July 10, 2023
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Leo possesses more than 17 years of valuable experience as a researcher and lecturer within the fields of Biology and Genetics. Holding a PhD in Biology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina...
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is known as a popular natural remedy for various conditions. It can detoxify, aid in weight loss, and even treat acne. But is apple cider good as a hair rinse? Does it improve hair health? And should you use apple cider vinegar rinse on your hair?
ACV has acetic acid to help clean the hair and exfoliate the scalp’s surface. It boosts circulation to the scalp surface facilitating cellular turnover. ACV inhibits fungal growth, reducing and preventing dandruff, and works as an antioxidant to improve overall hair health.
We will further discuss apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse, its benefits, how to use it, and who should avoid it.
Humans have been consuming ACV for centuries in food, salads (including salad dressing), and drinks, plus it has other health benefits. Its intake in our diet offers tremendous benefits.1 Over more recent years, it has been introduced and used as a tonic drink for various health benefits like indigestion, lowering cholesterol, and weight loss.
Scientists have examined its long-lasting impact on blood sugar levels, lipid uptake in the body, and weight loss.2,3,4,5,6 It has also been explored for potential hair and skincare benefits.7 Social media and web sources extensively discuss its impact on boosting skin condition and hair quality.
It has often been recommended as a rinse-off treatment to improve the scalp surface and provide hair shine. I personally remember coming across a bunch of info on ACV hair rinse when searching for dandruff solutions.
That’s when I learned that ACV has known antimicrobial properties, especially anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activity. I researched extensively to confirm this and understand more about its benefits for hair.
But before diving into ACV and what it does for your hair, understanding its chemistry is essential to understanding why it works the way it does. Let’s get into that in the next point.
ACV is acidic, with a pH range of 2.00 – 3.00, depending on the total amount of acid in the formulation. Acetic acid is the organic acid responsible for its acidity. Apple cider vinegar is prepared by the enzymatic oxidation of sugar molecules in freshly squeezed apple juice.
Acetobacter bacteria facilitate the chemical reaction, and the chemical composition of ACV demonstrates the presence of various organic acids (besides acetic acid).
It also contains several phenolic compounds, such as:
The taste and color of ACV vary depending on the cultivation of the apple, preparation technique, and concentration levels of organic acids.
Organic acids are frequently used in hair and skin care formulations. Acetic acid is the main component in ACV and defines the main properties of this product. It is also where the vinegar gets its sour taste and smell.
There are several benefits of using an ACV rinse, such as:
Organic acids can chelate metals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper. This ability can profoundly impact hair because metal deposits on the hair shaft and tarnish the hair’s physical and chemical properties. Metal build-up can alter hair properties, manageability, styling, and shine.
Repeated application of proteins and cationic polymers from hair products can form a thin layer on the hair surface. This blocks any further penetration of active ingredients. The result is that hair becomes rigid and offers an undesired tactile and sensory feel.
A diluted ACV rinse can easily dissolve these metal deposits from the hair shaft and completely clean the hair. ACV rinse can remove these polymeric build-ups, restoring hair’s natural feel and shine.10
ACV can be used on the hair and scalp. But just like other hair care treatments, it should be used with proper procedure and care because it is not for everyone and can have some adverse effects.10 Essentially, ACV with “the MOTHER” is preferred.
ACV Mother contains significant nutrients, good microbes, and minerals. These can be further beneficial to the hair and scalp.15
All hair types can significantly benefit from rinsing the hair with apple cider vinegar, including:
ACV is an acidic solution; thus, it should be used carefully. Due to its acidic strength, it should not be used without dilution. The diluted version will have a pH of 4.0 – 5.0, which matches the hair’s isoelectric point.10
According to Dr. Eric Berg, you should get a filter that can remove chlorine and fluoride from the water. These two chemicals are halogens and very reactive on your skin (your scalp is an extension of your skin), which can give it all sorts of acne issues that can lead to hair damage.
Once you have made your ACV rinse, simply pouring it over your hair won’t be effective. There are specific steps to follow, as described below:
Note: Rinse-out products like ACV are the best for hair between a pH of 4 and 6. For best results, it should be used with proper care and dilution to avoid irritation. Try it on a small section first, and if any side effects are experienced, discontinue use.
If you want ACV to be incorporated into your hair care routine more often, some hair care products include the ingredients for ease of use. Here are some that we recommend:
This product is a natural exfoliator with the pink Himalayan sea salt for a flaky scalp. It helps to remove product buildup, impurities, and dead skin cells. It also helps soothe dry, oily, or combination scalp.
If you don’t want to measure or mix anything, this will be your closest option to homemade ACV rinse. This finishing rinse is diluted correctly for optimal pH and contains various other natural ingredients, such as black cumin seed and cinnamon oil.
If you are someone who has used dry shampoo and styling products for days, this rinse can help cleanse your hair without removing its natural oils or color. It will also make your hair soft, soothe your scalp, and give it a shine.
This sulfate-free ACV shampoo formula will soothe your itchy scalp and remove build-up without stripping your hair of its natural oils. The infusion of ACV, tea tree oil, and oat kernel extract provides scalp rejuvenation, soothes the dry scalp, and encourages healthy hair growth.
ACV in conditioner is not quite as popular; however, it can work for those with fine hair. It’s lightweight and helps to easily detangle hair. This formula is enriched with amino acids, aloe vera, and argan oil that protects and nourishes the hair and increases vibrancy.
As with any great product and beneficial ingredient, precautions should always be taken. While apple cider vinegar rinse works well for any hair type, it does not work for every person.
Examples of people who should avoid ACV rinse:
According to the Science-y Hair Blog, “If a low-ish pH isn’t necessarily evil for your hair, then why can vinegar or citric acid rinses leave your hair dry and rough? Let’s say your hair is porous (even if just the ends are) – those solutions with a less-friendly pH get into your hair more easily and have access to a lot of surface area. You just got a bigger dose.
Acids have corrosive action. That means they donate those “+” charges that lead to rusty metal. Acids can dissolve things like calcium. Acids can destroy fats and proteins. Think of what happens if you put lemon juice in milk (it curdles). Or if you put a nail in a glass of Coke.
Weak acids like vinegar or citric acid can strip off some surface oils and proteins. Acids may interact with your water, with the mineral deposits on your hair, and the ingredients in your products. The possibilities are endless.
There’s nothing wrong with an occasional vinegar or citric acid rinse as long as they’re diluted properly, but chemically, it can be a wild card.
Some people have resilient hair that can tolerate acidic rinses, whereas other people’s hair will swell and take on acid immediately. Some people’s hair can handles tolerate acids but not bases. Everybody’s hair is different for so many reasons.”
ACV is naturally acidic, and its direct application can cause redness and a burning sensation. If you feel these symptoms coming up, rinse your hair immediately with plenty of clean water.
In some cases, ACV rinses can also cause itchy and dry scalp conditions. If this occurs, discontinue use and moisturize your scalp with a suitable product.
An ACV rinse should be used after washing with shampoo and before using conditioner.
ACV rinse is not nearly as acidic as many believe, and it should not fade hair color if used properly.
You can use the ACV rinse as often as you like. I recommend using it no more than once a week to avoid drying out your hair.
Yes, because hair cuticles don’t really “close” completely. They just lay smoother and flatter and reflect light better. In other words, the hair is shinier.
The long-term effects of using an ACV hair rinse are unknown. However, it is safe to use it long-term if diluted properly.
ACV rinse can help relieve an itchy scalp, especially if the itchiness is caused by dandruff.
Yes! You should rinse your scalp and hair thoroughly after using an ACV rinse.
According to Medical News Today, 1 -2 minutes before rinsing it off.16
Yes, it can help define curls because it helps remove product build-up from the hair, thereby giving it a reboot.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is often used as a natural remedy for various hair concerns, although scientific evidence to support its benefits is limited. It can help balance the pH level of the scalp and hair. A balanced pH can result in a healthier environment for hair follicles.
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