Is it safe to use blue dish soap to wash hair

Dawn Dish Soap for Hair Growth | Does it Really Work for Natural Hair?

by Kaya Marriott

You’ve seen the YouTube videos floating around: Bloggers and Vloggers are using the blue Dawn liquid dish soap for hair growth. Surprisingly, this craze isn’t even particularly new. You can find the topic discussed on forums dating back to 2004! But still, the recent practice in itself begs some questions: Is it safe to wash your hair with dish soap? And does blue Dawn dish soap really work for Natural Hair?

Right off the bat, I’m giving this hair care tip side eye. Dish soap is designed to get rid of grease and oil (I’m sure you’ve seen this video of the duck post-oil spill). BUT the thing is, natural hair (type 4 hair), usually needs oil.

Because of all the bends in our kinky coily curls, it take longer for sebum (the natural oil our scalps produce) to travel down our strands. This is why most natural hair care blogs and sites list their favourite hair oils. Because for hair growth, naturalistas usually need to be adding oils.

See why using dishsoap as shampoo doesn’t make sense for people with natural hair? Or at least not regularly, but we’ll get in to that further on. First, let’s address some questions people are asking on the subject:

Why the Blue Dawn dish soap?

YouTubers insist you must use the Blue version of Dawn soap to wash your hair, when really this is just the “Original Scent” version. This makes sense because the original is as basic as it gets. No fancy stuff; no extra features that might irritate your skin or damage your hair.

For example, the Orange scent and the Apple blossom (green) from Dawn are both Antibacterial, and the Refreshing Rain is “Platinum”… I’d be terrified to find out what that would do to my curls.

That being said, some of the other scents do have the same ingredient list as the blue. So if you’re determined to try Dawn as a shampoo, you may have some other, nice-smelling options.

Is it safe to wash your hair with dish soap?

Technically yes, it is safe to wash your hair with dish soap. The marketing with the cute little duck shows that dish soap is indeed safe, and most of their soaps are also labelled as ‘hand washing soaps’. As long as you aren’t ingesting it, or letting it get in your eyes, you really should be fine. (But I’m not a doctor or a scientist, so please don’t sue me if you react. Also, make sure, as you should with any new products, to do a little patch test).

bottle of blue transparent dish washing liquid, close up, isolated on white.

Does it really work for Natural Hair?

To reiterate from above:

Type 4 hair is difficult to keep moisturized because all of its bends make it harder for the sebum to coat it. In other words: it’s hard for Natural Hair to get and stay oily.

On the other hand, straight hair offers no obstacles for the travelling sebum, so it tends to get greasy and oily, fast. (So the next time a white person cringes when you tell them you don’t wash your hair every day, drop those facts.)

Anyways. Dish soap will strip your hair of oils, naturally occurring and not. That will not benefit your natural hair. In fact, it could make your curls prone to breakage. It could set your hair growth journey way back.

That being said, this haircare tip actually makes sense if your hair is straight, and prone to getting greasy.

So is using liquid dishsoap in your natural hair a total write off?

Not necessarily. I just wouldn’t recommend it as your go-to replacement for shampoo.

If you’re facing product buildup, and need a really deep clean, dish soap could work for you. The benefit lies in the fact that it’ll get rid of all the gunk–essentially allowing you to start from scratch. It’s the same principal as clarifying, and some people actually recommend you clarify regularly. This article gives great insight to clarifying your curls.

(But personally, I’d still opt for a real clarifying shampoo, like Neutrogena’s or Shea Moisture’s, but this is definitely a cheaper alternative.)

The soap could also be beneficial when taking down a protective style as there is often build up at the roots. It’s also been used to clean locs, as that is another scenario where your hair may be facing buildup.

If you do decide to use dish soap, remember:

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. And seal it in.

You just stripped your hair of its oils, so you’ll need to add it back in. Follow with a great deep conditioner. And seal in your products with a good oil (olive oil is a great one) Actually, a full on hot oil treatment could be incredibly beneficial too!

This video from Hazel_Goddesss is the most popular one on YouTube! It worked for her hair, which I think is what helped this all catch on.

She loved the lather, and found that her hair wasn’t stripped, and just felt clean. Still, she followed with good deep conditioner just in case.

I’m also curious to see if curl pattern comes into play in this too! If people with 4c find that the dish soap strips their curls more than those with looser curl patterns. (If you’ve tried it, I’d love to know in the comments!)

So to wrap it all up (or in case you scrolled to the bottom instead of reading the whole post):

  • Yes, using Dawn Dish Soap is safe to use in your hair.
  • But it will strip your natural hair of its oils. (oils that are important for hair growth).
    • Naturals should use it as a clarifying shampoo, not a regular one.
    • Should follow with a REALLY GOOD conditioner and oil treatment.
  • Dishsoap as a shampoo is better suited for people with straight hair–hair that tends to get oily or greasy.

So what do you think? Is this a trend you’re going to be trying? Let us know in the comments!

Want to see if another famous beauty-hack is right for you? Check out: Can You Use Coconut Oil for Shaving Cream?

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Terri June 2, 2023 - 4:13 am

I’ve used Dawn on my hair for years, although infrequently, to remove product build up and take the heaviness out of my curls. My thought is if it’s used on wildlife (ducks) to remove the petroleum and not their natural oils that repel water then it should be good at removing buildup of product. I always use a light cream rinse afterwards and it works great.

Ronnie January 21, 2023 - 11:54 am

I’ve been using dawn for shampoo for years, no problems at all!!

Kaya Marriott March 4, 2023 - 12:28 pm

I’m glad it’s been working for you! What does your full routine like?

Drew August 23, 2022 - 10:10 am

OH SHOOT I ALMOST DIDN’T MENTION – you have to dilute with 5 parts water and dispense from A FOAMING PUMP CONTAINER. If you just grab a bottle of dawn, dump a big ol puddle in your hand like it was shampoo, and just turn your whole head into soap soup, it will probably have all listed negative effects. Oh also it strips out dye unfortunately, even when used correctly.

Drew August 23, 2022 - 10:06 am

You know what, hate to negate so much writing, but you are totally, 100% wrong.
Dawn dish soap doesn’t remove oils from your hair very well. This is precisely why i use it. I have very fine ytppl hair, and I can’t stand the way it looks right after washing it, when there are no oils to clump my locks into actual ‘locks’. Dawn is a detergent, yes, that works great on oils, indeed, but shampoo has been perfected by scientists to target sebum specifically, and get rid of 100% of it. Shampoo is the recommended detergent for earwax, for ring around the collar, and for cleaning baseball caps. Dawn doesn’t do anywhere near as good of a job in those tasks. It also doesn’t “clarify”/remove buildup. Vinegar does. You can waste $ on ACV but white works better and they are essentially the exact same substance.

Nicole January 2, 2022 - 4:03 am

I’m naturally a ginger redhead, and I just wanna address the part about “white people cringing for not washing your hair everyday” not all of us are that ignorant. In fact I have the opposite problem people cringing that I do have to wash my hair everyday because it gets oily so fast!

Sara S. June 16, 2020 - 8:02 pm

I would not recommend Dawn as a weekly shampoo, however I have used it on clients in extreme circumstances such as a sew in take down where shampoo would not get rid of the excessive buildup. I never had a client complain about scalp irritation nor did they object to its use after the results. I would recommend a great moisturizing shampoo afterwards along with deep conditioner after using dawn on a wash.

Dee August 27, 2021 - 7:39 pm

My hair turned orange on top, now I’m having to wear a hat. Help!

Elizabeth L April 30, 2020 - 10:21 pm

I was using the dawn dish soap to get rid of the last bit of pink color I had on my dyed hair, and it felt amazing. Also after the soap I left the conditioner in while I did everything else. I have loose curly hair, and after I showered my hair was extremely soft and light, and my curls were really bouncy,, and curlier than they normally are.

Kristal C August 18, 2019 - 6:03 pm

I agree with Madison! You gave a great breakdown as well as some pointers if women would like to explore this option in their regular wash day routine. I am still side-eyeing it though. I used to use Peppermint Oil Castile Soap (which is multi-purpose, supposedly) in my hair routinely for some time. It definitely stripped my hair but the worse part was how irritated my scalp became over time. So I definitely recommend oiling your scalp if the dish soap is too drying or like you suggested, just using it as a clarifying product only. I learned my lesson though! There are so many products out there specifically formulated for our hair. I dont mind spending a few extra dollars! But dish soap is cost effective lol. A 3-4 dollar bottle would last a while!

ComfyGirlWithCurls August 21, 2019 - 8:15 am

Thank you Kristal! That’s good to know about the Castile Soap–I think we underestimate how sensitive our scalps really are too! And that’s so true–if people rally are tight on money and turn to Dish Soap because of it, no shade… but I don’t think it should necessarily be advertised as something to replace someone’s perfectly good shampoo!

Madisen August 18, 2019 - 2:37 pm

I love how you gave more information about why it’s safe to use dish soap even though us Naturals shouldn’t. Now that you broke it down, I can see why it’s not the best option! I wasn’t gonna use dish soap and never have, but this is a great article and I feel like this will help people decide whether or not they want to use it.

ComfyGirlWithCurls August 21, 2019 - 8:13 am

Thanks for checking it out, Madisen! I appreciate the comment. At the end of the day, everyone can do what they want–I just like to try to make people aware of the all the potential consequences!


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