Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair: The Ultimate Guide

Medically reviewedby Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is hailed for its potential benefits for hair health, including enhanced shine, reduced frizz, and a balanced scalp pH.

Made from fermented apple juice, ACV is rich in acetic acid and nutrients, potentially aiding in removing product buildup, detangling, and preventing dandruff. 

DIY remedies often involve diluting ACV with water to create a rinse applied after dry shampoo-ing, aiming for luscious locks through natural means.

While many advocate for its use, performing a patch test is advisable to avoid adverse reactions, especially for sensitive skin.

What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar for hair?

apple cider vinegar for hair

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is used for lifeless hair and is celebrated for enhancing hair health and appearance. It offers a natural approach to managing hair concerns, from boosting shine to ensuring a healthy scalp environment.

1. Balances scalp pH

ACV helps maintain a balanced scalp pH, which is crucial for the optimal health of the scalp and hair. A balanced pH can prevent common scalp issues like dandruff and excessive oil production, promoting healthier hair growth.

2. Enhances shine

The acetic acid in ACV acts as a clarifying shampoo, helping remove residue from hair products and leaving both natural and dyed hair smoother and more reflective. This natural clarifier works to close the hair cuticles, enhancing shine and softness.

3. Reduces frizz

By smoothing down hair cuticles, ACV helps to reduce frizz and increase manageability. This makes hair easier to style and maintain, particularly in humid conditions.

4. Detangles hair

The smoothing effect of ACV on hair cuticles can also help detangle hair. This is especially beneficial for those with curly or coarse hair textures, making combing through knots less damaging.

5. Prevents dandruff and scalp issues

ACV has antimicrobial properties, which can help combat scalp infections and dandruff. Its ability to balance the scalp's pH also creates an unfavourable environment for dandruff-causing fungi.

6. Stimulates hair growth

ACV can stimulate hair growth by improving scalp health, clearing clogged or damaged hair follicles in thin hair, and promoting better circulation for a cleansing effect. A healthy scalp is the foundation for healthy hair growth.

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Why use ACV for hair care?

add apple cider vinegar for cleansing rinse

Using apple cider vinegar (ACV) for hair care taps into natural methods for improving the health and appearance of human hair, including oily and thin hair, leveraging its unique properties for effective cleansing hair rinses.

  • Natural scalp balancer: ACV helps to balance the scalp's pH, creating a healthier environment for hair growth and reducing issues like dandruff.
  • Clarifying treatment: The apple cider vinegar rinse serves as a natural clarifying shampoo, removing product buildup without stripping hair of its natural oils, revealing cleaner, shinier hair for both natural and dyed hair.
  • Frizz reduction: By smoothing hair cuticles, ACV reduces frizz, making hair shaft stronger and the hair more manageable and easier to style.
  • Detangling aid: Its smoothing effect also helps in detangling, reducing breakage during combing, especially for curly or knotted hair.
  • Dandruff prevention: ACV's antibacterial and antifungal properties can combat itchy scalp infections and dandruff, promoting a healthier scalp.
  • Encourages hair growth: By improving overall scalp health and clearing clogged follicles and dead skin cells, ACV can foster a better environment for hair growth.
  • Cost-effective and eco-friendly: ACV offers a cost-effective, natural hair care option that minimizes the use of synthetic chemicals, appealing to eco-conscious individuals.

    Is apple cider vinegar for all hair types?

    apple cider vinegar for hair

    Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can benefit most hair types, including oily hair, dry, normal, curly, straight, and color-treated hair, due to its balancing, clarifying shampoo effect, and conditioning properties. However, its suitability and concentration might vary depending on individual hair and scalp sensitivity, especially important for those with scalp irritation or using it on color-treated hair.

    It's important for individuals with very dry, brittle, or colour-treated hair to use it cautiously and in diluted form to avoid potential dryness or colour fading in dry hair.

    For those with sensitive scalps or skin conditions, conducting a patch test before adding apple cider vinegar broadly is advisable to ensure no scalp irritation or adverse reactions.

    While ACV offers universal benefits shiny hair like pH balance and enhanced shine, the frequency of use and dilution ratio should be adjusted based on personal hair type and condition. Overuse can sometimes lead to dryness, particularly for those with already dry or brittle hair.

    How do you use apple cider vinegar for hair?

    hair acv for normal ph hair porosity

    Using apple cider vinegar (ACV) for hair is a simple, natural method to enhance hair health, shine, and scalp cleanliness. Here's a step-by-step guide to incorporating ACV into your hair care routine:

    1. Dilute the ACV: Mix 2 to 4 tablespoons of ACV with 1 cup of water. For sensitive scalps, start with a weaker dilution and adjust as necessary.
    2. Shampoo your hair: Start by washing your hair with regular shampoo to remove dirt and oil buildup.
    3. Apply the ACV rinse: After shampooing, pour the ACV mixture evenly over your hair, covering the scalp and hair strands. For easier application, use a spray bottle.
    4. Massage your scalp: Gently massage the mixture into your scalp for a few minutes. This stimulates blood circulation and ensures that the ACV is evenly distributed.
    5. Leave it on: Allow the mixture to sit on your hair for 2 to 5 minutes. This waiting period lets the ACV work magic on your scalp and hair.
    6. Rinse thoroughly: Rinse your hair thoroughly with cool water to remove all traces of the ACV. This also helps to seal the hair cuticle, enhancing shine.
    7. Condition (optional): If your hair tends to be dry, follow up with a conditioner. However, many find their hair soft and manageable without additional conditioning after an ACV rinse.
    8. Dry and style as usual: Dry and style your hair as you normally would. You may notice increased shine and ease in styling.

      Remember, the frequency of ACV use can vary depending on your hair type and needs. Start with once a week and adjust based on your hair's response. Always monitor your scalp and hair for any signs of irritation or dryness.

      DIY ACV hair care recipes for radiant locks

      improves hair's cuticle

      These simple, homemade concoctions can help you achieve radiant locks by leveraging ACV's cleansing, balancing, and conditioning properties.

      1. Basic ACV hair rinse

      • Ingredients: 1/4 cup ACV, 2 cups water.
      • Instructions: Mix the ACV with water. After shampooing, pour the mixture over your hair, massage it into the scalp, and rinse after a few minutes.

        2. ACV and herbal rinse for shine

        • Ingredients: 1/4 cup ACV, 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon dried rosemary or lavender.
        • Instructions: Boil herbs in water and strain. Cool to room temperature, add ACV, and apply after shampooing. Rinse for added shine and a pleasant scent.

          3. ACV scalp treatment for dandruff

          • Ingredients: 1/3 cup ACV, 1 quart of warm water, 5 drops of tea tree oil.
          • Instructions: Mix all ingredients and massage into the scalp before your regular shampoo routine. Leave on for up to 20 minutes, then rinse and shampoo.

            4. Moisturizing ACV conditioner

            • Ingredients: 1 tablespoon ACV, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon olive oil.
            • Instructions: Combine ingredients in a bottle. Shake well and apply to hair after shampooing. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it for a moisturizing boost.

              5. ACV detangling spray

              • Ingredients: 1 tablespoon ACV, 1 cup water, a few drops of lavender essential oil (optional).
              • Instructions: Mix ingredients in a spray bottle. Spritz on damp hair to help detangle and add shine.

                6. ACV hair mask for deep conditioning

                • Ingredients: 1 tablespoon ACV, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 ripe banana.
                • Instructions: Blend all ingredients into a smooth paste. Apply to hair, focusing on ends. Leave on for 20-30 minutes, then rinse and shampoo. This mask deeply conditions and reduces frizz.

                  These recipes can be adjusted based on your hair color, type and personal preference. Regular use can help enhance the natural beauty and health of your hair.

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                  Conclusion

                  The article highlighted the multifaceted benefits and uses of apple cider vinegar (ACV) for hair care, illustrating its natural efficacy in balancing scalp pH, enhancing shine, reducing frizz, detangling, and preventing dandruff, all while stimulating hair growth.

                  It also introduced DIY ACV recipes for personal hair care routines tailored to various needs. 

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                  FAQs

                  Can apple cider vinegar be used on all hair types?

                  Yes, apple cider vinegar can benefit most hair types by balancing scalp pH, enhancing shine, and reducing frizz. However, it's crucial to adjust dilution based on your hair's specific needs.

                  How often should I use apple cider vinegar on my hair?

                  Frequency can vary; starting with once a week is common. Observe how your hair and scalp respond, and adjust accordingly to prevent dryness.

                  References

                  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8808739/
                  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7522433/
                  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33061509/

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                    Luat Duong

                    Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.