Why you should wash your hair with apple cider vinegar? If you would check out home remedy lists, there is always a chance that you will come across apple cider vinegar. This is because this is known to be one of the most effective things that you can use for different problems that you may have with your body.
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice. Apple juice is combined with yeast which creates fruit sugar into alcohol, which with the help of bacteria is turned into acetic acid.
The acetic acid is what induces a strong sourly smell to the vinegar. ACV generally has a very strong, pungent and sour smell and taste. Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for a variety of conditions, but it is also used in cooking and salad dressings.
The Greek physician Hippocrates used it as a treatment for wounds and sores, but recent studies have shown it is also used for obesity, health, and even dandruff treatments. Despite its benefits, it is recommended not to drink it without mixing or even in large amounts because it contains a lot of acids.
The mother is a brownish colored bacteria that consists of micronutrients. The mother releases healthy nutrients to the vinegar and should not be strained. Higher quality ACV also contains amino acids and antioxidants.
Due to the high acidic content, it is advised to always dilute it before consumption or usage or else it can be quite harmful if ingested without dilution. Acetic acid makes vinegar mildly acidic, an average pH of 2-3.
Types of Apple Cider Vinegar
Filtered ACV consists of apple juice and plain water, filtering gets rid of the vinegar (also commonly known as the “mother”) and other residues. It is also mostly pasteurized, which helps clarify and refine it further.
Unfiltered ACV is also a mixture of apple juice and water, but the “mother” has not been extracted and probably isn’t even pasteurized and neither is the residue filtered.
When to use which?
The “mother” that is essentially the acetic acid and bacteria, converts the alcohol into the vinegar. The unfiltered version is organic or raw so people who want to use the unprocessed type opt for this instead of filtered. For hair remedies, most of the beauticians and beauty bloggers recommend using the unfiltered one as it has more acidic properties that are required by damaged hair.
Benefits of Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair
Apple cider vinegar has been proven to improve your hair and scalp in a variety of ways.
1. Apple cider vinegar for hair shine:
An ACV rinse is known to restore the natural pH level of the scalp and helps the scalp to preserve its moisture. It is like a toner that helps get rid of chemicals left behind from the use of hair products, which leave your skin looking dull and unhealthy. Your hair will feel soft, smooth and shiny because it clarifies residue build-up which shampoos are unable to tackle.
2. Apple cider vinegar for hair growth:
Since it gets rid of residue and build-up, the nutrients are said to accelerate hair follicle growth which in turn increases hair growth by removing dead skin. It can be said to act as an exfoliator for dead skin on the scalp.
3. Apple cider vinegar for detangling purposes:
Instead of using a conditioner to detangle hair after excessive backcombing from a salon, one should opt for apple cider vinegar. ACV’S astringent properties flatten and make the hair cuticles smoother which stops the hair’s natural nutrients and moisture from escaping. This in turn also leads to straighter, smoother and frizz-free hair so it can be a natural alternative to hair straighteners as well. Moreover, this also fights split ends.
4. Apple cider vinegar for dandruff and itchy scalp:
Due to the chemicals present in hair products and shampoos, the scalp loses its natural oils and this leads to dry and sensitive skin. Using ACV helps balance the alkaline and acidic levels of the scalp and hair, which relieves itchiness and infections on the scalp.
It also fights fungi that block hair follicles which in turn causes dandruff. It can be used with a mixture of oils such as coconut and lavender to boost the effects of ACV. ACV has antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties which are especially useful for an itchy and flaky scalp.
5. Apple cider vinegar for darkening hair:
Instead of using chemical-based synthetic hair dyes, an ACV hair rinse has proven to darken hair. So if you are brunette this is ideal for you however, it is not recommended for blonds unless they wanted to darken their hair color.
6. Apple cider vinegar for restoring balance:
It is crucial that your scalp maintains a healthy pH balance, however, shampoos are mostly alkaline-based which tends to disrupt the pH balance. This often leads to waste and builds on the scalp which is detrimental for the hair. Apple cider vinegar is a great natural remedy that when used appropriately can restore that balance.
Can apple cider vinegar damage your hair?
Despite the wonderful benefits of an ACV rinse, dermatologists have, however, have advised proceeding with caution. Doctor Yolanda Lenzy states that even though ACV isn’t harmful per se, it still shouldn’t be used all over your hair because of its strong acidic properties that can dry and damage the hair and in turn cause hair loss. She advises that it should instead be used just on the scalp.
Sometimes it can lower the pH levels of the hair much more than required and this can eventually lead to irritation and in worst cases even burns. Moreover, it is recommended that it not be used directly, instead, it should be diluted with hair oils or water.
Water concentration should be thrice the amount of ACV and it should not be left on the scalp for longer periods of time. It is also recommended to test it first on a small patch of skin to ensure that you are not allergic or sensitive to it.
Furthermore, those who have colored hair should avoid ACV as it strips away the color.
Does apple cider vinegar help hair grow?
A lot of beauty blogs and natural remedy advocates recommend apple cider vinegar for hair growth, it should be known that there is very little published research on this. Some research suggests that it promotes healthier looking hair whereas others claim more research is required to corroborate the benefits suggested.
The critics of ACV suggest that it may bring shine and gloss to your hair, it will not cure your dandruff or hair loss. It will at best be temporary relief. They propose that it is not a cure for hair problems especially not hair loss.
On the other hand, Paul Bragg, author of the book “Apple Cider Vinegar Miracle Health System” advocates that ACV because of its organic malic acid properties can kill the germ that is responsible for many scalp and hair conditions such as hair loss and balding.
Another source corroborates this, “Apple cider vinegar used as a hair rinse may stimulate hair growth” (Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide). The proponents of ACV for hair growth indicate that since ACV exfoliates the scalp, thus promoting hair growth. Here is a video of how to use ACV for hair growth.
Therefore, there is not adequate research for us to conclusively define whether ACV can promote hair growth or not.
How to perform an apple cider vinegar rinse?
As discussed earlier, apple cider vinegar contains nutrients such as Vitamin b, Vitamin C and potassium that enrich the hair to make it more luscious and shiny. An apple cider vinegar rinse is the most common way of using ACV to cleanse the hair.
2-4 tablespoons of ACV (organic should be preferred as it contains no chemicals)
16 ounces of tap water
1-2 drops of coconut or lavender oil (this is optional)
After mixing the above-listed ingredients, pour the contents into a water bottle. A spray bottle can come in handy but it can be poured directly from the bottle as well. After rinsing your hair with shampoo, pour or spray the mixture evenly over the entire scalp.
Massage the scalp to allow the ACV mixture to be fully absorbed by the scalp. Only allow the mixture to sit for a maximum of two minutes, but not less than thirty seconds. Then rinse thoroughly with plain tap water.
- Before applying to hair test on a patch of skin to make sure your skin does not react to the ACV.
- Start with only a small dose of ACV (2tbsps) and gradually increase the amount over time.
- Scalps with excess sebum and oil production can benefit from more ACV as compared to scalps that suffer from dryness.
- Should normally apply twice a week, however, if your hair is brittle and you suffer from dryness and hair loss, you should stick to once or twice a month only.
- People are generally averse to the smell of ACV but fret not as rinsing it will get rid of the smell.
- If you have short hair then cut the dosage of the rinse by half.
- A conditioner is not required after an ACV rinse because the mixture itself will condition the hair. However, if you feel your hair feels dry and dull just use a pea-sized amount of conditioner on the end s of your hair.
- Do not pour the mixture all over the hair strands as it is the scalp that needs to be treated and not the strands.
- Discontinue use if irritation or burning sensation occurs. The irritation, however, clears up itself within a few days.
How long should you leave ACV in your hair?
This depends on many factors such as the type of hair you have, whether you have a dry or oily scalp and whether you have colored or natural hair. If your hair is exceptionally dry then an ACV rinse is not recommended at all.
Most research proposes leaving it in your hair for about 1 minute to 3, but there have been instances where it is suggested to leave it overnight as that would detangle your hair completely. This is not, however, the recommendation that most dermatologists or beauty bloggers put forth as it may cause dryness and itchiness if left for longer periods of time.
Common Brands of Apple Cider Vinegar
Bragg is one of the most favored and recommended brands of ACV as it is organic, unfiltered and made from fine quality apples. Trader Joe’s ACV is mostly recommended to pregnant or nursing mothers, it has a strong smell and taste but it is an unpasteurized version. Other common brands for ACV for hair treatments are Heinz and American Garden.
- Should ACV be used every day?
No! Using ACV every day can be extremely damaging for the hair, it will disrupt the pH balance and will lead to an extremely acidic scalp. It will also cause the hair to become lighter and brittle. It is best to restrict it to at most two times a week.
- For how long should ACV be used for the best results?
Continue use with the recommended dosage according to the hair type for at least two to three months to see the effects.
- Does drinking ACV improve hair?
Drinking ACV is not the preferred method as it can upset the stomach. It isn’t uncommon to hear that people drink it, although it should be diluted because it can have adverse effects on the stomach lining. The ideal method is to rinse the hair.
This guide has shed light on the many benefits of apple cider vinegar, especially for the hair. It indeed is a natural remedy for many problems, but it should be used with caution.
The research conducted on apple cider vinegar is limited and does not suggest that it is a miracle product for hair problems, however, it has been used from the time of Hippocrates and most natural remedy proponents advocate it not only for hair benefits but also for other skin and digestive problems.
Thus, you should try it out as per the recommended methods and see if it works for you. Moreover, the benefits amplify when used with other essential oils such as coconut or lavender and it is known that Coconut oil itself has several benefits for the hair.