Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse
Our hair and natural oil from the scalp (sebum) has a natural pH level of 4.5 & 5.5. When kept at this acidity level, the scalp is protected from fungal and bacterial growth. Some shampoos and other hair products can disrupt this natural pH which can affect the cuticle of the hair and the condition of the scalp. ACV is naturally high in acetic acid and has a pH level close to human hair.
Regular rinsing with this vinegar can help bring your scalp and hair to its ideal acidity, especially if you have oily hair. ACV has a natural softening effect on the hair and helps "close" the cuticle, so perfect for my high porosity hair.
Choose raw and an unpasteurized kind of apple cider vinegar, not the refined kind and the one with "The Mother" so that it doesn't contain toxins. The mother contains the beneficial enzymes, bacteria, pectin and trace minerals that makes it good for you. I like the Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar.
The skin is the largest organ on the body. It absorbs what we put on it; it's important to use organic because what we put on our bodies is absorbed into our bloodstream.
Using multiple products on our hair leads to product build-up. All that residue can leave the hair looking flat, dull and lifeless.
When applying ACV, make sure to let it sit in the hair for at least 3 minutes, which according to the Science of Hair Care, is the time the vinegar requires to break up the molecular structure of the residue allowing it to be easily rinsed away.
How Does ACV Clean Your Scalp?
Apple cider vinegar is one of nature's best gifts and there are so many other benefits. According to the USDA, apple cider vinegar has no measurable vitamins, minerals or any other nutritional elements. But, the 'mother' does. Apple cider vinegar's main cleansing power is in its acedic content. Acetic acid is a pure acid with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It's what gives vinegar its sour taste, smell and low pH. Apple cider vinegar also contains natural alpha-hydroxy acid, which gently exfoliates the scalp and hair, allowing for removal of dead skin cells and build up that can occur from sweat and/or conventional hair products.
Acetic acid cleans your scalp by literally eating through and dissolving particles. It does all this without having to disturb your scalp's natural acetic environment, leaving it intact. Another great quality of apple cider vinegar is its ability to kill bacteria by penetrating the cells membrane and causing it to release its protons and die. So apple cider vinegar will get rid of potential harmful bacteria from your scalp without stripping your hair's natural oils. (The Science of How Apple Cider Vinegar Works)
Why Do an ACV Rinse After Washing?
Not only does apple cider vinegar balance the scalp and hair's natural pH levels, but due to its acidic pH, apple cider vinegar helps tighten or "close" the cuticle layers of your hair. Depending on what kind of shampoo you use, the shampoo process lifts your cuticles, causing your hair to be rough, dry and tanlge easily. Among other benefits, a conditioner is supposed to have an acidic pH so it can tighten your cuticles back up and leave your hair more shiny and manageable, but not all conditioner do a really good job of this.
Thus, after rinsing out your conditioner, an apple cider vinegar rinse is used to ensure your cuticles lay nice and flat. It's an extra step, it's not mandatory. You can still have thriving hair with or without doing an ACV rinse. All of these methods and techniques are ways to slow down the deterioration of your hair but are NOT mandatory. Other ways of closing the cuticle, aside from using acidic ingredients, include using soft water or a final cold-water rinse.
Apple cider vinegar on its own is very acidic, so in order to use it on your hair and scalp it needs to be neutralized or its pH increases to an area within the safe zone. Apple cider vinegar has a pH of about two and distilled water has a pH of about 6-7. When you mix them together it'll fall somewhere between the safe zone (3-8).
Note: When pH value drops below 6 the cuticle layer contracts and tightens. And anything closer to an alkali pH, above 7 will relax or slightly lift your cuticle layers. So acid tightens and alkali lifts.
One move on the pH scale is not a one unit change (see left side of pH scale above), it's a 10 times unit change. For example, a pH of 3, is a lot different than a pH of 4, especially to your hair strands.
An ACV rinse is not meant to replace your shampoo, instead it's meant to be used after shampooing to "close" your cuticles after having your hair's cuticles lifted/raised from the shampoo process.
How To Make an ACV Rinse:
To achieve a pH of 4 mix 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of filtered/distilled water. You can use a plastic squeeze bottle for easy distribution, spray bottle or jar. (Shake well before applying)
After shampooing & thoroughly rinsing, slowly pour rinse over the entire scalp (or you can work in sections) allowing it to run down the length of your hair. (⚠️Caution: don't let it get into your eyes)
Massage the mixture into hair and scalp for 3-5 mins
Rinse with cool water to lock in moisture and shine.
Optional: you can follow up with deep conditioner or just conditioner.
Note: The ACV scent completely goes away after your hair is dry.
To achieve a pH of 3, mix 1 ounce or 6 teaspoons of Apple cider vinegar to 7 ounces of distilled water. To those who of you who asked if you can use ACV often, it's best to increase the pH to about a 4 because using something that's too acidic too often will eventually eat away at your hair's cuticles.
To achieve a pH of 4, mix 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of distilled water. This is great to use for refreshing your scalp after the gym or if you feel your cuticles need to be tightened after a wash.
If you have dry hair, start out with 2 Tsp. of vinegar per 1 cup of water. If you have oily hair or dandruff, 3-4 tsp. per 1 cup of water. You can adjust this blend over time to see what works best for your hair.
For low porosity, using ACV rinse on your ends will also be beneficial because your ends will have a higher porosity than the rest of your hair.
For high porosity: use ACV rinses after washing and conditioning hair. Using acidic pH spritz is very beneficial for relaxing/sealing cuticles.
Figuring out how often to apply this rinse will depend on your current hair and scalp situation. You can repeat this process anywhere from once a month to twice a week. Once weekly is recommended for those with scalp and hair issues.
⚠️Again, don't over do it. Always listen to your hair. Be cautious and pay close attention to your hair's reaction after each use, especially frequent use.
If an ACV rinse "closes" the cuticles, how will leave in conditioners or styling creams penetrate my hair correctly?
Your cuticles never really "close" completely. Everyone's hair is porous to some extent, that's the nature of hair. So even after an ACV rinse your hair will definitely be able to absorb products with no problem.
Will an ACV Rinse Affect Hair Color or Change the Texture of My Hair?
Experts say you don’t have to worry about overdoing it—using it a couple of times a week isn’t going to harm your color, though they did caution against using it too regularly if you have especially sensitive skin.
The active component of both Apple Cider Vinegar and Rice Vinegar is acetic acid. There is no reason that ACV would give you red highlights and Rice Vinegar would give you blonde highlights. (Unless the Rice Vinegar was REALLY REALLY REALLY yellow and you were getting some staining). If you happen to get any staining, consider if you were using any other products at the time. For example, if you applied another product to your hair while it was still saturated with vinegar, perhaps the low pH could have interacted with another ingredient and caused some staining.
Acetic acid is a weak acid and will not disrupt the bonds in your hair so it can’t change your hair's texture. Changing the structure of your hair like that would require a high pH material that could disrupt the disulfide bonds that give hair its shape. (That’s essentially how permanent wave/curly products work.)
Will an ACV Rinse Remove Silicone Build-Up?
Vinegar may help remove some mineral build up from hard water but that’s about the extent of the benefits it will provide. It will not remove silicone build up.
Source: Kaiser Science. Green Beauty.