An Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse is a great addition to any hair care regimen. Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV), packed with nutrients, can help with tangles and frizzy hair, bring back body and shine, decrease residue and clarify, stimulate the scalp, decrease dandruff, and unclog hair follicles which may help with excess shedding or hair loss. These rinses are especially helpful for those new to shampoo bars.
The use of vinegar with a variety of plants, herbs and essential oils for cosmetic purposes can be traced back to the Romans and was fashionable during the nineteenth century as "vinegar de toilette."
Hair can become dull and limp due to the build-up of residue from shampoo, conditioner and other hair styling products.
Raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) is packed with nutrients and can . . .
- help with tangles and frizzy hair
- bring back body and shine
- balance the pH of your scalp
- decrease residue
- closes the hair cuticle
- clarify, stimulate the scalp
- decrease dandruff
- unclog hair follicles which may help with excess shedding or hair loss
Why Apple Cider Vinegar?
The process for making apple cider vinegar begins with the juice of fresh apples. Bacteria and yeast added to the juice begin the fermentation process which breaks down fructose, the naturally occurring fruit sugar, into alcohol. The alcohol is converted to vinegar (which means “sour wine” in French) by acetic acid forming bacteria.
The natural raw non-pasteurized vinegar is packed with nutrients. It appears cloudy with stringy stuff and sediment on the bottom due to the "mother" which contains the natural bacteria and enzymes that make this product so wonderful.
I recommend and use raw apple cider vinegar with "mother." The difference between raw apple cider vinegar and a commercial clear vinegar is that the commercial vinegar is heated, distilled and clarified. This processing removes much of the naturally occurring bacteria, nutrients, and living enzymes, thus stripping away the natural benefits.
How Do I Use Vinegar Hair Rinse?
After shampooing and conditioning your hair apply the vinegar rinse. Spray the rinse onto wet hair. Massage into hair and scalp and pay special attention to the ends. Let sit for a couple minutes.
Now you have a few choices. You may rinse it all out or leave the rinse on your hair. Leaving the vinegar rinse on your hair helps prevent tangles in long hair. Since the vinegar restores natural pH it also helps prevent an itchy scalp. As your hair is drying you will smell vinegar, but once your hair dries, you won’t smell anything.
How Often Can I Use Vinegar Hair Rinse?
Since everyone's hair is unique you should use your own judgment on this. You will need to experiment to find a dilution that works best for your hair type. Remember: dry hair likes less vinegar and oily hair likes more.
You might want to use this hair rinse every day when adjusting to natural shampoo bars and then settle for once a week to keep your hair healthy and shiny.
Some Helpful Hints
If you're feeling brave, pouring a cold rinse will give your hair added shine.
For those less brave, you can also spray your hair, let the rinse sit a bit and rinse them in your basin with cold water.
How To Make Vinegar Rinses
Simple Vinegar Rinse Recipe
- Mix 1/2 to 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) with 8 ounces of water in a spray bottle or other containers
- Experiment to find a dilution that works best for your hair type (dry hair likes less ACV and oily hair like more).
If you want some variation, you can create a vinegar rinse tailored to your hair by adding herbs and/or natural essential oils. We have included three recipes below.
Herbs & Vinegar Hair Rinse
Certain herbs can highlight or enhance your hair colour, as well as condition it. For example:
- rosemary and parsley are good for dark hair
- sage may help darken greying hair
- chamomile, mullein, and marigold can highlight blonde or light brown hair
- calendula conditions
- lavender, thyme, witch hazel, and yarrow will help with oily hair
- lavender and lemon verbena add fragrance
- linden is good for frequently shampooed hair
- nettles will control dandruff
- horsetails help with brittleness
These rinses are made from the herbs themselves, not essential oils. You can use either fresh or dried herbs. If you have a rosemary bush handy, use a sprig or two-- each about 10cm long. For dried rosemary use about a tablespoon. Rosemary is one of the best herbs for hair.
Fresh lavender is also nice to use. Most of the herbs you can grow in your garden will probably be useful in some way or another.
Some claim that combining apple cider vinegar and chamomile will help you lightening your hair naturally at home.
Fresh herbs are wonderful to use but remember to rinse them if they have been sprayed with anything. Cut fresh herbs in the morning after the dew has dried. Just note that the water content in fresh herbs may cause problems with mould growth even in vinegar.
If using dried herbs, you can use them either loose, tied up in cheesecloth or muslin fabric, or in tea bag form (like one chamomile tea bag). If using loose herbs, you will need to strain your "tea" prior to use, you don't want to have bits of herb caught in your hair afterward!
Note: If you are using dried herbs or botanicals to make a concentrated herbal infused vinegar (no water yet) you can get a better extraction if you gently warm the vinegar (just a little) first.
Although there is no need to sterilize equipment, since this is not going to be a food product, clean all equipment thoroughly before starting. Wash in hot, soapy water and rinse well in hot water.
Recipe #1: Quick Recipe For One Application
- 2 to 4 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- herbs of choice**
- 2 cups boiling water
- Boil the water only in a small saucepan.
- Add the herbs. Cover and allow the "tea" to steep for at least 15 minutes. If you want a stronger herbal infusion, add more herbs, cover and simmer on the stove for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
- Allow your infusion to cool. Then add the vinegar.
- It should be used that day or refrigerated for later use. You may also double or triple the recipe. Just be sure to refrigerate the unused portion.
- When you have finished rinsing the shampoo out of your hair, pour the rinse on your hair and massage your scalp.
- Avoid getting the rinse in your eyes, particularly if you have used essential oils.
- Rinse it out with clean water or, for extra conditioning benefits, just leave it in and towel dry hair. The vinegar scent will disappear as your hair dries.
- Make sure you rinse out the shower afterward, as some herbs can leave it looking slightly tea-stained; similarly, watch out for your towels. The staining is only temporary and washes out very easily; it is more likely to occur with extra strong infusions.
Recipe #2: Recipe For Larger Batch Concentrate
- 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup chopped herbs of choice**
- Place approximately 1 cup of chopped herbs in a glass jar.
- Cover with 2 cups of vinegar.
- "Steep" this mixture in a tightly closed jar or bottle in the refrigerator or in a dark, cool place for two weeks.
- Strain steeped vinegar from herbs through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a fresh, clean bottle.
- The infused vinegar (without water) will keep for 6 months to a year if made with dried herbs and stored properly in a cool and dry area.
- Tip: If you don't want to wait two weeks, speed up infusion by gently heating the vinegar before pouring over herbs. "Steep" for a few days! Be aware that if you are using natural raw non-pasteurized apple cider vinegar heating may kill natural enzymes and reduce its natural health benefits.
- When ready to use: dilute 1 to 2 tablespoon of the herbal vinegar in 1 cup of water. Rinse through wet hair after shampooing. Rinse it out with fresh water or, for extra conditioning benefits, just leave it in and towel dry hair. The vinegar scent will disappear as your hair dries.
Essential Oil & Vinegar Hair Rinse
There are many wonderful essential oils for hair care. Essential oils can be diluted in water, vinegar or added to an herbal vinegar recipe shown above.
Some words of CAUTION:
- Essential oils are very strong and many can be skin irritants if not used correctly. Lavender is one of the very few essential oils that can be used directly on the skin, others will irritate skin if used full strength.
- Some essential oils are stronger than others. You must be knowledgeable about the amount of essential oil to use in your dilution.
- Essential oils are expensive. But do NOT use the cheaper fragrance oils or "nature identical" oils. These are synthetic, can cause skin irritation and provide none of the benefits of natural botanical essential oils.
- 2 cups of apple cider vinegar (herb infused or plain)
- 5 to 10 drops of essential oil**
- Mix vinegar and essential oils.
- This mixture should be stored in a glass bottle since the essential oils may react with plastic.
- The mixture can be used right away, but if you allow it to sit for a day or two the "flavors" will blend.
- When ready to use: dilute 1 to 2 tablespoon of the vinegar/essential oil mixture in 1 cup of water.
- Rinse through wet hair after shampooing. Rinse it out with fresh water or, for extra conditioning benefits, just leave it in and towel dry hair.