If at first – the thought of using an apple cider vinegar hair rinse seems completely unappealing, you’re not alone.
Before I added this apple cider vinegar hair rinse to my routine – I was a bit skeptical. Pouring a fermented apple concoction on my head seemed a little out there, and the last thing I wanted to do was walk around with a head of apple cider vinegar hair.
After doing much research on the benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) 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 to put the apple cider vinegar hair rinse to the test.
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, today, we’re going to focus exclusively on how to use an apple cider vinegar hair rinse.
And PS. I can promise you that you will not smell like a head full of apple cider vinegar hair. Once your hair dries, the smell completely disappears. Pinky swear.
Why do an Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse?
To give you confidence in applying this apple cider vinegar hair rinse to 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 – 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 – let’s be honest, is what we all really 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?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) 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. Unfiltered (or raw) apple cider vinegar leaves all of the nutrients in the vinegar, which is why it’s the preferred option over filtered 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.
First, 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 with no added conventional chemical craziness. Now that’s what’s up.
Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
2-4 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
16 oz water
After shampooing and rinsing hair thoroughly, add the apple cider vinegar, water, and essential oil (optional) into an empty mason jar. Leaning your head back, pour the rinse over your entire scalp, allowing mixture to run through your hair. Be careful to avoid contact with your eyes. Let mixture sit in hair for 1-2 minutes. Rinse throughly.
Finding Your Perfect Ratio: The specific amount of apple cider vinegar needed will vary depending on the person. Start with 2 tbsp, and work your way up to 4 tbsp if you aren’t seeing results with the lower ratio. 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.
The first few times you use this rinse, leave the mixture in your hair for 30 – 60 seconds. If you don’t see the improvements you want, work your way up from there. If your scalp is more sensitive, you may do better with leaving it in for a shorter period of time.
Figuring out how often to apply this rinse will depend on your current hair and scalp situation. I recommend applying this rinse no more than twice a week. However, if you have dry or “thin” hair – you may do better rinsing your hair only a couple of times a month. Experiment and see what works best for you. A good place to start is once a week. By week two or three, you’ll be able to tell if you need to back off, or pick it up.
Tips & Tricks
The best way to implement this hair rinse regularly is to leave a bottle of unfiltered, apple cider vinegar in the shower, along with an empty mason jar, and a stainless steel tablespoon measure. Just after rinsing out my shampoo, I turn the water to cool and measure out the apple cider vinegar into a mason jar. Then, I fill the mason jar with water (I made a mark with a permanent marker at the 16 oz point), and pour it over my head. I typically leave it in the time it takes to wash my body.
And if you have kids and feel like leaving glass in your shower is a pending disaster, you can use this plastic application bottle for the rinse. Simply leave the bottle of apple cider vinegar under the sink, and measure it out into the application bottle beforehand.
If you do not have hair that is longer than shoulder length, you can reduce your overall rinse by half. So, use 1 cup of cool water and 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
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, you can apply a light conditioner after the rinse.
I recommend only using a natural, pH balanced shampoo and conditioner like JustNaturals over shampoos that will boost alkalinity. Forcing the hair to “open up” with products that are very alkaline, followed by forcing the hair “back down” can be very damaging (think color treatments or bleaching.) If you’d like to continue with the DIY theme for your shampoo, try this natural pH balanced shampoo recipe.
Have any questions, insights, or experiences you’d like to share? Post them below! I’d LOVE to hear from you!