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Why an Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse Can Give You the Hair of Your Dreams

Why-Your-Scalp-Needs-an-Apple-Cide-Vinegar-Rinse-GettyImages-200434937-001
Why-Your-Scalp-Needs-an-Apple-Cide-Vinegar-Rinse-GettyImages-200434937-001

Getty Images / Bragg

The last time you cracked open a bottle of apple cider vinegar to assemble a salad dressing, you probably didn't have the impulse to slather some onto your scalp. (That stuff is pungent.) But a surface-level look into the DIY beauty corner of the internet reveals apple cider vinegar hair rinses are one of the most popular homemade beauty concoctions. What's more, you can find apple cider vinegar listed in the ingredients of numerous commercial haircare products. While it may not sound like the most enticing ingredient, ACV is an established haircare MVP. Find out why — and why you should totally try an apple cider vinegar hair rinse — below.

Are There Benefits to Doing an Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse?

If you aren't familiar with the ingredient, apple cider vinegar results when apple juice is combined with yeast and undergoes fermentation. The vinegar is said to offer a range of health benefits when consumed, according to expert and board-certified anesthesiologist and physician Azza Halim, M.D. It's best known for potentially promoting fat burn (though most evidence stems from animal studies on rats and have limitations in regards to fat burn/weight loss in humans) and aiding in blood sugar control, but when applied topically, it also can play a part in helping your scalp and hair flourish, according to Dr. Halim.

Acetic acid, the acid in vinegar that results from the fermentation process, is mainly responsible for those hair benefits, including breaking down product buildup that may be clogging your hair follicles (which can hinder hair growth) in addition to acting as an antimicrobial, which can result in less dandruff and scalp pimples, she says.

An apple cider vinegar hair rinse is worth adding to your routine especially if you tend to struggle with product buildup, dandruff, and/or a dry and itchy scalp, says Dr. Halim. "ACV acts an antibacterial and antifungal, helping to diminish dry scalp and dandruff," she says. Dandruff may be caused by malassezia, a yeast that feeds on oils in the scalp, but can be combatted by the anti-fungal properties of apple cider vinegar. And even if you don't deal with dandruff, apple cider vinegar can help loosen dead skin cells and product build up on the scalp, providing gentle exfoliation. (Related: This $15 'Miracle Shampoo' Clears Dandruff and Stimulates Hair Growth, According to Shoppers)

What's more, an ACV scalp rinse can help restore balance to your scalp's pH level, according to Dr. Halim. (Refresher: pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with numbers close to 0 being acidic, 7 being neutral, and 14 being alkaline.) Using alkaline hair products (most are) can result in an overly alkaline scalp (with a pH above the scalp's normal pH of around 5.5), which can contribute to a dry scalp. (Apple cider vinegar has a pH of 2-3 which helps counteract the pH of alkaline products, bringing your scalp closer to that 5.5 pH target. That may also lead to shinier hair, since lowering strands' pH can help seal up the cuticle (your hair's outermost, protective layer), locking in moisture. If you have color-treated hair, apple cider vinegar may actually help extend the life of your dye job due to those cuticle-sealing properties, says Dr. Halim. (When your hair's cuticle is more raised, pigment particles can more easily escape just as moisture can.)

Long story short, there are more than enough reasons why you might want to consider adding an apple cider hair rinse to your routine.

How to Incorporate an ACV Hair Rinse Into Your Routine

Incorporating apple cider vinegar into your hair care routine is pretty simple. If you make your own apple cider vinegar hair rinse at home, you always want to dilute the vinegar to avoid burning your skin. For convenience, you also have the option to buy a hair product that already has ACV in it. (Oftentimes, this is the better route if you're turned off by the smell of vinegar.) Dr. Halim prefers to dilute apple cider vinegar and make her own rinse. To follow suit, try her method below one to two times per week on wash days.

  1. Dilute one part apple cider vinegar with 4-5 parts cool or lukewarm water (e.g. two ounces ACV with 8 ounces water) in a spray bottle.

  2. After shampooing your hair, spray the diluted apple cider vinegar directly onto your hair and scalp. Gently massage your hair and scalp until both are completely saturated and coated evenly in the diluted ACV.

  3. Let the apple cider vinegar rinse sit for about 5 minutes, then rinse your hair with cool water to remove the ACV.

  4. Apply a conditioner and finish styling your hair as normal. This will ensure your hair remains moisturized and does not feel dry or brittle.

The Best Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Products

If you'd prefer to go the store-bought route, here are some of the best hair products that contain apple cider vinegar.

DP Hue Apple Cider Vinegar Travel Kit

If you like giving your hair and scalp TLC while on the go, grab this travel-friendly ACV kit. You'll get a scalp scrub, hair rinse (which functions as a shampoo substitute), hair mask, and dry shampoo, all containing the star ingredient.

dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Travel Kit
dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Travel Kit

Sunday II Sunday ROOT REFRESH Micellar Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar

No need to use a chalky dry shampoo between wash days. This formula cleanses your scalp without creating a noticeable, powdery buildup via micellar water and apple cider vinegar.

Sunday II Sunday ROOT REFRESH Micellar Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar
Sunday II Sunday ROOT REFRESH Micellar Rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar

Hair Food Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

If you don't want to go to the trouble of mixing up your own apple cider vinegar hair rinse, this product is another affordable route. Amazon reviewers note that it has a light apple scent rather than reeking of vinegar.

Hair Food Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
Hair Food Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

Cantu Apple Cider Vinegar Root Relief

If you're hoping to relieve your scalp from itchiness while rocking a protective style such as braids, wigs, and weaves, consider this your ACV and peppermint oil-infused savior. You can apply the treatment directly to your scalp with no need to rinse it out.

Cantu Apple Cider Vinegar Root Relief
Cantu Apple Cider Vinegar Root Relief

Ouai Detox Shampoo

Using a clarifying shampoo every so often can prevent buildup from hard water and products that can lead to dull hair. This formula offers an intense detox with the help of apple cider vinegar. (Related: The Best Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Buildup from Your Hair and Scalp)

Ouai Detox Shampoo
Ouai Detox Shampoo

New York Biology Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Mask for Dry Hair and Scalp

This conditioning scalp and hair mask is designed to stimulate healthy hair growth while restoring balance to hair's pH levels and encouraging shine. (Related: Hair Masks That'll Give You the Healthiest Strands of Your Life)

New York Biology Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Mask
New York Biology Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Mask

AG Hair Natural Remedy Apple Cider Vinegar Leave On Mist

Don't have time to rinse out a product? Try this detangling and smoothing leave-on rinse, which combines organic ACV with moisturizing argan oil and strengthening panthenol.

AG Hair Natural Remedy Apple Cider Vinegar Leave On Mist
AG Hair Natural Remedy Apple Cider Vinegar Leave On Mist