Dawn Dish Soap Can Be a Savior for Your Hair

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Most soaps are multifaceted. And while they aren’t one-size-fits-all, you’d be surprised at their dual (sometimes triple) abilities. For example, did you know shampoo can be used as hand/body wash, stain remover, and makeup brush cleaner? Welp, similarly versatile, is Dawn dish soap. Some hairstylists have been using Dawn soap for hair. But before you run to the shower with your trusty colorful tube, know that the soap is only recommended for very specific goals. Keep reading for the pros, cons, and everything else you need to know!

Dawn soap for hair | Mane Addicts
(Image Source: Getty / Adrienne Bresnahan)

About the Expert:

Jon Carlos De La Cruz is a Los Angeles-based colorist and hairstylist, and a member of Cosmo Prof’s artistic team.

Can You Use Dawn Soap on Your Hair?

There are many things we can picture in the same sentence—dish soap and hair were never that. Well, according to some pros, Dawn’s signature product serves a few purposes in the hair space.

“It’s a little hack I use when I don’t like ,” Los Angeles hair pro and Cosmo Prof artistic team member Jon Carlos De La Cruz tells Mane Addicts. “It’ll just start stripping everything out. Even if you have box dye, buildup, a keratin—whatever it is. But you have to remember, the way they promote Dawn is that it can clean ducks after an oil spill.” As for what he meant by that last sentence, it’s one heck of a serious scrub (so use caution).

Fellow L.A.-based hairstylist Elke Guignard (who posts regular hair content on her @stylesbyelkellc TikTok account), uses Dawn soap for hair that needs an extremely deep cleaning. The hair pro specializes in styling locs, and has shown why the soap makes a big difference for her clients.

Before we get into the benefits below, it’s important to note that some of the hair pros we spoke to refused to comment on this rinsing method. Even De La Cruz himself, who does utilize this DIY trick when necessary, warns that this “should be your last alternative” because “unfortunately, it also strips away the minerals that your hair naturally produces.”

Dawn Soap Hair Benefits

1. Neutralizes Greasy Hair

To reiterate the above, Dawn dish soap’s selling point is its ability to rescue animals from oil spills. So, yeah, it can handle a hefty helping of grease and grime. TikTok user @zackryram let his 14.8K followers know that Dawn was the answer to keeping his greasy strands at bay.

“Look at my beautiful hair—woo,” he said, rubbing his clean tresses. “I haven’t washed my hair in two days, ‘cause you know why? I’m gonna show you this cool way to have nice, non-oily hair such as mine. Look at that! Now we all know Dawn for their ad about cleaning ducks with it. Well, guess what? I’m a duck now.”

2. Lightens Dark Dye

Despite telling a client she’d regret her box dye job, De La Cruz had to deal with the aftermath of her mistake. “Sure enough, she wanted to fix it,” he says. “I told her to wash her hair six times with Dawn. It will dry out the hair, but we’ll just add that moisture back in.” A quick search on TikTok will also lead you to other folks who turned to Dawn soap for hair lightening in a bind.

3. Removes Major Buildup

For Guignard, a standard clarifying shampoo can only do so much for many of her clients.

“When it comes to locs, sometimes there hard to get rid of,” she wrote on top of the Dawn post that caught our attention. “So when it comes to that, I like to use Dawn dish detergent to help.”

She goes on to say that she’s had a more effective experience using the household product to cut hair grease than even Dr. Bronner’s heavy-duty, all-in-one soaps. Though she does warn that this can be “extremely stripping and drying,” it’s the best bet for some of her clients who need a deep clean. If you do go this route, she says you must follow up with a hot oil treatment to add the moisture back in, and only do the Dawn rinse if it’s “extremely necessary.”

4. Reverses Chemical Processes

Whether you have a crappy box dye job, a modernized perm turned haywire, or a keratin you regret because it took away your curls, Dawn could be your answer to getting those strands back to their original state. But speak to a professional beforehand to get a sense of how much you should apply for your situation, and what specific aftercare products would be best for your strands.

How to Use Dawn Soap on Hair

The upsides to this deep cleansing method are it’s cheap, quick, and requires zero prep. “The process is washing your hair in the sink or shower, taking some Dawn and applying it as if you were applying a shampoo,” De La Cruz explains.

Once you’re rinsed, you’ll want to apply a hydrating treatment and leave it in for 10 to 15 minutes. As soon as you dry off from the shower, you must apply a leave-in conditioner. Then style as normal.

“Your hair can recover by applying anything that’s all moisturizing,” De La Cruz says. “Anything that has protein, anything that’s hydrating. You want all that to lock right back in. You can use a mask or oil. Moroccanoil is my favorite to leave in the hair—I just like anything that’s heavy and hydrating.”

Are you looking for additional ways to kick buildup to the curb? Click HERE for our best tips!