought it would help my winter dry hair fall smooth once again as it used to, not It is stiff and dry (like straw as you describe). It almost feels like I can’t get the Baking Soda rinsed out. I rinsed 3 separate times last night, and again this morning and shampooed again. Still pretty awful feeling.

          • you have to do a deep condition treatment after the baking soda treatment to return hair to a normal ph balance.

  11. So I have never found a blog that I really liked…until just now. I just started looking at your page and I’m in love with it! This is definitely a blog I’m going to visit often! I can’t wait to try this one out, as well as your tanning post (was INSANELY helpful!) Thank you for having such a great site!

  12. ¿Hay alguien bilingüe por ahí? Un poquitín de ayuda, por favor: Baking soda es bicarbonato, ¿verdad? (¡a ver si voy a hacer una barbaridad!)
    Thanks a lot for the tip!

    • Hola Ana, si bicarbonato es lo que se usa mesclado con un poco de agua para aser una pastita. Se unta en todo el cabello y se deja por diez a quince minutos. Luego se lava el cabello con tu champu y acondicionador regular.

  13. You are seriously the best beauty blogger ever. SO helpful!

    Is this something that would work to clean your scalp? The length of my hair probably doesn’t have too much junk on it (I’ll use this anyways. :) ), but I use dry shampoo a lot and think my scalp probably needs the most work.

  14. Does this work with Wen too?

    And thanks to you – my husband is reg telling me that I’m the most beautiful person he knows – I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the HACing but more to do with the confidence! Thanks!!

  15. Will be trying this tonight! :) Was thinking I needed a trim but I don’t think I do….I think it’s just buildup! :)

  16. I was so excited after reading this this morning! I’ve been trying to grow out my hair for the last year and it’s gotten longer but seems really dry/dull even though I use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. (I think it’s from the water here.) I was considering just cutting it all off again because it looked so bad. I tried the baking soda trick as soon as I got home today and it worked amazingly! I can’t believe what a difference… much softer, shinier, and less frizzy! Thank you so much for the awesome tip! :)

  17. Amazing! Can’t wait to try it :) I’m 35 weeks pregnant, mostly stuck at home and going a bit crazy. This will be a fun little experiment! Congrats on your sweet baby, such a beautiful mama!

  18. I tried this last night and these were my results!

    I was very impressed, but my stylist did warn me to be careful about using a base like baking soda too often. She said a vinegar rinse is better for your hair in general because it helps to seal the hair cuticle rather than opening it up to the elements. :)

  19. Did this and my hair feels so clean and soft! I had more body and bounce in my hair too; I imagine it’s because all that gunk is off of my hair. Thanks for the great tip!

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  21. My hair has recently been greasy at the crown of my head. I’ve never had greasy hair and it’s freaking me out! Would this work for that? Or do you have another helpful tip for that?

  22. Awesome post, thanks for sharing! I’ve been thinking lately of exactly how much build up I had in my hair because of the hard water where I am- can’t wait to try this!

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  25. I add a little baking soda (maybe 1/2 teas.)to my shampoo then wash as usual…….works great……also a vinegar rinse afterwards helps with the hard water problem and adds shine!

  26. Yes! This works so well! A hair dresser clued me in a few years ago and it has become my go to! I mix the baking soda with my normal shampoo.

  27. I have to try this! I actually could use some other hair advice! I exercise most days to the point where I feel like I HAVE to wash my hair, but it looks so much healthier with less washing…Do you have any tricks for getting around this, or at least some products that are the least harsh for daily use? Thanks!

  28. I wish I had never tried this! Not sure what happened as I followed the instructions, but it basically fried my dyed blonde hair..??! I have since used hair masks, argan oil, etc. and nothing has been able to bring it back to what it was. :(

  29. Argh! I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I tried this last night and it left my hair feeling like straw, extremely dry, and tangled. I have fine hair, but a lot of it. My hair does not look nice at all. I can only hope that I can get it back to what it was with a conditioning mask and some Moroccan Oil.

    • Juli! I also have a lot of extremely fine hairs, and at first I thought this had ruined my hair completely. However, I found that it just needed extra rinsing and to be shampooed/conditioned immediately after. Hopefully this helps you!!

  30. Mare and Juli – I had the same result – my hair felt aweful – but right after I did the baking soda “wash”, I put in apple cider vinegar (1 part apple cider to 3 parts water) and my hair felt AMAZING. dried, and it was ready to go! It was also as shiny as ever. I hope this helps! Maybe try doing it again then doing the vinegar right after – I didn’t even leave it on long.


    • I will have to try that– did you leave the vinegar in your hair or rinse it after? Doesn’t that make your hair a bit stinky? Thanks for the tip!!!

    • Melissa, thank you so much for the tip! I’ve always heard about the vinegar rinse being good for your hair, but I didn’t realize it was a MUST for this process. I rinsed my hair with white vinegar and water this morning and it is so soft and shiny. Plus, it’s raining out today and not a single frizzy hair on my head! Cara really should have indicated that a vinegar rinse afterward is necessary for this to work. Thanks again!

  31. Oh My Gosh. I did this yesterday. I have extremely hard water in Texas, even the water softener we have doesn’t help all that much. It’s vile. My naturally culy hair has been limp, greasy, and extra frizzy all the time. My hair is amazing now! Less frizz, no grease, and lift. I’m so happy with it. As a side note I did the WEN deep conditioning treatment after.

  32. This left my fine hair VERY tangled. I could hardly get a brush through it until I washed my hair again. I would much rather use clarifying shampoo.

    • Hi Maggie, it did the same to my hair, but I followed the advice of another commenter and rinsed my hair with vinegar the next day. I used a mix of 1 part white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) with 3 parts water. The odor is gone once you dry your hair. It will leave your hair feeling silky smooth.

  33. I just want to post a quick warning here: do NOT do this to your before a special event or day. The following day, your hair will feel brittle and dry. Not to mention it will be matted. The texture of your hair will be ‘off’ for the next 24 hours. I washed with regular shampoo afterwards to try to help with this, but my hair just looks bad today. It feels heavy.

    A long time ago, I used to use the ‘no poo’ shampoo method, which was baking soda and vinegar. I used it for several months before my hair stylist finally told me my hair was looking damaged and dry. Considering I do not put any products in my hair, nor do I color or use heat on it, I know it was the baking soda. It strips your hair.

    I just don’t recommend doing this at all to your hair. Maybe if you avoid the scalp and only do the ends? I don’t know. Baking soda is bad news for your hair.

  34. Hi Cara!
    I tried this along with another DIY treatment (add salt to shampoo) and I had amazing results! I did a blog post about it ( and I was blown away by the results. Thanks so much for this tip!

  35. Cara, what means “4 T”? Im from Argentina, here i’m not sure “4 T” is, so I need to know before I can make some mess with that paste.
    Thank you a lot!

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  37. After a month of procrastinating I finally tried it and – WOW! I finally have my hair back. I thought my Wen wasn’t working anymore… turns out I just needed a little baking soda scrub. My hair feels and looks like silk. Woo hoo!

  38. Thank you so much for this! Ive only tried this once but I am sold already! I have had issues with my hair being greasy and/or looking greasy after being washed. And this one treatment made my hair feel amazing afterwards!

  39. By 4 T Water you mean tablespoons? Just making sure. Lol. Thanks for this blog though! I’m trying to put more natural products on my oh-so-dry-and-brittle-hair! :(

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  41. YIKES. i tried this tonight & it did not work the wonders that it did for others. i did some research and learned about the pH balance importance, and how it’s such an iffy thing for everyone because everyone’s alkalinity base is different. i have thick hair and a lot of it, and usually only wash it about once a week – however, i do notice that it takes a few days for my hair to restore itself after washing because of hard water. after trying this mask, my hair is incredibly straw-like and dull, and i’m sleeping with a coconut oil mask in hopes of restoring it to its natural state. not saying this was bad information, but please inform people of the importance of pH research!

    • Do the apple cider vinegar rinse, I had the exact same issue you had. I thought I had ruined my hair. For days I tried coconut oil, olive oil etc. Then I read about the ACV and it totally fixed it!!! :)

  42. As a hair stylist/colorist myself, I agree with this for some, but not for everyone. I moved 2 years ago and now have horrible hard water (rust/iron), the toilets literally will turn orange within two days if our water softener and iron filtration system get out of whack… ugh. Consequently, my hair now GRABS product build-up like I’ve never seen in anyone. I’ve tried this recipe and it basically did nothing but dry out my locks. After much experimentation, what I’ve found that works for me (my hair is fine, with a small bit of natural curl, and I highlight it)… I use the Malibu brand clarifying shampoo at least every other shampooing, then once every 1-2 weeks after shampooing, towel dry hair then mix up the Malibu Hard-Water treatment packette with water till you have a paste, slather on ends of hair, then put a shower cap on and leave it for a minimum of 15 minutes, rinse then follow with a good deep conditioning treatment. This is not an advertisement, just what works for me.. here’s the link to see the product, but you can get it from your stylist as well.

  43. Awesome I have been using baking soda and water rinsed with apple cider vinegar/water rinse for months now. Will never go back to shampoo or conditioner, my hair is soft, shiny and happy:-) not to mention waaaaayyy cheaper!

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  47. Do you recommend this baking soda hair wash for males as well? Or it’s only for females? My hair have just become very damp and dry.. They have even lost the natural black colour of it..Please help me and recommend me something good?

  48. a capitol “T” stands for tablespoon and if it was a lowercase “t” that means teaspoon btw I have been using the baking soda / ACV treatment and i love it

  49. I tried this and it absolutely ruined my hair. I had relatively healthy hair, but I felt it could use a little pick up, and I obviously made a huge mistake trying this. My hair is now dry, brittle, attracts static like there’s no tomorrow, and gets into incredible tangles. Would not recommend. at. all.

  50. Baking soda is actually terrible for your hair! It throws off the PH balace of your scalp leaving your hair brittle. Using rye flour and water mixed to the consistency of shampoo is a better option. Rye flour has a PH of 5 and hair is 4.5-5

  51. I did this last night for 10-15 min then really made sure to rinse it out well as well and shampoo and condition as regular and when it dried my hair was BEAUTIFUL! I’ve been doing leave in oils and changing conditioners because my hair was boring, kinda stringy and staticy from winter and this helped sooooo much! Thanks!

  52. [email protected] says:

    OMG!!!! Finally, i tried something that actually worked perfect…..My hair has been bugging for weeks now. It’s lifeless, dry and just felt horrible. I woke up this morning and used the baking soda and woohoo beautiful, my shiny brown hair is back. I use baking soda on my teeth twice a week to keep them shiny and white, but never thought about using on my hair. So thanks
    Shelly Miles

  53. I have really thick curly hair that I normally wear straight. The past few months I had this weird oily spot on my scalp that wouldn’t go away and I don’t have oily hair at all. The spot was oily even if I had just washed and dried by hair. Tried this last night and HOLY MOLY. I did it on dry hair and worked it through, then put a shower cap on and waited for 15 minutes. Jumped in the shower and washed and conditioned my hair as usual. My hair is SO soft and feels SO clean. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial!

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