The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair (And How to Use It)

apple cider vinegar hair rinse

Liz deSousa for BYRDIE

Those who wash their hair often and have tried to go more than a day without doing so, know the gross feeling product build-up can cause. After a few days of dry shampoo, mousse, and hair spray, regular shampoo sometimes just doesn't cut it—which is why clarifying shampoos are such a staple in our haircare routines. But you don't necessarily have to buy a fancy clarifying shampoo, particularly if you only use product in your hair occasionally. You can actually just fix the problem with a product that's likely in your kitchen: apple cider vinegar.

The Benefits of Using Apple Cider Vinegar

An apple cider vinegar-based rinse can help restore life to your hair in a matter of moments, but you shouldn't just pour ACV onto your head—that may end up not only stripping your hair, but may also burn your scalp. Instead, you have to dilute it heavily with water.

  • Can Clear Out Stubborn Product: Apple cider vinegar may be great at getting build-up out of your hair. A big part of this is due to its acidic nature; it's likely less acidic than your typical clarifying shampoo, but more acidic than regular shampoo. Grease, grime, and any product that's clumped up in your hair over time will be washed out, while your hair is kept intact.
  • Helps Restore Balance: Not only can apple cider vinegar rinse unwanted dirt off your strands, but it can have seriously positive effects on your scalp health. Your scalp has an acid mantle like the rest of your skin, and the acid mantle needs to be maintained, which means keeping a healthy pH balance. Unfortunately, hair products aren't often made with your pH balance in mind, which means the buildup that comes from products seriously messes with that acid mantle and can even cause frizzing and breakage. Using apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse might help restore that balance.
  • Contains Antibacterial and Anti-inflammatory Properties: ACV is a known anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, and may prevent bacteria growth on the scalp, as well as the population of dandruff.

How To Do It

  1. Mix five parts water to one part vinegar in a spray bottle—100 ml of ACV to 500 ml of water if you want to be exact.
  2. Spray your scalp well, enough that it'll be evenly coated.
  3. Work the vinegar into your hair with your fingers. It will be diluted enough that it shouldn't burn.
  4. Allow the vinegar mixture to sit for three to five minutes.
  5. Rinse your hair and scalp with cool water.
  6. Follow this rinse with a light conditioner, nothing that will weigh down your hair.
  7. Rinse your hair well, until you're sure all product (and vinegar) is down the drain.
apple cider vinegar hair rinse

Liz deSousa for BYRDIE

When Not to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

While apple cider vinegar can be a great thing to use on your hair sometimes, it's not necessarily always advisable. The primary case is if you have exceptionally dry hair—you shouldn't be using apple cider vinegar, clarifying shampoo, or anything else meant to strip your hair of oils. If dryness is an issue, use a "no-poo" like Hairstory's beloved New Wash ($40). Another case where you should take caution in using apple cider vinegar is if your hair is colored—it's not a no-go, but you definitely shouldn't make it a regular part of your routine. ACV might begin to affect hair color when used two times per week or more. Once per week use is recommended for colored hair.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Gavazzoni Dias MF, de Almeida AM, Cecato PM, Adriano AR, Pichler J. The shampoo pH can affect the hair: myth or realityInt J Trichology. 2014;6(3):95-99. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.139078

  2. Yagnik D, Serafin V, J Shah A. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expressionSci Rep. 2018;8(1):1732. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-18618-x

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