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Apple Cider Vinegar For Hair: Benefits & How To Use It


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Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

apple cider vinegar for hair

Is apple cider vinegar good for hair? The rumors run rampant, and we pay attention to them since we’re willing to try anything for softer, shinier, and healthier hair. 

Believe it or not, you don’t need to invest in a bathroom cabinet full of fancy hair growth products and gadgets for fabulous follicles, as fun as the expensive stuff may be and as luxurious as it may seem. The answer that you seek might already be waiting for you, right in your kitchen cupboard.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For Hair?

Dull hair, thin hair, and dry hair may all able to benefit from something called an apple cider vinegar hair rinse. This simple anti-inflammatory hair treatment takes advantage of all of the health benefits that the fermentation process endows ACV with naturally. 

What does apple cider vinegar hair care look like in a practical sense? After you dilute ACV in cool water, you’ve got a slightly acidic hair rinse treatment capable of gentle exfoliation of both the follicles of the hair and the scalp itself. Our bodies are all electricity and chemistry, so pursuing the right alchemy for your hair is as beneficial as it is simple. It’s not wizardry, and it’s not exactly rocket science. Here’s how you can do it at home.

Benefits Of Using Apple Cider Vinegar On Hair

The benefits of apple cider vinegar hair care come from the chemistry[1] involved. Being slightly acidic, vinegar reduces the negative electrical charge of the hair fiber surface, which reduces the friction that contributes to the wear-and-tear of each fiber. It is also antimicrobial, reducing inflammation that results from microbes. These effects will be obvious after you give it a shot: less product buildup, fewer dead skin cells on your scalp, the right balance between dry hair and oily hair, and even anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties are only the beginning.

  • It’s antimicrobial, which means it possesses antiseptic and sanitizing properties; bacteria growth and other germs won’t stand a chance, along with the inflammation that results from them
  • It’s anti-fungal, and fungus is everywhere; in fact, many physicians and pediatricians recommend ACV gargling for thrush and other yeast infections
  • Apple cider vinegar cleanses the hair without leaving behind product buildup on your hair strands and scalp, due to its acidic nature
  • It might be able to help you restore the proper pH balance of the hair cuticle and scalp, which may be thrown out of balance through chemical exposure (alkaline shampoos), sun exposure, and the use of hair dyes
  • You might enjoy shinier hair after an apple cider vinegar rinse—the acid in apple cider vinegar may be able to exfoliate the hair cuticles and create a protective layer around each follicle, resulting in a tighter, smoother, and more attractive hair shaft
  • Apple cider vinegar is extraordinarily affordable and may be able to save you tons of money when you choose an ACV hair rinse over other, store-bought options

Whether you choose an apple cider vinegar rinse to remove buildup, to preserve artificial hair colors, or even just simply as a cleansing hair care ritual once a week, it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to eliminate excess oils and improve scalp health. It may not seem as luxurious as the expensive formulas, but luxury is in the hair, not the product.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar On Hair? 

The “No-Poo” movement has been alive and well for several decades now; it’s an ethos that seeks to reclaim hair health for men and women alike by deviating from what many commercial shampoos have to offer (i.e., alkalinity). Instead, those of this school of thought are encouraged to wash their hair with shampoo alternatives, ACV among them.

Is it all bunk? Consider this: the American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your hair according to how much oil it produces[2]. Oilier individuals may find that they’re able to restore balance by washing their hair daily. Drier hair might find itself stripped of vital oils if one washes it too frequently.

It’s all a matter of balance and observation, and apple cider vinegar might just be the solution that you need. Here’s how you can harness the power and solve your hair problems with ACV.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Hair Growth

The truth is that you can’t use a topical treatment to make hair grow faster. You can reinforce the health of the surface of each of your hair follicles, which will appear to boost hair growth by preventing them from breaking off.

This is haircare 101—co-washing with apple cider vinegar[3] might be able to keep hair breakage at bay and prevent the overproduction of sebum on the surface of the scalp, thereby extending the life of each strand, no matter what your hair type happens to be.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Hair Loss

Hair loss is a dangerous game—there are few home remedies or over-the-counter treatments that any board-certified dermatologist will be able to endorse as fully effective. That doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain the health of the hair that you still have with an ACV rinse.

As mentioned previously, apple cider vinegar girds each follicle from the inside out, partly thanks to the alpha hydroxy acid and acetic acid that it contains; also, as mentioned before, it girds the hair from the outside in, by reducing negative charge, friction, and wear-and-tear. Healthy hair is much less likely to break off or fall out of its own accord. Why not try your luck with an ACV rinse?

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Dandruff

Apple cider vinegar is awesome for dry scalps; if you have an itchy scalp and dry hair, apple cider vinegar might be able to help you reduce skin flaking and minimize itching and discomfort.

Treating dandruff isn’t always easy, but ACV’s ability to balance scalp pH might be the key for you. Ideally, your scalp pH should be somewhere around 5.5, which is more acidic than pure water alone. Anti-dandruff shampoos and other treatments tend to be[1] more alkaline—naturally, ACV is the better weapon to employ in this regard.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Color-Treated Hair?

Finally, one of the hottest topics in the world of hair health and care: is dyed hair. Can an apple cider vinegar rinse protect color-treated hair follicles?

Many beauty gurus speak to the power of an apple cider vinegar rinse immediately after color-treating your tresses—it might be able to help you lock your color in longer by sealing the hair cuticle at exactly the right time. 

Thus, your color stays brighter and more vibrant for longer, but with one important caveat: you shouldn’t continue to use ACV or clarifying shampoo while your color is still strong, lest you run the risk of leeching the color out as the apple cider vinegar or shampoo strips it, just as it does with excess oil on the hair and scalp.

How To Make An Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse?

To make your own rinse with ACV, apple cider vinegar and water are all that you need. 

Dilute two tablespoons of pure ACV into about a cup of clean, filtered water. What’s the best way to incorporate this solution into your hair care routine? You’ve got options:

  1. After washing your hair normally, apply the diluted ACV to all of your hair for ten minutes, conditioning after rinsing to enhance shine
  2. You can put this solution into a spray bottle and spritz it on as a styling product or as dry shampoo for a soft and frizz-free second-day look
  3. You can make a hydrating scalp scrub using ACV, olive oil, and all-natural sea salt
  4. You might consider one or more store-bought hair products or a hair mask that contains real apple cider vinegar

An ACV rinse is an extraordinarily powerful clarifying hair treatment, on par with your favorite clarifying shampoo—this means that it strips the hair’s cuticle of pretty much all oil, although this may leave those with fine hair, especially with an arid ‘do’ and a dry and itchy scalp.

To combat this, we can recommend following an acetic acid hair wash with some sort of nourishing, moisturizing hair mask immediately afterward. This may be homemade[4], using something like coconut oil, aloe vera, or olive oil, or simply some ordinary hair conditioner or a deep-conditioning, leave-in hair mask.

Final Thought

If you want healthy hair, we have plenty of preventative advice to share: be gentle when brushing it, keep it out of the sun, keep your regime all-natural when possible, and avoid harsh commercial chemicals whenever possible.

If you’ve got all of that down pat, a weekly apple cider vinegar wash is yet another technique at your disposal if happy, healthy hair is your ultimate goal. Give your scalp and hair the detox it deserves—forget the expensive shampoo, and thank us later.

+ 4 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Gavazzoni Dias, M.F., Pichler, J., Adriano, A., Cecato, P. and de Almeida, A. (2014). The shampoo pH can affect the hair: Myth or Reality? International Journal of Trichology, [online] 6(3), p.95. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4158629/
  2. ‌Aad.org. (2022). Tips for healthy hair. [online] Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/hair-scalp-care/hair/healthy-hair-tips
  3. ‌Gavazzoni Dias, M. (2018). Pro and Contra of Cleansing Conditioners. Skin Appendage Disorders, [online] 5(3), pp.131–134. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6489037/
  4. Zaid, A.N., Jaradat, N.A., Eid, A.M., Al Zabadi, H., Alkaiyat, A. and Darwish, S.A. (2017). Ethnopharmacological survey of home remedies used for treatment of hair and scalp and their methods of preparation in the West Bank-Palestine. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 17(1). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5499037/

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Emma Garofalo is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of science, art, and all things culinary, few things excite her more than the opportunity to learn about something new." It is now in the sheet in the onboarding paperwork, apologies!!

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

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