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Does Baking Soda Bleach Hair?

Are you looking for a natural and cost-effective way to lighten your hair without damaging it? If so, you may have heard of using baking soda as a hair bleach within your hair care routine.

This DIY hair lightening method has gained popularity lately, thanks to TikTok. But, does it actually work? Does baking soda bleach hair? Or do you need to use hydrogen peroxide to lighten hair with baking soda?

Glass jar of baking soda next to a sliced lemon and a heaped spoon of baking soda

Benefits Of Baking Soda For Your Hair

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a versatile and affordable ingredient that can do wonders for your hair.

Here are some amazing benefits you can enjoy when using baking soda on your locks:

Cleansing and Clarifying: Baking soda is excellent for removing dirt, oil, and product buildup from your hair and scalp.

Add a tablespoon of baking soda to your regular shampoo, and you will notice a refreshing difference in how clean your hair feels.

Balances pH levels: Your scalp has a natural pH level, which helps maintain its overall health.

However, frequent use of harsh chemicals and styling products can disrupt that balance. Baking soda helps to neutralize the scalp’s pH, keeping it healthy and happy!

Gentle Exfoliation: Baking soda works as a mild exfoliant to gently remove dead skin cells and residue from your scalp.

This promotes hair growth by unclogging hair follicles and maintaining a healthy scalp environment.

Helps Manage Dandruff: Dandruff can be both unsightly and uncomfortable.

Baking soda’s exfoliating properties help to eliminate dandruff causing buildup, and its pH balancing capabilities can assist in preventing the problem from coming back.

Bowl of baking soda next to some hair brushes and a lemon

Does Baking Soda Bleach Hair?

You might be surprised to learn that baking soda can indeed lighten your hair! It’s a budget-friendly and accessible option for those looking to experiment with their hair color.

When used correctly, baking soda acts as a mild bleach, gradually lightening your hair over time.

To use baking soda for lightening your hair, you will need to create a mixture of baking soda and water.

Start by combining equal parts of baking soda and water in a bowl, and mix until it forms a paste. You can adjust the consistency by adding more water or baking soda, depending on your preference.

Before applying the mixture, make sure your hair is clean and damp. Spread the baking soda paste evenly onto your hair, focusing on the areas you want to lighten the most.

Be cautious not to get the mixture on your scalp, as it can be irritating. Leave the baking soda on your hair for around 15-20 minutes.

Since the bleaching process is gradual, you may not see immediate results, and multiple applications may be required over time.

Always keep in mind that using baking soda to bleach hair is not without risks.

The process can be abrasive and may cause damage to your hair, especially when used frequently or left on for too long. Some hair types may react differently, resulting in uneven or undesirable color.

It’s essential to keep your hair’s health in mind when trying this method. Deep conditioning and regular trims can help maintain your hair’s integrity.

It’s a good idea to perform a strand test before using the mixture on your entire head, allowing you to evaluate the results and make adjustments as needed.

What Does Baking Soda Do To Dyed Hair?

Baking soda is a natural and inexpensive method that might assist in lightening your dyed hair.

It has an alkaline pH level that can strip off hair’s natural oils and pigments, which results in a lighter color.

However, it’s essential to approach this process with caution as it can also have adverse effects on your hair’s health and overall condition.

When you mix baking soda with water, you create a paste that can be applied directly to your dyed hair. This mixture can break down hair dye molecules, making it easier to eventually wash out the color, when you wash your hair.

Keep in mind that baking soda may not fully remove the dye, but it can undoubtedly contribute to some level of lightening.

While this method may sound enticing, it’s important to consider the potential consequences. Baking soda can be quite harsh on your hair and might lead to dryness, brittleness, and even breakage.

As a result, it is crucial to deeply nourish and condition your hair after using baking soda to counteract any adverse effects.

Moreover, the outcome of using baking soda on your dyed hair depends on the type and quality of the hair dye used, as well as the time duration since you last dyed your hair.

So, if you’re considering using baking soda to alter your hair color, remember that results may greatly vary.

Hairdresser combing through baking soda into a client's hair whilst wearing gloves

Does Baking Soda Lighten Hair Naturally?

Yes, baking soda can help you lighten your hair naturally! Many people are surprised to learn this, but it’s true.

As a natural exfoliant, baking soda can effectively remove buildup and residue from hair products and environmental pollutants.

This, in turn, can reveal the lighter layers of hair, giving you a naturally brightened appearance.

To start your journey to lighter hair using baking soda, follow these simple steps:

  1. Mix equal parts baking soda and water to create a paste. You can adjust the amount based on the length of your hair, but usually, about 1/2 cup of each works well.
  2. Apply the paste thoroughly to your damp hair, making sure to coat it from roots to ends. Be prepared for a bit of a mess, but that’s part of the fun, right?
  3. Allow the mixture to sit on your hair for about 15-20 minutes. This waiting period gives the baking soda time to work its magic and allow your hair’s natural lightness to shine through.
  4. Rinse your hair with water, then shampoo and condition as usual. You should notice a subtle lightening effect after the first try.

Keep in mind that patience is key when using baking soda to lighten your hair. Since it’s a natural process, it might take a few applications to achieve the desired results.

Factors like your hair type, natural color, and previous treatments can affect the process, so don’t be discouraged if your hair doesn’t lighten as quickly as you’d hoped.

Remember that baking soda can be drying for your hair, so you should always follow up with a good conditioner. You might also want to space out the treatments and give your hair time to recover.

Can You Lighten Hair with Vinegar and Baking Soda?

Yes, you can try to lighten your hair with vinegar and baking soda. This method is a natural alternative to chemically-based hair lighteners found in salons and stores.

Let’s dive into the process and benefits of using this combination to achieve lighter hair.

First, mix equal parts of baking soda and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. The consistency should be paste-like, making it easy to apply to your hair.

Remember, though it’s a natural solution, it can still be potent, so do a strand test to see how your hair reacts.

Now, apply the mixture to your damp hair, focusing on the sections you want to lighten. Make sure to use gloves as the solution might irritate your skin. Leave the mixture on your hair for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the desired result.

While waiting, you might feel a tingling sensation, which is normal as the baking soda and vinegar work together to break down the pigments in your hair.

Apple cider vinegar is acidic and helps to close the hair cuticle, leaving it smoother and shinier. Baking soda, on the other hand, has a mild bleaching effect, making it effective in lightening your hair.

Finally, thoroughly rinse your hair with cool water and complete the process with a nourishing conditioner.

Keep in mind that the results may vary based on your hair type, color, and how your hair reacts to the mixture.

This method is best for those with lighter hair shades as it may not have a drastic effect on darker hair. Also, remember to do a patch test to ensure your hair and scalp can tolerate the mixture.

Hairdresser combing through baking soda into a client's hair whilst wearing gloves

Does Baking Soda Remove Permanent Hair Dye?

Baking soda can actually work wonders when it comes to removing permanent hair dye from your locks.

This inexpensive and easily accessible household product can help you get rid of unwanted hair color in a jiffy without causing much damage to your hair.

Baking soda is an alkaline compound that, when mixed with water, creates a paste-like substance.

This mixture can lift up the color molecules in your hair, allowing them to be washed away more easily with shampoo. 

This method may work best on lighter hair colors, but it could still make a difference for darker shades as well.

To use baking soda to remove permanent hair dye, simply mix equal parts baking soda and water until you get a thick paste.

Apply this mixture to your damp hair, concentrating on areas with the most stubborn dye.

Make sure to cover your entire head, even if only certain sections need attention. Leave the paste on for about 15 to 20 minutes, allowing it to work its magic.

During the waiting period, you might feel a slight tingling sensation on your scalp. Don’t worry; this is normal and just means that the baking soda is doing its job.

After 15 to 20 minutes, rinse your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water. Follow up with a mild shampoo and a good conditioner to protect your hair from potential dryness caused by the baking soda treatment.

Remember, results might vary depending on your hair type and color. You might need to repeat the process a few times to achieve the desired level of color removal. It’s also a good idea to patch test on a small, less visible section of your hair before going all out.

How To Use Baking Soda For Hair

Using baking soda to lighten your hair is a fantastic at-home solution for changing your hair color without causing too much damage. 

Preparing Baking Soda Mixtures

To get started, you’ll want to prepare a baking soda mixture that can effectively help lighten your hair naturally. You have a couple of options to choose from:

  1. Baking soda and water: Combine one cup of baking soda with just enough water to form a thick paste. This option works well if you want to lighten your hair color without using any additional chemicals.
  2. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide: Mix three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of baking soda to create a more powerful paste. This option is particularly effective for dark hair that may require a stronger formula.

Remember to always condition your hair after using a baking soda mixture, as it can strip your hair of natural oils and cause hair to become dry or brittle.

Applying Baking Soda To Hair

Once your baking soda mixture is ready, ensure that your hair is damp before proceeding. Here’s how to apply your chosen paste to your hair:

  1. Using gloves, scoop up the baking soda paste with your hands and distribute it evenly throughout your hair.
  2. Focus on the areas where you want to lighten your hair and massage the mixture into the hair shaft.
  3. Gently comb through your hair with a wide-toothed comb to ensure even coverage.

Take your time when applying the paste, as evenly spreading it throughout your hair is crucial to achieve the desired results.

How Long for Baking Soda to Lighten?


Baking soda can be an effective and inexpensive way to “bleach” your hair. It can help to break down product buildup, remove dandruff, and even lighten dyed hair.

However, it is a mild bleach and may not work on darker shades of hair. Vinegar and baking soda are also popular natural ingredients used to soften and lightly brighten your locks. 

Baking soda can be combined with hydrogen peroxide for removing permanent or semi-permanent hair dye from your mane.

If you’re considering trying any of these DIY methods at home, remember to do a strand test first to evaluate the results before applying the mixture all over your scalp.