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

Updated 06/18/19
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If you've ever done anything with your hair more than blow-dry it, you probably know the problems (and gross feeling) product build-up can cause. After two weeks of dry shampoos, mousses, and salt sprays, regular shampoo sometimes just doesn't cut it. Eventually, you'll end up with gunky, greasy hair and be tempted to wash your hair every day, or maybe even twice in one day. In turn, this will leave your mane lifeless, limp, and dull. This is why clarifying shampoos are such a staple in the households of people who do their hair all the time.

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 first thing's first, you have to be smart about it. You can't just pour ACV onto your head—that's going to end up not only stripping your hair, but actually could burn your scalp. So seriously, don't do it. Instead, you have to dilute it heavily. But if you do dilute it, you can get some serious benefits.

Clearing Out Stubborn Product

As stated before, apple cider vinegar is great at getting build-up off of your hair. A big part of this is due to its acidic nature; it's 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.

Restoring Balance

Not only can apple cider vinegar rinse unwanted dirt off your strands, but it can have seriously positive effects on your scalp health. Not only does your scalp have an acid mantle like the rest of your skin, but 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. Using apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse can, thankfully, restore that balance.

How To Do It

  1. Mix five parts water to one part vinegar in a spray bottle—1 tablespoon in 500ml is good 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.

    You can dry and style your hair as usual afterwards, but you should notice some shine and body have been restored.

    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.

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