Using Dawn Dishwashing Soap for Hair Growth and Dandruff? Does It Work?

Cute African American female with curly hair that washes hair with Dawn dishwashing liquid to remove grease

Trends often spread like wildfire in the natural hair community. One moment we’re using normal commercial or DIY shampoos, and then someone makes a video about using dawn dish soap for hair growth, and it’s one of the latest trends in the beauty industry.

Let’s start by grounding ourselves in basic hair growth principles. Simply put – hair growth takes time, and there aren’t any special hair products or methods, including dish soap, castile soap, or nail rubbing, that are going to lead to overnight hair growth.

With that said, dish soap has been an emerging trend lately. Many ladies on YouTube and Instagram are talking about it.

Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid appears to be mentioned most frequently in videos, although we haven’t found evidence that using blue Dawn dish soap (also called Refreshing Rain) versus another sub-brand makes a difference. Palmolive dish soap is also a popular brand discussed frequently online.

Can You Use Dawn Soap to Wash Your Hair?

You can wash your hair with dish soap, whether it’s Dawn dishwashing detergent or some other brand of dish soap. The truth is that you can use anything to wash your hair. Laundry detergent, antiseptic soap, liquid soap, castile soap, regular shampoo, and soap bars can all be used to wash your hair.

African American adult female with scalp irritation wearing a green and white sweater with type 3 b naturally curly hair

Many of these products are formulated with sulfates (e.g., sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate) that produce suds and remove dirt and grime from surfaces, body parts, or materials. However, many of these products aren’t recommended for hair care, especially if you have naturally curly hair.

Key Takeaways

  • Use of Dawn Dish Soap. Primarily a dish detergent, Dawn is used by some as a hair cleanser. It effectively removes excess oil and product buildup due to its high pH level and strong surfactants.
  • Effects on Hair. Regular use of dish soap on hair, especially curly or color-treated hair, can strip the hair of natural oils and disrupt the hair cuticle. There are better options for frequent use, and it should be considered a last resort.
  • Safe but Limited Use. While Dawn dish soap can be used safely on hair, it’s more suited for occasional deep cleansing. Frequent use can lead to dry scalp and hair damage.
  • Benefits and Risks. The benefits of Dawn dish soap include removing excessive oil and unwanted color from hair. However, it’s not a substitute for regular hair shampoo and can cause allergic reactions or dryness if used regularly.
  • Recommended Practices. If you are using Dawn as a shampoo replacement, you should dilute it. Then, use it sparingly (15-20 minutes maximum), and follow up with a deep conditioner to mitigate its drying effects. Avoid regular use to protect hair health.

Is It Safe to Wash Your Hair With Dish Soap?

Using dish soap to wash your hair is technically safe for your hair, although it’s not recommended. Dish soaps can often be harsh cleaners designed to remove dirt, grease, and grime from pots, pans, and dishes. If you choose to wash your hair with dish soap, we recommend doing so in moderation.

Black female with a green striped shirt feeling her hair after it's been washed with dish soap

Here’s why we don’t recommend using dish soap: The hair shaft is made up of three layers: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla. Improper techniques or harsh products can damage the hair shaft (and lead to hair loss).

Products that aren’t formulated for hair care may lead to unintended damage. To prevent any form of hair damage, you have to be gentle with both products and techniques because harsh ingredients can damage your hair. 

Is Dish Soap Bad For Your Hair?

Dish soap usually contains alcohol, silicones, and sulfates. These ingredients usually aren’t damaging when used moderately, but they can be damaging if regularly incorporated into your hair care regimen.

Sulfate, for example, is often avoided within the curly girl community. Going back to the anatomy and structural formation of the hair, underneath the hair shaft is the hair follicle anchoring the hair to the skin.

The skin contains oil glands known as the sebaceous glands. These sebaceous glands are responsible for producing sebum that lubricates the hair and promotes hair growth. These natural hair oils are very significant to the health of our hair. 

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So, where do sulfates come in? Sulfates do a good job of cleansing your hair and removing all the gunk and dirt. Unfortunately, they do end up also stripping your natural hair of its oils.

This is not much of a problem for straight hair types because oil moves through straight hair more quickly. It also explains why people with straight hair usually wash their hair more frequently than women with curly hair.

It’s often not recommended to wash curly hair (type 3 and type 4 hair types) hair too often because oil doesn’t move through the hair strands as fast, which is why it’s important to oil and moisturize curly hair more frequently.

If you have curly hair that’s more difficult to moisturize (or doesn’t retain moisture easily), you’re less likely to benefit from using dish soap because it contains ingredients that strip the hair of its natural oils.

Does Dawn Dish Soap Make Your Hair Grow?

Dawn dish soap does not make your hair grow, nor do other brands of dish soap. There aren’t any special products that can give you overnight hair growth.

Hair grows an average of 1/2 inch per month. This can vary depending on factors like genetics. Regardless of what you do, your hair is growing.

“Why am I not seeing the growth?” you may ask. You’re not seeing the growth because you are not retaining length. Length retention is dependent on many factors, including protein and moisture balance.

Your handling technique might also be the reason why your hair is breaking. You might be doing protective styles, but if you don’t take them out patiently and properly, your hair will break off.

Your wash-day techniques are also of prime importance. Be gentle with your hair during your wash-day routine.

Finding the right balance within your natural hair journey can seem like a daunting task, but it is not as difficult as you think.

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During wash days, it’s a good idea to use a moisturizing hair shampoo that is sulfate-free in order to achieve a clean scalp and moisturized hair.

However, sulfate-free shampoos might not be strong enough to remove product buildup, and this is why you might need to incorporate a clarifying shampoo into your hair growth journey.

A clean and healthy scalp will promote natural hair growth. You can either use a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo, baking soda, raw apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or a sulfate shampoo for this.

Dish soap also shines here because it is formulated with ingredients that can clarify the hair and remove product buildup, promoting healthy hair growth on the scalp.

It is important to note that clarification should be done once in a while and not on every wash day.

Let’s say you wash your hair weekly; you might want to use a dawn dish soap to clarify once a month. This allows for a healthy hair growth journey.

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The Benefits of Washing Your Hair With Dawn Dish Soap

Dawn dish soap can do more than clean your dishes, and as we talk to other bloggers within the curly girl community – it’s a cool beauty hack when used correctly. Here are some of the benefits of using dish soap within your hair care routine:

It Removes Product Build-up

Dawn dish soap is strongly formulated with ingredients that can remove stubborn dirt, gunk, and dandruff. This should come as no surprise at all because this dish soap washes off dried dirt and oil on dishes.

Now think about what it can do to your hair. You will definitely feel good after removing all that product buildup from your hair.

Normal shampoos might be unable to remove tough grease and oils from your hair. People who have dreadlocks (or even hair extensions) will also benefit from this soap because they’re likely to get a lot of buildup in their hair.

Dish soap also creates lathers easily, whereas new and improved shampoo formulations often don’t create a thick lather or foam because of the removal of harsh ingredients.

Can Act As a Mild Bleach to Lighten the Color of Your Hair

If your hair color is too dark, and you want to lighten it up a bit, many ladies have successfully used dish soap to lighten their hair dye. Of course, you don’t expect it to work like professional dyeing products, but it can lighten your hair color.

To get this effect, you’ll apply it to your hair and leave for about 10 – 15 minutes before rinsing the soap out with warm water.

You can leave for a longer time for more effect. Just keep in mind that the intense cleaning properties of dish soap may completely remove your hair color. Read this article to learn how to clean your hair without stripping your hair color.

African American female with a wonderful smile rubbing her naturally curly hair

How to Use Dawn Dish Soap in Your Hair Regimen

I can’t overemphasize the importance of using this soap in moderation, especially if you have natural hair. Here is a guide on how to use the Dawn dish soap for hair growth.

1. Pre-poo Before Using Dish Soap

There are a number of ways to prevent dry hair after using dish soap, and pre-pooing is one of our favorite methods. Pre-pooing involves applying oils or conditioner to your hair to prepare it for a wash.

Some women use a hot oil treatment with a coconut oil and olive oil mix before washing their hair. This prevents the hair from being completely stripped by the shampoo.

2. Do Not Use Too Much

When it comes to washing your hair with the Dawn dish soap, a little goes a long way. We recommend using only a small amount of Dawn.

Frequent use of this product might lead to excessive dryness. You might need less of what you’ll use in the case of a sulfate-free shampoo.

The amount of Dawn dish soap you need will depend on your hair density. Also, make sure you section your hair to easily access the scalp.

3. Dilute Soap With Water

We don’t recommend applying the soap directly to your hair strands or scalp. For the best results, you should either wet your hair first or dilute the soap with water.

Again, our goal is to use potentially drying products in moderation. Also, make sure you patch-test the soap on a small section of your hair before trying this out on your full head of hair.

4. Massage and Rinse Out Completely

Studies have proved that regular massage promotes hair growth. Plus, massages feel wonderful, so we recommend incorporating regular massages into your hair care routine.

Opportunities like this are open during washdays. Massage the soap into your scalp while washing. Be sure that you’re also careful with your hair strands while washing to avoid breakage. Make sure the soap is rinsed out completely with lukewarm water when you’re done.

5. Deep Conditioning Treatment

Deep conditioning cannot be overemphasized when you’re trying to maintain adequate moisture balance in your hair. This is an even more important step when your hair just went through a stripping process.

You’ll need to replenish moisture and prevent your hair from being dry by deep conditioning. We don’t recommend using dish soap without following through with a proper deep conditioning session.

6. Moisturize and Seal

After rinsing the deep conditioner off, apply a leave-in hair conditioner and seal with an oil or butter, depending on your hair’s porosity. This helps you retain moisture and keeps your hair feeling good.

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In conclusion, the Dawn dish soap should not be written off as a beauty hack. It works well to remove stubborn buildup.

Although it is preferable to use less harsh methods to clarify your hair, dawn dish soap works fine if you deep condition and properly moisturize after using it.

However, this shouldn’t be a staple in your wash day routine and should only be used once in a while.

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