Apple Cider Vinegar: Should You Use It On Your Scalp?

Apple Cider Vinegar: Should You Use It On Your Scalp?

Apple cider vinegar for your scalp may not always be the first treatment that comes to mind. After all, it is a kitchen cupboard staple! However, in recent years this ingredient has gained popularity in the natural hair movement. You can 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!

Table of Contents:

How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Work For Your Scalp?

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. This is one of the ways to maintain a healthy scalp, which is an essential part of promoting healthy hair. 

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 a dry scalp may actually have a higher pH level. Using acidic substances, like apple cider vinegar for scalp, help bring this level down to a balance.

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.

8 Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Scalp

Apple cider vinegar for your scalp has many benefits which can help to encourage healthy hair and the curls of your dreams, if used correctly! These benefits could include:

  1. Balancing your scalp’s pH level
  2. Encouraging stronger hair
  3. Removing built up product
  4. Encouraging shine
  5. Helping control bacteria or fungi on the scalp
  6. Gentler than some clarifiers
  7. Could reduce hair loss
  8. May help to extend the vibrancy of your hair color

How Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar 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 on the scalp or burn the sensitive skin of the scalp.


The best and safest way to use apple cider vinegar for the scalp 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 liter of water.
  • Performing as a final rinse - Use as a final rinse once you have cleansed your hair using shampoo. Leave on for a couple of minutes and then rinse it out. Use the same quantities as with the pre-poo treatment.
  • 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 liter of water.

Whatever method of application you decide to choose, make sure you follow our tips for a healthy scalp and stick to the recommended quantities and dilute it well.

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. As with clarifying shampoo, you don’t need to do this every wash day. 

We recommend using it: 

  • Once a week if you wash your hair every day. 
  • Once every other week if you wash your hair 2-3 times a week.
  • 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 using apple cider vinegar for your scalp and tying a new method or routine to your hair care, it’s always important to take into consideration your hair’s 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 help to boost shiny hair.

If you’re not sure what type of hair you have, or what curly hair products are best for it, you can take our curl quiz to help identify it.

Is Pure Apple Cider Vinegar 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 of apple cider vinegar for the scalp 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 curl-friendly ingredients and 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.

Conclusion: 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.

Why Choose Curlsmith?

At Curlsmith, we specialize in providing education and creating curl-friendly products for waves, curls, and coils. From our hydrating hair products to our curly hair oils, all of our products are vegan, cruelty-free, and never contain silicones, parabens, or sulfates.

Sharley Viola
Curlsmith’s Lead Educator

Textured Hair Specialist with a vast amount of experience delivering education both nationally and internationally. A self-confessed product junkie committed to spreading her wealth of knowledge amongst the curly hair community and beyond.

Sharley Viola
Curlsmith’s Lead Educator

Textured Hair Specialist with a vast amount of experience delivering education both nationally and internationally. A self-confessed product junkie committed to spreading her wealth of knowledge amongst the curly hair community and beyond.