Apple Cider Vinegar: is it really good for your scalp?

by GAIA TONANZI
Apple Cider Vinegar: is it really good for your scalp?

Apple cider vinegar may not always be the first ingredient that comes to mind to use on the scalp. After all, it is a kitchen cupboard staple! However, in recent years this ingredient has gained popularity in the natural hair movement. People use pure apple cider vinegar to remove build-up from the scalp and make the hair shiner, but is this practice really safe? It's not that simple!

How does Apple Cider Vinegar work?

Apple cider vinegar is a fermented juice, which many people have used for natural home remedies, hair care included, for centuries. One of the main benefits of this acidic substance is that it can help in the removal of scalp build up while restoring the balance of your pH level. Other benefits of apple cider vinegar include being rich in vitamins C and B. Whether you have curly hair, coily hair, or wavy hair, you may benefit from using this ingredient in your haircare routine.

Let's go back to the fundamentals. Your scalp has a natural pH level (the level of acidity or alkaline) of around 5. People who have frizzy or dry hair may actually have a higher pH level. Acidic substances, like apple cider vinegar, help bring this level down to a balance.

How Can I Use it on My Hair?

You should never apply apple cider vinegar directly to your hair. As we mentioned above, it has a highly acidic pH that undiluted could cause irritation, itchiness or burn the sensitive skin of the scalp. The best and safest way to use this ingredient is by diluting it with water to make a hair rinse. After diluting it, you can apply it at different stages of your routine. The various treatments include:

  • Using it as a pre-poo - apply to your hair before cleansing and make sure to really saturate it. For this method, use one cup of apple cider vinegar per litre of water.
  • Performing as a final rinse - use as a final rinse once you have cleansed your hair. Leave on for a couple of minutes and then rinse it out. Use the same quantities as before.
  • Using it as a leave in treatment - you can use the rinse method by adding the formula to a spray bottle and applying evenly over your head. Leave overnight and cleanse your hair the next day. If you use this method, you should use a much lower ratio of apple cider vinegar to water, just one tablespoon per litre of water.

Whatever method of application you decide to choose, make sure you stick to the recommended quantities and dilute it well, if you want to maintain a healthy scalp.

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How Often Should I Apply Apple Cider Vinegar on My Scalp?

Because of the high acidity of apple cider vinegar, it should be treated as a clarifying treatment. We recommend to use it around once a week if you wash your hair every day, once every other week if you wash your hair 2-3 times a week and once a month if you only wash your hair once a week. If you’re not sure how often you should be washing your hair, let our guide break down the best practices.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Suitable for Every Hair Porosity?

Before tying a new method or routine to your hair care, it’s always important to take into consideration your hair porosity. Porosity is the hair’s ability to retain and absorb water. Depending on your hair's porosity you may reap different benefits from this DIY hair treatment.

Low porosity: People with low porosity hair tend to suffer frequently from product build-up on their scalp. Apple cider vinegar can help melt build-up away, so it’s a great treatment to clarify this hair type. We recommend using it as a pre-poo in this case, to really support your regular cleanser in purifying the scalp.

Medium porosity: Medium porosity hair is in between high and low porosity types, so it can benefit from all apple cider vinegar application methods. The pre-poo method will help keep build-up under control while the final rinse or leave-in method will tame the cuticles and make the hair glossy.

High porosity: High porosity hair has very open hair cuticles, which means moisture can easily enter the hair shaft but it can also leave just as quickly. The low pH of apple cider vinegar can help seal cuticles, so it’s a great way to trap moisture without letting the hair strands dry too quickly. Use this as a final rinse or as a leave-in to really lock in hydration, tame frizz and boost shiny hair.

Is pure Apple Cider Vinegar really the best option to clarify?

As we previously mentioned, apple cider vinegar is a very harsh and strongly acidic substance. It can have good results at melting down build-up and helping you get shiny hair, but it's also a risky substance to use in its raw form as it could develop sensitivities and scalp conditions.

Rather than using this hit-or-miss DIY treatment, you can deeply cleanse your hair more easily with a clarifying shampoo. This type of cleanser is specifically formulated to remove product build up and give the scalp a deep clean, while being gentle on the skin. It should be used every 4-5 washes, alternated to an everyday shampoo or co-wash.

Even better: you can use a clarifying shampoo enriched with apple cider vinegar, like our Wash & Scrub! This scalp exfoliating shampoo has been developed with all the benefits if this ingredient without the downsides of DIY. Apple cider vinegar can have a very strong scent, but our Wash & Scrub has a lovely fresh fragrance. In addition, we have engineered the product with exactly the right amount of apple cider vinegar, so you will never run the risk of using too much and having a reaction on your skin.

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Should you use apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is rich in benefits, but its very acidic nature make it a tricky ingredient to use for DIY concoctions. Using products specifically formulated with this ingredient is a safer way to introduce it into your routine and reap its benefits. If you're not sure whether you need it, take our curl quiz to find out or explore our other lines of scalp care and shine enhancing products.
Gaia Tonanzi
Product Development & Textured Hair Expert

Product development expert on a mission to shine the spotlight on textured hair, bringing awareness of the category to the whole haircare industry. She is passionate about debunking false myths and bringing science-backed facts to the community, creating easy-to-follow guides to simplify curly haircare.

Gaia Tonanzi
Product Development & Textured Hair Expert

Product development expert on a mission to shine the spotlight on textured hair, bringing awareness of the category to the whole haircare industry. She is passionate about debunking false myths and bringing science-backed facts to the community, creating easy-to-follow guides to simplify curly haircare.