The Hair and Scalp Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
While you probably know that apple cider vinegar is a healthy and delicious way to add flavor to your cooking, you might be less familiar with apple cider vinegar's benefits for your hair and scalp.
We get it—it can feel weird to put a condiment on our hair. And some of us are still recovering from recommendations to put mayonnaise on our hair as teens! But unlike mayo, apple cider vinegar really is excellent for our hair.
So we dug into the science behind why apple cider vinegar hair-care products and homemade solutions are so good for our hair and scalp. Read on to learn more about the benefits of apple cider vinegar for healthy, vibrant hair and a balanced scalp, along with recipes for creating your own solutions at home!
7 Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Your Hair and Scalp
1. Rebalances the Scalp
Research shows that human skin (including the scalp) is more acidic than human hair, but many hair-care products are too alkaline—meaning they have too high of a pH—for the scalp to remain balanced. When our hair and scalp become too alkaline, negative electrical charges increase the friction between our hair fibers, causing damage, frizz and static electricity.
The good news is that adding a lower pH (higher acidity) product like apple cider vinegar to the scalp can help tone the scalp—in other words, it helps maintain the scalp’s proper pH. This is just one reason why we love our new supercharged Superpower+ Advanced Hair Densifying Scalp Serum. It’s specially designed for sensitive scalps and contains apple cider vinegar to help tone and balance the scalp.
Pro tip: Maximize the hair and scalp support of our new Superpower+ Advanced serum with our Superpower+ Advanced Comfort Liquid Comb. The applicator’s smooth silicone bristles help gently part your hair and hug your scalp to evenly distribute the serum at your roots while gently massaging your scalp for the feel of soothing scalp relief. You can also use the comfort liquid comb between serum applications for a refreshing, scalp-stimulating massage that can help support nourishing blood flow for healthier-looking hair and scalp.
2. Prevents Excess Bacterial Growth
Apple cider vinegar can support the natural biome of the scalp. It’s known for antimicrobial properties, in the form of acetic acid, and can help break down the buildup of oil and dead skin cells, which helps stave off excess fungal and bacterial growth that can cause major problems for your scalp.
Itchiness, dryness, irritation, dandruff and infection are all symptoms of excess bacterial growth and using apple cider vinegar on your scalp for dandruff or flaky scalp care as well as other types of scalp distress is an excellent way to remove flakes and get your scalp in working order. By incorporating apple cider vinegar hair-care products (with proven formulations that have been tested for safe levels and pH) into your scalp and hair-care routine, you can kiss excess buildup with microbes goodbye!
3. Cleanses the Hair and Scalp
All that buildup breakdown to keep the scalp refreshed and healthy is also giving your hair and scalp a good thorough deep cleansing—sort of like using a clarifying shampoo, but better. Here’s why: Clarifying shampoos are great at removing buildup and excess oils, but they are also great at fading color and drying out your hair. Apple cider vinegar also helps remove buildup, but because of its natural acidity, it can help close the hair cuticles in the process, which means it helps seal in your hair color and moisture for shinier strands!
4. Enhances Hair’s Shine
The cleansing capabilities of apple cider vinegar not only get our hair and scalp squeaky clean, but they help restore luster and shine to dull tresses, too. Once again, we can thank the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar, which helps break down the buildup of grease, dead skin cells and styling products that results in dull, lifeless hair.
Pro tip: Let the shine come through when you shampoo and condition with our Full Transparency Pure Revitalizing Shampoo and Full Transparency Shine Revitalizing Conditioner. Fragrance-free, dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic, they gently cleanse and condition while adding luster and liveliness to aging hair without irritating even the most sensitive scalps!
5. Smooths and Softens Strands
As we age, our hair tends to feel rougher to the touch, and this is due to lifted hair cuticles. Our cuticles cover the exterior of our hair strands in the same way shingles cover the roof of a building. When our cuticles lift, moisture doesn't stay in our hair, resulting in dry, rough tresses.
The acidity in apple cider vinegar can help smooth this roughness because it closes the cuticles! After shampooing and conditioning, try rinsing wet hair with a mixture of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar (both are naturally acidic) to smooth out strands while sealing in moisture for soft, silky hair.
Pro tip: Dilute your lemon juice and apple cider vinegar with water using a ratio of 1 part lemon juice, 1 part apple cider vinegar and 10 parts water. And be sure to limit treatments to once per week to avoid scalp irritation and hair damage!
6. Strengthens Hair Strands
Strong hair is a result of a nourished, pH-balanced scalp—and we already learned apple cider vinegar can help tone and balance the scalp. Apple cider vinegar is packed with nutrients like vitamins B and C, which support stronger-looking hair that’s less prone to breakage. Hair strands are also further strengthened when your cuticles are closed—and apple cider vinegar is great for making this happen, too!
Pro tip: While apple vinegar is great for strengthening tresses, it’s also a very powerful ingredient that has the potential to damage hair if it isn’t diluted sufficiently. Too-frequent use can also harm hair. Alternating your ACV rinses with an ultra-hydrating deep conditioner like our Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque is a terrific way to ensure your strands stay hydrated and healthy.
7. Promotes Your Healthiest Hair
When used in moderation, apple cider vinegar can have the ability to balance and tone the scalp while also helping to remove buildup on the scalp and hair follicles. This scalp toning and clarification helps pave the way for your healthiest hair growth, which goes hand in hand with less hair loss. It’s important to keep in mind that while apple cider vinegar isn’t a cure for hair loss, it will set your hair strands up for success with an optimal environment to thrive.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar on Your Scalp
Apple cider vinegar is a great way to clarify your scalp and banish signs of scalp distress such as flakes and redness. Here's how to use apple cider vinegar on your scalp:
After pre-pooing and shampooing your hair as usual, apply a solution of about 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 16 ounces of water. Massage the mixture onto your scalp, and let it absorb for about 5 minutes. Then, rinse and condition as usual—you should notice a far less flaky-looking scalp after just a few applications!
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar on Your Hair
After shampooing and conditioning your hair in the shower, rinse your strands with a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar for hair and scalp benefits.
We recommend one cup of apple cider vinegar to 10 cups of water to ensure its sufficiently diluted. Rinsing with this solution helps rebalance the natural pH of your hair, plus the buildup-fighting power of apple cider vinegar helps clear away mineral deposits on your hair from hard water. Let it sit in your strands for a few minutes before rinsing with cool water.
Since apple cider vinegar closes your hair cuticles like a conditioner does, you don’t necessarily need to re-condition your strands after you rinse with apple cider vinegar. But if your hair tends to be dry you can always follow up with a little lightweight condition, even just focused on your ends.
Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar on Color-Treated Hair?
Yes, you can absolutely use apple cider vinegar on color-treated hair. In fact, it can help your color stay more vibrant by clearing away mineral deposits as well as product and oil buildup on your tresses. Just be sure to dilute your apple cider vinegar with water if you're making a solution at home! And if you just colored your tresses, wait about 72 hours before using any sort of apple cider vinegar wash.
Can I Safely Use Apple Cider Vinegar on My Scalp and Hair Every Day?
Daily use of homemade apple cider vinegar rinses for your hair and scalp aren't recommended because of the acidity of the apple cider vinegar. To maximize the benefits of an apple cider vinegar rinse for your scalp and hair, limit these rinses to once per week, and don't forget to dilute the rinse with water—this is especially important if you have fine or damaged hair, as they are both extremely delicate.
How Often Should I Use Apple Cider Vinegar Hair-Care Products?
Apple cider vinegar hair-care products have been formulated to be pH balanced to offset the high acidity of apple cider vinegar, so you can use them as frequently as you would your other hair-care products. In fact, we recommend using our Superpower+ Advanced Hair Densifying Scalp Serum, which is formulated with apple cider vinegar, daily for the best results!
I'm out of ACV! Will Distilled White Vinegar Give Me the Same Benefits as Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair and Scalp?
Sort of. While white vinegar is safe for your hair and scalp when applied at diluted concentrations, it's important to note that white vinegar is more acidic than apple cider vinegar. White vinegar is also missing many of the nourishing vitamins and minerals that we get with apple cider vinegar.
Our verdict? White vinegar works in a pinch, but apple cider vinegar hair-care products and rinses offer the most benefit for your hair and scalp. If you make a homemade white vinegar rinse, use 1 part white vinegar to 20 parts water to offset the extra acidity.
How Can I Get the Hair and Scalp Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar in One Product?
Specially designed for sensitive scalps, our new gentle yet extra-potent Superpower+ Advanced Hair Densifying Scalp Serum delivers the scalp balancing and toning benefits of apple cider vinegar in one easy-to-apply daily scalp serum. We designed this concentrated gel serum to be used with our ergonomic Superpower+ Advanced Comfort Liquid Comb. This applicator comb features smooth silicone bristles that help gently part your hair and hug your scalp to evenly distribute the lightweight, refreshing gel serum at your roots while gently massaging your scalp for the feel of soothing scalp relief.
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Better Not Younger knows that supporting strong, vibrant hair and a healthy scalp is important, especially as we age! That's why we designed our Superpower+ Advanced Hair Densifying Scalp Serum with apple cider vinegar for scalp and hair support. Whether you're looking to use apple cider vinegar on your scalp for dandruff or flaky scalp care or simply want to support strong, shiny hair, apple cider vinegar hair-care products like our new serum can help refuel your hair and provide scalp relief with soothing ingredients. Let us help you achieve your healthiest-, strongest- and thickest-looking hair yet!