Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on January 23, 2022
Beauty blogs are raving about using apple cider vinegar for dermatological purposes and haircare. Since it has previously proven itself as a well-rounded home remedy, this should come as no surprise. Let us explore the many different aspects of this claim to find out whether or not ACV can improve the health of our hair and scalp.
Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
Apple cider vinegar, a popular home remedy for detox, comes from the fermentation of crushed apples. Yeast breaks down the sugars into alcohol which further decomposes into many different acids, most notably, acetic acid.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For Your Hair?
ACV lacks direct research to back up its use in hair care. However, some of its proven properties and prior studies indicate that it may provide indirect benefits. Examining their performance can help us understand the potential health benefits of an apple cider vinegar hair rinse.
A Japanese study observed alpha-hydroxy acids, constituents of ACV, against photoaged skin. Since the study did not specify skin type, one could assume it involved a photoaged scalp, a common condition amongst the population. It concluded that long-term exposure to acids such as lactic, citric, and glycolic has great potential for strengthening epidermal and dermal components. (1)
Further research in the field also exists, one of which claims alpha-hydroxy acids as a direct friend of UV-damaged skin if used in the right concentration. (2)
The Korean Dermatological Association presented a study on the effects of vinegar over the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis). It concluded that topical acids are essential for hindering the growth of skin lesions and balancing pH levels. A healthy stratum corneum promotes hydration and strength for the scalp. (3)
ACV has also been proven effective in regulating the gut microbiome. While that directly links to the digestive system, studies have found the microbiome impacts hair growth and follicle health by producing necessary nutrients. A good microbiome sustains body conditions ideal for healthy hair thickness and growth. (4, 5)
Apple Cider Vinegar for Dandruff (Dry Scalp)
Few could deny the antimicrobial and antifungal capacity associated with ACV for many health procedures, including treating acid reflux, losing weight, and even as an effective home remedy for gout. The claim is backed by various research trials, each concerned with a different microbe and its impacts.
One study demonstrated ACV’s ability to downregulate inflammatory cytokines. This benefit may be able to help with an itchy scalp, frequently caused by inflammatory skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis. (6)
A report published in the International Journal of Science and Research regarding the relationship between ACV hair rinse and dandruff is a major development in the field. The study aimed to directly quantify the ACV concentration essential for eliminating Malassezia Furfur, fungi responsible for dandruff. The report further claimed ACV, together with lemon juice, as a pivotal factor in inhibiting fungi growth for scalp health. (7)
The Bottom Line
The evidence concerning vinegar rinse for hair may be more anecdotal than data-driven, but they lead one to consider giving ACV a try. In general, hair care advocates have claimed ACV may be able to provide the following benefits for hair and scalp health:
- Balances hair pH, helping treat weak and dry hair
- Cleanses the hair of dead skin cells and oil buildup
- Fights pathogens to improve scalp health
- Inhibits the yeast responsible for dandruff
- Smoothes hair cuticles and eliminates split ends
- Rich in hair-strengthening nutrients
- Helps provide longevity for hair
- Amplifies the shine of hair
- Fills gaps in the air shaft to make the hair softer
How to use Apple Cider Vinegar on Hair
You can get your own apple cider vinegar hair wash for rinsing hair. Brands have introduced many products in this chain, including scrubs, conditioners, shampoos, and more. But, you can also create a DIY hair rinse based on the steps below.
- Read More: Apple Cider Vinegar and Blood Pressure
DIY ACV Hair Rinse Recipe
Apart from dilution, frequency, and ACV type, few strict rules exist for making a hair rinse. There are many recipes, each equally effective. A traditional ACV hair wash should look something like this:
- Grab a spray bottle and mix ACV and cold water in a ratio of 1 part ACV to 5 parts water. You may also repurpose a shampoo bottle. The spray, however, would give you greater coverage of the hair and limit the exposure of other parts of the body to ACV.
- Add in a few drops of herbal oil, like tree oil or rose. This will dilute the ACV smell and supply additional benefits based on your preferred additive.
- Spray the mixture over your hair but do not do so excessively.
- Massage your scalp so that the vinegar spreads throughout.
- Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Thoroughly rinse away with water so that no ACV is exposed to the skin longer than necessary.
Should You Rinse Before or After Conditioner?
You should always try to perform an ACV rinse before applying a hair conditioner.
This helps in covering any parts of the hair left untouched by the vinegar. It also eliminates the sour odor from the hair. Do not mix the apple cider vinegar with the conditioner. Simply carry your normal conditioner routine once all of the vinegar is drained.
Store-Bought Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo: Does It Work?
Store-bought apple cider vinegar shampoos come with the inclusion of added preservatives and ingredients. This does affect the rawness of the ACV, but they also help sustain the product longer. Depending upon the formula, they are each stacked with acids, enzymes, and proteins that may provide additional benefits.
An effective anti-dandruff shampoo may use several plants high in acetic acid, which is a major component of ACV. (8)
If you are buying a store-bought apple cider vinegar shampoo, make sure you check the ingredients, especially if you have allergies. Otherwise, store-bought ACV shampoos are less prone to harsh reactions and work just as efficiently as the DIY version. For people with colored hair or sensitive skin, the store-bought shampoo is, in fact, a better option.
Potential Side Effects
The use of ACV in hair care does not come with many dangers to the hair itself, but it can be hazardous for the scalp if improperly applied.
Human skin is the most sensitive organ of the body. The acidity from the vinegar can lead to problems due to misuse, sensitive skin, or any number of skin conditions affecting the scalp.
ACV may irritate the scalp, progress to itching, and in a worst-case scenario, burning. Adverse cases may be rare, but practicing the safety tips below always goes a long way.
Safety Tips for an ACV Rinse
- ACV is an acidic substance. If you have particularly severe scalp issues, thin hair, or hair loss, consult a certified dermatologist before use.
- Always go through a patch test before making an ACV wash part of your hair care routine. If you experience any of its side effects, quit immediately.
- Excessive exposure can cause damage to the hair. Use it moderately.
- Use a raw, unfiltered ACV if you choose the DIY hair rinse. For store-bought products, opt for an organic version or one that suits your hair.
Other Ways to Take ACV
Besides hair care, apple cider vinegar is consumed quite regularly in several different ways. Here are a few ways you can get more ACV in your diet to increase your overall health and support hair growth:
- Use a healthy ACV drink recipe and take it in liquid form.
- For a more flavorful experience, eat the widely popular ACV gummies.
- Use ACV capsules if the drink is too harsh, or if you’re not a fan of the gummy vitamins.
Remember, when drinking ACV, do not exceed the recommended dosage of 15-30 ml per day. If you choose to go for the scrub or any other way that directly contacts the hair and skin, do not apply more than 2-3 times per week.
- More Reading: Should you drink apple cider vinegar before bed?
Final Thoughts on Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Hair
Looking at the data available brings us to the conclusion that an ACV hair rinse is generally safe, and may provide hair benefits. If used wisely and safely, you may find that apple cider vinegar is a good addition to your hair care regimen.
- More Reading: Does ACV expire?