Here's Why You Should Cleanse Your Hair With Apple Cider Vinegar

For when regular shampoo alone just doesn’t seem to cut it.

If you're a hair product junkie—or if you've ever gone a couple of days without washing your hair—you know how gross product and oil buildup feels. After several rounds of dry shampoo, hairspray, and styling creams, your scalp can be left with a lingering layer of product that no amount of rinsing time seems to eliminate. This is especially true if you live in a place with soft water, which can give hair a slippery feel.

Now, the good news: You can probably find a good (and affordable!) fix in your kitchen cabinet: apple cider vinegar. This natural solution is touted by trichologists and hairstylists everywhere for helping to restore life to your hair in a matter of minutes. The DIY ingredient is a great replacement for fancy clarifying shampoos—easier on your wallet and oftentimes more effective.

You'll probably notice the funky acidic scent immediately upon opening the bottle, but don't worry about smelling like salad dressing. Yes, your shower will smell faintly of vinegar after a rinse, but the odor soon disappears, and you won't notice anything on your hair after it dries.

However, you do have to be cautious about application. Pure ACV is strong, so you can't simply pour a bottle of it onto your head. Not only will that end up stripping your hair, but the acidic nature could also irritate and burn your scalp. According to Gretchen Friese, a BosleyMD hairstylist and certified trichologist, you should always dilute one-half tablespoon of ACV to every 8 ounces of water, increasing it over time based on your scalp's reaction.

"Experiment to find a dilution that works best," says Friese, who says plastic squeeze bottles and spray bottles are both great applicators. "Dry hair needs less ACV and oily hair needs more," she adds. "I recommend shampooing first and then saturating the hair with ACV." Once you massage the solution into the scalp, let it sit for three to five minutes before rinsing and conditioning as normal. The frequency of application will depend on your hair type, but don't overdo it: It can cause brassiness and damage in high doses.

Those with a hypersensitive scalp or any type of skin abrasions or disorders should avoid using apple cider vinegar, as it has the potential to further irritate vulnerable skin.

"If you have any open wounds such as blister cuts or scabs, I would not recommend using it until it's healed or otherwise consulted by your doctor," adds Anita Sun, hairstylist at Eliut Salon. "You should also try not to use it right before or right after a chemical treatment, such as a coloring or keratin job, because the pH can affect the treatment you're having done."

With those precautions out of the way, here are some benefits of apple cider vinegar for your hair and scalp.

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits

Creates Shine and Protects Color

According to Friese, ACV smooths and seals the hair cuticle, making it ideal for reaching high shine levels. It is thought that the enzymes from the fermented apple close and smooth the hair cuticle, the protective layer that locks in vital lipids, proteins, and moisture. This process will restore condition and shine, and prevent color pigment loss if your hair is color-treated.

Clarifies and Adds Volume

The biggest sign of second-day hair is straggly, limp, and lifeless strands. Excess grease can weigh down hair on your scalp, destroying any appearance of volume. In addition to clearing out grease, grime, and product buildup that has clumped up in your hair over time, ACV can potentially remove the weight of those excess oils, helping to boost volume as a result.

Relieves Itchy Scalp and Dandruff

In addition to its many beneficial properties, ACV is also an anti-inflammatory, meaning it can prevent bacteria growth on the scalp (it's even used as a natural household cleanser!). This should come as a huge relief for dandruff sufferers or people with an itchy scalp.

"Along with antimicrobial properties that can effectively relieve inflammation, apple cider vinegar helps balance your pH and exfoliate scalp skin, which can minimize dandruff and reduce itchiness," says Gina Rivera, founder of Phenix Salons and creator of Colours by Gina.

Encourages Hair Growth

Although ACV isn't a cure-all for treating hair loss, its acidity can work as a potential solution for hair thinning by keeping a balanced pH level. Hair has an ideal pH level of between four and five, but many commercial shampoos may disrupt this. If this is the cause of your hair loss, adding a shot of ACV to your hair routine can restore its levels, unclog pores, and stimulate hair regrowth.

ACV-Infused Products

If you're new to apple cider vinegar and a bit intimidated about diving into raw application, a great way to ease into the process is through hair products with ACV already infused into its formulas. Luckily, the promise of commercial-level shine and volume is more than a little enticing, so the market is chock-full of them. One of the best conditioners for coily hair, SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Rinse Out Conditioner, contains apple cider to help with detangling. Shop our favorites below.

wow science acv

WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Hair Conditioner Set

This shampoo and conditioner set is a top best-selling shampoo on Amazon for a reason. WOW has over 43,000 5-star reviews on Amazon and has sold over 17,000 bottles of its miracle shampoo and conditioner in one day. Reviewers rave about its heroic abilities to remove all traces of buildup in one use. Since its formula is extracted from natural apple cider vinegar sourced from the Himalayas, you can be assured you're using the freshest formula.

To buy: $18,

appleciderrinse aveeno

Aveeno Clarifying Apple Cider Vinegar In-Shower Hair Rinse

Infused with a farm-fresh-inspired blend of apple cider vinegar, we're all about this Aveeno rinse that clarifies your tresses to enhance your hair's natural shine. We're also super into Aveeno's shampoo duo from the same collection, which has just the right dosage of ACV to be gentle enough for everyday use.

To buy: $9,

apple cider vinegar dphue

dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Leave-In Hair Therapy

This lightweight primer spray is a serious multitasking winner: It seals the hair cuticle, prevents breakage, detangles, and provides heat and UV protection. In addition to apple cider vinegar, aloe vera adds an extra side of moisturizer and addresses existing damage.

To buy: $37, dpHUE.

apple cider vinegar goli gummies

Goli Beauty Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies

This pick isn't topical, but Goli Beauty's ACV gummies have many benefits, including some crazy-good effects on hair. (We've tried it!) Hair experts recommend pairing your apple cider vinegar hair rinse with a shot of ACV, but these gummies let you reap all the benefits without the downside of drinking it.

To buy: $19,

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