If the thought of using an apple cider vinegar hair rinse seems a bit out there—you’re not alone.
Before I added an apple cider vinegar hair rinse to my routine (using this raw apple cider vinegar), I was a bit skeptical to say the least. The last thing I wanted to do was walk around with a head of apple cider vinegar hair.
But, after doing much research on the benefits of apple cider vinegar for hair and skin, I first ditched my conventional toner for a DIY apple cider vinegar facial toner, and was blown away with the results. Moving to a more natural skincare routine completely changed the appearance of my skin, and my face has been free of any major pimples, blemishes, and acne since I made the switch.
Shortly after, I decided experiment with implementing an apple cider vinegar hair rinse. Now, apple cider vinegar is one of my favorite ways to keep my skin and hair on point. And while there are many benefits to apple cider vinegar—both internally and topically, one of my favorite uses is this apple cider vinegar hair rinse.
Why do an Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse?
To give you enough confidence to pour this apple cider vinegar hair rinse on your head, it’s important you know a few basics about how the hairs on your head come into being.
What we typically think of as “hair” is actually a two-part structure consisting of a follicle, which is a tunnel-like segment located in the skin, and a shaft, which is the visible structure that grows above the skin.
Just below the surface of the skin are sebaceous glands, which secrete sebum through the hair follicle. This oil lubricates hair and skin, and is part of the acid mantle, which is a very fine, slightly acidic film that maintains and protects the overall health of the hair and skin.
The acid mantle is also critical to our hair’s appearance, which is what most of us care about. The outer layer of the shaft, also known as the cuticle, is compromised of tightly packed overlapping scales. The acid mantle is instrumental in making cuticle scales lie flat, which gives hair a shiny, smooth appearance, and protects from moisture loss.
Unfortunately, this system can be easily disrupted, which is the primary cause of the ever-popular bad hair day. The acid mantle typically has a pH of around 5, which means it is slightly acidic. Many hair care products, treatments, and some shampoos are more alkaline (have a pH above 7), which can contaminate or remove the acid mantle.
When the acid mantle becomes alkaline, hair swells and the scales on the cuticle open, leaving it susceptible to breakage. It also results in frizzy, brittle hair which has a “dull” appearance due to the fact that the hair is absorbing light instead of reflecting it. (Perfect for picture day!)
The acid mantle can also be disrupted by other factors, including stress, diet, and sweat. So, proactively restoring our hair to its natural pH and maintaining the acid mantle is crucial for strong, healthy hair.
Why Raw Apple Cider Vinegar?
Raw (or unfiltered) apple cider vinegar is simply the by-product of the fermentation of apples. Apples are loaded with potassium, pectin, malic acid and calcium, and fermentation fortifies the end product with even more beneficial acids and enzymes. Raw apple cider vinegar leaves all of the nutrients in the vinegar, which is why it’s the preferred option over pasteurized apple cider vinegar.
Because apple cider vinegar has pH of around 3 (meaning it’s acidic), when properly diluted with water, it helps to balance the pH of the hair, leading to many happy hair days.
Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse Benefits
While there is no formal research exploring the benefits of an apple cider vinegar hair rinse, there are many positive side effects that you may experience based on the properties of apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is packed with nutrients that are great for building luscious locks, including B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium. Because it is slightly acidic, it also serves to restore the natural pH of the acid mantle. Exposure to this acidity hardens the outer layer of the hair and flattens the cuticle, resulting in hair that shines, “slides” easily, and is less prone to tangling or snagging.
Apple cider vinegar also contains natural alpha-hydroxy acid, which gently exfoliates the scalp and hair, allowing for removal of dead skin cells and build up that can occur from sweat and/or conventional hair products. This improves the appearance of the hair, reduces itchiness, and allows for better styling.
For those who experience scalp-related conditions such as dandruff, apple cider vinegar can bring relief because of its anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. In addition to being antimicrobial, apple cider vinegar is also anti-inflammatory, which can counteract the skin inflammation that typically occurs with dandruff and a dry, flaky scalp.
And the best part? All of these benefits come at a super affordable price.
Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
2-4 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
16 oz cool water
1-2 drops lavender oil (optional)
After shampooing and rinsing your hair, mix the apple cider vinegar, water, and essential oil (optional) in a plastic bottle. Leaning your head back, pour the rinse over your entire scalp, allowing the mixture to run through your hair. Be careful to avoid contact with your eyes. Let the mixture sit on your hair for 1-2 minutes. Then, rinse throughly.
Tips & Tricks
1. The specific amount of apple cider vinegar you need will vary depending on your individual needs. I recommend starting with 2 tbsp, and working your way up to 4 tbsp if you aren’t seeing results with the lower ratio.
2. As a general rule of thumb, dry hair will typically do better with less apple cider vinegar, while those with oily hair or scalp issues such as dandruff will do better with more apple cider vinegar.
3. Figuring out how often to apply this rinse will depend on your current hair and scalp situation. I recommend applying this rinse twice a week. If you have dry or thin hair, you may do better rinsing your hair only a 1-2 times a month. Experiment and see what works best for you. A good place to start is once a week.
4. The best way to implement this apple cider vinegar hair rinse regularly is to mix this just before getting in the shower in a plastic squeeze bottle. Then, take the bottle with you into the shower and do the rinse after you shampoo your hair.
5. After you rinse out the apple cider vinegar and your hair dries, it will no longer smell like apple cider vinegar.
6. If your hair is shoulder length or shorter, you can reduce your overall rinse by half. So, use 1 cup of cool water and 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar.
7. After the apple cider vinegar hair rinse, you do not have to use a conventional conditioner as the vinegar mixture will naturally condition your hair. If after some experimentation you find that the lack of conditioner seems to affect the appearance of your hair, I recommend applying conditioner to the ends of your hair after the rinse.
Have any questions, insights, or experiences you’d like to share about using apple cider vinegar for hair care? Post them below! I’d LOVE to hear from you!